Wednesday, August 30, 2017

7 Facts About AFib You Don't Know, But Should

Flopping fish. Fluttering butterflies. Pounding thunder. All of these can be subtle signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common type of irregular heartbeat. Also known as an arrhythmia, when you have an irregular heartbeat, this means that the electrical impulses in your heart aren’t working quite right. Sounds harmless enough—right?

Before you assume that AFib is nothing to worry about, let’s take a closer look at some surprising facts about AFib that everyone should know.

   1. AFib is just one kind of arrhythmia.

While AFibis the most common type of arrhythmia, it’s only 1 out of 5 different types. It's estimated that more than 4 million Americans have an arrhythmia some type, with AFib alone accounting for nearly 3 million of those.

   2. AFib isn’t too fast or slow—it’s just irregular.

Typically, arrhythmias fall into one of two categories: tachycardia, a faster than normal heart rate, or bradycardia, a slower than normal heart rate; however, AFib can be either one. Often times, though, it causes a fast heart rate, usually more than 100 beats per minute.

   3. AFib can come and go.

There are actually 3 different types of AFib, ranging from intermittent to persistent. At first, you may experience AFib episodes that only last for a few minutes, hours or up to a week, with symptoms that go away on their own. Over time, though, these milder, intermittent AFib episodes often evolve into longstanding AFib.

   4. AFib is more common in men, but more severe in women.

While AFib is more common as you age, men—of any age—are still more likely than women to develop AFib. However, women often report experiencing more severe symptoms than men. For instance, women are more likely to experience palpitations, lightheadedness and dizziness, as well as chest tightness and discomfort.

   5. Poor sleep may increase your AFib risk.

The connection between sleep and heart disease is well known, but the link between AFib and sleepis still being investigated. One recent study found that people who suffer from sleep apnea, or interrupted sleep may be up to 26% more likely to develop AFib.

   6. AFib may not be life-threatening, but its complications are.

On its own, AFib isn’t necessarily life threatening, but when considering the several heart-related conditions that are possible, AFib can be deadly. In fact, it is estimated that individuals with AFib are up to 7 times more likely to suffer a stroke.

   7. AFib can be treated.

With GMC’s innovative AFib program, you can receive customized care—from diagnosis to treatment—without skipping a beat. To get you and your heart back in rhythm, GMC offers hands-on care from experienced, board-certified electrophysiologists and a dedicated cardiac team, along with two state-of-the-art EP labs.

Now that you know some of the key facts about AFib, would you know it if you had it? To learn more about GMC’s AFib program and hear directly from our knowledgeable experts, RSVP to our upcoming AFib Informational Breakfast

Monday, August 28, 2017

Surprising Things Your Food Cravings Are Trying To Tell You

When it’s 3 p.m. and the mid-afternoon lull has set in, do you hear your favorite salty snack calling your name? How about after dinner? Does that sweet treat just sound too good to resist? We’ve all been there. The truth is trying to withstand the temptation of food cravings can be downright difficult.

And while you’d like to believe that your common cravings—likely something salty or sweet—indicates some underlying vitamin deficiency, this likely isn’t the case. So before you reach for that delicious chocolate bar, keep in mind that cravings come from your brain, not your body. Instead of fulfilling your body’s nutritional needs, your cravings are actually just triggering your brain to release the feel-good hormone, dopamine.

Even though your unhealthy cravings may not indicate an underlying vitamin deficiency, they may still be trying to tell you something. Here are 4 cravings that could be something more than your mind playing tricks on you:

   1. You’re really thirsty. It’s normal to enjoy some icy water in the midst of the summer heat, or after eating something spicy for lunch, but if you’re guzzling down water and still can’t get enough to quench your thirst, this may be a sign of pre-diabetes or diabetes. When your body tries to flush out excess sugar, this ups your number of visits to the bathroom and your need to drink more.

   2. You’re seeking out something salty. If you find yourself searching for something salty, your body may be running low on electrolytes. Essential for your body to continue running normally, electrolytes play a vital role in your body’s many communication systems. To help ensure a healthy balance of fluids and electrolytes, your body may crave salt as it is one of the key electrolytes, along with potassium, chloride and bicarbonate.

   3. You’re craving chocolate. One of the most common cravings before the onset of a migraine is chocolate. While you may experience a longing for something besides chocolate, if you’re prone to migraines, it’s important to recognize that specific foods can indicate that you’re in the prodrome stage of a migraine. Unfortunately, this stage can last anywhere from days to minutes before you experience pain, so it’s important to learn your unique migraine signs and triggers.

   4. You’re craving something tasty—and unhealthy. Then chances are you’re probably running low on sleep. When you’re extra tired, this is a double whammy for your brain. Not only does junk food, high in salt, sugar and fat, sound extra good because it gives your body a much needed (temporary) spike in energy, you’re also too tired to fight the urge to indulge. When you’re sleepy, it can be hard to make good decisions, especially when it comes to food.

Crush Your Cravings

Your diet can often times make or break how you feel. The foods we eat have a surprising impact on our overall health and wellbeing. But how do you know what foods are really best for your body? It can be hard enough to decode your cravings, let alone ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need.

With an extensive range of helpful resources at GMC, you’ll discover nutrition made easy. Not only can you work with our experienced and knowledgeable primary care providers to determine your unique health needs, you can also partner with our registered dietitians to develop a customized nutrition plan just for you. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Let's Get Serious About Salmonella

No one wants to have food poisoning, that’s a fact. But every year, roughly 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from contaminated food. And what’s the main culprit to blame? You guessed it, salmonella. Responsible for more than 1.2 illnesses, salmonella continues to be one of the most common bacteria. In fact, salmonella infections continue to increase despite foodborne illnesses in general going down.

Salmonella symptoms: what to watch for

There’s no doubt that this nasty germ can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms. When you’re suffering with salmonella, you can expect:

·         Diarrhea
·         Vomiting
·         Abdominal cramps
·         Fever

After eating something contaminated with salmonella, you may see symptoms anywhere from 12 to 72 hours after, and they will likely last for 4 to 7 days.

How do you get salmonella?

Everyone knows that raw chicken can cause salmonella, but what about other common foods? Here are some other salmonella sources that may be to blame:

·         Spices and powders
·         Fruits and veggies (namely tomatoes, cucumbers and melons)
·         Peanut butter and nuts
·         Eggs
·         Sprouts
·         Meats (not just chicken, beef and fish, too)
·         Dairy (unpasteurized milk and cheese)

How to practice salmonella safety:

To protect yourself, always cook poultry, ground beef and eggs thoroughly.

Avoid recipes that call for raw eggs, like: homemade mayonnaise, Caesar and other salad dressings, ice creams and cake frostings. This applies whether the uncooked eggs are whole or only the yolks or the whites.

Take care to avoid cross-contamination. Keep uncooked meats separate from produce, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods. Wash your hands, all surfaces and utensils after contact with raw meat or poultry. Before reaching for your sponge, make sure that it's germ free.

Also wash your hands after contact with pets -- notably reptiles, turtles and birds -- as well as after cleaning a litter box or picking up after your dog.

Stay salmonella free:

By following these guidelines, you can reduce your risk of getting those unwanted salmonella symptoms.  But when you’re in the midst of battling back against salmonella, you can count on Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care to help. With convenient locations, extensive services and experienced providers, you’ll be able to say so long to salmonella. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

5 Super Subtle Signs You Have A Rotator Cuff Injury

As one of the most complex joints in your body, your shoulder is made up of multiple bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons—and those are just some of the many parts. This is what makes your shoulder so mobile, but it’s also what makes your shoulder so susceptible to injury. In fact, shoulders are the most commonly injured joints of the body, so step aside knees and hips—hello rotator cuffs.

It isn’t just major impact or sports injuries that can cause damage to your rotator cuff, though. Oftentimes, it’s the culmination of repetitive wear and tear that’s to blame. Anything that involves repetitive lifting or overhead activities can contribute to rotator cuff pain or injury.

Because the symptoms of rotator cuff injuries are often so mild, they’re easy to overlook or write-off as normal aches and pains. However, if left untreated, this type of injury will only worsen leading to more severe pain and making recovery a lengthier process.

Don’t shrug off shoulder pain. According to Saadiq El-Amin, MD, orthopedic surgeon and medical director of GMC’s Concussion Institute, you should watch for these common signs:

You have trouble sleeping. Everything from stress and sleep apnea to allergies and restless leg syndrome can contribute to a restless night's sleep. Rotator cuff injuries are no different. Both rotator cuff tendonitis and tears are known to cause pain while at rest, which is especially noticeable at night when you’re trying to sleep.

You can’t brush your hair. Well, it isn’t just brushing your hair that becomes difficult with a rotator cuff injury. Anything that involves lifting or lowering your arm, like getting dressed or grabbing something off the top shelf becomes painful.

You feel weak. While you’d think a rotator cuff injury would be strictly painful, it’s possible that you may not feel any pain at all. Instead, you may notice weakness throughout your arm.

You hear a crackling sound. When your shoulder is healthy, there are tendons and muscles that provide support and stability for the joint. However, when you have a rotator cuff injury that impacts the tendons and muscles, the result is crepitus, or a grating sound or sensation that you hear when bone and cartilage rub together.

OTC medication stops working. Over-the-counter pain medication is often the first line of defense against aches and pains, but when it comes to rotator cuff injuries; it quickly loses its effectiveness. If you can no longer find relief when you reach for aspirin or ibuprofen, it may be more than just a sore shoulder.

R-I-C-E is nice, but not always.

One of the best places to start when treating any type of joint pain is with resting, icing, compressing and elevating, also known as RICE. But for rotator cuff injuries in particular, it’s most important to focus on the first two steps—rest and ice. Together, they will help to reduce swelling and will protect the injured area by preventing further injury.

However, to truly ensure the safest, most effective healing possible, you need the guidance and care of a sports medicine expert. With more physicians fellowship-trained in Sports Medicine than any other hospital system in Georgia, you can trust the experienced teamat GMC with any of your sports injuries, shoulders (and rotator cuffs) included

Friday, August 18, 2017

What Your Gas Says About Your Health

Between burping, belching, flatulence and bloating, you’ve likely experienced one or all of these forms of gas. In fact, experts say that passing gas between 13 and 21 times a day is totally normal. Now typically the gas that you release—whatever its form—is primarily a mix of carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen, which is odorless. 

However, there are times when a little methane sneaks in, giving your gas a distinct smell. If you’re smelling sulfur, the likely culprits are meat, beans or cabbage.

So while gas is completely natural, if you’re experiencing an excess of it or bloating that makes you feel uncomfortable, it may be time to do some investigating to figure out if there’s something more going on.

According to Tik Pau, MD, a primary care expert with Gwinnett Medical Group, here are 8 things your body may be trying to tell you: 

1. You’re eating a lot of fructose, polyol and sulfur.

It may not actually be notorious gas producers, like broccoli and beans, that are to blame for your toots. In fact, it’s more likely foods that are high in natural sugars and sulfur. Even though many of these foods are great for your health, you can expect to be gassy after eating the following foods:

·         Apples
·         Pears
·         Watermelon
·         Cabbage
·         Asparagus
·         Leeks
·         Onions
·         Garlic
·         Avocado
·         Mushrooms
·         Cauliflower

2. You’re eating too fast.

Here’s yet another reason to slow down while you’re eating—gas. Every time you open your mouth to eat or drink something, you are also inhaling and swallowing air. And the faster you eat, the more air you’ll end up swallowing; the result is more gas. If you find yourself burping after you eat, you’re releasing air from your stomach, but if that gas makes its way farther through your digestive tract, it’ll end up coming out of the other end.

3. You have an imbalance of gut bacteria.

Many of us don’t give much thought to the complex digestive process that takes place each time we eat. Did you know there are actually more than 10 organs involved? For digestion to fully run its course, it relies on each organ to play its part. However, when medications, infections and medical conditions get involved, it can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which interfere with digestion and cause extra gas.

4. You’re battling IBS…

…Along with 25 to 45 million other Americans. Irritable bowel syndrome is a common, chronic condition that’s the result of an intestinal disorder, which impacts how quickly your food moves from your stomach to your rectum. In addition to excess gas, you may also experience abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and constipation.

5. You have an unknown food intolerance.

Just because you don’t have the typical symptoms of a food allergy, like hives and swelling, doesn’t mean that you aren’t sensitive to certain foods. Oftentimes food intolerances have subtle symptoms that you may overlook, like headaches, fatigue, heartburn, bloating and gas.

6. You aren’t exercising enough.

Not only can exercise help to ease digestion and provide some much needed relief if you’re feeling gassy or bloated, it can also help to prevent those feelings all together. Excess gas and bloating can be a sign that your abdominal wall needs a little more attention the next time you work out. When you keep your stomach muscles strong, this helps to move gas through the digestive tract.

7. You should drink more water.

By reaching for a carbonated beverage of some sort, you’re upping your odds for excess gas. This is because the carbonation actually creates air pockets in the intestines, which causes irritation. On top of that, if your favorite bubbly beverage has artificial sweeteners, this can really ramp up excess gas.

8. You have a tight sphincter.

You guessed it; the sphincter is actually the place where your gas passes. If you have a tight sphincter this can impact your ability to pass gas, especially if you’re in a public setting and are hesitant to fart. If gas becomes trapped, you’re more likely to feel bloated.

Trust your gut.

If you’re having difficulty getting your excess gas to pass, you can try simple things like eating and drinking more slowly, taking digestive aids, avoiding artificial sweeteners and gassy foods. It’s important to listen to your body, though, and if you’re constantly trying to tame excess gas, there may be something more going on. 

It’s time to skip the quick fixes and get rid of excess gas for good. With Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care, a knowledgeable provider will work with you to fully understand and care for all of your unique health needs from head to toe. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Breastfeeding 101: How To Tell If Your Baby Is Getting Enough

While you’ve likely heard about the numerous benefitsthat breastfeeding can provide for mother and baby—like protecting your baby’s digestive system and lowering your risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers—it isn’t always quite that simple. 

For instance, one of the many questions you may find yourself asking is: how can I tell if my baby is getting enough to eat? Well, it may be easier than you think with key tips from GMC’s certified lactation consultants.

If your baby…

·         Feeds 8 or more times during a 24-hour period
·         Latches comfortably and breasts feel softer after feeding
·         Has 6 to 8 wet diapers during a 24-hour period (by day 4)
·         Has 3 to 4 mustard colored, seedy stools every day by the 4th day. Your baby’s stool should look larger than a spoonful and change from brown and sticky to yellow and loose
·         Steadily sucks and swallows while feeding
·         Appears satisfied after feeding

…Then they are getting enough to eat.

It's important to note that after initial weight loss right after birth, your baby should be back to their birth weight by 10 to 14 days of age. It's also important to have a pediatrician visit with the first 24 to 48 hours after discharge.  

How do you know when to breastfeed your baby?

The truth is, every baby is different. Most babies eat when hungry and stop when full. But it’s important to allow your baby to tell you this by using baby-led feeding.

This means feeding whenever your baby shows signs of wanting to eat, also known as feeding cues. It also means that you stop feeding when your baby shows signs of feeling full, or fullness cues. Using this technique encourages your baby to grow healthy and strong, while also helping you to establish a good milk supply.

Feeding cues to watch for:

·         Moves eyes under closed eyelids
·         Sucks on hands or tongue
·         Sticks out tongue
·         Opens mouth wide and turns head
·         Nuzzles breast
·         Acts more alert
·         Cries (this is a late sign of hunger)

Fullness cues to watch for:

·         Eats more slowly
·         Looks relaxed
·         Stops sucking
·         Closes lips or turns away from the breast
·         Becomes more interested in surroundings
·         Falls asleep

Getting back to breastfeeding basics.

Breastfeeding, while a health-filled option for both mother and baby, isn’t always easy. In fact, between common breastfeeding conditions, time constraints and many other difficulties, it can feel downright overwhelming.

That’s why, as a baby-friendly facility, the Gwinnett Women’s Pavilionoffers an extensive array of support services, including: a dedicated team of board-certified lactation consultants, breastfeeding classes and support groupsand a Lactation Help Line, all to help provide a positive breastfeeding experience for you and your baby.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins: What You Need To Know

Suns out—legs out? Well, not for everyone. Despite it being hot, hot, hot, spider veins and varicose veins can make nearly anyone feel self-conscious about their legs. On top of that, spider veins and varicose veins can also be uncomfortable or even painful.

So, if you notice the bulge of varicose veins, or the bursts of spider veins, what does this mean for you? For starters, you’re not alone. Both varicose and spider veins are very common and women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop them. You’ll be happy to learn, though, that there are simple ways to reduce both the look and feel of them.

What is the difference between varicose and spider veins?

Varicose veins are caused by weakened valves in the veins, which can allow blood to leak and pool. Because blood collects, the veins become bigger and evolve into varicose veins.

Similarly, spider veins are caused by a backup of blood, as well as increased pressure in the legs.

What are common risk factors?

Because varicose and spider veins are so similar, they actually share many of the same risk factors. While some of them are out of your control, like age and gender, there are others you can work to minimize, like:

·         Hormonal changes (including pregnancy, menopause and oral contraceptives)
·         Obesity
·         Lack of movement
·         Excess sun exposure

Can daily habits cause them?

While risk factors play a major role in the likelihood of getting varicose or spider veins, it doesn’t answer the question of why some people get them and others don’t. So, could there be another cause? Turns out, there are several everyday habits that may increase your risk. These include:

·         Excess standing without breaks (this increases pressure in your legs)
·        Crossing your legs often (this spikes pressure in your legs, especially behind your  knee)
·        Sitting for extended periods of time (gravity is your worst enemy in this instance, causing blood to pool in your legs)
·         Frequently nicking your skin while shaving (this can disrupt blood flow and  circulation)
·         Not rubbing or massaging your legs (rubbing them can improve circulation)
·         Skipping muscle building exercises (with decreased muscle mass, comes extra  room for veins to dilate)
·         Eating extra salt (excess salt can spike water retention, which leads to increased  pressure)
·         Smoking (enough said)
·         Always wearing high heels (while they’re cute, they don’t allow your calves to  move and blood can’t pump effectively)

What can you do to prevent them?

Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent varicose and spider veins, but you may be able to stop them from getting worse or prevent new ones from emerging. Here’s what you can do:

·         If you must stand or sit for long periods, take frequent breaks.
·         Don't cross your legs when you sit. And when possible, raise your legs above your heart.
·         Don't wear tight clothing, especially around the waist and legs.
·         Get regular exercise and focus on activities that are good for vein health, including: walking, cycling and swimming.
·         Maintain a healthy weight by choosing lean meats, low-fat dairy products and high-fiber foods.
·         Work with your primary care provider to utilize the best prevention and treatment  techniques.

Care that goes with the flow.

The experts at GMC’s Health Park-Hamilton Mill recognize that exceptional care starts with addressing all of your health concerns, no matter how big or small. Whether you’re in need of thorough treatment for varicose and spider veins or looking for the latest in cardiac testing, GMC Health Park-Hamilton Mill can help. From cardiology and gastroenterologyto orthopedicsand primary care, each member of your family can receive personalized care, close to home.