Monday, February 26, 2018

5 Ways To Nip Your Allergies In The Bud (No Medications Required)


Spring is an idyllic time of year (at least from the indoors). Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and temperatures are warming. And for those of you who love the color yellow, you may be the only ones who are excited about seeing pollen e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. For the rest of us, though, springtime poses a bit of a dilemma.

On the one hand, after being cooped up all winter long, many of us have a serious case of spring fever—can you hear that warm sunshine calling your name? On the other hand, you have the foggy, achy and itchy symptoms of allergies—yuck! So, what do you do? Try taking your go-to antihistamine—even though it’s still February?

Well, it’s worth a try. Erica Melling, PA, a provider at ChoiceOne Urgent Care, a partner of Gwinnett Medical Center, recommends that you give these 5 simple—and surprisingly effective—tips a to keep your spring tissue- and eye drop-free:

1.    Add spring cleaning to your schedule.

Although we often associate our seasonal sneeze with pollen and other outdoor allergens, spending too much time indoors may actually be the root of your problem. While there are some indoor allergens that persist all year, like pet dander and dust, they can be especially irritating when coupled with outdoor allergens. Even if your windows aren’t open, anytime you go outdoors, you’re bringing pollen back inside with you on your shoes, clothes and pets.  

So, if you weren’t in the mood to clean (is anyone ever?), hopefully this will motivate you to add it to your weekly to-do list. After all, by regularly vacuuming carpets, dusting off surfaces, washing fabrics and changing out your air filters, you’ll be doing your allergy symptoms a huge favor.

2.    Beware of mold.

As the temperatures outside continues to rise, so does the moisture in the air. Unfortunately, the two things that mold loves most are heat and moisture—so it’s essential to mold-proof your home. That means keeping your home 70 degrees or below and regulating moisture in the air with a dehumidifier (and fans in the bathroom). And don’t forget to those clean areas prone to accumulating moisture, such as showers and/or tubs, beneath sinks, around air conditioning units and under refrigerators.

3.    Arm your body’s defense system.

Eating a balanced diet high in vitamins and nutrients is always a good idea, but it’s essential this time of year. After all, your body needs all the help it can get to fight off all those allergens—right? Actually, it’s important to eat a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods (antioxidants and probiotics) to do the exact opposite. Instead of ramping up your immune system, the idea is to help to temper your body’s immune response to allergens and reduce symptoms.

Make sure to add these foods to your grocery list (if you haven’t already):

·         Coconut milk yogurt
·         Apples
·         Strawberries
·         Turmeric (the supplement of Curcumin counts)
·         Pumpkin seeds
·         Salmon

4.    Become a night showerer.

Pollen can stick to your body throughout the day – especially your hair. This is particularly true if you use hair products. If you go to bed without showering, all these allergens will transfer to your pillow and be inhaled throughout the night.

But you shouldn’t have to give up great looking hair throughout spring! If you opt to for showering before bed, you’ll be able to get rid of any stubborn allergens that are stuck to your hair or skin. Also be sure to wash your bed linens once a week to keep them free of dust mites, pollen and other allergens that build up over time.

5.    Don’t overlook your overall lifestyle.

In addition to minimizing exposure to allergens and eating a healthy diet, there may be other, everyday factors that you’re overlooking. For instance, excess weight can affect your respiratory system, putting pressure to the diaphragm, preventing you from expanding your lungs properly. In addition, too much stress can intensify allergy symptoms and make it harder for your body to bounce back.

Are your allergies holding you back?

While seasonal allergies may be unavoidable, your response to them can be the difference between enjoying the warm weather and finding yourself barricaded in your home—or anywhere away from pollen. If your allergies are holding you back, the experts at GMG Primary Careand ChoiceOne Urgent Care can provide you with all the relief you need to get back to doing what you should be this spring—having fun with friends and family.

Friday, February 23, 2018

7 Surprising Reasons You Keep Getting Those Annoying Bruises


Have you ever thought—after nailing the corner of a table or hitting your head as you’re standing up—well, that’s definitely gonna leave a mark (after a few choice words of course). While you expect to see a little black and blue after a memorable encounter with the coffee table, it’s a different story when you find a bruise with no recognition of where it came from. So, should you be worried?

When it comes to bruises, they typically look worse than they are. Although, the intense blue and purple color can be a little worrisome. But that’s due to blood from your capillaries (small blood vessels near the surface of your skin) pooling, which is why you may notice a purple color at first and a yellowish green color as it heals.  

So, what’s the cause of your unexpected bruising? Well, there’s a chance you could be a crazier sleeper than you thought, but it’s more likely that one of these common culprits is to blame:

   1. You’ve been a sunny bunny. Sunburns aren’t the only health risk you have to worry about after spending hours in the sun. In fact, skin that’s been damaged from excess UV begins to lose its pliability and resilience, making bruising easier and more likely.

   2. You’re taking these medications. If you’re someone who takes steroids, blood thinners or even aspirin, you’ll be more likely to bruise. This is due to slowed blood clotting, which will cause the capillaries (those little blood vessels under your skin) to continue bleeding for longer than normal.

   3. You’re strength training. One of the key reasons people lift weights is to build muscle, right? Well, the very thing that helps you to build muscle can also cause you to bruise. This is because intense strength training causes microscopic tears in your muscle fiber, which can also cause bruising.

   4. Your skin is pale. This isn’t an excuse to go tanning or anything, but having pale skin may make any bruising—even extremely mild—more visible. This doesn’t mean that you bruise more easily, though.

   5. You’re aging. While it may not be very reassuring, bruising is a completely normal part of aging. Thanks to a loss of collagen and weaker blood vessels, bruising is more likely, and it’s more visible.

   6. You’re overweight. Your body weight doesn’t directly impact how easily you bruise, but the added pressure of excess weight can cause bruise-like spots to form on your legs.

   7. You’re in need of a doctor. There is a chance that your unexpected bruising is the result of something else, like a nutrient deficiency, or a clotting disorder, but it is best to work with your primary care provider—someone who knows your complete health picture.

In the meantime, if you’re nursing a doozy of a bruise, try using ice therapy to reduce swelling and heat to increase blood flow. And it can’t hurt to give walking your undivided attention—at least for a little while.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

5 Reasons You (May) Need To See A Rheumatologist


Do you have severe or chronic pain in one or more joints? Do you battle extreme, long-term fatigue? What about widespread inflammation? If you answered yes to one or more of these conditions, it may be time to learn a little bit more about a rheumatic conditions—and no we’re not just talking about arthritis.

In fact, arthritis is just one of the many different types of rheumatic conditions, which together, affect upwards of 50 million Americans (of all ages, genders and races). And because rheumatic conditions are so wide ranging, so are their symptoms—making them tricky to diagnose.

Before you schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist, though, here are 6 things you’re probably wondering:

   1. What the heck is a rheumatologist?

A rheumatologist is a doctor with a background in internal medicine or pediatrics that receives special training to effectively treat and diagnose rheumatic conditions. Their primary focus is to identify the many different types of rheumatic diseases in their earliest, most treatable stages. They also work with patients to provide sustainable, long-term care.

   2. What exactly are rheumatic conditions?

Rheumatic conditions is actually just a fancy term that refers to over 150 different (musculoskeletal or autoimmune) conditions that cause inflammation. Of course, arthritis—inflammation in the joints—is one of the most well-known, but inflammation isn’t exclusive to joints. These conditions can also impact ligaments, bones, muscles, eyes, skin, nervous system—even organs.

These are some of the most common rheumatic conditions(chances are you’ve heard of one or more of these without knowing it was indeed a rheumatic condition):

·         Carpal Tunnel
·         Fibromyalgia
·         Gout
·         Juvenile Arthritis
·         Lupus
·         Lyme Disease
·         Osteoporosis
·         Scleroderma
·         Tendonitis/Bursitis

   3. Who is impacted by rheumatic conditions?

The people that are most affected by rheumatic conditions are as diverse as the number of different types. Unfortunately, the exact cause of many of these conditions is still unknown, but experts believe it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

However, there are a certain rheumatic conditions that may be more common in women or men. For instance, Gout and spondyloarthropathies are more common in men. But women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus.

   4. What are the most common symptoms?

While pain may be the most notorious symptom of rheumatic conditions, there are many other everyday symptoms that you may (or may not) notice:

·         Fatigue
·         Eye inflammation
·         Rashes and/or sores
·         Back pain
·         Neck pain
·         Difficulty taking deep breaths
·         Chronic muscle pain

      5. When should you see a rheumatologist?

This is a tricky question, especially since many of us experience some level of pain, soreness or fatigue on a regular basis—if not a daily basis. Generally, a good rule-of-thumb is to see your primary care provider if you have severe pain that persists for more than a few days.

As the health care team that knows you best, your primary care provider will be able to evaluate your symptoms in the context of your larger health history. Rheumatic conditions are very complex, so it’s important to work experienced providers who can offer the latest diagnostic and treatment options. 

At the GMC Primary Care & Specialty Center-Suwanee, you have convenient, one-stop access to an extensive range of services—including Primary Care and Rheumatology—that can all be tailored to suit your unique health needs.

Monday, February 19, 2018

If You Fall Into One Of These 6 Categories—You May Be At Risk For A Blood Clot


A 20-year-old smoker. A 30-year-old pregnant woman. A 40-year-old professional. Now you may be wondering just what these different types of people have in common? If the title wasn’t a giveaway, these are just a few of the different types of people that have an increased risk for developing a blood clot.

The scary truth is you don’t have to be recovering from a major surgery, have heart disease or a family history of blood clots to be at risk. In fact, there are many common factors that can put you at risk—even if you live an overall healthy lifestyle.

So, if blood clots are so common (affecting upwards of 900,000 people annually) why don’t we hear more about them? Chances are it’s because they often go by one of these other names—heart attack, stroke, pulmonaryembolism and deep vein thrombosis—all of which are caused by blood clots.

While there’s a lot to learn about blood clots, let’s start with some of the most common and most likely people to get one—and what you should do if you fall into one or more of these categories:

   1. People who are overweight. Excess weight strains your body in more ways than one, including your cardiovascular system. Yet another reason for this increased risk is due the fact that excess weight and a lack of exercise usually go hand-in-hand, both of which amplify your risk for a blood clot.

   2. People who smoke. Perhaps this doesn’t come as a surprise, considering that smoking impacts almost every system in your body. In addition to your lungs, smoking also causes damage to your blood vessels, which increases your risk of developing a blood clot.

   3. Pregnant women. Unfortunately, even if you do everything you can to ensure a healthy pregnancy, that little bundle of joy—and increased hormone levels—can impact your bloodstream. And don’t forget that as the baby grows, so does the pressure on your blood vessels.

   4. Oral contraceptive takers. This may be one of the most notable types of people to identify as experts estimate that contraceptives can actually increase a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot by 3 to 4 times.

   5. People who are sedentary. Now before you assume that just because you sit all day at your desk that you’re at an increased risk for a blood clot, it’s important to clarify that this typically applies to individuals who haven’t moved in days or weeks (e.g., post-surgery or injury recovery). However, sitting for hours on end (day after day) and not staying hydrated can increase your risk.

   6. People with infections (or other inflammatory conditions). When you’re dealing with a condition like cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s disease or colitis, the last think you want to worry about is a blood clot forming. However, due to different treatments and inflammation, this can increase your risk.

If you’re at an increased risk, what should you do?

One of the scariest parts of blood clots is the uncertainty. They can form in almost anyone at any time. That’s why the specialists of Gwinnett Medical Group Cardiologyare prepared to help you—and your heart at every stage of life. Whether you’re seeking answers to questions and preventative care or diagnostics and customized treatment options, GMG Cardiologyis always prepared to help.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Perfect V-day Menu: 9 Healthy Foods That May Spark Romance


You were probably hoping that we would be talking about all of the surprising benefits of delicious Valentine’s Day candy, but no such luck. Instead, we’re swapping out tasty chocolate for raw oysters. Just kidding.

While oysters may be one of the most notorious aphrodisiacs, they aren’t exactly the yummiest option when it comes to foods that can spark the love and improve your health. In fact, there are over 20 different foods—some easier to find than others—that claim the name of aphrodisiac. But do they really live up to their reputation?

“Well, it’s complicated,” says Sheila Warren, RN, GMC’s Health Navigator. “Many experts believe that the placebo effect plays a major role in how romantic people feel when eating these foods, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still enjoy them.” After all, these foods provide healthful nutrients that support a variety of different functions, including hormone levels, blood flow and energy—all of which play a role in sexual health.

So, this Valentine’s Day, try thinking outside of the box (the box of candy that is) and try enjoying some of these fun foods instead:

   1. Chili peppers. Not only is this flavorful little pepper the perfect color for Valentine’s Day, they also give your endorphins a jumpstart, as well as raise your heart rate.

   2. Avocado. Take it with a grain of salt (and lime) that since the time of the Aztecs, this favorite food has had the reputation of being an aphrodisiac because of its energy-boosting vitamins, folic acid and vitamin B9, as well as B6, which supports testosterone production.

   3. Chocolate. It is Valentine’s Day after all. Instead of milk chocolate, reach for dark chocolate for two key nutrients—phenylethylamine and caffeine—which will promote a sense of well-being. Oh, and don’t forget the spike in dopamine (one of the feel-good hormones).

   4. Bananas. While bananas are known for their high amounts of potassium, they also provide the enzyme, bromelain, which boosts testosterone production. They also support healthy energy levels thanks to vitamin B6 and B12.

   5. Honey. With all of its health benefits, you’ll want honey to bee mine. Amongst its many vitamins and nutrients, honey also has boron, a compound that supports healthy levels of estrogen and testosterone.

   6. Coffee. The perfect drink for when it’s chilly outside and you need a little pick-me-up. Also, thanks to its stimulating properties, coffee also increases heart rate and blood flow.

   7. Arugula. Like avocados, this leafy plant has been known for its aphrodisiac qualities since the first century A.D. Its well-known antioxidant properties help to defend against free radicals, as well as support a healthy libido.

   8. Olive oil. Although other types of oil have been in the health spotlight lately, olive oil is still one of the best sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which help promote healthy blood flow and hormone production.

   9. Artichokes. Unfortunately, that deliciously cheesy spinach and artichoke dip may not provide all the benefits that artichokes have to offer—but, if you opt for the real deal, you’ll enjoy an abundance of vitamins and antioxidants all of which support blood flow.

Fall in love with your health.
Sexual health is only one piece of your overall health. That’s why GMC’s Health Navigatoris prepared to help you make the most of your health at every age. Whether you’re in search of medical information, preventative care or recommendations for diagnostics and treatment, Sheila is there to offer support at every stage of your health care journey. Remember, there is no health concern too small.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Everyone Has Diarrhea: 7 Things You Should Know


The runs. The squirts. Or just plain ol’ diarrhea. Whatever name you give it, there’s simply no denying that it stinks—in more ways than one. Between the cramping, pain, urgency and discomfort, having diarrheais just downright miserable.

And thanks to a variety of different causes—ranging from infections and food allergies to medication reactions and IBS—it may seem impossible to avoid that next, looming episode of tummy torture. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of a bad situation.

So, while it may feel like your stomach hates you, diarrhea is usually just a temporary condition that will pass in a day or 2. But, depending on your symptoms, a day or 2 may feel like an eternity. Here are 7 things to keep in mind the next time it strikes (some of them will help you find the relief you need ASAP):

  1. The most common causes of diarrhea:

·         Contaminated food or water (bacteria that may contaminate food or water include campylobacter, salmonella, shigella and E. coli)

·         Viral infection (viruses that can cause diarrhea include rotavirus (especially in children), Norwalk virus (found in some shellfish), cytomegalovirus and viral hepatitis)

·         Food intolerance (people who are lactose intolerant are not able to digest the sugar found in milk and frequently have diarrhea if they drink milk or other dairy products)

·         Medications (medicines such as antibiotics and antacids that contain magnesium)

   2. Chronic diarrhea is common and these are the top causes:

·         Celiac disease is a digestive disease caused by the body's abnormal response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. In people with celiac disease, the gluten causes a loss of the villi, the finger-like projections in the intestine that absorb nutrients and fluids. This leads to chronic diarrhea, gas and other gastrointestinal problems.

·         Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that interferes with the function of the large intestine (colon). Diarrhea is one symptom of IBS; others include abdominal pain, bloating and constipation.

·         Diabetes can also cause constipation or diarrhea.

   3. Diarrhea and children:

·         More than 55,000 children in the US will have a Rotavirus infection, which oftentimes causes severe diarrhea. Many of the cases occur in the winter and early spring, and are common in day-care centers and children's hospitals. Rotavirus diarrhea usually goes away in 3 to 8 days.

   4. What’s normal and what’s not:

·         There’s more to diarrhea than meets the eye. Oftentimes, these episodes will be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms, such as: abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, dehydration and fever.

·         You should call your doctor if your diarrhea continues for more than 3 days; you have severe pain in your abdomen or rectum; you have a fever of at least 102° F (39° C); you have blood in your stool or have black, tarry stools; or you have signs of dehydration.

   5. You should definitely not drink this:

·         Avoid beverages that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, and soda. Fruit juice, sugary drinks, and sports drinks can make diarrhea and dehydration worse. For infants and children with more than mild diarrhea, a doctor usually recommends special beverages that contain electrolytes.

·         Instead, opt for water or broth.

   6. Foods to have in your pantry: (your stomach will thank you)

·         It's best to eat soft, bland foods until your diarrhea goes away—think bananas, rice, applesauce, eggs, crackers and plain toast.

·         Make sure to avoid milk and milk products, as well as foods that are greasy, high in fiber or very sweet.

   7. Don’t suffer through it, instead try this:

·         There are a variety of different remedies that can help to soothe stomach suffering—that bright-pink, chalky liquid comes to mind, right? But, if that isn’t working, you may start to feel desperate for some much needed relief (trust us, we get it). That’s why Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care offers the care you need exactly when you need it.

·        And with a convenient new location in Suwanee, you can enjoy one-stop access to primary care and gastroenterology services—not to mention cardiology, OB/GYN and rheumatology care.

Friday, February 9, 2018

If You’re Feeling Exhausted (Even After Sleeping A Full Night)—Here’s Why


You know it’s going to be a good day when you wake up feeling refreshed after a sound night’s sleep. After all, there’s no greater feeling than finally dozing off after a long day or week. So, why is it that despite getting 7+ hours of solid shut eye, the afternoon hours still hit you like a ton of bricks?

The simple answer is—it’s complicated. That’s because everything from your pre-sleep routine and undiagnosed sleep disorders to the way you wake-up and your daily habits, all impact your energy levels (or lack thereof).

So, assuming you already know that looking at your phone right before bed is a no-no, let’s focus on some of the other common culprits causing your on-going energy struggles:

   1. You’re not actually sleeping soundly. Now you think you’d know it if you had a sleep disorder—right? Well, turns out that 95% of the 70 million Americans with a sleep disorder are undiagnosed. And that’s because many sleep disorders have subtle symptoms and it’s hard to notice them while you’re asleep.

And it may not be a disorder that’s to blame for your interrupted sleep. If you share the bed with another person (or pet) anytime they move, it’ll likely disrupt your snoozing. 

   2. You’re not waking up the right way. While sleeping, your brain goes through several different stages: non-rapid eye movement, slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement (aka: the deep, dream-filled stage of sleep). And if you wake-up mid cycle, this could leave you feeling moody, stressed and drained; otherwise known as sleep inertia.

   3.  You don’t drink enough water. Dehydration can leave even the most well-rested person feeling fatigued. That’s because a lack of fluids leads to lower blood pressure, which slows the all-important process of getting oxygen to the brain. If you’re not drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water (or water-based drinks), expect to be yawning.

   4. You have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Your body relies on vitamins and minerals to do pretty much everything. Whether it’s healing a wound or supplying energy, vitamins and minerals are essential. So, if your body struggles to get one or more of these key nutrients, you’ll more than likely experience fatigue:

·         Iron
·         Magnesium
·         Potassium
·         Vitamin B12
·         Folic acid

      5. You’re not getting enough activity. Workdays are actually the perfect recipe for tiredness. If you take sitting for hours on end and you add eye strain from staring at a computer screen and mental fatigue from going nonstop, it’s no wonder you feel completely drained at the end of the day.

   6. You have CFS. Also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, this condition is characterized by profound tiredness, which can come on suddenly and last for years. Unfortunately, women are nearly 4 times as likely to suffer from CFS and experts are still unsure of what causes this condition.

Put your energy issues to rest. It’s finally time to answer the question you’ve all been wondering—what’s the secret to feeling well rested? Considering that everything from thyroid issues and diabetes to diet and medications can play a role, it’s hard to say.

Overall, it comes down to better understanding your unique health needs. That’s why Gwinnett Medical Group Primary Care offers an extensive array of services tailored to suit your personal health needs.