Vomiting Blood (Hematemesis)

No matter the circumstances, vomiting is always an unpleasant experience. Add to that the fact that it often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms of illness — such as fatigue, fever, chills, or an upset stomach — and it’s enough to make the ordeal miserable. But, if in addition to the regular discomforts that usually come with vomiting, you notice you also regurgitated blood, you likely feel concerned about what it means. What’s going on with your health? What causes a person to vomit blood? And, when should you go to the ER?

What is hematemesis?

The medical term for vomiting blood is hematemesis. It’s a serious condition, as it often signifies that the person is bleeding internally. Signs that this is precisely what you’re experiencing include bright red blood in your vomit, brown or black vomit, vomiting items with the look and consistency of coffee grounds, and/or bowel movements that have blood in them or look like tar. Small streaks or flecks of blood are not usually considered to be hematemesis.

Causes of Hematemesis

Hematemesis can be caused by a lot of different internal injuries. In more serious cases, it could be an indication of cirrhosis, or esophageal or pancreatic cancer. Some of the most common include:

  • Gastroenteritis
  • Gastritis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Hepatitis
  • H. pylori
  • Bleeding stomach ulcers
  • Bleeding intestinal varices
  • Tumors in the stomach or esophagus
  • Using blood thinners
  • Hemorrhagic fever
  • Violent retching that causes tears in the stomach or esophagus
  • Organ rupture

If the person vomiting blood is a child, it could be due to a congenital abnormality, milk allergy, blood clotting disorders, vitamin K deficiency, or swallowing an object. If the person vomiting consumes excessive amounts of alcohol, the blood may be a sign of cirrhosis or burst blood vessels in the liver.

When to Go to the ER if You’re Vomiting Blood

In rare instances, vomiting blood may be caused by something relatively minor — such as a nose bleed or swallowing blood from a mouth injury. However, if none of these apply to you, vomiting blood is an emergency. Seek medical attention immediately. Tell your doctor when you started vomiting blood, the amount of blood vomited, and whether it was bright red or black. Mention every single recent illness you’ve had or if you have any chronic medical conditions — as well as the medications you’re taking to treat them.

If you’re experiencing signs of too much blood loss — such as dizziness, rapid breathing, pale and cool skin, a fast pulse, and/or weakness, call 911 immediately. Failing to do so may put your health and life at risk.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re vomiting blood, we can provide you with the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

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When to Go to the ER for Diverticulitis

When you’re experiencing symptoms caused by some unknown condition, you may instantly begin to panic. What’s causing the discomfort? Can you afford to get treatment? And, should you seek medical attention immediately or can you wait? It may take time — and a doctor’s visit — to answer some of the millions of questions swirling in your head. But, if you’re experiencing symptoms of diverticulitis, your answers may come sooner than you expect. That’s because some signs of the condition shouldn’t be ignored — and require an immediate emergency room visit.

What is diverticulitis?

To explain diverticulitis, you must first understand about diverticulosis. This is the medical term used when a person develops pockets within the walls of their large intestine (also known as the colon). These pockets occur when the interior lining of the colon pushes against the weakest parts of the outer layers. If these pockets become inflamed, the condition is known as diverticulitis. This condition causes extreme pain in the abdomen and can be potentially deadly if not treated promptly and properly. Diverticulitis can also be dangerous because it shares common symptoms with other conditions — including:

3 Symptoms That Indicate You Should Go to the ER

Nobody wants to go to the emergency room, but sometimes neglecting signs of a problem can have deadly consequences. That’s why you should go to an emergency room immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

An emergency room will identify if any complications could prevent treatment or increase your risk of side effects — including death. In rare cases, a hole within your colon can form, which will need to be treated in addition to diverticulitis.

How to Treat Diverticulitis

During your trip to the emergency room, your doctor will administer a blood test to identify any infections. They may also conduct other tests to help diagnose diverticulitis — including CT scans, ultrasounds of the abdomen, and x-rays of the abdomen.

In most cases, diverticulitis can be treated at home with oral antibiotics, but if your condition is severe, a hospital stay may be required. Your doctor will recommend getting plenty of rest, taking medication to control pain, and drinking mainly fluids for the first couple of days of your recovery. After the first few days, you should introduce a high-fiber diet into your daily routine to ensure your bowels move regularly. You should incorporate foods such as:

If your condition is extremely severe or other treatments have failed, your doctor may suggest surgery. There are many surgery options, so they’ll be able to provide the most information about which choice is best for your condition. You should talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks before making any decisions.

Diverticulitis Recovery Time

If your condition is being treated with antibiotics, you must take them fully and as directed by your doctor. This can take as long as two weeks. But, you’ll begin to feel better in as short as 24-hours.

If you experience any complications or must receive surgery, your recovery time will take longer. After surgery, you’ll be able to return to normal activities within one to two weeks. You’ll also be required to make follow-up appointments to make sure that recovery is going well and that no infection has occurred. Infection can increase the time it takes to recover. How quickly you recover completely depends on many factors, including:

  • The health of your colon
  • Your age
  • Your general health

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one have a medical emergency, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

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Hypertensive Crisis

High blood pressure has become so common in the United States, most people don’t bat an eyelid when hearing about someone’s diagnosis. After all, it’s a health condition that affects one out of every three adults in the country. Yet, having high blood pressure can be devastating for someone’s health. Uncontrolled, it can result in a long list of health problems — such as heart attack, dementia, or aneurysm, to name a few. Therefore, this diagnosis should be taken seriously, and you — or your diagnosed loved one — should make immediate lifestyle changes to reverse it.

What is a healthy blood pressure level?

Blood pressure (BP) refers to the pressure caused by the blood on the walls of the veins and arteries as it’s pumped throughout the body. A healthy BP is anywhere between 90/60 and 120/80. The number at the top (systolic BP) refers to the pressure against the blood vessel walls during heartbeats. The number at the bottom (diastolic) refers to the pressure between heartbeats.

What is a hypertensive crisis?

If your blood pressure reaches 180/120 or higher, this is known as a hypertensive crisis. This requires emergency medical attention, since blood pressure this high may cause organ damage — and could result in kidney failure, blindness, fluid buildup in the lungs, loss of consciousness, stroke, or heart attack.

Types of Hypertensive Crisis

There are two types of hypertensive crises — and they both require medical attention. Your crisis is determined by whether or not you’re experiencing organ damage.

Hypertensive Urgency

When you have a hypertensive urgency, your blood pressure is significantly spiked, but you haven’t experienced organ damage yet. This is known as a hypertensive urgency. It occurs when your BP has reached 180/120, but you are not experiencing symptoms of a crisis. Check your blood pressure. Wait a few minutes, then check it again. Your doctor will likely administer medication, but hospitalization may not be required.

Hypertensive Emergency

In a hypertensive emergency, your BP will have reached 180/120 or higher, and you’ll also experience chest pain, blurry vision, difficulties speaking, and/or any of the additional symptoms listed below. Don’t wait a few minutes to check your blood pressure again. This is a sign that organ damage is occurring and you should call 911 immediately.

Hypertensive Crisis Symptoms

Other symptoms of a hypertensive crisis include:

When to See a Doctor

A hypersensitive crisis can be life-threatening. Therefore, as soon as you experience symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Delaying diagnosis and treatment can lead to worsening symptoms and sometimes death.

Hypertensive Crisis Diagnosis and Treatment

Your doctor will measure your blood pressure and ask detailed questions about the symptoms you’re experiencing. If the doctor believes your BP may be causing organ damage, they’ll order blood testing, an echocardiogram, renal ultrasound, eye exam, or imaging tests — such as x-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan — to check for damage to the brain, heart, or lungs.

Initial treatment involves medication to stabilize your blood pressure — administered through an IV for faster results. Once your BP has been lowered, your doctor prescribes oral medications. You’ll also have to regularly monitor your blood pressure as you implement lifestyle changes to prevent future BP spikes. These include eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limiting salt intake and alcohol consumption, losing weight if overweight, and exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.

Can anxiety cause a hypertensive crisis?

Since anxiety can cause spikes in a person’s blood pressure, it can result in short-term hypertension. There is danger, however, with frequent anxiety episodes that can result in chronic hypertension — as well as becoming dependent on anxiety medications that can also increase your blood pressure. In addition, when a person experiences anxiety, they are more likely to engage in behavior that increases BP — such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods on a regular basis, frequent alcohol consumption, or smoking.

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for a hypertensive crisis. Some of them include:

  • Having blood pressure of or above 140/90
  • Pregnancy
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Failing to take medications to control high blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Using drugs

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one have a medical emergency, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

Blood in Urine (Hematuria): When to See a Doctor

Using the restroom is such a regular part of your life that you probably don’t even recount it when listing what you’ve done during the day. Yet, while urinating seems like second nature, it can be alarming to see blood in your urine. Some cases of this happening are harmless, but typically, blood in urine indicates more severe issues. What causes it, and when is it serious enough to see a doctor?

Causes of Blood in Urine

Blood in urine — also called hematuria — can occur as a side effect of using medications like aspirin, heparin, and penicillin. In some rare — and misunderstood — cases, it can also occur with strenuous exercise. While these incidents are typically pretty harmless, other causes should raise more of a red flag. Other conditions include:

  • Trauma to the urinary tract
  • Kidney or bladder cancer
  • Prostate gland enlargement
  • Kidney disease
  • Nephrolithiasis — including kidney stones or bladder stones
  • Infections — such as a UTI
  • Hematologic disorders — like sickle cell disease

Symptoms of Hematuria

There are two different kinds of hematuria — blood in the urine that can be seen (known as gross hematuria) or microscopic blood in the urine (also known as microscopic hematuria). If you’re experiencing gross hematuria, then the most sure-sign is seeing blood when you urinate. Since hematuria is a sign itself of other conditions, instead, you should pay attention to additional symptoms you may be experiencing. For example, when dealing with UTIs, you may also experience painful urination or the need to urinate frequently. If you have kidney stones, then you may have severe abdominal pain and be nauseous.

Microscopic hematuria is more difficult to notice on your own. The best way to determine if there is blood in your urine is to attend your routine physical exam. Your doctor will take a urine sample, and by testing your urine, they’ll be able to figure out if you have microscopic blood present. The same can be said for children with either type of hematuria — as they often don’t produce any other types of symptoms.

Risk Factors of Hematuria

While there are many causes for hematuria, there are also risk factors that can make you more susceptible to experiencing gross or microscopic hematuria. Common risk factors may include:

  • A family history of kidney disease
  • Chronic UTI
  • Smoking
  • Exposure to chemicals in the workplace
  • Radiation treatment for pelvic cancer

When to See a Doctor

If you ever experience blood when you urinate, you should see a doctor immediately. That’s because most cases of gross hematuria are typically linked to cancer or other issues that require immediate medical care. To ensure you get the proper diagnosis and treatment you need in a timely manner, visit an urgent care clinic.

The doctor will perform a physical exam — for men, a rectal exam may be conducted to rule out prostate problems — and additional tests may be administered. During the exam, the doctor will also ask about your history and any medications that you’re currently taking. In addition to physical, rectal, and pelvic exams, your doctor may also administer:

Hematuria Treatment Options

How to treat your hematuria depends on the cause. If you have a UTI, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If you have kidney stones, your options are typically to let the stones pass on their own, take medication, or undergo surgery to have the stones removed. Other possible treatments include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation treatment
  • No treatment — if determined your hematuria isn’t caused by a medical condition

Hematuria Prevention

Drinking plenty of water can help prevent hematuria associated with infections and stones, while avoiding smoking and exposure to chemicals can prevent some cancers. But, since hematuria is often a symptom of other medical conditions, it can be difficult to pinpoint what changes to their lifestyle, one should make to prevent experiencing hematuria. The best thing you can do is attend routine physical exams to catch medical issues early.

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one have blood in your urine, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

When to Go to the ER for Chest Pain

If you’ve ever experienced heartbreak, then you know that not all chest pain is something that needs immediate emergency care. But, as you get older, any chest pain should not be taken lightly. When you experience pain — whether it’s sharp, dull, severe, or mild — recognize if there are any other symptoms that are also occurring. What symptoms constitute an ER visit? And, how can you prevent them?

3 Chest Pains that Require a Visit to the Emergency Room

Heart Attack

Probably the first one on everyone’s mind — when they experience any kind of chest pain — is a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. This can be caused by a variety of health issues – including obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking.

Symptoms of a heart attack often include:

  • Fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Squeezing, tightness, burning, or uncomfortable chest pain
  • Sudden aching in one or both arms
  • Sudden fatigue
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat

Prevention: In order to prevent you or a loved one from experiencing a heart attack, you should talk to your doctor about your risks and make appropriate diet changes where necessary. Taking low doses of aspirin daily has shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack, but you should consult with your doctor about this route before moving forward on your own. Other lifestyle changes — including practicing meditation and conversing with family and friends — can also play a role.

Coronary Artery Disease

Another common symptom of chest pain includes coronary artery disease – also called CAD. It typically involves the narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. If left untreated, you could be at a higher risk of a heart attack.

Symptoms of CAD include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure or fullness
  • Tightness or squeezing
  • Dull ache
  • Burning sensation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Prevention: If you’re at risk of coronary artery disease, your doctor will suggest some changes to your diet. Eating a well-balanced meal with plenty of leafy greens is a great way to clean your arteries and reduce buildup. In most cases, this can help prevent the condition, but if there is no improvement, your doctor may suggest medications or surgery.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism takes place when a blood clot passes through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs. This can be extremely dangerous and produce a variety of unpleasant symptoms – including coughing up blood. This condition typically produces multiple clots, so it’s important to see an emergency clinic and have a doctor break up the clumps safely.

Some symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Acute pleuritis
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Spitting up blood
  • Shock

Prevention: Regular physical activity can help prevent pulmonary embolism and hasten recovery. Elevating your legs during the night and wearing compression socks helps to move blood more efficiently. If you have a history of pulmonary embolism, then your doctor may prescribe blood thinners – especially before or after surgery. In some cases, pneumatic compression is also used to help massage and squeeze the veins in your legs and improve blood flow.

Other Symptoms that Constitute a Visit to the ER

While the previous symptoms are all signs of specific chest pain issues, there are additional signs that something else may be wrong. These symptoms can be caused by a variety of issues, and you should visit the ER if you experience any of the following:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Extremely low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Extremely rapid heartbeat and/or breathing
  • Respiratory trouble or shortness of breath – especially after a lengthy period of inactivity
  • Dizziness and/or nausea
  • Suddenly feeling pressure, tightness, squeezing, or crushing under the breastbone
  • Pain spreading into the left arm, back, or jaw
  • Sudden loss of color or excessive sweating

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one are showing signs of having severe chest pain, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

How to Recognize Walking Pneumonia Symptoms

Catching a cold is never fun, especially when it brings coughing and fatigue. The cause of your sickness can often be difficult to pinpoint, and different diseases require specific treatments. One common illness that often gets misunderstood as a different problem is walking pneumonia. Most people have heard about pneumonia, but what is walking pneumonia? And, how can you recognize and treat the illness?

What is walking pneumonia?

Also called atypical pneumonia, walking pneumonia is a bacterial infection that impacts the upper and lower respiratory tract. It’s not as detrimental as other types of pneumonia, and it’s often mistaken for the common cold. Similar to other types of pneumonia, however, walking pneumonia is just as contagious. So, as people carry on with their lives thinking they simply have a common cold, they’re actually spreading the disease.

Walking pneumonia is considered atypical because the infection can’t be cured with penicillin – the drug typically used for other types of pneumonia. That’s due to the cells causing the infection being resistant to the drug. Even with proper treatments, walking pneumonia can last a week to a month – depending on the severity of your illness.

Walking Pneumonia Symptoms

Signs of walking pneumonia are similar to the common cold and are mild compared to other types of pneumonia. They typically occur gradually, and may include:

  • Sore throat
  • Inflammation in the windpipe
  • Persistent dry cough
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Labored breathing
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosing Walking Pneumonia

There are certain groups of people who are more likely to contract, experience more severe symptoms, or have a great risk of complications from walking pneumonia. These groups include anyone over the age of 65, anyone younger than two years old, people with compromised immune systems, people who smoke, or anyone living with respiratory conditions.

If you or a loved one belong to one of these categories, you should visit an emergency care clinic to see a doctor. They’ll perform a physical exam and learn about your overall health and medical history. They’ll review your symptoms, and if they have concerns, they may schedule an x-ray to determine the type of pneumonia or respiratory illness that you’re experiencing. Other tests may include:

  • Culturing mucus from your lungs
  • Studying sputum gram stains 
  • Swabbing your throat
  • Scheduling a complete blood count test
  • Testing for specific antigens or antibodies

Treating Walking Pneumonia

If you visit a doctor and are diagnosed with the type of bacterial infection that impacts your lungs, then you may be prescribed antibiotics to help you recover. You’ll need to take all of the antibiotics, even if you’re feeling better. This ensures you eliminate the infection and prevents it from returning. For those in the high-risk groups, you may require hospitalization if symptoms are severe. Talk to your doctor about your risks.

For those with mild walking pneumonia symptoms, you can resolve the infection with diligent home care. It’s important to avoid others during the 10-day period when your symptoms are the worst. To quicken your recovery, you should:

  • Reduce your fever with ibuprofen
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid cough suppressants

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one show signs of having a common cold, but show walking pneumonia symptoms, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

Meningitis: Symptoms, Treatment, & More

Fever, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light – these can all be symptoms of the flu or other common illnesses. But, did you know that they can also be signs of meningitis? What makes that so scary is that meningitis can have deadly consequences if not diagnosed and treated in time. To help determine the cause of your flu-like symptoms, learn how to detect meningitis, and identify your treatment options.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis occurs when the meninges in the membranes around the brain or spinal cord become inflamed. Meninges surround your brain and spinal cord, so when swelling occurs, it can cause symptoms like headaches and a fever. There are two common types of meningitis: viral and bacterial. Meningitis is typically contagious and is transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or close contact. Other causes of meningitis may include:

  • Cancer
  • Chemical irritation
  • Fungi
  • Drug allergies

Symptoms of Meningitis

Whether you have viral or bacterial meningitis, the symptoms are often the same in the beginning. The difference is usually in the severity of the symptoms – with bacterial meningitis being more severe.

Symptoms of Viral Meningitis

  • Decreased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Stiff Neck
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis

  • Altered mental status
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Stiff neck
  • Purple areas of skin – resembling bruises
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy
  • Faint rash – a late sign of Neisseria meningitidis 

Risks & Complications of Meningitis

Meningitis including bacterial meningitis is more likely to occur in people who have skipped their childhood or adult vaccinations, are under the age of 20, live in a community setting (like a college campus), are pregnant, or have a compromised immune system. The longer you or your loved one waits to get treatment, the more likely they’ll experience the following complications:

  • Seizures
  • Hearing loss
  • Memory difficulty
  • Learning disabilities
  • Brain damage
  • Gait problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Shock
  • Other permanent neurological damages
  • Death

Treating Meningitis

If you think you or a loved one have meningitis, you should seek an emergency care clinic immediately. Meningitis can work quickly and be deadly if not treated. The doctor will review your health history — asking about your age, dorm residence, and daycare center attendance — and conduct a physical exam. In the physical exam, the physician will monitor the following:

  • Fever
  • Heart rate
  • Neck stiffness
  • Consciousness

A spinal tap will tell them if your meningitis is viral or bacterial and also help them determine the best antibiotic for treatment. Other tests that may be conducted include:

  • Blood cultures
  • Complete blood count
  • Chest x-rays
  • CT scan
  • Glass test

If the illness is bacterial meningitis, then the doctor will prescribe you an antibiotic. Once the test results have come back, they may administer other solutions – including corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, oxygen therapy, fluids, or sedatives. Depending on the type of meningitis and severity, it may take seven days to two weeks to recuperate.

Preventing Meningitis

Vaccines are the best way to prevent bacterial meningitis. There are two different vaccines that should be administered throughout a child’s life to help prevent the disease. The meningococcal vaccine is typically given to children 11-12 and again when they’re 16, and the Hib vaccine is given in four doses during the ages of 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months.

Another way to prevent viral or bacterial meningitis — and other diseases — is to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Good hygiene can stop the spread of bacteria and keep you and your loved ones safe.

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one have symptoms of meningitis, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

Shingles: Symptoms, Treatment, & More

When you think about your early childhood, you probably become overwhelmed with feelings – including nostalgia, bittersweetness, pride, or joy. You may remember the time you learned how to ride a bike, tie your shoes by yourself, or hit your first home run. But, do you remember when you had the chickenpox?

The chickenpox often occurs in young children and is a viral infection that causes itchy, red bumps all over the body. While the chickenpox only lasts for five to 10 days, the virus can remain in your body in a sleep-like state for decades. Years after you’ve had the chickenpox, the virus may awaken and cause shingles. How do you know if you’re in danger of getting shingles, and how can you prevent the virus from waking up?

What are Shingles?

Similar to chickenpox, shingles are a viral infection that causes a painful, blistering rash on one side of the body. While shingles can occur anywhere on your body, they most often occur as a single stripe of blisters that wrap around the left or right side of your torso. The varicella-zoster virus causes them and — while painful — are not life-threatening if treated promptly. With treatment, most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.

Symptoms of Shingles

While the most common sign that the varicella-zoster virus has reactivated as shingles is painful rashes that wrap around the torso, there are other indications of the virus. Other signs may include:

  • Burning, numbness, or tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue

Treating Shingles

If you suspect you have shingles, you should make an immediate appointment with your doctor. Once diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe you antiviral medication to control the infection and to speed the healing process. You may also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories to relieve pain.

Keep in mind that the varicella-zoster virus can be passed to those who haven’t become immune to chickenpox. Until you’ve been treated and your blisters have scabbed over, you should avoid people who haven’t had the chickenpox or may have weakened immune systems. This includes pregnant women, the elderly, and newborns.

While shingles are typically non-life-threatening, there are some instances where you should visit an emergency care clinic immediately. Some of these situations include:

  • If the pain and rash occur near an eye
  • If you’re 60 or older
  • If you have a weakened immune system
  • If the rash is widespread and painful

Can Shingles Be Prevented?

While there is no guarantee that you’ll experience shingles in your lifetime, there are ways to prevent or lower your risk. This prevention comes in the form of two vaccines: chickenpox and shingles vaccine. Neither of these vaccines are used to treat the virus, but instead, are purely preventative options.

Chickenpox Vaccine

This is typically used for children to prevent chickenpox, but it’s also used for adults who haven’t had chickenpox. The vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get chickenpox or shingles, but it drastically reduces your chances of complications and the severity of the virus.

Shingles Vaccine

There are two options for the shingles vaccine: Zostavax and Shingrix. Both options have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Zostavax protects you from shingles for five years and is given as a single injection to the upper arm. Shingrix offers protection beyond five years and is given in two doses – with the second dose being administered six months after the first.

Shringrix is often recommended over Zostavax as it is more than 90% effective in preventing a shingles outbreak. It’s usually recommended for people aged 50 and older, while Zostavax is recommended for people 60 and older. Like the chickenpox vaccine, it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get shingles, but it reduces the severity of the disease and your chances of complications.

To determine if the chickenpox or shingles vaccines are right for you, you should talk to your doctor about your options. They’ll provide guidance on the risks and benefits associated with the vaccines, and know if your medical history puts you at a greater risk of awakening the virus.

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one had the chickenpox when you were younger, and are now showing signs of shingles, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

Skin Infections: Symptoms, Types, Treatment, & More

You do a lot to protect your skin – from keeping it safe from UV rays to moisturizing it to retain that youthful glow. Your skin makes up who you are, so it’s no wonder that you would do everything you can to keep it healthy. But, did you know that similar to other organs in your body, your skin can become infected? How do you know if your skin has been infected, and what can you do to treat it?

What are Skin Infections?

There are four different types of skin infections – including bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic. As germs contaminate your body, they can cause mild to severe cases of infections that can impact not only your skin but your general health. Most skin infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications or home remedies, but if left untreated, some infections could require immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Skin Infections

The severity of your skin infection paired with the type can impact the symptoms that occur. In general, skin infections include redness of the skin and a rash, but they can also include itching, pain, and tenderness. In some cases, you may also develop pus-filled blisters. If this happens, you should visit an emergency room immediately, as this is a sign of a more severe skin condition. Signs of severe skin infections include:

  • Pus
  • Blisters
  • Skin sloughing, breakdown
  • Dark or discolored and painful skin

Bacterial Skin Infections

If your skin has a bacterial infection, it will begin as small, red bumps that slowly increase in size. Sometimes these bumps can be warm to the touch, tender, or blister. They’re usually caused by bacteria entering the body through a cut, scratch, or another break in the skin. The most common bacterial skin infections include:

  • Cellulitis
  • Folliculitis
  • Impetigo
  • Boils
  • Leprosy

Viral Skin Infections

Viral skin infections typically produce localized or disseminated lesions. It begins with a fever and then spreads to vesicular rashes on the skin. These rashes contain replicating viral organisms and are infectious. Common viral skin infections include:

  • Shingles
  • Chickenpox
  • Warts
  • Measles
  • Hand/foot/mouth disease

Fungal Skin Infections

Living up to its name, fungal infections usually develop in damp areas of the body – like the feet or armpit. Your lifestyle and body chemistry play a heavy role in developing fungal conditions. Any activities that involve sweating heavily or wet clothes can increase your risk – especially if a break or cut in the skin occurs, allowing bacteria inside. They’re not typically life-threatening, but some fungal infections are contagious. The most common fungal skin infections include:

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Yeast infections
  • Ringworm
  • Nail fungus
  • Diaper rash

Parasitic Skin Infections

Parasitic skin infections occur when parasites contaminate the body. Tiny insects or organizations burrow underneath your skin and lay eggs which can cause the infection. These infections can spread to the bloodstream and organs – making them severe, but not life-threatening. Parasitic skin infections are more uncomfortable than anything else, but they should be treated quickly nonetheless. Some of the most common parasitic skin infections include:

  • Lice
  • Bedbugs
  • Scabies
  • Cutaneous larva migrans

Diagnosing Skin Infections

If you have signs of any of the four types of skin infections, you should visit your doctor. While most skin infections are non-life-threatening, they can quickly become more severe if left untreated. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and identify the type of skin infection based on the appearance and location – but in some cases, a skin cell sample may be tested.

Skin Infection Treatment

The treatment of your skin infection depends on the type, severity, and location of the condition. Most bacterial infections can be easily treated with topical antibiotics or oral antibiotics. Medicated creams help treat parasitic infections, and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce discomfort. You can also use over-the-counter anti-fungal sprays or creams to treat fungal skin infection. If your condition doesn’t improve for any of these infections, you should talk to your doctor.

Unlike other types of infections, some viral skin infections — like Herpes — cannot be cured. Instead, symptoms can be treated and suppressed to promote healing from blisters and other conditions. To determine the best treatment plan for your viral skin infection, you should consult with your doctor.

Preventing Skin Infections

One of the best ways to prevent skin infections is to thoroughly and often wash your hands. By maintaining good body hygiene, you can lower your risks of receiving an infection. Properly maintain cuts and other breaks in the skin by cleaning the wound and applying bandages to keep dirt and other germs out.

If you need to use a public bathroom or shower, wear shoes to prevent fungal infections. Also, avoid physical contact with people that have scabies or an active herpes infection. If you have a skin infection, you should also avoid making contact with other people until you get the go-ahead from your doctor.

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one have signs of a skin infection, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.

Shortness of Breath: Symptoms, Causes, & More

At some point in your life, you’ve probably become familiar with the phrase you take my breath away. While this phrase is typically used for the effect someone has on another person, it can also apply to a variety of medical conditions including asthma, allergic reactions, low blood pressure, and more.

Regardless of the reason, shortness of breath — also known as dyspnea — is usually a symptom of a greater issue. To keep you and your loved ones safe, you should learn how to recognize the signs and understand the causes that can impact your oxygen intake.

What is Dyspnea?

When you have shortness of breath, it typically means that you’re struggling to get enough air in your lungs. A healthy adult typically breaths in and out around 20 times a minute. Things like extraneous workouts and conditions like a cold can impact that number, but these conditions should never leave you feeling short of breath. If you have dyspnea or shortness of breath, then breathing will be more difficult – and no matter how much you breathe in, it won’t feel like enough air.

Symptoms of Dyspnea

Along with feeling out of breath and having difficulty breathing, common symptoms include:

  • Tightness in your chest
  • Swelling in your feet and ankles
  • Lips or fingertips turning blue
  • Wheezing
  • High fever
  • Coughing

If your shortness of breath occurred very suddenly and is accompanied by chest pain or nausea, you should call 911 immediately as you may need immediate medical attention. This could be a sign of a heart attack.

What Causes Shortness of Breath?

Your heart and lungs are the most commonly used muscles for transporting oxygen to your body and removing carbon dioxide. That’s why most causes of dyspnea involve these organs, but they aren’t the only organs to impact breathing. There’s a variety of minor to severe conditions that cause shortness of breath. Some common causes include:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Broken ribs
  • A collapsed lung
  • Heart disease/failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy
  • Sudden blood loss
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Obesity
  • Inflammation of the heart tissue

If you have shortness of breath while walking, this could simply be a sign that you are out of shape and not a symptom of a greater condition. If you have shortness of breath while talking, then this is a sign that it could be a heart or lung condition.

Risk Factors of Dyspnea

As with a variety of other conditions, smoking can be a major risk factor as it can result in many diseases with shortness of breath as a symptom. Preexisting conditions like asthma or muscle weakness can also increase your risk. Other risk factors may include:

  • Lung disease
  • Low hemoglobin
  • Being out of shape
  • Obesity

Diagnosing & Treating Shortness of Breath

If your shortness of breath is not caused by extraneous exercise or was an expected result of another activity, occurred suddenly, or is persistent across daily activities that weren’t previously a problem, then you should visit an emergency care clinic immediately. A doctor will be able to conduct a physical and determine the cause of your shortness of breath. Your doctor may ask you questions and conduct other tests to determine if you have dyspnea and what is causing it.

If your dyspnea is caused by asthma, your doctor will prescribe you with an inhaler to help make breathing easier. You may also be prescribed medications to help dissolve blood clots or resolve infections that are causing your shortness of breath. If you smoke, your doctor will request that you quit. Your treatment plan may also include lung strengthening exercises to help you improve your health. If your symptoms change or worsen, you should call your doctor.

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one is experiencing shortness of breath, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.