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.

Chest Pain: 10 Causes of Chest Pain & Tightness

Chest pain can be a scary situation – from the minimally concerning heartburn to a high-risk heart attack. You may experience chest pain for a number of reasons, and while a few of them are nothing to worry about, most of them may require immediate attention or a trip to the emergency room.

How do you know if your chest pain is something to worry about, and what are your treatment options?

Common Causes of Chest Pain and Tightness

1. Muscle strain

When you’re sick or have been coughing more often, sometimes the muscles in your chest can become strained. This causes tightness or soreness in your chest that feels painful with further coughing.

By getting over-the-counter products like cough syrup, cough drops, and other chest relievers, you can minimize the pain and begin the road to recovery. You should treat your muscle strain similarly to how you would treat a sore leg muscle – with plenty of rest and relaxation.

2. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Also known as acid reflux, GERD occurs when fluids from your stomach move back into the throat. This can cause a burning sensation in your throat and chest. In addition to chest pain, symptoms include a bitter taste in your mouth, belching, and feeling bloated. GERD is most likely to occur after eating a large, deep-fried, or spicy meal, being overweight or obese, or being pregnant – especially when lying down soon after eating.

Heartburn from GERD can be treated with over-the-counter products like Tums and other antacids. Be sure to abide by instructions, as overuse can cause problems with the lining of your stomach.

3. Pancreatitis

If you have lower chest pain that worsens when you lie flat or lean forward, then the issue may be with your pancreas, which is located on the upper left side of the abdomen. When your pancreas becomes inflamed, it can cause pain in your abdomen and chest. The pain gets worse after meals, and you may get lightheaded when standing up. Pancreatitis can be acute or severe.

If you think your pancreas is inflamed, you should visit a doctor immediately to see if your pancreatitis is acute or severe. If it’s acute, you’ll likely receive some IV fluids, and your pancreas will be monitored for any damaged tissue. If your pancreatitis is severe, surgery may be required.

4. Gallbladder problems

Chest pains could also be a sign of gallbladder problems. After a fatty meal, if you have pain in your lower chest area or upper right-side abdomen area, then your gallbladder may be the culprit. Additional symptoms include nausea, fever, chills, darker than usual urine, and changes in bowel movements (lighter-colored stools or diarrhea).

You should visit a doctor to see if your gallbladder is functioning properly. If it’s not, you may need to have surgery to have it removed. Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection post-surgery.

5. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is often associated with the winter, wet and cold months, but the truth is that pneumonia can take place regardless of the season – especially in older individuals. Pneumonia that’s causing chest pain is typically a sign of lung infection. In addition to chest pain, you may feel shortness of breath, coughing, and yellow or green mucus.

You should visit your doctor for testing and get antibiotics to alleviate any lung infection. During your recovery time, you should drink plenty of fluids and get rest. You may also take medicines to relieve any fevers.

6. Pleuritis

Pleuritis or pleurisy is caused by inflammation and irritation of the lining of the lungs or chest. This is caused by bacteria from viral infections, pulmonary embolism, or pneumothorax. The result is a sharp pain in your chest when you breathe, cough, or sneeze. The pain can radiate to your shoulders or back, and you may also experience headaches and shortness of breath.

If you’re experiencing sharp pains in your chest, you should visit your doctor. Your physician will conduct some tests to determine if you have pleuritis. If you do, they’ll prescribe you with antibiotics. You should also rest for a few days until the pain subsides or your antibiotics run out.

7. Pulmonary embolism

When a blood clot passes through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs, the result can be acute pleuritis, trouble breathing, and a rapid heartbeat. Depending on the severity of your pulmonary embolism, you may also experience fever, spitting up blood, and shock.

If you think you might have a pulmonary embolism, you should immediately see a doctor. They’ll need to try and break up the blood clot. This can be done with blood thinners, drugs, or medical procedures. You’ll need to talk to your doctor about treatment options to determine which is best for your pulmonary embolism.

8. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

CAD is caused by blockage to the heart vessel. It reduces blood flow and oxygen to the heart, which causes a feeling of squeezing or pressure in your chest. While CAD is a symptom of heart disease, it doesn’t cause permanent damage to your heart. If left untreated, you could be at a higher risk of a heart attack. Additional symptoms to chest pain include dizziness, fatigue, and numbness of the chest and abdomen.

If you have coronary artery disease, your doctor will first suggest some lifestyle changes – particularly to your diet. If lifestyle changes don’t resolve the issue, they may prescribe medications or suggest surgery. You should talk to your doctor about your options and how to prevent future issues.

9. Myocardial infarction

Also known as a heart attack, myocardial infarction is caused by a reduction of blood flow through the heart blood vessels, which causes heart muscle cells to die. While the pain can be similar to that of CAD, heart attacks tend to cause a more severe, crushing pain in the center or left side of your chest. It can also be accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, and severe weakness.

If you think you’ve had a heart attack, you should seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will suggest immediate lifestyle changes, and depending on the severity of your condition, you may also require cardiac rehabilitation, medications, stents, or bypass surgery.

10. Pericarditis

When the sac around the heart becomes inflamed or infected, this is known as pericarditis. In addition to CAD pain, it causes a sharp, steady pain along the upper neck and shoulder muscles. It can feel worse when you breathe, swallow food, or lie on your back.

Treatments may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents to eliminate pain and inflammation. Depending on the severity of your pericarditis, your doctor may also suggest steroids, antibiotics, and colchicine.

Related: Common Causes of Chest Pain While Sleeping

Chest Pain Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re experiencing chest pains or you think you’ve had a stroke or seizure, 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.

World Heart Day: 7 Daily Habits to Help Improve Heart Health

Every year, we celebrate World Heart Day on September 29. It was created by the World Heart Federation – and for good reason. According to the CDC, 610,000 people die from heart disease in the US each year. That means one in every four deaths is caused by heart disease. How do you improve your heart health and avoid becoming a statistic? What are some of the things you can do daily to prevent it?

How to Improve Heart Health

1. Exercise

Exercise has many benefits for your body – from giving your cardiovascular system a boost to releasing serotonin (also known as the happy hormone). By exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), depression, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and vertebral fractures, and you’ll feel happier.

That doesn’t mean you need to do high-intensity workouts in the gym. You could also participate in yoga, dancing, swimming, or even brisk walking for 30-minutes to reduce your risk. Anything that gets your heart pumping is the goal.

If you don’t know how to get started, enlist some friends to join you, take selfies while out on beautiful walks in nature and post them on social media, and make sure to start slowly and build the length and intensity of workouts gradually. This will help keep you motivated since it won’t feel overwhelming and it will also prevent injuries associated with wanting to do too much, too soon. Also, don’t become obsessed with the number on the scale. You are doing this for your heart health and there are more accurate ways to measure your progress: lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, less fatigue when doing simple tasks such as going up a flight of stairs, better sleep, and better moods.

2. Eat Well

Eating a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, olive oil, seeds, and fish will help nourish your body. By the same token, you should limit saturated fatsdairy, and red meat, since all of them have been linked to higher risks of cardiovascular disease. A well-balanced diet minimizes the build-up of fats and high cholesterol.

Research the different kinds of fats and become familiar with what fats are good and bad for your body. Trans fats found in fried, processed snacks, and fast foods raise your cholesterol levels. While unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – such as those found in avocado, nuts, olive oil, and fish – are healthy and necessary for your body.

If you like to snack, pack healthy options to take to school or work, so that you’re not tempted to buy items that are high in saturated fats. Apples with almond butter, carrots and hummus, grapes, and even popcorn (without the butter) are all healthy choices that are also good for your heart.

Related: Delicious Healthy Foods

3. Get Sleep

Life gets busy, and there never seems to be enough hours in the day. For some people, this means sacrificing hours of sleep at night. While an occasional night of fewer hours of sleep is bound to happen, your standard for sleep as an adult should be a minimum of seven hours.

Anything less than six hours doubles your risk of CVD, including heart attacks and strokes. Sleep plays a critical role in your health and the biological processes that impact your blood pressure. The less sleep you get, the more at risk you become.

If you regularly experience sleeping difficulties, there are things you can do to help your body get ready for bed –– avoid heavy meals in the evening, develop nighttime routines to help you wind down for the evening, go to bed every night at the same time, consider whether you need to buy a new mattress, keep the temperature in your bedroom at around 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius), and limit alcohol intake.

4. Maintain Dental Hygiene

When you think about your heart health, probably the last thing that comes to mind is your teeth. The connection is that the risk of heart disease and periodontal disease are the same.

Bacteria from gum disease travels to the bloodstream and can raise the levels of C-reactive proteins, which causes inflammation to your blood vessels. By brushing regularly two to three times a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist twice a year, you can lower your risk.

5. Turn Off Gadgets After 8 pm

Similar to getting more sleep, you should also try eliminating all gadgets and electronics after 8 pm. Studies have found that electronics — including your television and mobile devices — emit a soft blue light that stimulates brain activity.

If you go to bed around 9 pm, then turn off your electronics at 8 pm. A good rule of thumb is one hour before you try to go to sleep. Eliminating this distraction will help you fall asleep quicker and give you a deeper sleep, which lowers your chances of heart-related stress.

6. Remove Your Earphones

If you work in an office environment, then earphones can be a savior, but did you know that the loud noises are actually detrimental to your heart? That’s because loud noises from traffic or music cause your heartbeat to quicken and blood pressure to rise.

By investing in noise-canceling headphones that allow you to listen to music at a quieter volume, or by simply limiting your exposure to earphones, you can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Low tempo and soothing music can also have the opposite impact – slowing your heart rate ever so slightly and calming your mind.

7. Avoid Smoking/Smokers

By now, you’ve probably heard of the vast amount of conditions that can be caused by smoking – disorders like gum disease, cancer, and more. That also extends to CVD. Smoking yourself can extend your risk by 80% while even being around heavy smokers — like family members and friends — can raise your chances to 30%.

If you smoke, work towards quitting by limiting your tobacco intake gradually over time using patches or vapes, getting professional help, or stopping cold turkey. If you have loved ones that smoke, set boundaries for when and where they can smoke around you. It can be a difficult conversation, but your health is important, and your loved ones should be understanding.

Healthy Heart Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re experiencing chest pains or you think you’ve had a stroke or seizure, 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.

Signs You Have Food Poisoning

It would be a safe bet to say that at some point or another, most people have experienced a stomach ache. Sometimes it’s due to overeating, other times it may be due to gas. But when do you know if your symptoms are a sign of food poisoning, and what can you do about it?

What is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning occurs when you eat something that is contaminated with bacteria and your intestines become inflamed as a result. The most common bacteria that cause food poisoning are Salmonella, E. Colli, and Listeria, and they can end up in food by either not cooking them properly, leaving perishables unrefrigerated for too long, or coming into contact with fecal matter (which can happen any time a person handles food without first washing their hands).

The foods most commonly associated with food poisoning include eggs, meat, poultry, unpasteurized milk, and unwashed produce.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Signs of food poisoning are easy to recognize and can last anywhere between several hours to a day or two. They include the following:

  1. Abdominal cramping
  2. Nausea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Watery diarrhea
  5. A low-grade fever

These symptoms can also be confused with a stomach virus. However, viruses come with additional symptoms, such as weakness and dizziness which can last for up to a week.

In addition, food poisoning is easy to recognize if anyone who ate the same food you ate is also experiencing the same or similar symptoms.

Treatment for Food Poisoning

Most people will get food poisoning at some point in their lives. Because it’s so common, it can often be treated with home remedies by resting, staying hydrated, and drinking electrolytes (you can do this by consuming coconut water or sports drinks).

If symptoms persist for more than a day and the thought of food puts you off, you can stick with bland items so that you can at least consume some nourishment, such as:

  • Saltine crackers
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Toast
  • Rice

Do prioritize resting and hydration, as these two elements are essential for you to recover as soon as possible.

When to Go to the ER for Food Poisoning

Food poisoning often heals on its own within 48 hours or less. If you’ve been feeling sick for longer than that, seek medical attention immediately, as it could be a sign of infection.

Also seek emergency attention if you’re pregnant or already have a weakened immune system due to conditions such as cancer, HIV, liver disease, or lupus. In addition, any of these symptoms could be a sign of a more serious medical condition:

Do not ignore these symptoms; in the most severe cases, people with food poisoning do required hospitalization. Your symptoms may also be an indication of a more serious medical condition.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re not feeling well, 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.

Asthma & Shortness of Breath

Having an asthma attack can be a terrifying experience, especially when it’s your first one and you don’t fully understand what’s going on. In addition, there can be instances when a person simply thinks they are fatigued, “out of shape,” or tired, when in reality, they’re experiencing the kind of shortness of breath that signals an asthma attack.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects your lungs and airways. When a person gets an asthma attack, their airways become extremely inflamed, making it difficult for air to reach your lungs. If not treated adequately, it can be life-threatening. However, millions of people have learned to recognize and manage symptoms of asthma successfully.

When Shortness of Breath is Really an Asthma Attack

There are situations when shortness of breath has more to do with having allergies or getting used to a new exercise regimen. Even simple levels of exertion (like going up a flight of stairs) may result in shortness of breath when a person leads a sedentary lifestyle. Yet, gasping for air is of relatively short duration, and the person will start breathing normally again minutes after feeling short of breath.

That said, if you’re having an asthma attack, the episode will go hand-in-hand with several other symptoms.

Additional Warning Signs of an Asthma Attack

In addition to feeling like you can’t get enough air into your lungs, an asthma attack has the following symptoms:

  • Breathing quickens
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightening
  • Coughing

Attacks can vary in severity, so while a person may feel short of breath for only several minutes, the experience may last for hours for someone else.

The condition may feel worse for people who already have an underlying illness of their respiratory tract, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, anxiety, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or lung cancer.

When to Worry About Shortness of Breath

Experiencing shortness of breath may be cause for alarm if in addition, you’ve noticed any of the following red flags:

  • Dry, painful cough
  • Chest pain
  • Attacks always start after exercising
  • It’s harder to breathe when lying down
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Paleness
  • Feeling exhausted all the time

*All of these symptoms are chronic

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re not feeling well, 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.

Most Common Broken Bones Seen in the ER

If you’ve ever had a bone fracture, you’re aware of how painful they can be. And due to the extended time it can take for them to heal, the injury can significantly interrupt your daily activities. From personal hygiene to participating in your sport of choice, being sidelined can be frustrating and disheartening.

What are the most common broken bones, and how can you learn to recognize their symptoms?

The 5 Most Common Broken Bones Seen in the ER

The following injuries are the most common broken bone injuries seen in the ER:

1. Broken Arm

The most common cause of arm fractures is falling and trying to break the fall with your arms. It’s also common for them to occur in people who play contact sports or who’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Seeking medical treatment is crucial to prevent complications such as infections, a permanent limited range of motion, or post-traumatic arthritis.

Symptoms of a Broken Arm

Symptoms of a broken arm include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Limited range of motion
  • An open wound, with the bone protruding from the skin

2. Broken Foot

Fractures to the foot can range from hairline fractures (stress fractures) that occur from repetitive motion, to full-on breaks on the bone after experiencing blunt trauma. For hairline fractures, you’ll need to rest from the activity that caused it. This includes long-distance running, gymnastics, soccer, or any other sport that requires repetitive movements. Other fractures require immobilizing the foot with a cast and keeping your body weight off the foot with crutches, while the most severe of injuries may require surgery to realign the bones or insert screws to help you regain mobility.

Symptoms of a Broken Foot

Symptoms of a foot fracture include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Foot deformity
  • Intense pain
  • Inability to put your body weight on the injured foot

If you have a stress fracture, the pain starts when doing physical activity involving the injured foot and goes away when resting.

3. Hip Fracture

Hip fractures are always the result of blunt trauma, such as a fall or accident. They are also more likely to happen on people with osteoporosis. When they occur in older adults, the injury may require surgery. Sometimes the injury is not necessarily a bone break, but a dislocation of the ball-and-socket joints on either side of the hip. Rehabilitation for either type of injury may take months.

Symptoms of a Hip Fracture

Symptoms of a hip fracture include intense pain that radiates to the groin or upper thighs.

4. Broken Ribs

Broken ribs are also the result of blunt impact. The injury can range from a hairline fracture to a rib, to multiple broken ribs, or breaks along multiple parts of a rib.

Symptoms of a Broken Rib

Symptoms of a broken rib include:

  • Intense pain that worsens when taking a deep breath, laughing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Shortness of breath

Since the ribcage cannot be immobilized by a cast, your doctor may recommend sleeping in an upright position, holding a pillow against your chest when sneezing or coughing, and icing the site of injury.

5. Broken Clavicle

The clavicle is your collarbone. It’s an injury most commonly experienced by children and teenagers. This is because the clavicle doesn’t fully harden until around age 20. While it’s often the result of trauma (such as falling, being involved in an accident, or playing contact sports), it’s also possible to occur to a baby during birth.

Symptoms of a Broken Clavicle

Symptoms of a broken clavicle include:

  • Pain that worsens when you try to move your shoulder
  • Bulge on the collarbone
  • Cracking sound when you move your shoulder
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness

When the injury occurs to a baby, you’ll also notice the baby has not moved the injured arm for days.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’re not feeling well, 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.