4 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Have Chest Pain

Chest pain can be related to different ailments. Know what questions to ask for the right course of action.

The idea of chest pain harkens visions of CPR and defibrillators for heart attack treatment. However, not all pain is created equal. It can be symptomatic of breathing ailments, heartburn, panic attacks as well as heart issues. When you suffer from chest pain, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is my chest pain accompanied by the other symptoms? 
You should seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms with your chest pain:

  • Pain spreads to the arm
  • Pressure on your left side
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Erratic heartbeat

2. Is the pain related to my breathing?
 If the pain worsens with deep breathing or if you have been coughing a lot, make an appointment to see your physician.

3. Did I eat a large meal?
When your chest pain follows pigging out on a bunch of food and is accompanied by belching, your pain could be related to digestion. Heartburn, which is the pain caused by stomach acid splashing into the esophagus, can cause chest pain. Try taking an antacid. If pain continues, talk to your physician.

4. Did I fall or otherwise suffer an injury?
If you suffer some sort of trauma to your chest area, your pain could be related to a rib injury. In this case, seek medical treatment.

If you are unsure of the origin of your chest pain, call 911. When your chest pain is heart related, the Heart Institute at Oak Hill Hospital has a full range of the latest diagnostics and treatments to get you on the road to recovery. For more information, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Recovering from Stroke: What to Expect

Having a stroke is a life-changing event. Learn about the recovery process.

A stroke is a disruption in blood flow to the brain due to blockage or bleeding. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain tissue dies. 

The truth is, every stroke victim's journey and recovery is different because symptoms vary and each victim's ability to overcome or live with the results differs from one person to the next.

What happens after a stroke
Because a stroke damages the brain, the side effects range from physical to cognitive and emotional. The effects of stroke include: 

  • Changes in speech
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision loss
  • Onset of seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Memory loss
  • Incontinence
  • Depression

Rehabilitation
Recovering from a stroke is a life-long process that begins with rehabilitation. The purpose is to relearn basic skills and improve functions so the patient can become independent again.

If you suffer from a stroke, you may meet with various therapists to improve the functions that were lost or to help you move forward with the changes:

  • Occupational therapists help you relearn and improve your daily activity skills.
  • Speech therapists help you with not only speech, but also any swallowing issues.
  • Physical therapists aid in recapturing your mobility and teach you how to move with limited mobility.

Find support
Stroke recovery comes with a level of frustration. The activities you did before, like dressing yourself, become difficult or impossible. 

It is important to surround yourself with helpful and supportive friends and family members. Consider joining a support group so that you can connect with others are who going through the same struggles.

Preventing another stroke
Adopting lifestyle changes to prevent future strokes is a part of the recovery process. Your doctor will likely prescribe medications to keep your blood pressure in check and prevent other blockages. In addition, including a healthy diet into your post-stroke life is a preventative measure.

The Certified Primary Stroke Care Center at Oak Hill Hospital offers rapid response when a stroke strikes you someone you love. With a multidisciplinary team approach, our staff will develop a treatment plan specific to you. For more information, visit us online or call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120 to request a physician referral.

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Exercise & Type 2 Diabetes: Benefits and Guidelines

Face the challenge head on and add exercise to your treatment plan for type 2 diabetes.

Exercise is good for you no matter what; even if type 2 diabetes is making the transition into an physical activity regimen difficult. Type 2 diabetes is defined as the body's inability to move blood sugar, which is glucose, into the cells due to your body being insulin resistant. Insulin is needed to move the sugar.

Treatment for type 2 diabetes varies from dietary changes to medication. However, exercise can be a major component in treatment due to its benefits.

Reap the benefits
Regular exercise can actually mitigate your type 2 diabetes symptoms and effects. Exercising makes your body more sensitive to insulin, helps you lose weight and lowers the level of fats in your blood. Aerobic exercise takes your heart rate up while resistance training builds muscles. Both types of exercise help improve long-term glucose control. 

Guidelines for exercise
To get the most out of exercise, but not over do it, follow these recommendations:

  • Participate in moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes each week.
  • Spread your aerobic exercise over three days, with no more than two consecutive days.
  • Add resistance training at least two days, but preferably three days each week on nonconsecutive days.
  • Increase your overall activity. For example, walk more and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Before putting a fitness plan into action, talk to your physician about your plan. If you have any questions about managing your diabetes or if you would like to request a physician referral, please call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Combating Common Breastfeeding Challenges

Breastfeeding is natural, yet presents its own challenges. Learn how to overcome nursing obstacles for a healthy start to your new baby's life.

Celebrated August 1-7, World Breastfeeding Week focuses on supporting mothers who have made the decision to nurse their babies. The focus on peer counseling is aimed at supporting mothers in sticking with their plan to breastfeed, even if challenges arise.

Some of the common breastfeeding challenges and their subsequent solutions include:

  • Not enough milk – Your body is designed to make enough milk for your baby. If you're concerned with the amount of milk your baby is getting, check their weight to make sure there's no weight loss. Try offering both breasts at each feeding. Avoid using formula or cereal that could cause the baby to lose interest in breast milk.
  • Sore nipples - During the first week or so of breastfeeding, you may experience nipple pain as you become accustomed to nursing. However, it shouldn't continue nor be a deterrent. Try using a lanolin ointment after air drying your nipples. Also, make sure your baby is latching well.
  • Baby won't latch - Sometimes difficulty latching is related to position and comfort. If a traditional cradle position is not working, try lying on your side with your baby facing you, pulling the baby close so that he or she can latch. If latching problems continue, find a lactation consultant to answer your questions.
  • Breast engorgement – Your breasts will become larger and heavier. This is normal. However, when the breasts are engorged with a build-up of milk, the result can be pain, plugged ducts or infection. Try pumping or hand expressing a little milk to soften the breast. Also, feed from the more engorged breast more often.

To learn more about successful breastfeeding, visit our online health library. For answers to your health questions or for a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Back-to-School Health Q&A

What you need to know before the kids head back to school.

You can almost hear a collective groan from the kids. Summer is nearly over and back-to-school preparation is beginning. As you make your back-to-school shopping list, consider these frequently asked questions regarding your child's return to school.

Question : Is my child's backpack too heavy?
Answer: Their backpack should weigh no more than 20 percent of your their body weight. So, if your kid weighs 95 pounds, their backpack weight shouldn't exceed 19 pounds. Additionally, when carrying a backpack, your child should wear both shoulder straps to distribute the weight evenly and reduce strain. If the backpack is often too heavy, consider buying a bag with wheels.

Question Why get a back-to-school physical?
Answer: Besides being a requirement at many schools, getting a pre-school physical allows you to make sure your child is up to date on vaccinations. The physical also allows your pediatrician to provide wellness guidance in terms of healthy diet and exercise, as well as answer health questions. Regular exams also build up your child's medical history.

Question: How do I help my child with back-to-school anxiety?
Answer: The simple solution is to meet the challenge head on. Listen to your child's concerns. If they are worried about having a new teacher, try to set-up a meet and greet before the school year begins. It is important to remain positive, keep a schedule and make your child go to school.

Question: What is the best way to prevent my child from getting sick at school?
Answer: This solution really starts with you. Prior to taking them to school, teach the importance of good hygiene. Explain proper hand-washing, covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze and not sharing personal items with friends. Just in case, you can also send a bottle of hand sanitizer if it is age appropriate.

For more information about immunizations, visit Oak Hill Hospital's Immunization Guidelines for Children for a complete list of immunizable diseases as well as a recommended childhood immunization schedule. If you would like a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Tips for Patients Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

Be prepared for joint replacement surgery by having all of your ducks in a row.

Joint replacement surgeries, like knee replacements, are aimed at increasing mobility and decreasing pain. These types of procedures are becoming more common. You can make your transition to an artificial joint easy by following these recommendations to get ready for surgery.

Ask questions
Pre-operation appointments are a perfect time to ask your doctor questions. Your questions could include:

  • What to expect from surgery
  • What type of anesthesia will be used?
  • What type of replacement implant will be used?
  • How long will the hospital stay be?
  • How will pain be managed?

Prepare your body
Your doctor may give a regimen of steps to take to prepare for surgery:

  • If you smoke, quit or cut down because smoking can hinder the healing process.
  • Stop drinking alcohol before surgery.
  • Losing weight can help speed the recovery process.

Get your personal affairs in order
Because you will have a period of recuperation after surgery, it is a good idea to get your personal affairs in order prior to the procedure.

Consider:

  • Paying your bills in advance.
  • Making adjustments to your home to allow for easy accessibility because you may be on crutches or a walker.
  • Designating a family member or close friend to be a contact person for medical information. If your are under the influence of pain medication, you will probably want someone to talk to the doctors and retain the important information.
  • Making arrangements at your workplace for time off and for accessibility considerations when you do return.

Meet your after-care helpers
Make an appointment to meet and get to know the physical therapists that will help you post surgery. This is a good time to ask about your physical therapy treatment plan and what to expect in terms of regaining mobility.

If your doctor believes a joint replacement is a good option for you, the Orthopaedic Institute at Oak Hill Hospital offers state-of-the-art medical care and surgical techniques. For a physician referral or to have your health questions answered, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Best Outdoor Summer Safety Tips

Keep your family safe and healthy with these outdoor tips and precautions.

In the summer months, you and your family will likely spend more time outside. While being out in the fresh air is great, the outdoors present some unique and sometimes dangerous situations.

Heat safety
In the Florida sun, it doesn't take long to become overwhelmed by the heat. The key to beating the heat is awareness and planning ahead. If you're planning to spend time outside, have water and other drinks on hand so everyone can rehydrate. More importantly, know the symptoms of heat exhaustion so you can respond before someone is overcome by heat stroke, which are:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

If someone appears to be suffering from heat exhaustion, get them to the shade to cool off and have them drink water. If the symptoms continue, seek medical attention.

Don't be bugged
No one wants to go home covered in bug bites. Plan ahead by packing insect repellent. Keep away from brightly colored and floral printed clothing that will attract insects. Avoid areas where insects are swarming and wear clothing that covers your skin as much as possible.

Know about snake bites
A bite from a venomous snake is a medical emergency. Try your best to know a little about the venomous snakes indigenous to Florida. If someone is bitten by a snake and you are unsure if it's venomous, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately. If you plan to spend any time in areas known for having a presence of snakes, consider carrying a snake bite kit.

Oak Hill Hospital wishes you a safe and happy summer! If you have any health-related questions or need a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Four Tips for Staying Healthy on a Road Trip

When you take to the road, take these healthy suggestions with you.

The open road offers a wealth of surprises. When you and your family spend time together on a vacation, you naturally just want to focus on relaxing and having a great time. Use these tips to keep those surprises fun and travel-related, not health-related.

Eat healthy
When traversing the country, convenience food is an easy and sometimes unhealthy answer to hunger pangs. However, you don't have to turn to fast food drive-thrus or rest stop vending machines. Keep your stomach happy and your energy levels up with these tips:

  • Pack healthy snacks. Have nutritional alternatives available in the car to avoid buying junk food at gas stations. Consider taking trail mix, apples or whole grain crackers.
  • Brown bag it. Skip the restaurants all together by packing a healthy lunch in a cooler. You can take salads, fruit, healthy chicken wraps, etc. Don't forget the water!

Get rest
When the destination is in sight, you may be tempted to forego sleep to get there faster. This could be a fatal decision. Operating a vehicle while deprived of sleep is likened to drunk driving and has been linked to car crashes. The best course of action is to:

  • Take turns driving with another person in the car
  • Schedule breaks.
  • Listen to your body. If you are tired, pull over and sleep.

Get out and stretch
Being confined to the car for a long period of time can cause muscle stiffness and aches. Schedule breaks to get out and stretch. Doing so also allows you to see more of the area in which you are traveling.

Don't stress
Avoid stress on the road by being prepared. Prior to leaving, make a list of everything you will need for the journey and pack accordingly. Also, have a plan for the trip but remain flexible for unforeseen changes. Remaining stress-free will reduce tension in the car and in your muscles.

Oak Hill Hospital wishes you safe and healthy summer travel and vacation season. To have your health questions answered or to request a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-88-741-5120.

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Juvenile Arthritis: What to Expect

Juvenile Arthritis is a chronic disease that affects the entire family.

July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, drawing attention to the chronic illness affecting nearly 300,000 children in America. This is often an autoimmune disorder in which the body's own defenses attack the muscles, joints, cartilage and other connective tissue. While the term arthritis is usually used to describe joint inflammation, juvenile arthritis can also affect the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Because it is a chronic illness, juvenile arthritis has a significant impact on the diagnosed child and their family. Here's what to expect:

Symptoms
The most common symptoms of the disease are swelling, pain and stiffness of the joints that doesn't go away. It usually affects the hands, feet and knees and is worse in the morning. Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the lymph nodes
  • High fever and skin rash
  • Limping or difficulty moving in the morning
  • Clumsiness

Diagnosis
Your child's pediatrician will take into consideration the symptom and factor those in with family history and the results of x-rays and lab test.

Treatment
There is no known cure for juvenile arthritis, only management. Your doctor may encourage you to keep your child active to maintain a good quality of life. Symptoms can be managed with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medication and exercise.

Learning to cope
Juvenile arthritis is a chronic disease, meaning that you, your child, and your family have to learn to live with it. Due to the pain, your child may feel irritable and frustrated. Additionally, the disease could put a strain on your child's social activities. To deal with the effect, you may want to consider joining a support group. The key is to treat your child normally and learn to live with the disease.

To learn more about juvenile arthritis, visit our online health library. In the event your child needs medical treatment, consider the Pediatric Emergency Care Center at Oak Hill Hospital, the area's only pediatric ER providing child-centered care with "ouch-less" techniques. For more information, contact our Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Diagnosing Your Back Pain

Learn about what may be causing your back pain and how to find relief.

Feeling a pain in your back? You're not alone. Back pain is one of the most common health issues with eight out of every ten people suffering from the problem at some point in their lives. There are two general categories of back pain: acute and chronic.

Acute back pain
This pain occurs suddenly and lasts for a few days to a few weeks. For example, this could happen if you are lifting a heavy piece of furniture by yourself and feel pain in your back as a result. Acute back pain is usually caused by an incident like moving furniture and is caused by injury to the muscles and ligaments. However, sudden lower back pain could also be caused by:

  • Compression fractures from osteoporosis
  • Muscle spasms
  • Cancer involving the spine
  • Sciatica
  • Herniated disc

Chronic back pain
When back pain continues over months or years, it is labeled at chronic back pain. Sometimes, the source of chronic back pain cannot be determined. But, some identifiable causes include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fracture
  • Disc injury

Treating back pain depends on the source. For acute back pain caused by muscle or ligament strain or sprain, the prescription would probably include anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants. Chronic back pain treatment takes a little work on the part of your doctor. Diagnosis may require medical tests, such as x-rays, to determine an underlying cause. Surgery could be recommended in the case of severe disc problems.

Regardless of the cause of your back pain, the staff at the Orthopedic & Spine Institute at Oak Hill Hospital is poised to diagnose your pain and get your on the road to a painless future. If you would like to schedule an appointment or request a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120 for a physician referral.

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