Health

Eye Care Basics: Protect Your Vision and Boost Your Health

woman getting eye examOur eyes help us navigate each day – enabling us to get our work done, connect with family or friends, and enjoy our favorite pastimes. Despite all our eyes do for us, it’s easy to overlook our eye health. Learn how the right eye care can protect your vision.

Take Care of Contact Lenses and Wear Them Correctly

Wearing contact lenses is fairly straightforward. But after a few years (or years and years) of wearing lenses, it can seem like not such a big deal to fall asleep in them or skip a few steps when cleaning them. Taking proper care of your contacts and following instructions can help keep your eyes healthy.

Be sure you:

  • Replace your contacts according to the schedule provided by your doctor or brand.
  • Replace your contact case every three months to reduce the risk of contamination or infection from a dirty or damaged case.
  • Remove contacts before showering or swimming.
  • Use a sterile solution to clean contacts, and don’t use water or saliva to rewet them.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling contacts.

Reduce Screen Time

Screen time isn’t just bad for the brain and body: It’s bad for our eyes. Considering that Americans spend approximately 10 hours a day looking at a screen, it’s important to take some simple steps to help protect your eyes.

Staring at a screen – whether it’s a computer, phone, tablet or TV – can strain the eyes from the exposure to the blue light of digital devices. Symptoms of digital eyestrain include:

  • Dry eye
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritated or itchy eyes
  • Red eyes

You can protect your eyes from digital eyestrain by:

  • Keeping screens an arms-length away
  • Limiting screen time
  • Making sure the lighting in the room is brighter than the device you’re using
  • Raising the contrast of your screen
  • Using a humidifier where you work to help keep eyes moist
  • Using a matte screen filter to cut glare
  • Wearing glasses more often

Wear Protective Eyewear

The term “protective eyewear” can bring up images of safety glasses. But, it’s so much more than that. Your sunglasses are one of your most important pieces of protective eyewear. Regularly wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays can help reduce your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium, which can cause astigmatism. You should also wear a hat to help protect your eyes.

If your job requires use of specialty eyewear, be sure you wear it regularly and safely. A simple pair of safety goggles or glasses can help protect your eyes from stray pieces of material that may cause damage to your eyes. Some sports, like basketball, football and hockey, also call for protective eyewear to help keep you or your athlete’s eyes healthy.

Get Enough Sleep

Did you know that eyes need at least five hours of sleep to rest and replenish? Sleep helps our eyes work properly and protects our vision. Not getting enough sleep may cause:

  • Dry eye
  • Eye spasms
  • Popped blood vessels

Make sure you get enough “shut eye” by going to bed at the same time and aiming for at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Get a Thorough Eye Exam Every Year

An annual eye exam is an important part of maintaining your health, even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts. A comprehensive, dilated eye exam gives your optometrist or ophthalmologist the opportunity to check the health of your eyes, and identify health conditions or complications of high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma and overall eye health. Find an optometrist or ophthalmologist near you and schedule your eye exam.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Things Every Senior Should Discuss With Their Doctor

senior healthOne important way to maintain good health while aging is to create an open and honest relationship with your doctor. Sharing with your doctor what is important to you while also addressing your physical and personal challenges is critical to your health and safety.

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up your favorite activities. Having discussions with your loved ones and doctor about what is meaningful creates an understanding of what quality of life means to you. It is important to continue to enjoy an active lifestyle – traveling, participating in physical activities such as water aerobics, and meeting up with friends to play games like Bridge.

While it is important to maintain a good quality of life, it is also critical to make sure you are safe while doing so! Part of your discussion with your doctor should include identifying what your physical limitations are and any barriers to performing your activities of daily living. It is important to mention if you experience any falls, changes in vision, or complications from any chronic conditions such as heart, neurologic or musculoskeletal disease.

Maintaining regular wellness visits or follow-up exams with your primary care physicians gives you the opportunity to have these discussions with your doctor and open up a dialogue about what is important to you with the focus to keep you healthy and active. Talk to your doctor about what quality of like means for you so that you can create a safe way to keep doing what you love to do!

1. Osteoarthritis

Sore, stiff or painful joints are often a sign of osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis affecting older adults. Common joints affected by osteoarthritis include the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

It is important to share with your doctor if you are having pain in any of these joints to rule out other diseases that may mimic the symptoms of osteoarthritis. You may need diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray, to provide a clear picture and diagnosis of your condition.

If osteoarthritis is diagnosed, it is important for your doctor to understand how your joint pain is affecting your daily life. Working together with your primary care doctor, and possibly other specialists such as a physical therapist and/or orthopedic specialist can be instrumental to limiting your pain so that you can maximize your function and quality of life.

Therapies that you may discuss with your doctor and specialists can include, but are not limited to:

  • A healthy diet, with nutritional supplementation for healthy bones and joints
  • Medications, which may range from topical creams to over-the-counter and prescribed meds
  • Physical activity, including physical therapy and guided musculoskeletal training

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. It can strike at any age, but the risk of developing coronary heart disease increases as we age. Older individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic health conditions that can lead to heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Your doctor can discuss your risk of developing heart disease. Together, you can create a plan that helps you improve your heart health, which may include:

  • Eating a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Getting physically active
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing chronic health conditions
  • Quitting smoking

3. Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases in the U.S. alone in 2019. Those statistics may sound scary, but advances in screening, diagnosis, treatment, and management are empowering more individuals to survive cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million individuals in the U.S. by 2026, compared to 15.5 million in 2016.

One of the biggest risks for developing cancer is advanced age. The NCI found that the median age for a cancer diagnosis is 66 years.

You can manage your cancer risk with regular check-ups with your doctor. Today’s screening tests are effectively identifying and diagnosing cancer in its earlier stages – getting you the treatment you need for a better outcome.

Talk to your doctor about your cancer risk and what cancer screening test is right for you. If you notice any troubling symptoms, don’t wait for your annual exam – schedule an appointment today.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares, and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

or call us at 404-778-7777

About Dr. Footman

Eleni Footman MDEleni Footman, MD, began her studies by completing a bachelor’s degree in Health Science at the University of Florida. Following her collegiate studies, she completed two years of post-baccalaureate clinical research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a focus in Sickle Cell Disease. In 2009, she transitioned to Georgetown University School of Medicine for her medical degree. She participated in the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 2013 where she explored how end-of-life and advanced care planning was approached by Internal Medicine residents in their ambulatory clinic settings. Following this, she completed a three-year Internal Medicine residency at INOVA Fairfax Medical Campus in Fairfax, VA. She completed her medical training at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell where she obtained training for her Geriatric Medicine fellowship. She now works as an outpatient Geriatrician with Emory Healthcare and as a house call physician as part of the Emory Domiciliary Care program.

Her professional interests include caring for and advocating for seniors in the clinical setting but also in the community and at the home setting with a long term professional interest in house call medicine and domiciliary care. She is very passionate about keeping seniors as functional as possible with an emphasis on fall prevention. She enjoys being an advocate and support for families and caregivers and, most importantly, aims to optimize the quality of life for each of her patients.

How Not to Get Sick: 5 Tips to Stay Healthy All Year Long

washing handsA cold or virus can knock you off your feet and keep you in bed for days at a time. Not only do you feel miserable when you’re sick, but you miss out on work, school and with your family. While you can’t avoid sickness altogether, there are a few ways you can stay healthy all year long. Read on to learn five simple tips for combatting illness and keeping you up and at ‘em.

1. Wash Your Hands Properly

Hand hygiene is one of your best defenses against getting sick. But proper handwashing may not be as straightforward as you think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer five foolproof steps to make sure you’re washing away germs and bacteria that can make you sick:

  1. Wet hands with clean, running water.
  2. Apply soap and lather the backs of hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  5. Dry hands with a clean towel or air-dry them.

Soap and water are always the best way to get rid of the germs on your hands. However, if you don’t have access to running water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is recommended.

Be sure you wash your hands after:

  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Caring for someone who is sick
  • Changing diapers
  • Touching an animal, animal food or animal waste
  • Treating a cut or wound
  • Using the toilet or helping a child go to the bathroom

And before:

  • Eating
  • Preparing food
  • Treating a cut or wound

2. Make Sure You’re Up-to-Date on All Your Vaccines

Vaccines aren’t just for children. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases recommends that all adults follow the vaccination schedule set by the CDC to help prevent serious illnesses, such as:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Rubella
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough

Be sure to talk to your primary care provider to make sure you’re up-to-date on each of these vaccines and to discuss which are right for you.

3. Wipe Down Surfaces

When someone starts coughing or sneezing in your home or workplace, cleaning (to remove dirt and germs) and disinfecting (to kill the germs on surfaces or objects) common areas will help you stay healthy. Be sure to follow the instructions on your cleansers and disinfectants for full effectiveness, and maintain a regular cleaning schedule to keep germs at bay. Target areas that are touched most often, including:

  • Computer keyboards
  • Countertops
  • Desks
  • Doorknobs
  • Faucets
  • Phones
  • Remotes

4. Learn Sneezing and Coughing Etiquette

File this under gross, but true: A cough can travel at up to 50 miles per hour and have 3,000 droplets of saliva, which can contain germs, bacteria and viruses. Sneezes have about 40,000 droplets and can travel as fast as 200 miles per hour.

Help stop the spread of germs by following proper sneezing and coughing etiquette: Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hand. Instead, use a tissue to cover your mouth or nose, or use the bend of your arm to completely cover your mouth or nose. Regardless of how you sneeze or cough, be sure to wash your hands frequently if you notice you’ve been coughing or sneezing a lot.

5. Schedule Annual Screenings

Annual screenings to check for chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, are an important part of staying healthy. Scheduling a regular exam with your primary care provider also gives you the opportunity to discuss any health concerns you may have. Find a doctor near you and schedule a well visit today.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy. 

 

Social Wellness: Your Relationships Impact Your Health

social wellnessThere’s a lot of talk these days about your emotional, physical and mental wellness, but what about your social health? After all, your relationships with family and friends certainly impact your overall well-being. Think about the last time you had an argument with a loved one or were on the outs with a friend: It can make your blood pressure rise and release stress hormones in your body. All relationships have their ups and downs. But with strong communication, open-mindedness and empathy, healthy relationships will stand the test of time — and add great value to your life.

In fact, research supports the idea that people with strong social wellness (those who have healthy relationships and can successfully interact with others) enjoy many health benefits, including:

  • Boosted immune systems
  • Healthier hearts
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Longer lives
  • Stronger endocrine systems

Take the next step towards social wellness by discovering these simple ways to build healthy, lasting relationships.

1. Take Care of Yourself

It’s hard to build healthy, meaningful relationships when you feel tired or run down. That’s why the first step in boosting your social wellness is to take care of yourself. Be sure you:

Eat healthy

Proper nutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. And instead of following the latest fad diet, get back to the basics with meals and snacks that include lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy dairy and plenty of protein. Keep in mind all your protein doesn’t need to come from animals. Reach for nuts, beans, legumes or eggs for a well-rounded diet. Skip foods that are high in empty calories, sugar and saturated fats.

Get plenty of exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults age 18-64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, along with two days of weight-strengthening exercises.

Make time to head outdoors for a walk or run around the block or swim at a local community pool. Find something you enjoy and make exercise a habit. After all, regular physical activity can boost your energy, strengthen your muscles, boost brainpower and improve your cardiovascular health.

Make time for yourself

Self-care is more than a buzzword: It’s critical you take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others. Make room in your busy schedule for your favorite activities, whether that’s a weekly massage, a favorite show or reading a book. When you spend time doing the things you love, you’ll be better able to support others and nurture your relationships.

Disconnect from the screen

Today’s technology has put the answers to our most burning questions right at our fingertips. And social media has enabled us to connect with friends and family members around the country and even the globe. But, all that time staring at a screen can take away from relationships with your family, friends and people in your community.

It can also sometimes create feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression and eat into your productivity, which means you have less time to do the things you enjoy.

Instead of being a slave to your screen, set boundaries. Pledge to check social media only two or three times a day and keep your phone out of reach. After a few days, you’ll be surprised at how little you’ve missed.

Learn time-management skills

Time management is a great way to manage your stress and build healthy relationships with others. After all, when you’re not thinking about the to-do list that’s a mile long, you can better focus on your relationships and be present in the moment.

If you struggle with too much on your list, consider these “tried and true” time management tips:

  • Delegate tasks that others can complete.
  • Just say no. When you’re feeling overloaded, let others know. Tell them you can’t take on any more tasks right now, but ask them to check back in a day or two.
  • Prioritize your tasks by deadlines.
  • Write down all your tasks to help you stay focused.

2. Communicate

Open and respectful communication is the pillar that supports friendships. You can communicate effectively with your loved ones and friends by:

Sharing your feelings

Your support network is key to helping you through tough times. Let others know how you’re feeling or if something has upset you. Being honest about your feelings, instead of a quick “I’m fine,” can help you build meaningful relationships.

Being empathetic

A healthy relationship is a two-way street. Give your friends and family members your undivided attention and approach their problems, concerns and successes with empathy. Listen carefully to what they’re saying and ask how you can help instead of offering unsolicited advice.

3. Set Boundaries

Our social wellness isn’t measured by how many friends we have, but by meaningful connections and healthy relationships. Remember, a true friend is willing to listen to and support you, no matter what. Avoid abusive, violent or toxic people. Set boundaries with individuals that make you feel bad about yourself, and limit your interaction with negative friends, family members or neighbors.

4. Teach Your Children About Healthy Relationships

The first place your children will learn about healthy relationships is in your home. Nurture positive relationships with your children so they know the impact and value of feeling loved and appreciated, and are ready to build similar relationships with their friends and loved ones.

Let your children know you love them, offering plenty of praise and support. And when praising them, be specific. Instead of saying “Good job on your report card,” try saying “I’m so proud of how hard you worked in math. Your study habits and attention in class helped you pull your grade up.” Offer praise in times of failure, too. After all, we learn as much from our failures as we do from our successes.

5. Find New Ways to Connect

Deepen bonds with old friends and branch out to make new ones by:

  • Going for a walk together or exploring a new hiking trail
  • Joining a group that focuses on a favorite hobby, such as photography, painting or reading
  • Participating in community events
  • Signing up for a new class together
  • Trying a new restaurant
  • Volunteering in the community

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, and hundreds of primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. If you have questions or concerns about your social wellness, find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Walton

Dr. Velair WaltonVelair Walton, M.D., is a an Internal Medicine Physician at Emory St. Joseph’s Primary Care. Dr. Walton’s clinical interests include Women’s Health and Lifestyle Medicine with a strong focus on diet, exercise, and living a holistically healthy life. She also has a strong interest in chronic disease, particularly empowering patients to navigate their diagnosis through health education.

Dr. Walton is a distinguished member of the American College of Physicians serving on the Wellness Committee for the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians. In addition to her leadership roles in local community organizations such as the Athletic Fitness Association of America, she is a devoted student of the bible regularly serving in her local church.

Emergency Preparedness: Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe

Emergency Preparedness KitWe don’t like to think about it, but emergencies can strike at any time. From major disasters to health scares, it’s important to be prepared so you and your family can cope with whatever comes your way.

For some, emergency preparedness is a daunting task. To make it less overwhelming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest breaking it down into an easy-to-remember, three-step process:

  1. Get a kit
  2. Make a plan
  3. Be informed

1. Get a Kit

Make a kit of supplies you would need in a disaster. The Department of Homeland Security recommends your emergency kit include:

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert
  • Dust masks
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Food (three-day supply of non-perishable food such as energy bars, peanut butter, nuts, canned vegetables and dried fruit)
  • Local maps
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Medication (enough to last three days)
  • Whistle
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Water (three gallons of water to last for three days for each person in your household)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Gather your materials and store them in a leak-proof bin in a safe, dry place in your home. Then, determine a set time to check the expiration dates of the food, water and supplies in your emergency kit, which you should do at least twice a year. To be sure you can remember without electronic alerts, since your electronic calendar and alerts may not work in a disaster, make these semi-annual checks coincide with other important events. One example would be to make it a routine part of your spring cleaning and New Year’s goals. These are also great times to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Aside from creating and maintaining your emergency kit, you might also consider wearing a medical identification bracelet or necklace to notify emergency personnel of any health conditions.

2. Make a Plan

Sit down with your friends or family members and go over what to do in case of an emergency. Be sure to discuss:

  • A fire plan: Talk about safe ways to exit the house and where everyone should meet once outside. If you have children, do a few fire drills so they can learn what the smoke alarm sounds like and where to go.
  • A tornado plan: Know where to go during a tornado warning. Discuss what the tornado sirens sound like, and the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
  • Emergency contacts: Make sure everyone knows how to get in touch in an emergency. Memorize important phone numbers since cell phones with programmed numbers may not work.
  • Fill out your phone’s emergency information: Many phones have fields you can pre-program for emergency responders with health or emergency contact information in case of an emergency. If your phone doesn’t offer pre-programmed fields, add an “ICE” contact to your contact list. “ICE” stands for “in case of an emergency” and will let emergency personnel know who to contact. You can also add a piece of paper to your wallet with pertinent information.

3. Be Informed

As you gather emergency supplies for your home and discuss communication plans with your family, you should also familiarize yourself with the disasters most likely to happen. Be sure to sign up for alerts that will keep you informed of any potential emergencies. The City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness offers several resources to help residents get prepared, including NotifyATL. This automated system sends out critical information to help keep you safe, including alerts about weather, unexpected road closures and building evacuations.

You should also consider:

  • Learning CPR and first aid basics (The Red Cross offers classes around the metropolitan area).
  • Locating the evacuation centers in your community in case you need to leave your home.
  • Reading about “Run, Hide, Fight” in the case of an active shooter.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Walton

Dr. Velair WaltonVelair Walton, M.D., is a an Internal Medicine Physician at Emory St. Joseph’s Primary Care. Dr. Walton’s clinical interests include Women’s Health and Lifestyle Medicine with a strong focus on diet, exercise, and living a holistically healthy life. She also has a strong interest in chronic disease, particularly empowering patients to navigate their diagnosis through health education.

Dr. Walton is a distinguished member of the American College of Physicians serving on the Wellness Committee for the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians. In addition to her leadership roles in local community organizations such as the Athletic Fitness Association of America, she is a devoted student of the bible regularly serving in her local church.

Screening 101: What Health Screening Tests Do You Need and Why?

Primary Care PhysicianHealth screening tests can seem like a nuisance: You need to schedule an appointment, take time out of your day and wait to see a provider. But, they are so much more. Health screenings are a way for you to take control of your own health. An annual exam with a primary care provider gives you the opportunity to talk about your concerns, your family history and past or current medical conditions.

These annual tests and exams can equip you with the information and education you need to make healthy choices that last a lifetime, allowing you to enjoy life to its fullest. There are many screenings available. Your primary care provider will discuss which are best for you based on your family and medical history. Those screening tests may include:

  • Annual physical
  • Annual eye exam
  • Cancer screenings
  • Sexually transmitted infection screenings

Annual Physical Examination

The best place to start with annual screenings is with your annual physical exam. This appointment gives you the opportunity to talk with your primary care provider – sharing any concerns and getting answers to any questions you may have. It also allows your provider to check in on any other conditions you may have – from high blood pressure, depression, anxiety or diabetes. During your annual exam, you may also receive:

  • Blood tests to check blood sugar and cholesterol levels
  • Immunizations, such as the flu shot
  • Pelvic exam (women)
  • Weight, blood pressure and temperature check
  • Screening questions about depression, smoking, and alcohol use

Your provider will also recommend any additional screenings based on your family and medical history. Sharing an updated history with your physician is important as family history often indicates an increased risk for developing certain conditions, such as cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Annual Eye Exam

If you have diabetes, you should schedule an annual eye exam. Make going to the eye doctor a priority. Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk for eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataract and glaucoma. Your eye doctor will conduct special tests to check the health of your eyes to keep you seeing well for as long as possible.

Cancer Screenings

Cancer screenings can vary across individuals, depending on their age, risk factors and family and medical history. Research has shown that some screening tests can reduce cancer deaths. According to the National Cancer Institute, those include:

• Colonoscopy – Screenings for colon cancer, including colonoscopy and other indirect colon cancer tests, can diagnose early stage colon cancer and precancerous cells, which can be removed to prevent cancer from developing.

• Low-dose CT scanIndividuals at risk for developing lung cancer should have a low-dose CT scan, which can detect and diagnose lung cancer. Early detection – before symptoms appear – can reduce lung cancer deaths.

• Mammogram – The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for mammogram to detect early stage breast cancer in asymptomatic average-risk women:

  • Women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual mammograms after discussion with their provider.
  • Women ages 45-54 should have an annual mammogram.
  • Women ages 55 and older should have mammograms every two years.

• Pap test and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing – Cervical cancer death rates have dropped dramatically since regular Pap test screening was introduced. Today, most health professionals recommend that Pap testing begin at age 21 and occur every 5 years if done with HPV testing.

Your provider may also discuss screenings for skin cancer and prostate cancer, depending on your age and risk factors.

Sexually Transmitted Infections Screening

If you’re sexually active, talk to your doctor about getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). An open and honest conversation can help you and your doctor identify your risk and get you the information and tests you need to stay healthy.

Some individuals with an STI, such as HPV or chlamydia, may show no symptoms but can still infect others. Left untreated, these infections can have serious complications on your physical, emotional and reproductive health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends STI screenings for the following individuals:

• Annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings for all sexually active women under age 25 and older women with risk factors

• Chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings for pregnant women at risk for infection

• HIV screenings at least once for everyone ages 13-64

  • HIV testing should be done more frequently for those at risk, including those who have more than one partner or use IV drugs.

• Syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea screening for all sexually active gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men

• Syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B screenings for all pregnant women

Emory Healthcare is committed to providing confidential and accessible STI testing at sites across metropolitan Atlanta. We partner with organizations around the community to deliver family planning, sexual education and sexually transmitted infection screenings and resources.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to schedule your annual screenings and exams.

 

About Dr. Vohra-Khullar

Pamela Vohra-Khullar, MD, joined Emory in 2013 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. She is also distinguished as a Senior Physician in clinical medicine. She splits her time between primary care clinic at The Emory Clinic and resident education at Grady Memorial Hospital. She completed medical school at the University of Chicago in 2005 and residency at Harvard Medical School-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2008. She serves as the site director for the Primary Care Resident Clinic at The Emory Clinic. Her educational interests include ambulatory teaching and patient-doctor communication. Her clinical interests include preventive medicine, women’s health, and comprehensive chronic disease management.

 

Just 15 Seconds Can Help Prevent the Spread

Every year, here at Emory Healthcare, we celebrate Hand Washing Awareness week.

The goal of National Hand Washing Awareness Week is to decrease the spread of infectious diseases by empowering individuals through education on the importance of hand washing to help protect their loved ones and communities. By working together we can make a difference!

At each of our facilities, all of our team members practice hand hygiene and we are reminded at almost every turn via signage and educational information just how important hand hygiene is for the health and wellness of our staff, patients, families and visitors.

By definition, hand hygiene is the cleaning of the hands using either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Hand “washing” refers to hand cleaning using soap and water. Hands can become contaminated with bacteria during routine daily activities such as eating, coughing, changing diapers, caring for an ill loved one, or taking out the trash. Hand hygiene doesn’t get rid of all bacteria on the hands, but it can reduce the number of bacteria on the hands and prevent spread of bacteria from one person to another, or prevent the contamination of additional surfaces.

The 6 Rules of Hand Washing:

  • Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets, or handling money.
  • Wash your hands when they’re dirty.
  • Always wash your hands before eating.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
  • Refrain from putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid touching people and surfaces with unclean hands.

Proper Hand Washing Technique:

  1. Wet hands with warm water, then use soap (preferably anti-bacterial).
  2. Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
    • Be sure to rub for a minimum of 15 seconds, or sing “Happy Birthday” to make hand washing most effective.
  3. Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
  4. Finally, be sure and turn faucet off with the towel, not your hands, to prevent re-contamination.

Do you have other tips that help you practice good hand hygiene? If so, share them with us and our readers using the comments field below!

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

 

 

Are You Managing Your Stress? 5 Ways to Feel Better, Be Healthy

Stress is part of everyday life. In fact, the right amount of stress can help us in our jobs to make decisions and to meet a goal. But when stress is constant and lasts for days or weeks, it can have a serious impact on our health. And that’s the type of stress that concerns health care professionals.

How is Stress Bad for the Body?

A Gallup poll found that eight in 10 Americans are frequently or sometimes stressed in their daily lives.

Stress causes a physical and emotional reaction in our bodies: The nervous system releases hormones, including cortisol, that trigger the “flight or fight” response. Usually, this response is short-term. Your heartbeat increases, breathing gets faster, muscles tense and you may start to sweat.

But, when you stay stressed over a long period of time, the release of those hormones can impact your health. Prolonged stress can cause:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Fertility problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss

What are Common Causes of Stress?

Everyone has different stress triggers (situations or events that cause stress). The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2017 Stress in America poll found:

  • The future of our nation stresses 63 percent of Americans.
  • Money stresses 62 percent of Americans.
  • Work stresses 61 percent of Americans.
  • The current political climate stresses 57 percent of Americans.
  • Violence and crime stresses 51 percent of Americans.
  • Traffic is a major source of stress, especially around major metropolitan cities.

A follow-up report from the APA also found that 66 percent of Americans are stressed by the cost of healthcare and insurance.

One study found the longer a person’s commute to work, the higher their blood pressure and body mass index were.

How Can I Manage My Stress?

Stress management is an important way to improve your health and avoid serious implications of long-term stress. Just as everyone has different stress triggers, everyone also responds differently to different stress management techniques.

Five easy and effective ways to manage stress include:

1. Take care of yourself

Regular physical activity and healthy eating can help your body fight stress hormones and lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common side effect of stress and can cause long-term damage to your heart, as well as increase your risk of heart attack. Next time you’re feeling stressed or feel your blood pressure rise, take a break from what you’re doing to go for a quick walk, or grab a healthy snack, or take a longer relaxing walk.

2. Practice mindfulness

Simply speaking, mindfulness is when you’re fully present. When stressed, that means calmly acknowledging how you feel and working to identify what’s causing your feelings of stress or anxiety. Once you identify the source of your stress, you can accept your feelings and work toward a solution that will help you feel better. This may include taking a break from what you’re doing, meditating or speaking with a family member or friend.

3. Get enough sleep

The APA’s 2013 stress report found that adults who had less than 8 hours of sleep felt more stressed than those who had at least 8 hours of shut-eye. Make a consistent bedtime routine, including getting to bed at the same time every night and plan for at least 8 hours of sleep to help you feel better and more rested. Avoid screen time (television, computer or telephone screens) at least 1 hour prior to bedtime to help get to sleep faster.

4. Tracking spending

Money and finances are a common cause of stress. Empower yourself by understanding where your money is going. Make a budget and track your spending to take control of finances and reduce your stress.

5. Stretch

Simple stretches throughout the day are a great way to take a break from stressors of work or daily life and re-center your mind and body. Stretch your legs, arms, back or neck at least once an hour and see what a difference it can make.

Feeling Stressed? Talk to Someone

If you’re experiencing chronic stress, talk to a trusted friend or family member. It can often help to share your worries and concerns with a loved one who can offer perspective and provide insight on how you can better manage your stress, workload or concerns.

Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to discuss any physical or emotional concerns you may have. Your provider can complete a comprehensive physical that monitors your blood pressure, along with other screenings, to learn how stress has impacted your health. Your provider may also refer you to a therapist or psychologist to help you better manage stress. Find a provider near you by visiting Emory Healthcare online.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Collins

Caroline Jones Collins, MD, joined Emory at Peachtree Hills in January 2018. Dr. Collins grew up in Snellville, GA, and gained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. She attended Emory University for both medical school and her internal medicine residency. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two children. Dr. Collins is passionate about preventive health and helping patients live healthy, happy lives.

 

 

Stay Healthy at Work: 5 Ways to Stay Active and Focused

A long day at work can be bad for your physical and mental health. Your body gets stiff, your heart rate slows down and your mind can quickly wander – which makes it hard to focus on your job.

To make matters worse, if your work happens mostly behind a desk, you may have a higher risk of obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels. In fact, one study found that individuals who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity have the same risk of dying as obese individuals or smokers.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to help combat the negative health impact of sitting all day: Get up and move. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults, age 18-64, get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, running, swimming or bicycling every week, as well as muscle strength training at least twice a week. While this may seem like a big commitment, it becomes more achievable when you spread your activities throughout the week and break them down into 10-minutes increments — the perfect amount of time to get up and move around at work.

Discover five time-sensitive ways to be active at work, so you can stay healthy and focused all day long.

1. Make Your Conference Room On the Go

Meetings are inevitable in most workplaces. If you find yourself scheduled in back-to-back meetings, make one of those a walking meeting. Ask your colleagues to do a lap around the building or head outdoors instead of sitting in a conference room. Not only does it get you out of the office, it can recharge your creativity, improve your focus and boost your problem-solving ability.

2. Take the Stairs

Next time you’re going up or down, skip the elevator and take the stairs. Duke University found many benefits of taking the stairs, including:

    • Boosting bone density in post-menopausal women
    • Building and maintaining healthy bones, muscles and joints
    • Improving good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood
    • Increasing leg power and muscles

3. Bring Lunch to Work

Bringing your lunch to work has three major benefits. It helps you:

  • Eat healthy
  • Have more energy
  • Save money
  • Save time during your lunch break

If the thought of packing a lunch during a hectic morning seems overwhelming, try a little pre-planning. Make a list over the weekend of what you want to eat for lunch and pick up what you need at the grocery store. Some swear by making all their lunches for the week on a Sunday. But if that seems too time consuming, just plan to make lunches the night before (or at least gather up ingredients you need so they’re on-hand during the morning rush). Or you can pack up the leftovers from dinner to eat the next day. Be sure to plan healthy lunches that include fruits, vegetables, protein or complex carbohydrates to stay focused throughout the day.

4. Sit Up Straight

Posture may not seem like it has much to do with your health, but sitting (or standing) up straight can help improve your range of motion and boost your balance. It can also help improve your focus, making it easier to get through your to-do list at work.

Do a few posture checks throughout the day to make sure you’re sitting correctly. Your:

  • Chin should be parallel to the floor.
  • Knees and feet should be pointing straight ahead.
  • Shoulders, hips and knees should be even.

5. Do Some Desk or Chair Exercises

There’s no need to break out the wristbands or legwarmers with these simple desk and chair exercises:

  • Leg lifts: Lift one leg up straight and hold for two seconds; lower your foot and stop just above the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Switch legs, doing 15 reps on each leg.
  • Neck rolls: Slowly drop your head so your right ear nearly touches your right shoulder. Gently press your head a little lower using the opposite hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Straighten head and repeat on other side.
  • Sit tall: Stretch both arms above the head and hold for 10 seconds. Then, extend the right hand higher, and then the left.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Collins

Caroline Jones Collins, MD, joined Emory at Peachtree Hills in January 2018. Dr. Collins grew up in Snellville, GA, and gained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. She attended Emory University for both medical school and her internal medicine residency. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two children. Dr. Collins is passionate about preventive health and helping patients live healthy, happy lives.

 

 

Get the Facts on Nutrition: Eat Healthy and Feel Good

Fruit Vegetable FactsThe facts on eating healthy are clear: Good nutrition helps your body run the way it should. Research proves the many benefits to our health time and time again, including:

  • Boosting your mood and appearance
  • Giving you more energy
  • Lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing your risk of cancer
  • Reducing your risk of diabetes

Why, then, do we struggle to make healthy eating a priority? Often, it’s because there is an overwhelming amount of information about nutrition to navigate and lack of time. That’s why, with this blog, we’re taking it back to the basics by offering simple nutrition facts to help you maximize your healthy eating habits.

Nutrition Fact No. 1: 5-9 Fruits and Veggies a Day Keep the Doctor Away

If you’re committed to eating healthier, the best place to start is by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet every day. Not only are you filling up on good-for-you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other powerful nutrients, but you’re cutting empty calories and sugar out of your diet.

Five to nine fruits and vegetables may sound like a lot, but start slowly and consider some of these simple substitutions throughout the day:

  • Grab a banana for a convenient on-the-go snack.
  • Dedicate at least two-thirds of your plate to fruits and veggies at dinnertime.
  • Dip raw veggies in Greek yogurt or hummus to power through your mid-day slump.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth in the evening with a bowl of fresh fruit.
  • Swap your regular sandwich at lunch with a salad packed with dark, leafy greens, tomatoes, shredded carrots, dried fruit and a hard-boiled egg.
  • Top cereal or yogurt with one cup of blueberries or strawberries at breakfast.
  • Keep dates and unsalted nuts available for a healthy snack.

Plan meals with your favorite fruits and vegetables to keep it enjoyable. Challenge yourself to try at least one new fruit or vegetable a week to mix it up and expand your taste buds. Try different methods of preparing your vegetables, such as sautéeing, roasting, or grilling. You never know what you may discover!

Nutrition Fact No. 2: Maximize Freshness

It’s happened to all of us: We load up our carts with fresh and nutritious food, only to let them spoil in the refrigerator. Not only is food waste a drain on our budget, it’s also bad for the environment. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that up to 40 percent of the food in the U.S. is never eaten. That’s food that’s going straight from our homes to the landfill, untouched.

Another downside of food hanging out in the fridge is that fresh fruits and veggies can lose their nutritional punch after being harvested. Add in transportation time to local grocery stores, and it can be anywhere from 3 days to several weeks before consumers even have a chance to buy fresh produce.

Try eating frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables are packaged soon after they are picked, so they are more likely to retain their nutrients rather than fresh vegetables that hang out in the refrigerator. Be sure to check the nutrition label for added sugar or sodium.

A recent article in Healthline found that fresh fruits and vegetables lose nutrients over time — some as soon as they’re picked, including:

  • Soft fruits, such as berries, can lose nutrients after three days of refrigeration.
  • Vitamin C in fresh vegetables declines as soon as it’s picked from farms.

Maximize freshness and nutrients in produce:

  • Buy produce you plan to eat in the next 3-5 days.
  • Freeze fruit that’s nearing its shelf life or make a smoothie to use up fruit on hand.
  • Rinse and cut fruits and veggies to have on hand for snacking. Be sure to store them in airtight containers in the fridge.
  • Store produce appropriately to maximize its freshness. Some fruits and vegetables do best at room temperature while others should be stored in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Fact No. 3: Read Food Labels

The food labels on the back of packaged foods can help you find healthy options to add to your diet. Look past the claims on the front or sides of packaging and zero in on the food label and ingredient list.

Here are a few tips to help you choose healthful foods:

Look for Wholesome Ingredients in the Ingredients List

Manufacturers are required to list ingredients based on how much is used in the product. If sugar is the first, second, or third ingredient, that means there is more sugar in the food than whole grains. Another good rule of thumb is to look for ingredients you can pronounce. While most packaged foods contain preservatives that can be a mouthful, most ingredients should be easy to read, easy to say and recognizable.

Check the Serving Size

Manufacturers can sometimes make food look healthier than it is based on the serving size. Double-check how much is considered a serving and then consider how much you typically eat to be sure you are keeping “healthy” foods healthy.

Cut Back on Sugar

These days sugar is added to almost every packaged food. Keep your sugar consumption in line with the recommended daily intake: 3-6 teaspoons (12-16 grams) for women and 6-9 teaspoons (16-36 grams) for men. Sugar can increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and add pounds and inches to your waistline.

Focus on Healthy Fats

Avoid saturated and trans fat in food to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Instead, find foods with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, like fish, nuts and vegetable oils. Be sure to limit fat to 25-30 percent of your calories. Fat from plant-based sources like avocados, nuts, and olives pack a lot of omega 3 fatty acids, which help reduce heart disease.

Cut Back on Salt

Manufacturers add sodium to most packaged foods. Look for foods that are low in sodium and high in potassium to help combat heart disease and manage high blood pressure. Avoiding canned vegetables high in sodium is preferred. But if you do eat canned vegetables, rinsing them off can reduce some of the sodium you consume.

Nutrition Fact No. 4: Drink More Water

Drinking water throughout the day offers many health benefits. Research has shown that drinking water can help you:

  • Feel energized
  • Improve kidney function
  • Keep skin looking hydrated, smooth and glowing
  • Lose weight
  • Stay hydrated and help your body run properly
  • Avoid constipation

The most common advice is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Reach for water when you’re thirsty and be sure to drink more on hot, sunny days or when you’re working up a sweat.

Nutrition Fact No. 5: Refrigerate Leftovers

Skipping takeout and making homemade food is another great way to boost your nutrition. Leftovers also make a great, healthy lunch the next day or can do double-duty for dinner two nights in a row. Be sure to refrigerate your leftovers safely to reduce the risk of bacteria or other contamination.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several tips on leftovers and food safety:

  • Divide food into shallow containers to cool it more quickly and safely.
  • Reheat food safely, in the microwave, stovetop or oven. Food should reach 165 degrees, and sauces, soups and gravies should be brought to a rolling boil.
  • Refrigerate leftovers two hours after food was cooked or removed from a warm appliance.
  • Store food in airtight storage containers or wrap it in airtight packaging.
  • Store leftovers safely in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. If you have questions about how you can boost your nutrition, find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Collins

Caroline Jones Collins, MD, joined Emory at Peachtree Hills in January 2018. Dr. Collins grew up in Snellville, GA, and gained her bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. She attended Emory University for both medical school and her internal medicine residency. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and their two children. Dr. Collins is passionate about preventive health and helping patients live healthy, happy lives.