Wellness Resources

Five Myths about Pain

5-pain-myths-250x250September is Pain Awareness Month, and Emory Pain Center is raising awareness around the issues of pain and pain management. Did you know that nearly 100 million Americans experience chronic pain where chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months? That’s more than those who have diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined! Living with pain can be debilitating and adversely affect everyday life. Understanding more about the underlying cause of pain can help improve treatment and alleviate suffering. The Emory Pain Center wants to debunk the five most common myths about pain in order to help you get back to living actively again.

Myth 1: I have to live with the pain.

Many people feel that they have to live with pain even when no cause for their pain is found. The lack of a reason why you have pain does not mean your pain is any less real; instead, this pain needs to be treated by a specialist. Pain physicians have specialized training in the treatment of pain and will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan. In addition to medications tailored to the type of pain you are having, there are also pain injections and more advanced treatments that can isolate and treat the source of your pain. Almost always something can be done to improve most painful conditions, and a pain physician may be able to help.

Myth 2: Pain medication = narcotics or opioids.

Pain medications can range from over the counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or creams, to prescription-strength medications recommended by your doctor. While narcotics (opioids) may relieve pain temporarily, these medications are not recommended for long-term use due to decreased effectiveness and side effects, such as constipation, drowsiness and hormone suppression. A pain physician will work with you to identify and provide a combination of therapies that may include medication, physical therapy or more advanced medical interventions that will allow safe, long-term relief.

Myth 3: All back pain is the same.

There are many different causes of back pain. It is important to identify which type of back pain you have, so your pain specialist can target the correct area for treatment. Back pain that stays around the muscles in your lower back is different from pain that starts in your back and moves to your hips and legs. There are some signs and symptoms associated with back pain that may be serious and require further evaluation and possibly surgery. If you or a family member is experiencing back pain with any of these symptoms, consult your physician immediately:

  • loss of control of bowel or bladder function
  • history of cancer
  • weight loss
  • recent infection, fever
  • leg weakness or loss of control of legs

Myth 4: All headaches originate in the head.

There is a subset of headaches that come from the upper part of your neck. They often start in the back of your head and may move to the top of your head or behind your eye. These headaches, often aggravated by movement of your head from side to side or up and down, are often mistaken as migraine headaches. Be sure to discuss your symptoms with your physician to ensure the most effective treatment.

Myth 5: I can’t exercise if I am in pain.

This is a common misconception regarding pain, particularly because patients are afraid of making things worse. Lack of exercise can actually contribute to increased pain. Exercise promotes the release of the body’s natural endorphins, also known as “happy hormones,” which can have both pain-relieving and mood-boosting effects. For certain types of pain, some activities should be limited, but this does not mean ending all exercise. For example, it is generally not a good idea to lift heavy weights; however, light aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming or stretching exercises, including tai chi or yoga, are often beneficial. These low-impact activities help to strengthen muscles and ligaments and take strain off of painful joints. It is better to participate in light physical activity than no activity. If you are unsure what exercises are best for your condition, be sure to consult your physician or physical therapist.

Our interventional pain specialist at Emory Pain Center are dedicated to finding answers for chronic pain through research, diagnosis and treatment using the latest therapies and technologies. Emory Pain Center approaches each case with an individualized diagnosis and treatment plan based on the patient’s medical history, life circumstances and specific needs. If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic pain, contact Emory Pain Center at 404-686-2410 to schedule an appointment.

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Build your Own First Aid Kit with These 16 Items

first-aid250x250It’s a new year, and a good time to think about getting a fresh start on your family’s health.

Creating a first aid kit for your home – and even your car – helps keep first-aid items in one easy place. It’s also fairly easy to do and low cost.

You can either start your first-aid kit scratch, or purchase one from a local drug store and tailor it to your family’s needs.

Either way, be sure to include the following:

  • Contact list: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including those of close friends, neighbors and family members. Make sure you include contact information for your primary care physician and, if you have children, their pediatrician.
  • Copies of insurance and medical records
  • List of prescribed medications and known allergies: Having this information readily available helps paramedics and other medical professionals treat you more effectively. Even though there are a number of apps available to help you track meds, a printed list is easy for everyone to access.
  • Prescriptions: Make sure you stock any medications prescribed by your physician, such insulin, epinephrine injectors (EpiPens), heart medication, asthma inhalers, etc.
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Allergy and anti-itch medications
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Aspirin
  • Antacid
  • Burn ointment
  • Eye wash solution: In addition to rinsing irritants out of your eyes, eye wash can be used a s a general decontaminant
  • Laxative
  • Petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers

Store your kit in a cool dry place and periodically check it for items that need to be restocked. Also be sure to check expiration dates on any medications. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the kit is located, and encourage everyone to put it back where they found it. That way your set for the next time you need it.

Takeaways from Dr. Bergquist’s Live Chat on Stress Management

stress-cil-638Thanks to everyone who attended our live chat, “Managing Your Stress,” Tuesday, Dec. 22, with Sharon Horesh Bergquist, MD, who serves as Emory Healthcare Network primary care physician and associate professor with the Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bergquist fielded some great questions on a range of topics, including:

  • Stress and its relationship to autoimmune disorders
  • Stress effects on aging
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Best stress-relieving activities
  • Managing grief during the holidays
  • Good stress and how to make stress work for you
  • The effects of stress on migraines
  • How your primary care physician can help you manage stress

If you didn’t get a chance to join us, read the full transcript from “Managing Your Stress” here.

Two questions didn’t get answered during the live chat, so we’re sharing them here, along with Dr. Bergquist’s responses:

Question: Are other SSRIs as effective as fluoxetine for treating SAD?

Answer: SAD can stand for social anxiety disorder as well as seasonal affective disorder, so I wasn’t sure which one is being asked here.

For social anxiety disorder, the SSRI paroxetine and the SNRI venlafaxine are effective. Older drugs from a family called MAO inhibitors, such as phenelzine can also be used.

Seasonal affective disorder, a seasonal pattern of recurrent depression in fall or winter months, can affect 1.5% to 9% of people. It is typically treated with antidepressants, light therapy or psychotherapy.

There are actually very few high quality studies looking at the best anti-depressant for seasonal affective disorder, and there is virtually no data comparing SSRIs for treating SAD. The data is limited to studies on fluoxetine compared to placebo (in which fluoxetine shows a non-significant benefit) and fluoxetine compared to light therapy (it is nearly equivalent). Other SSRIs are commonly used in practice for SAD but there is little data to know if they are effective.

A recent review on the topic found bupropion XL to be an effective alternative for preventing recurrences of SAD (but even here it was effective at best in a small percent of people, around 20%).

Question: Due to psychoneuroimmunology, if a person has cancer, does distress increase the risk of cancer recurrence?

Answer: A relationship between stress and cancer progression has long been suspected. Recently, through animal cancer models, we are learning that the molecular link between the two may be through the beta-adrenergic signaling pathway which mediates the sympathetic nervous system induced fight-or-flight response.

Stress, through the beta-adrenergic pathway, may contribute to the progression and metastasis of a cancer . (Immune mediated macrophages can infiltrate some tumors such as breast cancer and, like a switch, induce pro-metastatic genes to be expressed.)

The stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine can attach and turn on receptors on tumor cells to control a variety of function involved in progression, such as proliferation, migration and invasion. Yet, little research is available to answer the question about whether distress can increase cancer recurrence.

Dr. Bergquist is an Emory Clinic Primary Care Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Her expertise includes healthy aging, heart disease prevention and management, women’s health, diabetes, nutrition and obesity counseling and treatment of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. She has appeared in over a hundred health segments, including Good Morning America, Fox New Network, CNN and Fox 5, has served as an editorial consultant for WebMD and wrote the TED Ed Lesson, “How Stress Affects Your Body.”

Below we have also highlighted some questions that were asked during our live chat.

Question: It’s been said that a certain amount of stress is good. How does a person maintain a good level of stress without tipping over into chronic debilitating stress?”

Short-term stress is advantageous—not only can it help us perform our best but even supports resilience at a cellular level. Stress becomes debilitating or “toxic” when it is prolonged or recurrent, such as worrying about a sick child or finances. The interaction between stress hormones and the hormones and immune cells, among others, throughout our bodies are responsible for both the good and adverse effects.

Question: How does stress affect aging?

Stress has been associated with decreasing longevity and shortened telomeres. These are the shoelace tips at the ends of chromosomes that allow DNA to get copied every time a cell divides without damaging the cell’s genetic code. With each cell division , telomeres shorten until a cell eventually dies. Stress accelerates this process.

In one study done on mothers who were either caregivers of healthy children or children who were chronically ill, the women who felt the most perceived stress had telomeres that were shorter on average by the equivalent of a decade of aging compared to mothers that felt the least stressed.
How much does exercise really help with stress?

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress. Exercise can reduce cortisol, which is otherwise known as the “stress hormone”. Exercise can also improve other neuroendocrine changes that take place from chronic stress, and it can reduce the immune system mediated damaging inflammation that occurs from chronic stress.

Question: Mindfulness- what does this mean and what role does in play in stress management?

Mindfulness is actively focusing on the present, and observing your moment to moment thoughts and emotions without passing judgment on them. It’s the opposite of being mindless. Mindfulness has become a widely used way of reducing stress, helping with concentration and focus, increasing compassion and self-awareness, and controlling emotions.

Question: Can a certain diet affect your stress levels?

Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for proper nerve function. A diet that is high in omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids can exacerbate the chronic inflammation that can be triggered by chronic stress and can adversely affect brain function. . Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, can cause a spike and then a drop in your blood sugar level. People can feel irritable when their blood sugar drops. B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium are necessary in sufficient amount to support our brain chemicals. There is also a lot of research linking gut bacterial balance and brain health. Fiber rich foods support a healthy gut while sugar, fat, and processed food can disrupt gut bacterial balance.

To view the entire chat transcript click here.

Managing Your Stress Live Chat on December 22nd

stress-chatThe holiday season is in full swing, and there’s no better time to think about stress management. In short spurts, stress is actually helpful and can propel us through a tough situation or help us react quickly to avoid one. However, prolonged or severe stress may trigger physical, psychological and emotional reactions that can lead to health problems or worsen existing ones.

On Tuesday, December 22, 2015 from noon to 1pm EST join Emory Healthcare Network’s Sharon Horesh Bergquist, MD for an interactive web chat on Stress Management. Sign up, send questions and learn about

  • Symptoms of stress
  • Long-term effects of stress on your health and body and
  • Techniques for reducing stress

sign-up2

About Dr. Bergquist

avatar-horesh-bergquist-sharonDr. Bergquist is an Emory Clinic Primary Care Physician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Her expertise includes healthy aging, heart disease prevention and management, women’s health, diabetes, nutrition and obesity counseling and treatment of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. She has appeared in over a hundred health segments, including Good Morning America, Fox New Network, CNN and Fox 5, has served as an editorial consultant for WebMD and wrote the TED Ed Lesson, “How Stress Affects Your Body.”

Infertility Statistics and Infertility in Men

couple-walking-autumnInfertility is a common problem that affects one out of every ten couples trying to conceive. Perhaps because of social stigma, infertility is rarely publicized or discussed, despite common occurrence. Recently, several celebrities have opened up on social media about their personal struggles in trying to conceive. Hopefully, these discussions will promote greater awareness of the both the causes of infertility, and the treatments for infertility.

Historically, any discussion about infertility has focused on infertility in women. People are often surprised to learn that 50% of all cases of infertility involve infertility in men. Causes of infertility in men range from abnormalities in sperm count, to hormone imbalances, and problems with ejaculation. In many cases, these male fertility issues can be treated either medically or surgically.

As a urologist who specializes in Men’s Reproductive Health, I can say that a diagnosis of infertility affects all aspects of a man’s life. Medically, a diagnosis of infertility can be worrisome because it may be an indicator of a potentially serious underlying medical condition. Psychologically, a diagnosis of infertility can lead profound feelings of guilt, anger, and low self-esteem.

Infertility statistics clearly show that infertility is a couple’s problem, and must be faced as a team. If you have concerns about your or your partner’s fertility potential, or need more information about fertility treatment options available at the Emory Reproductive Center, call 404-778-4898 to schedule or visit Emory’s Reproductive Center.

About Dr. Mehta

mehtaDr. Akanksha Mehta is an Assistant Professor of Urology at Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Mehta graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, with double Bachelor degrees; Science (Biology) and International Relations. Dr. Mehta attended Alpert Medical School at Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, where she also did her General Surgery internship and Urology residency. She then completed a fellowship in Male Infertility and Microsurgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, NY, before joining Emory Urology in 2013, as the inaugural Health Services Scholar. Dr. Mehta is a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology (2015).

Dr. Mehta’s clinical interests lie in the area of male reproductive and sexual medicine, and microsurgery. She currently serves at the Director of Male Reproductive Health at Emory Urology, and is a Guest Researcher in the Division of Reproductive Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Mehta’s research interests lie in studying the impact of male factor infertility on clinical outcomes following the use of assisted reproductive technologies, as well as the recovery of sexual function among prostate cancer survivors. She is the recent recipient of a Urology Care Foundation Research Scholar award for her work.

Dr. Mehta currently serves as the Director of Undergraduate Medical Education, and is closely involved in teaching and mentoring medical students and urology residents. She has authored several book chapters and peer-reviewed publications in Urology, and has presented at both regional and national meetings.

Outside of Urology, Dr. Mehta maintains a keen interest in International Health; she has been involved in providing clinical care in Cambodia, Kenya, and Bangladesh.

RELATED RESOURCES:
Male Infertility Information

The New and Improved Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods

entrance-wesleyMental illness is an epidemic in the United States today. In the state of Georgia, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death (www.namiga.org). As more and more people are seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental health illnesses, there is a rising need for more treatment options. Sitting down with Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods Clinical Administrator, Jen Schuck, helped to shed light on how Emory Healthcare, is working towards addressing the needs of this rising epidemic.

In the past year, Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods (EUHWW) has undergone significant changes. Ms. Schuck says EUHWW as a whole, are trying to move away, “from the negative stigmas” by referring to psychiatric services as “behavioral health.” In addition to promoting a more positive way to talk about mental health, Ms. Schuck explains how EUHWW has essentially re-vamped the treatment method for behavioral health. Inpatient behavioral health has two units and offers two different outpatient treatment tracks. One unit is for “acute behavioral services such as paranoia, delusions, hallucinations or schizophrenia type illnesses” says Schuck. The second inpatient unit is for patients with medical co-occurring illnesses. The two tracks recognize the differences between patients and treating them to meet their specific needs. “We have to provide patients with life skills or coping skills for discharge readiness” says Schuck. She also reports the inpatient units are largely “stabilization” units. After receiving short term inpatient treatment, patients can step down to outpatient treatment—and again EUHWW offers two different tracks patients can choose from, based on their specific needs. Outpatient behavioral health services has different levels of acuity-

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Continuing Care Program (CCP)

This breakdown makes it, “so we are always caring for the patient” throughout their course of treatment. Schuck says patients should be “treated for 6 to 8 months” post acute episode. The second outpatient program track offers patients a Transitional Care Clinic. Essentially, a nurse driven program for patients not going the PHP/IOP/CCP track. The nurse will contact the patient following their discharge from their inpatient stay. The Transitional Care Clinic follows patients for 30 days post-discharge and will make contact with the patient within 7 days of their inpatient hospitalization. This ensures patients are receiving the proper after care treatment. Schuck summarizes this new structure as, “patients who are inpatient can either go the PHP track post discharge or the Transitional Care Clinic track. Either way—it allows us to be more engaged in their after care.” Thus reducing recidivism because the patient will be supported long-term, rather than only acutely.

How do these changes impact the general community, you ask? Schuck says “number one, it provides easier access to behavioral health services. Gives ability to manage behavioral health services with comorbidities which is not commonly treated.” She also says being backed by a university, gives “access to cutting edge” treatment options for the community. She emphasizes the newly structured behavioral health systems at EUHWW serves patients who are “more fragile” and is special to the Atlanta area community because traditionally, medical and psychiatric co-occurring illnesses are not treated together.

When asked for her thoughts in general on psychiatric services for the 21st century at EUHWW, Schuck referred back to how the new treatment structures are more cohesive. She reports also EUHWW has a Neuromodulation clinic, which partners with Treatment Resistant Disorders (TRD) clinic to provide patients with ECT (electro-convulsive therapy—which is much less invasive now as it was in previous years), ketamine infusions, and Emory Healthcare has also just launched RTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Services). Schuck reports this will provide options to patients other than ECT—RTMS uses magnetic brain waves to change the brain chemistry in people with mental illness. Schuck reports the overall “global” goal is for the programs to continue to care for people beyond the walls of this hospital. She hopes to bridge our care continuum to outside providers and be able to treat the whole patient—rather than just one piece. When asked why families should choose Emory Healthcare for their behavioral health needs, Schuck references the above re-vamped treatment structure. She also reports such changes supports EUHWW moving towards, “being a world class treatment facility” providing individualized treatment. Schuck hopes in the next 5 years, that EUHWW psychiatric services will be expanded. She also says behavioral health needs will increase by 10% according to strategic planning and that “we need to be ready.” She re-emphasizes her goal of community outreach—having our continuum of care stretch beyond the four walls of our hospitals—reaching into the community. When asked what she would want the community to know about EUHWW, Schuck says “we have re-invented ourselves” explaining we are apart of a greater system within Emory Healthcare by creating a new identity, we are not a nursing home, and serve more than just geriatric patients; requiring many cultural changes. Schuck reports, “we are getting to a place that is more comprehensive” treating the acute system for long-term. Thus, it is tapping into a larger “brain health system”, providing care for more patients for longer time periods—a connection that other systems may not have. This is also a connection that could save a life. We are all in this together. Together, with the newly re-invented structures at EUHWW, we can help patients and families thrive in mental health wellness.

Emory Healthcare Behavioral Health Services:
Inpatient treatment- 404.728.6222
Outpatient treatment- 404.778.5526
PHP/IOP/CCP- 404.728.4776.

4 Low Impact Exercise Options

tai-chiAs we all know, regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But because of various injuries and/or health conditions, instead of running on a treadmill or jumping rope, many people must choose to participate in low impact activities. If you’re someone who is impacted by musculoskeletal issues ranging from tender joints to osteoarthritis, check out the four activity options below for healthy ways to stay active without all the wear and tear.

Swimming

Swimming is a great way for everyone to stay active, but is especially well-suited for those seeking a low impact way to get or stay healthy. Stiff and sore joints can benefit from the buoyancy of water and the fact that your body bears less of its own weight when underwater. The increased resistance afforded by water (vs. air) means exercise can be even more effective in building not only strength, but also your range of motion.

Yoga

Because the foundation of yoga is stretching, it is an ideal exercise option for those requiring low impact options for staying fit. The slow and gradual movements associated with yoga allow the body to gracefully ease into each position and ensure joints avoid taking on the heavy impact associated with many other forms of exercise. Yoga can help improve strength, balance, and flexibility, all while going easy on your body.

Cycling

Cycling is a fantastic low-impact way of working cardiovascular exercise into your routine. Both indoor and outdoor cycling allow you to incorporate resistance training into your workout and get the heartbeat up to burn calories, build stamina and boost your overall health!

Tai Chi

Rooted in a combination of martial arts and meditation, tai chi provides core strengthening, balance and aerobic benefits, along with an opportunity to get in some time for deep breathing and stress relief as well. Leveraging slow, graceful movement, tai chi removes the impact from your workout and is easy on the joints while reducing stiffness and even improving your sleep!

These are some great options for low impact exercise. What are your other favorite low impact exercise options?

Health Benefits of Yoga

yoga-classDeveloped in India thousands of years ago, yoga has become an incredibly popular form of exercise in the United States. There are more than one hundred different types of yoga, and most focus on three core elements: breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming poses (or postures) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.

You’ve probably heard yoga is good for you. Maybe you’ve even tried it and found that you walked away feeling better than when you came in. Yoga not only feels great, but it’s also great for you, providing instant gratification and lasting transformation (if you stick with it!) But while you probably know that yoga can help you become more flexible, you may be surprised by the wide range of health benefits—both physical and mental—that yoga can help you achieve.

Physical Benefits

  • Builds muscle strength – Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in new ways, including balancing on one leg or supporting yourself with your arms. Poses such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abs. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose.
  • Improved flexibility – Typically the first and most obvious benefit of yoga, improved flexibility tends to be clearly evident, even to beginners. Moving and stretching in new ways helps to increase the range of motion and lubrication of joints, which is key to performing everyday activities with ease as you continue to age.
  • Posture – When you’re stronger and more flexible, your posture improves. Most of the standing and sitting poses develop core strength because your abdominal muscles are needed help support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you’re more likely to sit and stand tall.
  • Bone and joint health – It’s well known that weight-bearing exercise strengthen bones and helps ward off osteoporosis, and many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. Yoga also can have a significant effect on healthy joint function as certain poses promote the release of fluids while strengthening the muscles supporting vital joint systems.
  • Heart healthy – When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take certain classes (like Ashtanga), it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range.
  • Breathing – Most of us take shallow breaths and don’t give much thought to how we breathe. Because most forms of yoga involve deep breathing and attention to our breath, lung capacity often improves. This in turn can improve sports performance and endurance.

Mental Benefits

Aside from the array of physical benefits, yoga also has some great mental benefits. Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing help a person improve his/her mental well-being.

  • Stress reduction – One of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage the devastating effects of stress. Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Yoga’s quiet, precise movements and emphasis on being in the moment can also help by taking the focus off external stressors. Many people leave yoga classes feeling less stressed than when they came in.
  • Body awareness – Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body, as you are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body, which can help with early detection of physical problems or ailments and allow for early preventive action.
  • Mental Calmness – Many of the breathing exercises practiced in yoga have been developed to calm and tame our seemingly endless stream of thoughts. This leads to greater concentration as you work your way through each pose—and, in most cases, a calmness that lasts the rest of the day.

If one or many of these benefits appeal to you, you should look into the various schools of yoga and determine which is right for you. The great news is that just about everyone can do it, too — body type and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style. So get out there and give yoga a try; you may just be amazed at what it can do for you.

5 Common Summertime Emergencies

SummertimeEmergencies _ 7-9Summertime is fun time! The beautiful weather demands you come out and play. Enjoy your hiking, biking, gardening, and all the activities that are much more enjoyable when it’s warm and sunny, but be careful. Emergency visits tend to rise with the temperatures.

While many injuries are relatively minor and will heal quickly on their own, it’s important to understand when it’s appropriate to go to the emergency room. It could save a life.

Here’s a list of five common summertime injuries and the symptoms you need to know:

Heat Stroke

As temperatures rise in the summer, it’s important to remain cool, well rested and hydrated. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures and dehydration are a lethal mix causing your body to overheat. This can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the most serious of all – heatstroke. Heatstroke is a very serious problem that causes internal organ failure. If left untreated, it can kill.

Seek help immediately if you experience extremely high body temperature (104 F or higher), fainting, nausea and/or vomiting, an intense headache, seizures, confusion, disorientation, rapid breathing or increased heart rate.

Head Injuries

Summer wouldn’t be complete without a few bumps and bruises. Most are harmless, resulting in minor pain or tenderness. Head injuries, though, can be tricky. Sometimes the symptoms of serious problems do not reveal themselves for several hours…or even days.

You will want to go to the hospital if, after a blow to the head, you experience a headache or stiff neck, sleepiness, vomiting, loss of movement in your arms or legs, or don’t seem to be thinking straight/acting normal.

Bee & Wasp Stings

Everyone reacts differently to bee and wasp stings. Some will barely notice a sting while others may have a life-threatening allergic reaction. Usually there isn’t anything to worry about. The pain will go away within a few hours. Swelling from more moderate reactions will go down within a few days. But severe allergic reactions are nothing to take lightly.

Call 911 if, after being stung, you have difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting, or additional skin reactions such as hives.

Wrist and Elbow Fractures

Falls become more frequent in the summer as outdoor activity levels increase. Our natural tendency is to catch ourselves, causing our wrists and elbows to pay the price. Early detection and treatment of fractures can help speed the recovery process and prevent complications in the future.

Head to the emergency room after a fall if you notice an obvious deformity, difficulty using the injured area, pain, swelling, warmth, bruising or redness.

Snake Bites

Most of the time, snakes are not aggressive and they will try to avoid people. Even if they do attack, many bites are not life-threatening. However, you should treat every bite as a medical emergency unless you are absolutely positive the snake was not venomous.

General symptoms of a bite may include bleeding from the puncture wound, severe pain, swelling and burning of the skin, blurred vision, dizziness, diarrhea, fever, fainting, increased thirst, and weakness.

For more information, download our Know When to Go Quick Reference that outlines the top 10 medical conditions that should prompt you to go to the emergency room.

Additional resources:
Prevent Sunburns & Other Skin Burns this Summer
Infused Water Recipes: Hydrate & Improve Health
Your Heat and the Heat

Partial Hospitalization Program – What is It?”

Partial Hospitalization ProgramI have been a part of the Emory family for 6 years. Over the past 6 years, I have worked in the Transitions Seniors Program, better known as PHP. When attending different community events, a question I hear all too often is, “PHP? What’s that?” PHP is short for Partial Hospitalization Program. I hope this blog can answer the question, “PHP? What’s that?”

What is Partial Hospitalization Program?

Partial hospitalization is defined by the American Association of Partial Hospitalizations as: A distinct and organized intensive psychiatric outpatient treatment that closely resembles short-term inpatient program. The Medicare psychiatric partial hospitalization benefits were established to provide patients with an acute mental illness, services in lieu of inpatient psychiatric care (Block & Lefkovitz, 2009). The PHP patient care is an individualized treatment plan developed by the physician and a multidisciplinary team with input from the patient.

Who is part of the multidisciplinary PHP team?

Our team includes a physician, a program director, four licensed therapists, a registered nurse, and an advanced practice nurse. All team members are very experienced in the mental health field and serve our patients with pride, compassion, and integrity.

Who should use PHP?

Patients admitted to a PHP program require a minimum of 20 hours per week of therapeutic services. Here at Emory Wesley Woods, we have a PHP program that is geared specifically towards older adults. We target patients who are 60+ struggling with a mood disorder (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.) and need a higher level of care than outpatient treatment. Patients do not need a doctor referral; however, they must meet certain diagnostic criteria.

About Our Program

Emory Healthcare’s Transitions Senior Program (PHP) of Wesley Woods was established in 1997. It is a hospital based program represented by the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems and is part of a larger continuum of care for older adults. As of 2013, we were also recognized under the Joint Commission as a “Top Performer on Key Quality Measures.” According to the Joint Commission website, to be recognized, is a “symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.” We are honored to have this. Click here for more information on Joint Commission.

The Transitions Senior Program is designed to provide intensive therapy to older adults experiencing behavioral health difficulties. The structured format provides medical monitoring as well as therapeutic groups on a wide range of topics. The program can be used as a step down from inpatient treatment for older adults needing an intensive level of care, but not hospitalization. Additionally, the program can be a preventive measure for patients at risk of inpatient hospitalization. The advantage of this program is that patients are able to continue their normal life activities with very minimal disruption. After assessment of needs, each patient receives a personalized treatment plan. The therapy program is voluntary and is conducted daily from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm, Monday through Friday. The average length of stay is between 4 to 6 weeks. Our program is the only senior-specific partial program in the metro Atlanta Area as well as the only one to provide free transportation to and from the facility.

In addition to the PHP program, we have also launched an IOCP (Intensive Outpatient Counseling Program) in September 2014. This is a 3 day program (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) in a less intense setting than PHP, where patients can attend for up to 36 treatment days (roughly 3 months). This program takes the concepts learned in PHP and teaches patients how to apply and use them in their daily lives. A patient does not have to go to PHP in order to join. Patients do need to provide their own transportation for this program. IOCP is Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 11:30am to 2:15pm.

I am proud to say I work in the Transitions Senior Program. The psychiatry department is thriving as PHP and IOCP continue to grow daily. If you are ever at Wesley Woods, feel free to stop by to speak to anyone on our team. We are on the first floor of the hospital, adjacent to the cafeteria. Both PHP and IOCP are housed in the same suite (B-1200). For more information on either program, please call 404-728-4776 or our program director, Ed Lawrence, at 404-728-6975.

We look forward to accommodating your geriatric psychiatry needs soon.