Communicating with Your Doctor

Dealing With Gastroenteritis

Viral gastroenteritis, also known as the “stomach flu” will not only make you feel awful, it can be potentially serious. In some cases, gastroenteritis can be so serious that it can send a person to the hospital. Even though serious complications are rare, there are some signs to look out for to make sure that it doesn’t cause problems.

What is gastroenteritis?

Though gastroenteritis is often called the “stomach flu,” it is not related to influenza in any way. The disease causes severe inflammation and irritation of the digestive system. Gastroenteritis comes in two forms: viral and non-viral. The non-viral version is caused by bacteria from poor sanitary conditions or improper handling and storage of food. This form of the disease is not contagious, usually has no associated fever, and often only lasts a day or two. The viral version lasts several days and is often accompanied by high fever and muscle aches that lasts a few days or more. Two viruses, norovirus and rotavirus are the main causes of viral gastroenteritis. It is highly contagious.

What are the symptoms?

A sudden wave of nausea and vomiting are often the first noticeable symptoms. Some people may notice a feeling of malaise a few days before. A fever often follows soon after the vomiting starts. For viral gastroenteritis, muscle aches, headaches, and lethargy can also happen. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that you rest and take fluids. You may find it hard to keep fluids down, so only sip a small amount at a time until you feel better. Symptoms begin to subside after a few days, though you can be contagious for a few days longer.

When should I see a doctor?

For most healthy adults, the disease resolves itself on its own. If you have a very high fever, like that of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit, you can’t keep any fluids down for more than a day or have bloody diarrhea, you should contact a primary care physician, like those at Summit View Clinic, right away. Children, especially infants, tend to get dehydrated quicker and may need to see a doctor if they cannot eat or drink anything. If you are still feeling sick and exhausted after a few days, your doctor may prescribe medications.

How can gastroenteritis be prevented?

The best way to prevent the disease is to stay away from those who have it. If that is not possible, be sure to wash your hands, especially before and after you handle food. If someone has been sick in your home, be sure to wash any infected clothes and bedding. Don’t share toothbrushes, wash cloths, towels, or eating utensils. Stay home from work and keep children out of school until symptoms are completely gone.

Gastroenteritis is a common stomach ailment that can cause a disruption in the daily routine. It isn’t always serious for most people. If you are experiencing the symptoms of the disease and aren’t sure what to do, contact your doctor for advice. 

Read More

The Importance Of Childhood Vaccinations In Modern Medicine

Vaccinations have been a hot topic in a number of circles recently, especially given recent outbreaks of otherwise eradicated diseases in New York and Los Angeles. While it’s easy to become complacent with the state of modern medicine, the importance of vaccinating your children can’t be overstated. However, it is in your best interest to get the facts ahead of time so that you can better understand just what your decision means.

Immunization and Public Health

Modern medical advances have allowed doctors and scientists to eradicate several lethal diseases in most first world countries. However, that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good or that the potential threat they represent isn’t real. Measles, chicken pox and the flu virus are all still common and have the potential to infect and cause serious health complications in those who contract them.

Public health is served best when as many people in a given population have been vaccinated against most common viruses, especially those which are highly contagious or extremely lethal. A good example of this is measles, which is widely considered to be one of the most highly infectious diseases in the world. Even though it’s normally lethal only to young children and the elderly, anyone who catches it has the potential to spread it to others and harm those most susceptible to the worst impact of the virus.

Understanding the Risk and Rewards

Vaccination provides protections on two important levels, the first of which being immediate protection to the individual being vaccinated. The second level of protection applies to those with whom a vaccinated individual comes in contact. Since they have an existing immunity to the virus in question, they’re no longer a potential carrier of that virus, reducing the number of potential vectors for transfer of the infection.

Very rarely, patients may have an adverse reaction to the inert viral agent or the solution in which it is suspended. If treated immediately, these individuals will have minimal health complications as a result. The frequency of adverse vaccine reactions is extremely low, with just over 2,000 severe reactions reported in 2014, while influenza, measles, and a host of other commonly vaccinated viruses kill more than a million people annually. That doesn’t mean vaccines don’t have a measure of risk, only that they present sufficient benefit to make it worth the minimal risk associated with them.

As a parent, you’re the final decision-maker when it comes to safe-guarding your child’s health, but vaccinating your child doesn’t only affect your child. Remember, the more people who are vaccinated against a disease the less chance that disease has of becoming a major health risk. Speak to a doctor or other qualified medical professional at a place like Rocky Mountain Family Physicians to find out which vaccinations are in their best interest and in the best interest of those around them.

Read More

Your Family Doctor’s Role in Your Medical Care Plan

Your family doctor is the general practitioner who is responsible for their patients’ overall well-being. As opposed to other doctors who specialize in a field, your family doctor has a broad area of expertise that is just enough to be able to treat some problems on their own, or refer patients to a specialist when needed. In this way, family doctors are the cornerstone of your overall health care plan.

Family doctors’ primary job is to care for the whole person. From ears, eyes, nose, and throat down to the ankles and feet, they do it all. As the title would suggest, they’re also trained to treat any gender and any age of patient. This makes a visit to a family doctor very convenient, as you can typically schedule several members of your family together for a checkup.

Some of the duties of a family doctor include:

  • Sinus and respiratory care.
  • Gynecology care.
  • Managing chronic conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
  • Managing mental and behavioral health.
  • Administering vaccinations.
  • Performing minor surgeries.
  • Minor emergency and first aid care.
  • Check-ups, maintenance, and preventative medicine.

These are more “well-patient” care functions than anything else. If a larger problem should arise, a family doctor will refer you to the specialist needed to treat the in-depth problem. For instance, in the presentation of a severe mental issue, your family doctor would refer you to a psychologist or therapist. Family doctors are the first line of defense, keeping you healthy enough that you shouldn’t need major medical attention. If you do need more advanced care, they also serve as a coordinator between the other specialists, throughout the course of anything from a pregnancy to a major surgery.

Family doctors typically undergo a formal three-year residency following medical school, and undergo continuing medical education at the rate of about 150 hours per decade. The scope of their training includes pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics, psychiatry, geriatrics, and emergency medicine. They also have the support of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Since a family doctor can’t do their job properly without having all the information, you should consider telling your family doctor about any problems or concerns you have with your health. They can always be your first point of reference before consulting with other specialists if you need to. Don’t be shy about asking anything, no matter how silly, because a family doctor like Thiele Kim DO PC is responsible for your emotional health as well as mental and physical health.

Read More