Happy Heart Health Month!

February 13, 2018

February is Heart Health Month, which means it’s the perfect time to schedule your annual wellness visit and cardiac assessment. Heart health is the key to long life and a healthy body, and NCHS wants to help you avoid one of the most preventable yet deadly diseases: cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease in the number one cause of death across the globe, resulting in more than 17 million deaths each year. In the United States alone, about 1 in every 4 deaths occurs because of heart disease. Additionally, about 735,000 people have a heart attack every year, and strokes are the contributing factor in 1 out of every 20 deaths.

Cardiac Assessments Can Lead to Better Health

While some heart diseases and problems can be congenital, the majority of cardiovascular issues are preventable. However, heart disease is considered a silent killer because many people don’t see any symptoms or experience any pain until they are having a heart attack or receiving an extreme diagnoses. A cardiac assessment can help you learn if you’re at risk for any heart problems, and it can lead you to identify an unknown issue and begin cardiac treatment before it becomes too severe or even fatal.

Knowing the risk factors and being screened for potential problems is a great first step in preventing various types of heart disease. Cardiac care professionals, like those at NCHS, can inform you of your personal risks for developing heart disease when you come in for your cardiac assessment. The general risks include the following:

  • Having a family or personal history of heart disease
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being inactive
  • Smoking
  • Eating a poor diet

If you are at risk for developing heart disease, be sure to make wise lifestyle changes and heart-healthy choices when it comes to what you consume, your activity levels, and more. Cardiac care experts can instruct you on making wise and safe changes to improve your heart health. If you are in danger of developing a heart-related issue and need cardiac treatment, the doctors at NCHS are ready to help. Cardiac treatment options will be based on an individual’s level of need and may include making lifestyle changes, taking heart medication, or having a procedure done to improve heart health.

Make Heart-Healthy Choices for Better Cardiac Health

Remember that most heart diseases are preventable, which means that your health is in your hands. Make wise choices each day about what you eat and drink, and be sure to exercise regularly. Learn about risk factors and signs of heart-related issues, and schedule your cardiac assessment soon. The cardiac care experts at NCHS would love to help you attain the healthiest heart and happiest life you can, so contact one of our many locations to set up your cardiac assessment appointment

National Children’s Dental Month

February 11, 2018

Children’s Dental Month

Every February since 1955, National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) has taken place all over the country to teach children about proper dental health and to encourage good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association (ADA) has been sponsoring the cause since its inception, beginning with a national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. Just a few short years later, the cause expanded into a month-long observance, giving parents, educators, and dentists a myriad of opportunities to talk to children about the benefits of a healthy mouth and how to keep up with good dental health.

Begin Proper Dental Care Early

All adults know that old habits die hard, and training your children to have proper oral hygiene is no different. From a young age, children should be brushing and flossing their teeth regularly, in addition to visiting a dental clinic for regular checkups. The earlier that children solidify these good habits, the easier it will be for them to maintain them throughout their lifetime, which will lead to better dental health for years to come.

Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood problem in the United States, even though it’s completely preventable. Dental decay can cause painful infections and complications, resulting in more invasive and painful dental procedures. It can also lead to problems with eating, speaking, and overall health, both now and in the future.

Learning proper dental care from an early age will boost your child’s self-esteem by helping them achieve a bright and healthy smile. It will also help them avoid preventable diseases, like gingivitis, and other health problems that stem from poor oral health. If you’re uncertain how to teach your child about good dental health, be sure to make an appointment with a local dental clinic at NCHS to speak to a dentist about how to care for baby teeth and set your child up for excellent oral health in the future. In addition, here are some things you can do to encourage healthy oral habits from the start.

  • Begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they get their first one. Use a small, soft toothbrush and water, and brush their gums and teeth to get them used to the sensation and to minimize bacteria in their mouth.
  • Utilize fluoride-free toothpaste until your child learns to spit it out, and then move to a kid-friendly, low-fluoride option. Let your child pick out his or her toothbrush and toothpaste to make the entire experience more personalized and fun!
  • Floss as soon as they have a few teeth, and do it regularly. Let them see you flossing your teeth and explain to them why it’s important to keep our mouths clean. Consider counting their teeth or singing a song while you floss to distract them from the discomfort and to allow yourself the opportunity to do a thorough job.
  • Don’t let them consume too much juice or sugary food or candy, and encourage brushing immediately after eating or drinking something high in sugar. Have your children drink water throughout the day and with meals, as this will minimize the harmful acids in the foods or other beverages that can lead to dental decay.
  • Prepare them for their first dental visit. Tell them about what’s going to happen and why, and practice playing dentist and counting each other’s teeth before you go. If they’re very apprehensive, let them come with you to your dental clinic appointment first to see that there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Take Your Child to a Dental Clinic Before Age One

A recent survey of parents and caregivers found that the average age for a child’s first dental visit was 2.6 years. Most children have 20 teeth by that age! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents take children to their first dental care visit before their first birthday, or at least within six months of getting their first tooth.

The main reason for a dental visit at this early age is to get the child acquainted with not only the dentist and their office, but also proper dental care and oral hygiene. It’s also an opportunity for Mom and Dad to learn how to best care for their child’s teeth now and into the future.

Many parents have the misconception that the health of baby teeth, or primary teeth, is not that important since those teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced. However, proper primary teeth health is incredibly vital for your young child, both when they’re young and when they reach adulthood. Primary teeth help children learn to correctly chew food, helping them get proper nutrition from an early age. They also save space for the permanent teeth and encourage good speech development. Most importantly, they help set the stage for lifelong oral hygiene and gum health. The earlier a child learns that brushing, flossing, and dental care visits are just a part of normal life, the better oral health they will have both now and in the future.

Make Your Child’s Dental Care Appointment Now

In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, encourage your child to establish or refine their oral hygiene habits to give them the best dental health possible by making an appointment for a dental care checkup. Many of our NCHS locations have dental clinics with the best local dentists who are ready to see you and your family achieve better oral health. Make an appointment today at an NCHS dental clinic and help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month with your kids.

World Cancer Day

February 4, 2018

On February 4, the whole world will band together to bring awareness to cancer. This global day seeks to educate the entire globe’s population on the disease while encouraging individuals, families, and governments to take action and bring about change to our world’s health.

Knowledge is power, and in this case, it couldn’t be truer. Early detection is key to increasing survival rates and completely eradicating cancer, and early detection occurs more often when people have access to information and quality healthcare. More than one-third of cancers are preventable by simply making healthy choices, so the more informed the world is about their overall health and cancer prevention, the better off we all are.

Increasing Awareness

World Cancer Day began to increase awareness of cancer, including risks, prevention, treatment, and more. In 2012, 14 million people were diagnosed with cancer, and 8.2 million people died that year from the disease or disease-related complications. Cancer is the leading cause of death across the globe, and statistics show that nearly 40% of all people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime.

It’s time we put an end to the unnecessary disease. Disease prevention and awareness are incredibly important in fighting cancer, and that is the heartbeat behind World Cancer Day. Join together with those in your community to increase awareness, expand education, and improve the health and lives of those all across the world who are fighting cancer or who will be fighting it one day.

Early Detection

The biggest difference that early detection makes is the survival rate. The earlier cancer is detected, regardless of the kind, the more likely the chance of survival is for the individual. Additionally, the treatment needed to get rid of the cancer is likely to be faster, easier, and less intrusive when the cancer is discovered earlier on.

Wellness visits are the best way to stay on top of your health and ensure that you’re doing your best to decrease your risks of getting cancer. Many of the risk factors associated with cancer include general health, such as being overweight, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, poor diet, and more, so having these checked regularly with your family physician is your number one defense against cancer. Being aware of your body and making wise choices daily will help to not only keep your risk of developing cancer low but will also help you notice anything that seems “off” with your body earlier.

Make a Wellness Appointment and Initiate Health Discussions

In honor of World Cancer Day on February 4, be sure to schedule your wellness visit to your local NCHS office for yourself and your loved ones. Then initiate health discussions with those around you, including your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and more. The more we talk about cancer and bring awareness to the disease, the more people learn about what its risks are, how to prevent it, and what to do if they receive a diagnosis.

Go Red for Women!

February 2, 2018

Heart disease and strokes are the number one killer of women in America.

On February 2, 2018, the American Heart Association will engage in a passionate and emotional social initiative to encourage and empower women to learn the facts about women’s heart health, make lifestyle changes, and take control of their health.

Nearly half a million women die from heart disease and strokes every year in America, and most women were oblivious to this fact fifteen years ago. Go Red for Women was created in 2004 to raise awareness and dispel myths about heart disease in women. Prior to 2004, heart disease was thought of primarily as a disease that affected only older men, which simply isn’t the case. Only about half of women know that heart disease is the number one killer of their gender, and less than half of all women know what heart-healthy levels are when it comes to certain vitals such as blood pressure and cholesterol.

Raising Awareness and Educating the Masses

Go Red for Women aims to bring awareness and education about heart disease risks, stroke statistics, and more to women all across America. It seeks to teach women how to recognize and combat their own risks of developing heart disease and how to make heart-healthy choices to avoid this preventable disease. This day encourages women to “Go Red” by exercising regularly, eating healthier, scheduling regular doctor visits, and teaching others about heart health. It also seeks to bring attention to the day itself by encouraging women to wear red clothing, accessories, and more on February 2nd. The more that people talk about this day and what it means, the more awareness and education will make their way through the women in our country, and we’ll all be healthier for it.

Encouraging Cardiac Assessments and Providing Cardiac Care Resources

One of the keys to preventing heart disease in the first place and ensuring proper cardiac treatment after a heart disease diagnoses is regular cardiac assessments. Women may know their risk factors and they may try their best to make wise choices for their heart health, but getting a cardiac assessment and having regular wellness visits are the only ways to ensure that heart disease is not currently an issue for them.

When a woman schedules a cardiac assessment, she may undergo a series of tests or she may simply have a conversation with her doctor about her personal risk factors and overall health. If she and her doctor determine that she needs some form of cardiac treatment, they can move forward together, seeking out cardiac care resources and looking at various options to improve her health.

The doctors at NCHS are passionate about cardiac care and want to help all women live their best lives with the best heart health they can achieve. When you’re ready to schedule your cardiac assessment or if you’re ready to begin cardiac treatment for an already diagnosed issue, contact the NCHS location nearest to you and set up an appointment today.

Asthma Treatment for Children

January 30, 2018

Childhood asthma is a common ailment among today’s children; over 6 million kids suffer from asthma in some way, shape, or form. Since asthma can be either incredibly minor or very severe, it’s important that children who show any symptoms of asthma have a thorough examination to determine the cause of those symptoms. If a child is diagnosed with asthma, it’s important that the child and his or her parents learn about their different asthma management options and utilize their doctor’s advice in controlling the symptoms. Although there is no confirmed cure for child asthma, there are various treatment options and asthma medications for children that can help them manage their symptoms and live a normal life even with asthma, and our doctors at NCHS can inform parents and children of these options and help them make the best decision for them.

Symptoms of Asthma in Children

While many kids experience respiratory problems at some point in their lives, minor respiratory illnesses are not the same as asthma and they cannot be treated in the same way. Since many of the symptoms of child asthma can occur without an asthma diagnosis, it’s important to look further into the overall health and respiratory function of the child to determine the cause of the problems.

If your child has any of the following symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with NCHS to further explore the cause.

  • Frequent coughing
  • Regular wheezing or whistling when breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or recurring congestion
  • Chest pain
  • Heavy, uncontrolled breathing during or after active play

If any of these symptoms occur at night or during or after a sports activity or other active event, child asthma could definitely be the culprit. Additionally, if these symptoms seem worse after or during a respiratory infection (such as the flu, a cold, bronchitis, etc.) or if your child seems to take longer than normal to recover from one of these illnesses, asthma may be to blame.

Once you have confirmed an asthma diagnosis, your doctor will likely work with you to determine triggers for your child’s asthma. These are simply things or events that may make breathing harder or that may bring about a full-blown asthma attack. Some kids have only one or two triggers, while other children may have multiple, and each trigger may affect your child in a different way.

Here are some triggers to look out for:

  • Sicknesses, like the cold or bronchitis
  • Air pollutants, like smoke
  • Allergens, like pollen, mold, pet dander, and dust
  • Physical activity, such as running
  • Emotional reactions, like crying, yelling, or laughing
  • Weather changes

Dangers of Asthma

Since asthma deals primarily with respiratory function and directly affects breathing, it can be incredibly dangerous if not managed properly or if an asthma attack occurs without prompt action being taken to resolve it. Asthma in children can be especially scary because they don’t always understand what is happening when they have an asthma attack, and they may not be able to explain to you how they feel or that one is coming on.

Thousands of children are hospitalized due to asthma each year, and some even die from it. This is why it is so important to schedule an appointment with your care provider if you even remotely suspect that your child has asthma. Children can’t always explain how they feel or what is going on in their bodies, so it’s very important for parents to be attentive to the symptoms of child asthma in their kids.

Another way of keeping your child safe from the dangers of asthma is to know the risk factors. While these are not going to absolutely determine if your child will or won’t have asthma, they’re a good baseline to start with and they can help you identify certain problem areas.

Here are the main risk factors for child asthma:

  • A family history of asthma, allergies, and similar conditions
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Living in an area with high air pollution
  • Chronic respiratory issues
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Previous allergic reactions (skin, food, or seasonal)
  • Having heartburn

If you can minimize the controllable risks, your child will have a healthier life, even if they do end up with an asthma diagnosis since many of these risks are also triggers.

Asthma Treatment at NCHS

The goal for any asthma sufferer is to keep symptoms well-maintained. This means that asthma attacks are minimal in both frequency and severity, there are no limitations on physical activity, symptoms are infrequent or completely gone, and the child rarely (if ever) uses a rescue inhaler.

Asthma medications for children typically consist of inhalers and some oral medications. Oftentimes, doctors will recommend a few combination asthma medications for children so that they can determine which is the most effective treatment for that particular child and their severity of asthma. Additionally, some children may only need a rescue inhaler for occasional episodes while others need daily pills, regular breathing treatments, and rescue inhalers.

Whatever the case may be for your situation, asthma in children can be well-controlled and well-managed, and your child can maintain a normal and healthy life even with asthma. Children and parents alike rave about NCHS’s child asthma doctors, and we encourage every person who suspects that a loved one has asthma to make an appointment today. We will work side by side with you and your child to ensure you get the best care and treatment for child asthma.

2018 Top Health Tips!

January 25, 2018

Ready to make 2018 your healthiest year yet?

Utilize these tips to help get you closer to your goal. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

January 24, 2018

In honor of National Peanut Butter Day, we’re sharing a recipe using an all-time favorite flavor combination: chocolate, peanut butter, and banana! Much like the American cheeseburger or chocolate chip cookie, peanut butter and chocolate has been a fan favorite for as long as anyone can remember. Today we’re sharing a delicious and energizing smoothie recipe utilizing these tasty ingredients.

Ingredients:

1 large ripe banana

2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder or to taste

1 cup almond milk or milk of choice

1 TBSP honey or sweetener of choice

1 scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder (optional)

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together with ice and enjoy!

 

Thyroid Awareness Month

January 23, 2018

Thyroid problems are incredibly prevalent in the US today. About 20 million Americans have some type of thyroid disease or disorder, and about 12% of our population will develop some type of thyroid problem during their lifetime. Women are far more likely than men to develop a thyroid disorder, and most people who have thyroid issues deal with them throughout their entire lives.

January is thyroid awareness month, which is a great time for people to learn how to recognize symptoms of thyroid problems and how to combat thyroid disease.

What Is a Thyroid and What Does It Do?

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. While it is quite small, it is an integral part of your endocrine system and has a significant effect on multiple organs and bodily functions. Your thyroid utilizes iodine from your diet to make hormones that are vital to the proper function of your liver, kidneys, and brain.

The thyroid also works in conjunction with the pituitary gland to ensure that it is making the proper amount of the various hormones for the rest of the body. The hormones that the thyroid produces affect every single cell, tissue, and organ in your body, so it is incredibly important to be aware of thyroid health and ensure that any thyroid symptoms are dealt with and treated promptly and thoroughly.

Thyroid Problems and Risks

When something goes awry with your thyroid, various disorders and problems can arise. Certain diseases, medications, or other types of thyroid damage can result in problems for your entire body. Even problems with the pituitary gland or other areas of the body can result in problems with your thyroid due to their connection and dependence upon each other.

The most common thyroid problems are hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). Individuals may also experience symptoms of thyroid problems without any specific diagnosis, such as nodules, swelling, or inflammation. People can also develop Grave’s disease, a type of autoimmune thyroid disorder, or thyroid cancer.

While many risks of thyroid disease are considered nonspecific and will not be immediately linked to thyroid problems, it helps to be aware of the risks to help you be as healthy as possible. Gender is a significant risk factor since women are six to eight times as likely as men to develop some sort of thyroid issue. Being over the age of 50, having a personal or family history of thyroid problems, being a smoker, having an iodine deficiency, and taking certain medications are just a few of the most common risks of developing a thyroid issue.

Thyroid Awareness

Thyroid awareness is key in helping people recognize the symptoms of thyroid problems and know when to talk to their doctors about seeking tests and treatment. Thyroid awareness month is every January, and it’s a way for the general public and those suffering from thyroid diseases to learn more about the prevention, treatment, and cure of thyroid-related diseases and cancer. It’s also a great way to promote excellence and innovation in research and it helps thyroid doctors and scientists make significant advancements in testing and treatments.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

January 16, 2018

An estimated 13,000 women receive a cervical cancer diagnosis each year. About 4,000 women die from the disease each year. This makes cervical cancer the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Thankfully, these numbers are significantly lower than 40 years ago, as more women are learning about and utilizing prevention options, cervical cancer tests, and treatment possibilities.

Cervical Cancer Awareness and Prevention

January is cervical cancer awareness month. It’s a great time to learn about cervical health for the New Year and about how to best prevent cervical cancer. Tests are available to screen women for cancerous or precancerous cells within their cervix, and the sooner and more regularly women have these pap smears, the better. The key to high survival rates is regular screenings and early detection, so it is recommended that women have a pap test every 3 years. Some women may wish to have a cervical cancer test more frequently than that, particularly if they have a family history of cervical cancer or other reproductive health concerns.

Cervical Cancer Test

It is important to note that most cancers do not have associated symptoms until they are relatively advanced, and cervical cancer is no different. A woman with early, stage I cervical cancer will likely have no pain or visual signs of the cancer, so the only way she could discover it is through a cervical cancer test, like a pap smear. A pap test involves your doctor scraping cells from your cervix which are then examined in a lab. If abnormal cells are found, your doctor will order more tests, such as an HPV DNA test, a punch biopsy, or an endocervical curettage. More tests may be done if results remain worrisome, but all women over the age of 21 should be getting regular pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.

Where Can I Get a Cervical Cancer Test?

Most insurance companies cover regular pap smears as they are considered vital to cancer prevention and overall women’s health. Your local North County Health Services (NCHS) clinic can provide you with a pap smear and other cervical cancer tests if you need them. Our multiple locations offer a variety of services, including women’s health services and cervical cancer screenings. Our San Marcos, Mission Mesa, and Encinitas health centers all provide both general women’s health services and cervical cancer tests.

Stay Proactive and Bring Awareness

Thousands of women have experienced a cervical cancer diagnoses, but late stage cervical cancer doesn’t have to be a reality for most. Prevention is absolutely vital, and that includes staying proactive in getting your screenings done and staying as healthy as possible. January is cervical cancer awareness month, so be sure to spread the word to all the women you know to embrace preventative measures. Early detection increases the likelihood of survival, complete healing, and a great quality of life, so schedule your appointment with an NCHS women’s health clinic today to get your cervical cancer screening done now!

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