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How to Stay Fit and Healthy at Any Age

Staying healthy can reduce your risk for certain illnesses, extend your lifespan, and also help you save money on medical bills. No matter how old you are, doing so involves eating a diet filled with healthful foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and whole grains, while limiting foods with excess salt and sugar. It also includes getting at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.

There are several ways you can accomplish this — and more — to remain healthy at every age.

Children

It’s important to help children develop healthy habits early, particularly when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Eat together as a family as often as possible, and incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in your children’s meals (even if you have to sneak them in). Serve water or low-fat milk as their primary beverages.

Children can also stay fit with plenty of active play time. Get the whole family moving with walks, bike rides, hiking, living room dance parties, or doing chores together. Meanwhile, boost their eyes, brains, and mental health by limiting screen time to two hours per day.

To keep kids illness-protected, talk to your doctor about recommended vaccinations for each age during their regular physicals. 

Teens

By their teenage years, kids make many decisions for themselves, but you can still continue to offer guidance by keeping healthy foods on hand for much-needed snacking.

When it comes to exercise, they need at least 60 minutes of it a day. If your teen doesn’t enjoy sports or have regular gym class, help them find other ways to get active, such as taking walks or trying fun classes like karate, dance, or boxing.

As they grow older, teens also start to experiment with different lifestyles. Encourage your teen to avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as fad dieting, smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, and participating in unprotected sex. 

Young Adults

Your 20s can be a challenging time to focus on wellness, thanks to college studies, career building, and an active social life. It’s all the more reason to keep eating healthy foods and finding a regular exercise routine — even if that means dancing at the club. 

You’re also likely no longer under an adult’s supervision, so establish wellness on your own. Focusing on a healthy sleep schedule, for example, will help your long-term health. 

Above all, find a general physician you like, and begin scheduling an annual physical. If you’ve become sexually active, these appointments can provide screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

30s, 40s, and 50s

It’s not easy to focus on your health when family and career responsibilities increase but doing so will help you maintain wellness later in life. 

Taking walks — even for 10 minutes — will be one good way to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of future serious health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Now that you’re firmly of legal drinking age, also keep an eye on your alcohol consumption. Many health complications are connected to heavy — or even moderate — drinking. Limiting alcohol now can help you in the long run. 

If you can do nothing else, continue going for annual physicals. “During these visits,” explains Isabel Soles Talbert, Clinical Director at YourTown Health, “your doctor will discuss any screenings you need, such as tests for diabetes or high blood pressure, as well as recommended cancer screenings. These appointments are a really important time to check in and monitor several health factors.”

Seniors

Issues like joint pain can develop in mature adults, but staying active in safe ways is a great way to avoid stiffness. When it comes to diet, eating healthily will also keep your immune system working well

Continue seeing your doctor for routine physicals, too. The screenings you need may change as you age, which is why a regular consultation with your doctor will help you navigate what’s necessary. You may, for example, need more extensive vision and dental care as things wear down naturally over time. 

No matter how old you are, guarding against skin cancer is one more way to sustain a long and healthy life. 

For partners in wellness for every age, turn to YourTown Health. To find your nearest office, visit our locations page, or contact us online for direct answers to your health questions.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Being pregnant is exciting, but it also comes with many uncertainties. What will your day-to-day routine look like once your little one arrives? And how will you feed your baby?

Many expecting mothers plan to breastfeed their babies. It’s not always easy at first — breastfeeding can feel a lot like a new dance, and both you and your new little partner must learn the routine. Once you’ve mastered the rhythm, there are lots of benefits for you and your baby.

5 Advantages of Breastfeeding Your Baby

1. It’s Free

From diapers to car seats, there are many expenses that come with having a baby. If you’re looking for ways to save during your newborn’s first year, breastfeeding is a great option. Families who regularly breastfeed may be able to reduce feeding expenses by up to $1,500 in the first year alone.

While feeding directly from the breast is free and requires no equipment, you may want to consider pumping if you need to be separated from your baby for an extended period of time. But this expense may be covered for you, too. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans must cover the cost of breast pumps, and provide support and counseling services if you need assistance with breastfeeding.

2. It’s Always Available

Recent formula shortages caused tremendous stress for parents relying on it to feed their babies. Many couldn’t find the right brands or types — or sometimes any at all. Even without a formula shortage however, having breast milk ready 24/7 is convenient. For parents who are able to breastfeed, the ability to do so on an ongoing basis can provide peace of mind.

Your breasts and biology will produce milk based on your baby’s needs. The more you breastfeed, the more your supply will respond to required feeding levels. Unless you have a medical issue that affects your milk supply, you should be able to provide enough milk to feed your baby consistently.

3. It Saves Time

Once you and your baby get into a consistent feeding routine and a good latch has been established, you’ll find that breastfeeding can be the quickest way to nourish them. Bottle feeding, for example, relies on the use of dishes which requires sterilization — and all of that cleaning can take time.

Since you’ll be busy caring for your new baby (and trying to rest!), it’s helpful to make your routine easier in any way that you can. Unless you’re pumping, breastfeeding requires no extra dishwashing. You also won’t need to pack bottles and formula when you go out with your baby, which saves time when you’re getting ready.

4. It May Help Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Breastfeeding can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, especially if you breastfeed for more than a year. Producing milk helps to reduce abnormalities in breast tissue cells. It also leads to fewer periods, which can lower estrogen levels and may help to further reduce breast cancer risk.

5. It Meets Your Baby’s Health Needs

Breastmilk can meet your baby’s complete nutritional needs for the first few months. As your baby grows, your breastmilk will change to continue to supply various powerful antibodies, vitamins, and minerals. Babies who receive breastmilk may be less likely to have ear infections, obesity, and asthma, for example.

When you’re looking for the best medical care for your baby, turn to YourTown Health. We offer personalized women’s healthcare as well as pediatric care for children of all ages. To find your nearest office, visit our locations page, or contact us online.

Different Types of Headaches and What They Mean

You know when you have one, even if the pain varies from piercing or throbbing to just a dull ache. Most are brief, and easily treated with over-the-counter pain relief medication. But certain types of headaches may be a sign of a more serious health problem or require specialized care. Though the International Classification of Headache Disorders lists over 150 different types of headaches, here’s a closer look at several common types.

Migraine

According to experts at Medical News Today, “A migraine is an extremely painful primary headache disorder,” which “usually produce[s] symptoms that are more intense and debilitating than headaches.” 

Typically, a migraine progresses through four stages, each defined by its own symptoms. These include sensitivity to light, nausea, drilling or throbbing pain, and insomnia. Note that not all people who experience migraines go through all four stages, and symptoms within each stage may vary.

A 2018 study found that more than 15% of American adults experienced a migraine episode or a severe headache within three months prior to being surveyed — more of them women than men.

If you suspect you may be experiencing either chronic or episodic migraines, record your symptoms over time, and go over them with your doctor to determine the best treatment. “Keeping a simple migraine diary can be very helpful,” encourages The Migraine Trust. “This might include details of treatment you have tried in the past which has not helped the attacks.”

Thunderclap Headache

A thunderclap headache may be a sign of a condition that can be life threatening,” the experts at Healthline warn. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience a sudden, overwhelmingly severe headache. According to Cleveland Clinic, you may be suffering these conditions, among others:

  • “Torn or ruptured blood vessels in the brain
  • Stroke (blocked or bleeding blood vessel)
  • Brain aneurysm (bulging or bleeding blood vessel)
  • Head injury that causes a brain bleed”

The severity of these intensely painful, acute headaches cannot be underestimated, and swift action must be taken at once. 

Tension Headache

A tension headache is the most common type of headache,” the Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia explains. “It is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck, and is often associated with muscle tightness in these areas.” Stress, and holding your head in one position for a long period of time are two factors that may cause them. 

To help calm the pain, Harvard Health advises you to get enough sleep, eat regular meals, and avoid stressors. Regular relaxation techniques (such as regulated breathing or guided imagery exercises to release tension and stress) may also be useful. Consult with your doctor about whether biofeedback or other medical approaches may also work for you. 

Cluster Headache

Though medical experts are unsure what causes this kind of headache, it may be related to a sudden release of histamine or serotonin in the body. 

The pain these headaches cause is usually the same each time. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the common symptoms are:

  • “Sudden onset of pain, generally around or behind the eye
  • Pain builds to a peak in about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Red or watering eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sweating on the forehead
  • Eyelid drooping or swelling”

These headaches come in groups (or “clusters”), over several days or even multiple times a day. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing cluster headaches, to help determine potential causes and treatments. 

Ice Pick Headache

Like other headaches, the cause of these sharp, brief stabs of pain — usually in small areas of your head — remains a mystery. But as MigraineAgain cautions, “If ice pick headaches slowly increase in frequency, always occur in the same place in the head, are always one-sided, and/or are triggered by head movements or bearing down, this could be a sign that there is a potential secondary cause for the headache (something else going on like injury to a brain structure).” 

As with migraine, cluster, and tension headaches, keep a record of your symptoms, along with the duration of the pain, and what you were doing or consuming prior to the occurrence. This can help your doctor determine the cause and best form of relief. 

At YourTown Health, we have a wide-range of services to help treat headaches, and whatever may lie behind them. Our affordable, compassionate, and high-quality healthcare is available to you by contacting us online.

What is HIV and How Can You Help Prevent It?

Disease prevention is an important part of healthcare, but it is especially true when it comes to HIV, a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about HIV and what you can do to prevent becoming infected yourself. 

What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system of your body. Left unchecked, HIV can transition into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a late-stage of the illness that can be fatal. HIV significantly weakens your immune system, making it difficult to combat sickness and infections like the flu. Since there is currently no cure for HIV, once you acquire the virus, you live with it for the rest of your life. There are medicines that can keep HIV from becoming AIDS, but prevention can help protect against getting HIV. 

Symptoms 

HIV is categorized by three stages of infection before becoming AIDS: acute HIV, chronic HIV, and AIDS. Symptoms of HIV in its early stage can be hard to identify, as they mimic those of the flu. And some people don’t experience any symptoms at all. 

Here’s what the first two stages of HIV may entail:

  • Chills 
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

As the disease progresses into later stages, some of the above symptoms remain, while others may develop, too:

  • Recurrent fevers
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Recurrent vaginal and/or oral yeast infections 
  • Shingles 

Transmission

HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids like blood, semen, vaginal or rectal fluids exchanged primarily during unprotected sex. You can also get infected by sharing needles or through unsanitary tattoo needles. HIV can also be passed to an infant during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. You can’t get infected through everyday forms of contact such as hugging or shaking hands. It also can’t be spread through airborne droplets (like sneezes), insect bites, or water. 

Risk Factors

Anyone can be infected with HIV regardless of race, gender identity, age, or sexual orientation. Even so, certain activities can increase your risk of developing HIV. For example, anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex. Having multiple sex partners also increases your risk of developing HIV. 

Some well-known risk factors include:

  • Engaging in unprotected sex of any kind
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Commercial sex work
  • Being in a sexual relationship with someone who is at high-risk for HIV or who has HIV
  • Injecting illegal drugs, particularly if sharing needles
  • Having a recent STI (sexually transmitted infection) infection in the last six months

HIV Prevention 

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and safe sex practices are key to HIV prevention and to decreasing HIV transmission. When engaging in vaginal and/or anal sex, always wear a condom. HIV prevention medication or PrEP can be used to decrease the risk of HIV transmission by 99%.

Taking these precautions whenever you have sex will significantly reduce your risk of infection. 

Here are some other ways you can prevent the spread of HIV:

  • Get tested for HIV and encourage your partner(s) to do the same. People living through early stages of HIV don’t always have symptoms, so it’s important to get tested so that you do not pass it along to your partner. 
  • Restrict your number of sexual partners. Having sex with multiple partners increases your risk of coming into contact with someone with uncontrolled HIV. 
  • Never inject drugs without using sterile drug injection equipment, and never share your equipment with others. 
  • Get tested and treated for STIs, as they can cause sores on your genitals that make it easier for HIV to be transmitted. Encourage your partner(s) to do the same. 
  • Talk to your doctor about taking PrEP This is a medication that prevents HIV in people who don’t have the virus or may be at risk of infection. 

YourTown Health is dedicated to preventing the spread of HIV through affordable, compassionate, and high-quality healthcare. Our Primary Care HIV Prevention Program provides HIV/AIDS services and treatment at a reduced or waived cost. Contact us online for more information. 

Ways You Can Prevent Skin Cancer

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, but it brings our focus to a health topic that deserves attention every month. With more than five million cases diagnosed each year, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Fortunately, it’s also the most preventable.

Most skin cancers are caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Being in the sunshine for a certain amount of time is good for you, but there are ways to keep it from harming you. Here’s a look at how to protect the skin you — and your loved ones — are in.  

Slather Sunscreen

Even when it is cloudy outside, the sun’s damaging UV rays can penetrate the clouds then bounce off water, glass, and sand to cause even more damage. They are even more powerful on bright, sunny days. Wearing sunblock in any season — even if you have darker skin — is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer. 

The MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests using a sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more, and that offers both UVA and UVB protection. “Also make sure the sunscreen you choose contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,” they recommend

Putting sunblock on once won’t be enough, either. “Ideally, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating heavily,” Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital advises. You may also need to wear more than you think, according to experts at The Skin Cancer Foundation. Rub “a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone,” they say. “If you’re using a spray, apply until an even sheen appears on the skin.”

Stay Out of the Sun

You may not need an umbrella in the sun, but staying out of direct, intense sunlight will keep your skin safer. Having fun inside or in the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM ET (which are the brightest parts of the day) is what experts at the American Skin Association recommend.

Cover it Up

Sunscreen works well, but it sometimes needs help. When you’re outside, “Broad-brimmed hats, bucket hats with wide brims and legionnaire-style hats are effective methods of sun protection to the head, ears, face and neck,” says the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective,” the American Cancer Society also advises. Keep in mind that dark colors reflect more of the sun’s rays than light colors, and loose-weave fabrics may not provide as much protection. Have fun with your sun-safe fashion by exploring clothes made with fabric that blocks harmful rays. 

Know the Signs of Melanoma

The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. But if it is found and treated early, your survival rate increases. Pay attention to any new changes in your skin by using the ABCDEs of melanoma:

  • A – Asymmetry: Most melanomas have an uneven shape.
  • B – Borders: The borders of a melanoma are often scalloped or uneven.
  • C – Color: Harmless moles and freckles are usually only one color, but a melanoma may also be white, blue, or red in places.
  • D – Diameter (or also Dark): Melanomas may start small but grow larger than a pencil eraser. Also, they can be darker than other moles.
  • E – Evolving: If you have a mole that changes size, shape, or color, or starts bleeding or itching, talk to your doctor right away. 

At YourTown Health, we care about the skin you’re in from head to toe. If you have a new skin concern or want more advice about taking care of your skin and everything it covers, visit our website to contact us.

How to Bring in the New Year Safely

Along with any other personal resolutions you may have already made, one thing to keep front-of-mind as we welcome a new year is to care for your own health and safety. Here are a few ideas from the caring team at YourTown Health that can help you prioritize these two things well into 2022 and beyond.

Stay COVID Safe and Get Vaccinated

While many of us are eagerly looking forward to when we can say goodbye to face masks, in order to protect against the spread of the virus and its new variants, we may need to continue social distancing and wearing masks in everyday life through 2022. 

The CDC also recommends that everyone over 5 years old gets vaccinated for COVID-19, and everyone over 18 gets a booster if already vaccinated. Making these appointments, standing in lines, and getting an injection may not be pleasant experiences, but the COVID-19 vaccines bring many benefits, and provide added protection during normal activities. Getting the vaccine doesn’t only help the recipient; it has been shown to also help protect the unborn fetuses of expectant mothers and newborns who are nursing.

Keep in mind, however, that the COVID vaccine isn’t the only one to think about at this time of year. Getting the flu shot is also essential for helping us to keep our community healthy, and our COVID-strained hospitals better equipped to help those in the most dire need. 

Thankfully, many health clinics offer both COVID boosters and flu shots at the same time. Modern Family star Sarah Hyland shared her experiences getting both a COVID booster and flu shot on her social media platforms, and other celebrities have shared their vaccine experiences to help encourage everyone to stay safe together. 

Keep the Habit of Washing Your Hands

Making sure to wash your hands regularly has been lifesaving during this pandemic as “one of the most effective ways of keeping diseases at bay,” as Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO South-East Asia Region has noted.

The simple act of washing your hands can not only help to protect you against the COVD-19 virus, but also many other viruses and diseases, as well as those caused by bacteria on food. For this reason, we must maintain the habit of regular hand washing in 2022 to continue keeping ourselves and our communities safe.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings and Take Precautions

Health and safety aren’t just about the things you can’t see, like viruses and bacteria. Some of the most important precautions you can take are right in front of your face… or under your feet.

As you travel around your community, stay aware of your surroundings. Make sure to check for oncoming traffic and make an effort to always be a safe pedestrian. Also remain mindful of things such as where exits are in a building in case of a sudden emergency. 

Taking precautions like wearing non-slip shoes so you don’t fall on slippery floors seems simple but can also help. If you’re driving — or in a car at all — one of the safest choices you can make is to put on your seatbelt. It only takes a couple of seconds, but making sure that you and your passengers wear your seatbelts every time can help you and your family avoid accidental injury and keep you all safe.

At YourTown Health, we have been serving our communities for over 35 years and are devoted to providing high-quality health care to everyone in our community, regardless of insurance coverage. For more information on how you can stay safe and healthy, visit our website.

Ways You Can Prevent Diabetes

Diabetes is common and affects more than 10% of the U.S. population. While type 1 diabetes is diagnosed during childhood and can’t be prevented, type 2 diabetes often can. Even if you have risk factors such as a family history, here’s what you can do to identify and control your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Understand Your Diabetes Risk

Diabetes occurs when glucose, or sugar, builds up in the blood. In type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to insulin, which normally helps absorb sugar. While experts aren’t sure exactly why this occurs, it’s believed that a combination of lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors leads to diabetes.

Being overweight is a known risk factor for diabetes, but not everyone who gets diabetes is overweight. Your diabetes risk is also higher if you:

  • Are over the age of 45
  • Have a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • Don’t exercise
  • Are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
  • Have high blood sugar or cholesterol
  • Have had diabetes during pregnancy
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Fortunately, identifying risk factors that can’t be changed will allow you to focus on the following risks that you can control.

Manage Your Weight

Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for developing diabetes, but it’s also one that can be changed. If you’re overweight, losing seven to ten percent of your body weight could cut your diabetes risk in half.

Adjust Your Diet

Even small changes in food choices can go a long way to reduce your diabetes risk. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Swap out sugary beverages for water to reduce your overall sugar intake, which can improve your body’s ability to process sugar.
  • When possible, choose lean proteins such as grilled chicken or beans over heavily processed meats. Go for whole grains such as brown rice and whole wheat bread or pasta, as these cause less of a sugar spike in your system.
  • Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, since they help control blood sugar.
  • Control your portions. Smaller meals are easier for the body to process, so start with smaller servings and stop once you feel full.

Exercise Regularly

Combined with a healthy diet, exercise can be even more powerful than certain drugs for preventing diabetes. Exercising for 150 minutes a week (30 minutes, five days a week) is ideal for reducing your diabetes risk, but you can work up to that amount gradually over time. Finding an exercise you enjoy is the best way to stick with physical activity, but it doesn’t have to be complicated — walking is free, requires no special training or equipment, and can be done almost anywhere.

Move Throughout the Day

In addition to routine exercise, small movements throughout the day can help prevent diabetes. Breaking up long periods of sitting with short walks has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. If you have a desk job, set reminders on your phone to get up and move each hour.

Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body control blood sugar. If you’re vitamin D deficient, taking a supplement could help your body produce insulin to significantly reduce your diabetes risk. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. If you think you might not get enough of the nutrient from your diet, ask your doctor about taking supplements.

If you want to learn more about ways to prevent diabetes or there’s another health issue you’d like to discuss, turn to one of our caring practitioners. Find your closest location, or request a telehealth appointment for a virtual visit.

Health Resolutions You Should Commit to in 2021

For most, 2020 was an extremely challenging year. As we hope for a better year ahead, it’s also time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions! With the coronavirus pandemic still looming large, we encourage you to keep health and wellness at the forefront of your 2021. Here are health resolutions you should commit to in 2021!

Focus on Your Mental Health 

2020 had a lot of negative news. Pairing that with social distancing and the inability to visit loved ones: it’s impacted the mental health of thousands of people around the world. 

Identifying mental health stressors and learning new ways to manage and deal with this stress is a great way to start the new year. 

Need actionable next steps? Follow these tips:

  • Consider journaling. Writing down what you feel grateful for or items troubling you can help organize your thoughts and create a greater sense of control. 
  • Reach out to a professional. With many virtual options available, seeking advice from a therapist or psychologist is more accessible now than ever. If you’re struggling with your mental health, seeking professional help is often the best first step you can take. Do some research to see if local therapists in your area are offering online counseling. If not, many national programs, such as BetterHelp, offer great, affordable options. 
  • Make “de-stressing” part of your routine. The highs and lows of life are unavoidable. That’s why working stress management into your routine is one of the best mental health habits you can develop. Some options to consider include: prioritizing 7-8 hours of sleep each night (yes, that’s a stress management tool!), limiting screen-time, scheduling daily walks, planning regular conversations with loved ones, reading a book, or even making time for activities like puzzling or coloring that can take your mind off the worries of the day. 

Break Bad Pandemic Habits  

Although important in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the stay-at-home order and social distancing didn’t do many favors for some of our healthy habits. In fact, it was common that most people reduced their physical activity and ordered take-out food for meals. While there’s no need to feel guilty about that, especially if those habits helped to get you through those challenging months, it’s time to reconsider those unhealthy habits that the pandemic created. 

For example, if you’ve dropped exercising these past few months, it’s time to get back to it. While you don’t necessarily need to go back to the gym, though now they’re following strict COVID-19 regulations, find ways to get yourself moving and motivated. Follow online workout classes at home, and exercise outside while safely distancing yourself from others. 

Take a look at the habits you picked up during the pandemic. Decide if they’re hurting or helping your health. If unhealthy, focus on habits that reverse their impact for the new year. 

Keep Up Cleanliness Habits

As we continue battling the coronavirus pandemic, personal hygiene and cleanliness are more important than ever. Thankfully, these habits will still have health benefits even after the pandemic is behind us. Certain practices such as washing your hands after visiting a store or wearing a mask in public when sick or in crowded places will slow the spread of other diseases and germs, such as the common cold or stomach bugs. 

If you would like to speak to a health professional about health resolutions you should commit to in 2021, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644.

Addressing Common COVID-19 Myths

One of the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic has been a lack of information. Health experts around the world are doing everything they can to learn more about this disease, how it spreads, and how to combat it. Unfortunately, this lack of information has also opened several doors to the spread of misleading information and myths about COVID-19.

To help educate you on important information regarding the pandemic, the medical experts at YourTown Health are exploring common COVID-19 myths. Want to learn more? Continue reading below!

Myth: COVID-19 dies in the heat.

Fact: While there is some evidence that the spread of coronavirus dies in extreme heat and humid conditions, this is not enough to justify not worrying about contracting COVID-19 in warmer weather. In fact, the world has witnessed a spike in cases as many took the summertime as an excuse to go outside and resume normal activities. 

Myth: I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past and am now immune.

Fact: While some cases have shown immunity to COVID-19 months after contracting it, there are also cases reported of people contracting the disease a second time.

In other words, we don’t currently know enough to prove that someone is immune to this disease. With this in mind, if you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, you should continue to follow best practices to avoid contracting it in the future.

Myth: If I don’t feel sick or have symptoms, I don’t have COVID-19.

Fact: 1 in 5 cases of people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, meaning 20% of people with the disease are not showing symptoms, according to a Healthline

In other words, symptom-free does not mean you’re in the clear. Therefore, wearing a mask in public, getting testing, and avoiding crowds, big or small, is still vital for everyone’s safety – not just those diagnosed or showing symptoms.  

Myth: Doctor offices or hospitals are not safe

Fact: Doctor’s offices and hospitals remain one of the safest places to receive medical care, even during this pandemic. Recently, many health organizations have experienced a decrease in outpatient visits and treatment of medical conditions due to people not visiting the doctor in fear of contracting COVID-19. 

To stay confident about your health, continue to visit your doctor for routine check-ups, and seek immediate care during a medical emergency. 

Myth: COVID-19 is the flu.

Fact: COVID-19 is not the flu. Although the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu can look similar, the two are caused by different viruses. Learn more about the differences between COVID-19 and the flu. 

Myth: Young people are at low risk of contracting COVID-19.

Fact: Recent data shows a surge in young adults contracting COVID-19. It’s now believed that 1 in 3 young adults will experience severe symptoms of COVID-19 when diagnosed with the disease. 

Regardless of age, we must follow best practices and guidelines to avoid COVID-19 and to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and everyone around us. 

Myth: Testing is painful and not worth it.

Fact: There are several methods to test for COVID-19. The one that is most often discussed is the nasal swab method. Generally, many people have reported that the sensation when receiving the test was more of a tickle than anything else. It may be uncomfortable for a minute but should not be painful. Learn more about COVID-19 testing here, explained by the medical professionals at YourTown Health.  

If you are asking yourself, is receiving a test worth it? Understand this: receiving a COVID-19 test is the right thing to do for yourself, your loved ones, and others around you. Getting tested after being in large crowds, with the onset of symptoms, known exposure to someone who tested positive, or if you are just curious whether you are positive, is key to taking care of yourself and not passing the disease to anyone else. Read more about why COVID-19 testing is vital here.

At YourTown Health, we offer FREE COVID-19 tests to our surrounding communities on select dates and times. For updates on our testing dates, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or visit our COVID-19 Testing page on our website

If you would like to speak to one of our medical experts about COVID-19 or learn more about our testing, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644. 

Breast Cancer Awareness: How to Prevent Breast Cancer

About one in eight US women will develop breast cancer at some point in their life, and it’s estimated that in 2020 about 276,480 cases will be diagnosed. Although these statistics are alarming — through awareness, early detection, and healthy habits, we’re making great strides in the fight against this disease.

While there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, there are lifestyle choices you can make to improve your overall health and therefore, your odds against this disease. 

Avoid Alcohol 

Even low amounts of alcohol are linked to a higher chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests this connection is related to the rise in estrogen levels in the body caused by alcohol. It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. However, if you do drink alcohol, it’s important to not have more than 1 drink per day.

Be Active 

At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week can lead to a lower breast cancer risk. Moderate exercise includes anything that increases your heart rate, like a brisk walk or a casual bike ride. A good way to measure this is that you should be able to talk, but not sing. Vigorous exercise includes activities like jogging or weightlifting that increase your heart rate significantly and makes you break a sweat. If you can say a few words but not hold a conversation, you’re likely engaged in vigorous exercise.

So, strap on your sneakers and get moving! 

Benefits of Breastfeeding 

For women who choose to breastfeed for at least six months, their risk for breast cancer is reduced. While this should not be the only factor considered when choosing how to feed and nourish your baby, it is an important factor to consider.

Healthy Weight 

Being overweight or experiencing a heavy weight gain as an adult can lead to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. Again, this is why developing overall healthy habits is so important, especially throughout adulthood. 

Studies About Diet to Prevent Breast Cancer

Currently, studies examining the link between diet and breast cancer are inconclusive. However, some suggest there is likely a connection between consuming vegetables, fruits, and calcium-rich dairy and lower breast cancer risks.

Early Detection 

Even if you choose to adopt these lifestyle changes to lessen your risk for developing breast cancer, the most important step you can take for your health is to participate in regular screenings. Doing so increases your chances of both early detection and recovery. 

Here’s what you should be doing and when:

  • Monthly breast self-examination: You should be familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel and should report any changes to a health care provider right away. 
  • Yearly mammograms starting at age 40. However, if you have an increased risk of breast cancer, such as family history, you may need to begin earlier. 
  • Speak with your primary care physician about the best preventative plan for you.

If you would like to speak to a physician about building healthy habits or assessing your ability to prevent breast cancer, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644.

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