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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.

Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, with more than 500,000 Americans diagnosed each year and more than five million currently living with the disease. According to the CDC, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s most often appear after the age of 60 and steadily worsen over time. Impacting memory, thinking, and behavior, this can be a distressing diagnosis to receive, both for the patient and for their family and friends. 

Although there is not currently a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for the symptoms – both drug and non-drug options – are widely available. These treatments can temporarily slow down the progression of dementia symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life. To learn more about the treatment options for Alzheimer’s, read this article from the National Institute of Aging.  

Knowing the potential warning signs of this complex disease can help you get a diagnosis during its earlier stages, when many of the available treatment can do the most good. It’s particularly important to recognize the signs if you or someone you love has a family history of Alzheimer’s, but anyone with these early symptoms should bring them to the attention of their doctor.

Early Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease 

The first signs are usually minor and can easily go unnoticed early on. During the early stages, the primary symptoms are:

  • Increase in aggressive behavior.
  • Frequently repeating questions and forgetting things.
  • Getting lost.
  • Increase in overall anxiety.
  • Complications and issues with handling money.
  • Requiring a long time to complete a daily task. 
  • Misplacing items.
  • Increase in mood swings.
  • Changes in personality.
  • Confusion with time or place.

Please note that if you or someone you know demonstrates any of these signs, it does not necessarily mean that you or that person has Alzheimer’s disease. It simply means it’s time to talk to your doctor for further testing. Early detection can make a big difference. 

That’s why it’s important, even at a young age, to continue scheduling your regular check-ups with your primary care doctor and to take care of your physician health. In fact, people with dementia who maintain a healthy lifestyle progress more slowly to the later stages, says Harvard Health Publishing

Do you have any questions for us about Alzheimer’s? Are you due for your annual primary care appointment? Click here to get in contact with our team of healthcare professionals or call us at 770-463-4644. To learn more about Alzheimer’s, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website

Why Should You Care About Your Cholesterol?

Chances are you’ve heard about cholesterol before. It may have come up in a discussion about eating a balanced diet. Or living a healthy lifestyle. Or lowering your risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of adults in the United States. 

But what exactly is cholesterol? And why does it matter for your health? Continue reading to learn more about cholesterol and why your doctor should check your levels regularly.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. It plays many important roles, such as making Vitamin D and hormones, and helping with digestion.

There are two main types of cholesterol. The first is “high-density lipoprotein” (HDL), sometimes known as “good cholesterol.” HDL supports your health in several ways: 

  • Helps the liver create bile, a fluid that aids digestion.
  • Maintains the structure of blood vessels and cells. 
  • Supports bone health, mental health, and sexual drive. 

The second type of cholesterol is “low-density lipoprotein” (LDL), sometimes known as “bad cholesterol.” When your body has too much LDL, a sticky plaque can develop inside your arterial walls. This can constrict blood flow throughout the body. That may put you at greater risk of heart attack, heart disease, or stroke.

“Total cholesterol” is the sum of your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, plus triglycerides. (Triglycerides are a fat-like substance similar to cholesterol.)

Why is it Important to Monitor?

Too much LDL cholesterol in your body can cause serious health problems. Too little HDL cholesterol can disrupt many vital bodily functions. Stay healthier by keeping both kinds of cholesterol in their ideal ranges.

The ideal total cholesterol level for an adult is between 140-200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter). Total cholesterol levels above 240mg/dL are considered too high. High total cholesterol may put your health at risk and should be evaluated by your doctor.

However, the different types of cholesterol (HDL and LDL) have different ideal ranges. For HDL, you want a level that is higher than 60mg/dL. For LDL, any levels under 100mg/dL are considered healthy. 

The American Heart Association recommends that adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol levels checked at least every 4 to 6 years. During your primary care visit, a sample of blood will be taken from a vein in your arm using a small needle. The needle may cause a slight sting, but the process is otherwise not painful. It takes less than five minutes. Your doctor will send the blood sample to a laboratory to measure your cholesterol levels.

If your cholesterol levels raise any concerns, your doctor will advise you on your best options for improving them. With regular monitoring and maintenance, you and your doctor can do a lot to lower your risk of serious health problems. It’s an important practice for your overall health and wellness.

If you need a primary care physician or have questions about your cholesterol levels, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644. 

Five Back-To-School Health Tips During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Across the country, parents are preparing their students — and themselves — for a back-to-school season unlike any we’ve had before. Whether your children will be learning remotely at home or returning to in-classroom instruction, keeping them healthy is going to require more than the usual nutritious snacks and a regular bedtime.

The coronavirus pandemic can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there’s actually a lot you can do to keep your family healthy as summer vacation draws to a close and the new school year begins. In combination with the protective measures taken by your school and public health agencies, together, we can keep kids safe while helping their young minds grow. Follow these back-to-school health tips to learn how to do just that!

1. Teach your children to wear their masks

According to the CDC, cloth face masks help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in settings where social distancing is challenging. Start practicing and encouraging good mask-wearing habits at home before school starts. If your children are returning to the classroom, it will help protect them, their fellow students, and their teachers and staff. If they’re doing virtual learning from home, masks are still important anytime your kids go out in public.

2. Help your children find healthy ways to manage stress

This school year will be unlike any your children have experienced before. Rapid change and unfamiliar situations can be stressful for anyone, and children are often less equipped to manage that stress. They may also be discouraged that they cannot spend time with friends after school or participate in their favorite activities, all of which previously helped them reduce their stress.

Help your kids find new ways to lower their stress, such as exploring new hobbies, coordinating video calls with their friends, indulging in some video games, and more. Most importantly, be sure to let your child know that feeling some day-to-day stress is normal, but that they should talk with you anytime they feel overwhelmed and want some help.

3. Encourage your children to stay active

Especially if your child is participating in classes online, it’s important that they take frequent breaks to get up, move around and stretch. ​According to the Baltimore Business Journal, “frequent stretching keeps a proper blood and nutrient supply to the working muscles and tissues throughout the workday [schoolday] and prevents fatigue and discomfort … while reducing stress and increasing energy.”                         

Students should consider taking breaks from sitting ​every 30 minutes​ – whether it be walking around the block or strolling to the kitchen – ​according to a study from researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center, University of Michigan, and Columbia Medical Center.

4. Practice washing hands together

Washing hands is an important way to help prevent the spread of disease even in normal times.  During this pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day. ​Check out the CDC’s guidelines for handwashing, then practice with them at home. You can even make a game of it by singing a song together as you wash. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of your favorite song.

5. Continue taking your children to their doctor

While going anywhere outside your home during this pandemic can feel risky, doctors’ offices are one of the safest places you can go to receive needed care and treatment. It’s far riskier to avoid or delay check-ups and medical care, possibly leaving serious health issues undetected or untreated.

Most doctors’ offices — including all of YourTown Health’s community health centers — are taking extraordinary precautions to ensure the health and safety of their patients and staff. So, keep scheduling those annual well-check visits for your children, and reach out to your doctor anytime your children show signs of needing medical attention.

If you would like to speak to our team further about back-to-school health tips or schedule a well-check visit, click here to contact the experts at YourTown Health or call 770-463-4644.

What is a Community Health Center? And Why Are These Centers So Fundamental to Good Healthcare?

YourTown Health is a network of eight non-profit Community Health Centers located in communities that would otherwise have limited access to affordable, quality healthcare, especially if you’re uninsured or underinsured.

If you’re asking yourself, “What is a Community Health Center?”, you’re in the right place. Continue reading to learn what they are, why they are so fundamental to our healthcare system, and how we can all celebrate and support these essential organizations.

What are Community Health Centers?

Community Health Centers are community-based and patient-focused organizations that deliver high-quality and compassionate primary healthcare services to the communities they serve. They provide treatment and healthcare education services to patients while ensuring that no patient is turned away from receiving needed care. In addition to primary care, Community Health Centers often provide a wide range of services that support healthier communities.

As a network of Community Health Centers ourselves, YourTown Health’s mission is to provide comprehensive preventative, curative, and life-enhancing services in a non-judgmental and compassionate environment. We offer pediatric and adolescent care, family practice and internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, and pharmacy services. Our Community Health Centers also provide immunizations, diagnostic testing and laboratory services, school and work physicians, and referrals to qualified specialists.

Why Are These Centers Fundamental to Good Healthcare?

Community Health Centers provide access to essential healthcare services to the people of their communities, care that might otherwise be unavailable for many. They help their patients live healthier lives and support the overall health of their communities.

As the National Association of Community Health Center puts it, “In moments of pain and loss, [Community Health Centers] offer support and love. In moments of triumph, they offer hope and vision for the future.”

Contact a YourTown Health office location to schedule an appointment with a provider.

What’s the New Normal?

As shelter in-place orders are lifted across the country and people have returned to routines and activities, many wonder what the “new normal” will look like: now and post coronavirus. 

At the forefront of those conversations is discussion around public health and safety best practices. At YourTown Health, we are dedicated to being in the middle of those conversations and ensuring our patients and staff remain safe and healthy. 

Although there is not one definition of a “new normal”, we’ve provided a list of a few changes we can expect when asking what’s the new normal.

How We Interact With One Another

During this pandemic, people have continued to stay connected to one another through technology. Many took to social media platforms, video chat, and phone calls as a method of communication with their loved ones. 

Because of this, many are wondering if this form of communication is the only way to stay connected in the future. As many people are asking: “are handshakes part of the past?”, the simplest answer is – we don’t know. 

For the time being, it’s very important to continue socially distancing ourselves and staying at least 6 feet apart when greeting or interacting with others. Here are some tips on how to greet someone while keeping up best social distancing practices:

  • Smile and nod, even with a mask or protective covering on. 
  • Politely say “hello” or some other form of verbal greeting. 
  • Focus on eye contact.
  • Follow-up with a wave. 

The Even Bigger Rise in Telehealth

In the early development of the pandemic, many providers and healthcare organizations integrated telehealth into their practices to provide a safe and convenient means for patient care to continue. Although telehealth is not a new development, the repercussions of the coronavirus on in-person visits gave a necessary rush to the implementation and utilization of telehealth services. 

Even after the pandemic, we can expect for telehealth visits to stay in our healthcare systems, especially as we continue to live in a world with constant changes in technology advancements. 

If you are interested in making a telehealth visit at YourTownHealth, please contact us here or call 770-463-4644. 

The Ways in Which We Evaluate Personal Hygiene 

You’ve heard it many times before, and you’ll continue hearing it over and over again: wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. 

Although personal hygiene was an important part of our lives before the pandemic, there’s been an intense scrutiny on how we keep clean in order to fight off the virus.

Will these behaviors continue after the pandemic? Have they become ingrained in our new daily routines? 

Based on our current behaviors, these habits will probably stick around for awhile, as they should. For now, it’s important for everyone to continue focusing on their personal hygiene to prevent the virus from spreading. 

Especially as many resume their normal activities and routines, it’s vital to take the necessary steps, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to protect yourself and others around you. We’ve listed a few of them out here:

  • Continue social distancing and stay approximately 6 feet away from others. 
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. If you do not have soap and water available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to help kill bacteria.
  • Cover your mouth and nose by wearing a face mask or cloth covering when around other people or outside of your house. 
  • Routinely clean and disinfect yourself and surrounding areas/surfaces. 
  • Receive a viral or antibody test. At YourTown Health, we are currently offering FREE drive-up testing for surrounding communities. 

To learn more about COVID-19 tests and our testing locations, check out our “COVID-19 Testing 101”Blog

Do you have any questions for us? Would you like to speak to our team about what’s the new normal? Click here to get in contact with our team of healthcare professionals or call us at 770-463-4644. 

Summer Health Safety Tips

Summer is here! 

That means gorgeous weather, plenty of sunshine, and outdoor activities with friends and family. However, this summer will look different than most as we continue to fight the coronavirus.

As the temperatures rise and more people begin to resume “normal” activities, we’re sharing important summer health safety tips to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy during this time. 

When Heading Out, Wear a Mask 

The most important safety tip we can provide is to remember that we’re still living through a pandemic, and to continue taking this virus seriously. 

As much as the summer weather may tempt you to spend more time outside – if you do, always make sure to wear a mask. It can be slightly uncomfortable if you’re playing outside in the heat. However, a mask protects you and the people around you from contracting COVID-19. 

Check out the CDC’s guidelines on how to properly wear your cloth face covering or mask. 

Prevent Playtime Injuries

Whether you are going for a run, going on a hike, or even taking your children to a park, it’s important to properly warm up the body before engaging in any intense physical activity. This will prevent injuries from happening. 

The best way to do this is by stretching beforehand, warming-up with an easier activity, and also to make sure to stretch again when you’re heading back inside. 

Pack Sunscreen and Plenty of Water

The sunshine and warm temperatures may be one of the best parts about the summer, but it can also be one of the dangerous. To prevent yourself or your loved ones from getting skin cancer in the future, heat rashes, and other uncomfortable sun-related issues, make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen before heading out. Make sure you are applying sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection, and has a SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher. 

In addition, always pack extra water so that you can stay hydrated and avoid overheating. Remember, to stay hydrated even all throughout the day. On average, you should try and drink half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. 

Encourage Safety Around Water

Water is an essential part of the summertime, whether you’re cooling down in a pool or swimming in the ocean. However, water can be a dangerou during this time of the year, especially for younger children. 

The signs of drowning may not be what you think (i.e. splashing, calling out for help). Sometimes drowning happens hours after the pool and when deadly water has had enough time to damage the lungs. 

To prevent anything happening to you or your loved ones, especially during the summer months, practice safety around water. Keep an eye on any children, encourage taking frequent breaks from the water, do not go into a pool, lake, or ocean alone or without any supervision, and make sure not to allow anyone to go deeper in the water than they can handle. 

If you would like to speak to our team further about summer health safety tips, click here to get in contact with us or call 770-463-4644.

COVID-19 Testing 101

During this pandemic, it is probably unlikely that you have not heard of the widespread development and utilization of COVID-19 testing options around the world. Whether you are trying to make the decision to receive a test yourself, refer a friend or family member to receive a test, or if you are just curious about some of the facts surrounding current testing options for COVID-19; at YourTown Health, we have outlined some useful information and resources to help alleviate any confusion or concern during this time of uncertainty. 

What Type of Tests Are Available?

Currently, there are two different types of tests available for COVID-19: the viral test and the antibody test. 

Simply put, the viral test will determine whether an individual is infected with COVID-19 at the time of receiving the test. On the contrary, an antibody test will tell the individual if they have been infected with COVID-19 in the past. 

Although the presence of the antibodies can tell an individual if they have previously been infected by the virus, it is still unknown as to whether the presence of the antibodies can “protect” or ensure any immunity from COVID-19. 

At YourTown Health, we currently offer the viral test. As of now, no antibody tests are available through YourTown Health. 

Should I Get Tested for COVID-19?

Making the decision of whether to get tested for COVID-19 can be challenging. At YourTown Health, we have provided some general guidelines for you, in compliance with the CDC, to help steer your decisions. 

Many people that have contracted the virus but fall under the “low risk” category for serious complications, can often recover at home without any outside medical care. At YourTown Health, we recommend testing for all asymptomatic and symptomatic patients in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. If your symptoms begin to worsen over time, please contact the emergency room or one of your healthcare providers at YourTown Health for instructions on next steps. 

For those that believe they are infected with the virus and symptoms do not worsen over time, it is best to stay in self-isolation and wear a mask. Once symptoms go away, consider receiving a viral test before resuming any normal activities and quarantine yourself for another two weeks. Click here for a list of the symptoms associated with COVID-19

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and decide to get tested, please call and speak to your healthcare provider first. They will provide you with detailed instructions on how to proceed with next steps. 
  • As stated by the CDC, testing is recommended for all who may have come into close contact with a person or persons with COVID-19. 
  • The CDC also recommends that all neonates (newborns) get tested if they were born to women that had been infected with COVID-19, regardless if the newborn is showing symptoms of the infection. 

Learn more about who should get tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The Procedure for Receiving a Viral Test

The process and procedure for receiving a COVID-19 test varies from place to place. Generally, the viral test for COVID-19 involves inserting a thin, 6-inch long swab into a person’s nasal cavity for a few seconds and rotating several times. The swab is only inserted into one nasal cavity. 

Once inserted into the cavity, the swabbing is repeated a few times to ensure that enough biological material has been absorbed. The individual performing the test will then place the biological material into a container and will send it to a lab for testing. 

Although this may sound daunting, the procedure is fairly quick. It is possible you may feel some slight discomfort, tearing of eyes, cough, and sneeze, but should not experience any pain. Generally, many people have reported that the sensation was more of a tickle than anything else. 

The waiting period for receiving your test results also varies depending on your testing location. Based on volume, patients can receive results back in as little as 41 minutes, and total results back in less than 24 hours! 

If you receive a positive viral test result, understand the appropriate steps to take if you are sick and or caring for someone who is. YourTown Health recommends all members in the household get tested as soon as possible. 

On the other hand, if your test comes back negative, is it crucial to understand that although you may have not been infected at the time you received the viral test, this does not ensure that you won’t contract the virus in the future

About the COVID-19 Tests Offered by YourTown Health

On select dates and times, YourTown Health is offering FREE drive-up testing to surrounding communities, using our mobile unit. For more information on our upcoming testing locations, click here

For the most up-to-date information on our testing locations, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

More Information on our FREE COVID-19 Tests: 

  • There is no physician order required to receive a test. 
  • All individuals will be required to provide their demographic information and respond to a brief questionnaire when scheduling an appointment. Our COVID Testing page will continue to serve as a useful resource for individuals looking to receive a viral test. 
  • The nasal swab viral test results can take as little as 41 minutes, and less than 24 hours for total results based on volume.
  • Individuals will be asked to remain in their car during the test. 
  • Everyone receiving the test will be contacted immediately over the phone when the results are generated at the lab. 

Do you have any questions about the viral test offered by YourTown Health? Contact us here

References

Testing for COVID-19. (2020, May 01). Retrieved June 26, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html 

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