Tuesday, May 3, 2016

5 Things to Remember When Going to the ER

Today's guest post is by Rachel Berros, PA.

Image courtesy of Paul Brennan

5 Things to Remember When Going to the Emergency Department

Health and medical care can be intimidating, especially if you are more naturally minded. Having a primary care provider that you trust can be a huge benefit in this area (for more about primary care benefits, click here). But, sometimes the emergency department or urgent care are your only, or best, options. Once there, it is important that your voice be heard and desires respected. Not every clinician understands the idea of breastfeeding past 6 months or not desiring antibiotics. Due to their ignorance (not malice), they may not think to ask about these issues. As advocates of your and your child(ren)’s health, please keep these points in mind if you find yourself in an emergency department.

  1. Tell the ER provider several times that you are nursing your child, especially if the child is older than 6 months or not currently with you. The clinician may assume older children are no longer nursing and thus not ask, so be sure to volunteer the information. Once you have told them, they still may end up prescribing something out of habit. This medication will most likely be appropriate for the patient’s condition, but may not be ideal while nursing. So, politely advise them of your nursing status during the initial interview, again while discussing the treatment plan, and then when the person (usually a nurse) goes over your discharge instructions. 
  2. Include your herbal therapies as medications. Some clinicians may not understand the possible interactions of herbal remedies with prescriptions medications, but many will.  If the herbal therapy is potent enough to have an effect, it may have a side effect or interaction as well. Homeopathic treatments generally do not have a similar issue due to their nature, so generally do not need to be included.
  3. Ask if probiotics would be a better treatment—as opposed to antibiotics—if diagnosed with a bacterial infection. Certain infections, such a mastitis (a milk-duct infection while nursing) has been shown to improve as well, if not better, on probiotic therapy as on antibiotics (as described on UpToDate, a respected medical resource site for clinicians). Any time antibiotics are used (including through breast milk) during the first 6 months of life (or before whole foods are eaten and thus normal/healthy bacteria developed in the gut) there are slightly higher risks for stomach issues later in the child’s life. If antibiotics are still recommended, ask about taking probiotics with them, also remember to ask how easily the specific antibiotic will pass into the breast milk.
  4. Ask if a chest x-ray for your child is absolutely necessary. A single x-ray will not be harmful, but all radiation exposure adds up over time. Exposure can be especially problematic in the preteen and early teen years when the child’s body is preparing for and going through puberty. 
  5. Remember prevention is key, and knowledge is power. Appropriate child restraints, helmets, and other safety gear have significantly reduced childhood trauma rates in the last several decades, but we still have room to improve. Learn about proper safety gear use and insist on it with your child(ren). Also remember most fevers do not require emergent evaluation, vomiting for a day or so will usually not cause significant harm to your child(ren), and colds are almost always viral (meaning they need time, not medications to improve), so skip the trip to the emergency department unless, of course, it is a true emergency. 

Educate yourself from reputable sources, like your primary care provider or pediatrician, or well respected, science based websites, to reduce your need of medical visits. But, as I always tell my patients, if you are scared for you or your child(ren)’s health, seek out a professional evaluation. We will always be happy to tell you your child is fine or not as bad off as you imagined. Most of us enjoy seeing concerned, well informed, and proactive parents and patients. 


Rachel Berros is a Physician's Assistant and writer. Follow her on Twitter (@berrosrachel) and check out her website (www.rachelberros.com).


Sunday, May 1, 2016

May the 4th be with you -- $100 up for grabs!

Who wants to win $100 in PayPal cash? 
You know you do! 

Well, here's your chance. Because I love this community, I decided to join with some other awesome bloggers and pay out $100 to one lucky winner. Quite honestly, I hope it's someone here in the GG community! Best of all, this is a giveaway that is open to everyone 18+ Worldwide!

Contest runs from May 1 - May 31, 2016. 
Winner will be contacted via email on June 1 and will have 24 hours to claim their prize.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A simple homemade deodorant that WORKS!

Finding a safe and effective deodorant can be a real struggle for many of us. I tried one after the other and honestly only found one that worked for my husband and me. Then they changed the packaging and the formula and I no longer like it. The biodegradable cardboard container is difficult to use, but I would manage it somehow if the deodorant worked. But it doesn't and the mess around the top of the tube just isn't worth it. Too bad. The original packaging and formula worked well, although it did stain lighter clothing. Again, I was willing to put up with that in exchange for not offending people with my B.O.!

I've read lots of articles about how to make my own deodorant, but it all seemed too complicated. So I came up with my own formula. And guess what -- it works! All the time, every time. I couldn't be more thrilled. And as one who doesn't shower or bathe daily (I see no reason to do so), I'm excited to say that I don't need to apply my "deodorant" every day either. **UPDATE: Lindsay, one of the GG community members, let me know that she does this, too, but every once in awhile she develops little red bumps (especially after shaving) and has to stop until they go away. She just switches to crystal deodorant for a bit. I've not had a reaction yet, but it's good to know it can happen.**

So what is this magic formula? I know you're dying to find out.

It's quite simple actually. I place a small amount of baking soda in the palm of my hand and add an equal amount of coconut oil. I mix it into a paste and apply it under my arms with my fingers. Then I wash my hands. That's it. Safe, non-toxic, effective, and cheap!

I even made up a batch in a small container to take with me on all these trips lately. 

My arm pits and I have never been happier! And nothing in this formula is going to give me breast cancer! Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Six Reasons You Need a Primary Care Provider

I was fortunate enough to have lunch with a Physician's Assistant at The Write Stuff conference in Bethlehem, PA in early April. We had the opportunity to chat about her job and this blog and we made a connection. In addition to being a PA, Rachel Berros is a writer. Please check out her website at www.rachelberros.com and follow her on Twitter @berrosrachel. Rachel graciously agreed to write a guest post for me about why it is important to have a primary care doctor or physician's assistant. If you're one of the many who believes it's not necessary, I encourage you to read on.

Image courtesy of George Hodan
As a young, healthy person interested in natural medicine, it is sometimes hard to see the need for a primary care provider.  This is doubly difficult when following a healthy lifestyle and learning home remedies for common ailments.  All one needs is a local urgent (UC) or emergent care department (ER) for those rare times home remedies are not enough, such as broken ankles or severe lacerations, right?  Wrong.

Let me give you five reasons why.

  • Urgent and emergent care centers care for ruling out life-threatening illness and treating short term issues, not your long-term health goals. They fix the urgent/emergent issue and then recommend follow-up with either a specialist or primary care provider. If home remedies are not sufficient, then having someone familiar with your health goals is vital. 
  • Commonly—mistakenly or not—clinicians believe patients are being seen for answers and solutions for their ailments.  Medical providers use medications to give those solutions.  If you prefer to explore alternative treatments such as physical therapy, medically directed diet changes, or other life-style adjustments, then the common ER and Urgent care provider will be limited in their ability to help you. 
  • You can set long-term health goals and save yourself time and frustration.  It’s common to see a different clinician each time you go to an ER or UC, which will require time and effort to have them understand your beliefs and desires.  And almost no ER or UC clinician will discuss long term goals with you.  But by having a single primary provider follow your progress, you can get regular recommendations to reach your goals. 
  • You can discuss and request more rarely performed studies.  If you come in to an ER and complain of symptoms of long-term heavy metal exposure, most clinicians will not test you for it unless you have very obvious physical changes.  Minor and vague complaints will not be investigated past ruling out immediately life-threatening conditions.  A chronic provider will be able to tease out many other less likely options, and order those more unique studies, such as heavy metal and vitamin D levels.    
  • You can treat pain your way.  Acute pain (lasting less than two weeks) will be evaluated and if a cause is found, it will be treated.  If no specific reason is discovered, then a plan for follow-up and a small supply of pain medication may be provided.  Back pain can be challenging as it is rare to get a definitive diagnosis during an ER or UC visit.  A primary provider can order appropriate testing and review the results with you while working with you on your preferred means of pain control.  Chronic pain should always be managed by a primary care or pain management specialist, not the ER or UC. 
  • Cost.  Simply put, everything in the ER will cost more than it would through a primary care office.

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