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The Effects Of Stress On Gut Health

Simply put, stress is another word for the “fight or flight” response that our body creates in times of danger. Although we are no longer being chased by predators like our ancestors, modern lifestyles still spend too much time stimulating this “fight or flight” response. These responses then produce an onslaught of serious health conditions throughout the human body from the most simple to the most severe consequences. Retaining a deep understanding of what stress is, what it does to the body, and how to overcome stress-induced risks is vital to pursuing a happy and healthy life.

Although this purely instinctual response is both inherent and necessary for basic survival, it can severely damage your gastrointestinal health. Understand the risk of living a stressful life and its effects on your intestinal health. 

Stress Weakens The Gut
You may be surprised to know that stress actually damages intestinal lining which weakens the overall structure and function of your gut. This permeable structure leads to condition like “leaky gut” where your body leaks stomach acid outside of its normal structure.  

Stress Creates Inflammation

Chronic stress also produces more cortisol and other steroid hormones throughout the body. These constant influxes then lead to inflammation through the body. On the surface, this reaction is not initially harmful. When your body experiences trauma, the natural response is to rush blood to the site of injury to stimulate healing. However, this constant blood rush and swelling leads to responses like inflammatory bowel and other autoimmune disorders. While the initial reaction is actually beneficial, it is the prolonged response that creates harm inside the body.

Stress Lowers Immunity
The gut is also responsible for maintaining proper immune responses. The majority of the immune system comes from the lymphatic tissue inside of the digestive tract that is responsible for responding to food, bacteria, and other particles. When your body constantly sends stress signals, it can create autoimmune disorders and other conditions where your body is no longer able to fight outside threats.

Stress Increases Pain
When your body continually sends fight or flight responses, it also makes your body enhance its pain receptors. This condition is also known as visceral hypersensitivity. With the increased levels of hormones, your body becomes almost immune to t
he basic pain receptors found in a healthy individual. So, gastrointestinal trauma is a source of chronic pain for many individuals and “normal” pain is dulled.

Stress Increases Gut Bacteria
Normally, your body shares much of its space with microbiota and other healthy levels of intestinal bacteria. Without this bacteria, your body is unable to properly digest food particles or create immune responses to eliminate harmful bacteria. The presence of too much or the wrong type of bacteria causes an imbalanced digestive tract and further alters your body’s stress responses.

The solution to optimal gut health is to identify sources of constant stress in your life, make proactive advances to eliminate unnecessary stress, alter your diet to boost your body’s abilities, and consult with one of our gastroenterologists at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates. Reach out to us today and we will help you address the imbalances caused by stress and put you back on track for optimal health and wellness.

 

3 Ways To Boost Your Immune System For Flu Season

According to the Centers For Disease Control, flu season is officially here! That means many of your classmates and coworkers in Bellevue will soon be sniffling, coughing, shaking with fever, and just generally spreading contagious pathogens all over the place.dreamstime_4850780

If you’re terrified of contracting the flu this winter, it’s important to visit your primary care physician for a flu shot. If you’ve already done that, and are still worried that you might fall victim to the dreaded flu, here are some ways that you can give your immune system a much-needed boost.

And don’t worry, these immune system-boosting tips come from the physicians at Harvard Medical School so they’re based in science, not old wives tales.

  • Stop smoking
  • Increase the number of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats
  • Maintain your level of physical activity (even though it’s cold out!)
  • Watch your blood pressure (if it’s high, visit your primary care physician)
  • Reduce your drinking
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Take a multivitamin and/or probiotics

Of course, even doing all of these things can’t guarantee that you won’t fall ill at some point during this cold and flu season. You never know where a pathogen may be lurking, just waiting to invade your body as soon as your immune system shows even the slightest sign of weakness.

If you do get sick, remember that the primary care physicians at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates are always available to help diagnose the problem and do whatever they can to get you feeling better fast.

How To Prepare For Your Urgent Care Appointment

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Visiting an urgent care clinic in Bellevue isn’t the same as planning an appointment with your primary care physician. On one hand, urgent care appointments are rarely planned in advance. That’s why they’re urgent! On the other hand, urgent care doctors probably haven’t had the opportunity to get to know you like your primary physician has over the years.

Reasons To Visit An Urgent Care In Bellevue

The reasons you make an appointment with our urgent care clinic in Bellevue are different from the reasons why you would visit your primary care physician. While your primary care physician helps handle things like immunizations, annual physicals, and serious illnesses, an urgent care is equipped to handle:

  • Acute illnesses (cold and flu)
  • Fevers
  • Vomiting, Diarrhea, and Stomach Pain
  • Cuts and Severe Scrapes
  • Minor Broken Bones
  • Minor Burns
  • Rashes Without Fever
  • Sports Injuries

Things To Do Before Your Bellevue Urgent Care Appointment

In order to make the most of your urgent care appointment and speed up the process, be prepared to:

  • Present Identification
  • Present Insurance Card
  • List Current Medications
  • Discuss Your Medical History
  • Ask Questions

We hope we’ll have the pleasure of serving you soon at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates urgent care clinic!

Going Back To School? Time To Visit Your Primary Care Physician!

The summer days will soon be behind us, taking with them all the joys of waking up late and spending all day at the pool. Children all over the Bellevue area will soon be returning to school, which means it’s already time to schedule their appointments with the primary care physicians at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates.

You may be thinking, “But my child isn’t sick. Why should I make an appointment with our primary care physician?” Here are three reasons why back-to-school can also be considered back-to-the-doctor season!

Annual School Exam

Many schools Washington require children to have an annual physical exam before starting or returning to school. This is a very important health task in a young child’s life, ensuring the developmental goals are being met while also catching potential health issues while they’re still small problems. If your child plans on playing sports in school, it’s almost certain that a physical exam conducted by a primary care physician will be mandatory.

Immunization

Like physical exams, many schools in Washington require that children stay up to date on their immunization schedule in order to attend classes. This keeps the children safe from communicable diseases, as well as the rest of the population.

Hearing Test Screening

Another reason to visit your primary care physician during back-to-school season is to make sure your children have a hearing test screening. Like poor vision, poor hearing can make it hard to excel at school, and might be hard for teachers to detect.

Ready to get health and go back to school? Contact the primary care physicians at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates today.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

In addition to being one of the best providers of primary care and internal medicine services, Overlake Internal Medicine Associates is proud to serve as a comprehensive sleep disorder center for patients in the Bellevue area.

As with issues involving internal medicine, many people are inadequately informed about sleep disorders. Some people even suffer from sleep disorders for years without realizing that they’re medical conditions that can be treated at a sleep disorder center.

In this post, we’ll take a look at sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep disorders treated at our center.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is difficult for primary care physicians to diagnose because, well, most people aren’t asleep when they come in for their annual exam. In many cases, it’s a family member or spouse that first spots the signs of sleep apnea, because they’re the ones who have to listen to it.

Signs Of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of the most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, include shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep. Loud, pronounced snoring is also a symptom of sleep apnea.

Dangers Of Sleep Apnea

If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase chance of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of heart failure.

Don’t live with untreated sleep apnea! The experienced physicians at our sleep disorder center are well-equipped to diagnose your sleep apnea and provide recommendations for treatment. Contact Overlake Internal Medicine Associates in Bellevue for more information about how our sleep disorder center can treat narcolepsy, sleep apnea, insomnia, and more.

What’s The Purpose Of A Liver Biopsy?

As providers of some of the most trusted internal medicine services in the Seattle area, we often encounter patients who’ve been ordered to receive a certain procedure from their primary care physician, but aren’t really sure why.

They are, of course, familiar with their own symptoms and were definitely present when the referral to an internal medicine doctor was made. It’s just that they’re not as familiar with the recommended procedure itself, or what exactly they can expect when they visit Overlake Internal Medicine Associates to have it done.

Today, we’ll take just a brief look at one of the more popular internal medicine services we provide here at OIMA: the liver biopsy.

What Is A Liver Biopsy?

A liver biopsy is how internal medicine specialists test to see whether or not your liver is working properly. Depending on the results of a liver biopsy, your doctor will be able to determine the presence of liver disease, liver cancer, liver infection, abnormal levels of liver enzymes, or other health concerns involving your liver.

What Happens During A Liver Biopsy?

If you come to OIMA for a liver biopsy, we’ll first ask you questions about any medication you’re taking, any issues with bleeding, any allergies you may have, and the possibility of being pregnant. You’ll be asked to refrain from eating for the eight hours prior to your liver biopsy. During a liver biopsy, your internal medicine doctor will surgically remove a small piece of liver tissue so that it can be tested for the conditions listed above.

Do you have more questions about the liver biopsy? Contact the internal medicine specialists at Overlake Internal Medicine today.

Most Common Reasons To Visit An Urgent Care In Summer

Overlake Internal Medicine Associates is proud to be a trusted provider of primary and urgent care services in the Seattle area. Along with extra fun and sunshine, summer comes along with its own set of illnesses and health threats. Here are some of the most common reasons people visit our urgent care in the summer time.

Bites

Summer brings people out of their houses, and the same is true for bugs. With more mosquito, spiders, and biting flies out and about in the summertime, it’s no wonder that we see an uptick of people visiting our urgent care because they’ve been bitten.

Burns

There are three different types of burns we see a lot of in the summer: those caused by the sun, those caused by the grill, and those caused by fireworks. All three of these types of burns can be very serious, and it’s important to seek medical attention at an urgent care if you feel you’ve been severely burned for any reason.

Broken Bones

People, especially children, feel emboldened to go on new adventures in the summertime. Unfortunately, these adventures in rock climbing, mountain biking, trampoline jumping and other activities can sometimes lead to broken bones.

When dealing with any of the illness and health threats posed by summer, remember to come into OIMA for all your urgent care needs. Our primary care physicians will be happy to help!

Why You Need A Primary Care Physician

There are many people out there who do not have a primary care physician because they feel that they do not need to see a doctor often. If they get sick, they will just head to their local urgent care or emergency room if they are really ill. But the truth of the matter, having a primary care doctor is a great thing to have and will benefit you in more ways than one. So we thought that we would go over some of the many reasons you need a primary care physician.

Diagnoses

If you have a doctor that you see often, they are more likely to see changes in your health and have tests done to get a diagnosis faster than it would be if you wait for symptoms to show up and go to an urgent care.

Lower costs

Whether you have insurance or not, going to your primary doctor is always going to be cheaper than going to urgent care or the emergency room. An emergency room visit without insurance is sure to cost you thousands.

Staying healthier

Having a primary care doctor who knows you and your habits can help you manage chronic conditions or make recommendations on how to become more healthy.

Trust

After seeing your doctor a few times, you will start to feel more comfortable with him or her and start opening up about your health concerns without feeling embarrassed.

Referrals

Many insurances require referrals in order to see specialists and have your treatments be covered. Your primary care physician will be able to provide you with the referrals you need.

There are so many good reasons to have a primary care physician that you can trust. If you are in need of one, call Overlake Internal Medicine Associates for an appointment today.

 

At Home And Clinical Snoring Treatments

In our last blog, we talked, in depth, about snoring, so we thought that we would talk to you about how you can treat the issue. There are many different things that you can do to try to stop yourself from snoring and keeping your partner awake at night. Some snoring treatments can be done at home while others need to be treated at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates.

Lifestyle changes

One of the best things that you can do for snoring is to lose weight. This can help you lose the fatty tissue that is in the back of your throat so that you can stop snoring. Exercising is also a great way to help yourself stop snoring. Strengthening the muscles in your body can lead to stronger muscles in your throat. You should also avoid smoking, alcohol and taking medications. Smoking irritates the membranes in your throat, blocking your airways while alcohol and medications can relax your muscles in your throat causing you to snore. Another great way to quit snoring is to establish good sleeping habits. This will help you sleep better which will lead to less snoring

Bedtime remedies

There are several things that you can do before you head to bed. You could try some of those nasal strips to open up your airways while you are sleeping. Another idea is to keep your bedroom humid. Having water in the air can help your airways not become so dry.  You could also change your sleeping position. Add or remove pillows, or try to sleep with your tongue and jaw moved forward. Sleeping on your side can also help eliminate snoring. There is a trick  where you can sew a tennis ball or a sock into your pajamas so that it makes you uncomfortable when you lay on your back which will make you roll back to your side.

Throat exercises

The most important thing that you need to do to eliminate snoring is to strengthen your throat muscles so there are some exercises that you can do on your own:

  • Say each vowel out loud for three minutes a few times a day.
  • Put your tongue at the top of your front teeth and slide your tongue backwards for three minutes a day.
  • Purse your lips for 30 seconds.
  • Move your jaw side to side with your mouth open for 30 seconds a side.
  • Contract the muscle at the back of your throat for 30 seconds at a time. If you look in the mirror, you should be able to see your uvula move up and down.

Medical help

If none of these remedies are working for you, it could be time to seek treatment at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates. There are lots of things that we can do to try to cure your snoring. We want to help you get the sleep you need as well as keep your relationship from being strained. If you are tired of losing sleep, call the experts at OIMA to schedule an appointment today.

Everything You Need To Know About Snoring

When your partner snores, it can cause a lot of problems not only in the bedroom but in the relationship as well. It makes anyone having to hear it miss out on good quality sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, you become irritable, fatigued and can create health problems. Many couples end up sleeping in other rooms so that both can get a good night’s sleep. Luckily, this isn’t the only solution.

What is snoring?

Snoring happens when air is not able to pass through your throat and nose. When this happens, the tissues in your nose and throat vibrate. There are many reasons why people snore but the main cause is because the person has too much tissue in their nose and throat. Where your tongue lays can also be a reason.

Causes of snoring

Figuring out why you are snoring is the first step to finding a solution to the problem, so we have come up with this short list of causes:

  • Weight – being overweight or out of shape can cause snoring because there is too much fatty tissue or not enough muscle tone gets in the way of the air.
  • Age – As you get older, your throat gets narrower and you lose the muscle tone that you are used to having.
  • Body – how you were born plays into snoring as well. If you were born with a narrow throat, enlarged adenoids, a cleft palate or something similar, you could be or become a snorer.
  • Sinuses – if you have allergies or other sinus issues, you could have issues with snoring down the road because you are not getting enough air in your passage ways.
  • Smoking and alcohol – both of these can cause your muscles to relax which can lead to more smoking.
  • Posture – the way you are sleeping has a lot of effect on your breathing as well. For example, sleeping flat can cause your muscles to relax and block the airway.

You can keep a sleep journal to see if you can do anything about your snoring. You can keep track of the different ways you sleep and if you are snoring because how you snore can tell you why you snore.

  • If you sleep with your mouth closed but are snoring, you could have a problem with your tongue.
  • If you sleep with your mouth open, you most likely have issues with the tissue in your throat.
  • Snoring while laying on your back is pretty normal and can usually be corrected by changing your sleeping habits.
  • If you are snoring in any and all sleep positions can mean that you need comprehensive treatment.

When it comes to the treatments for snoring, it varies between patients. There are some things that you can do at home but if your snoring is caused by something more comprehensive, you will definitely need to seek treatment from the doctors at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates. We can get you the help you need so that you and your partner can have a better night’s sleep.

 

When Should You See A Gastroenterologist

No one likes to be in pain and when it has to do with belly pain, it can be so uncomfortable that it can ruin your whole day. But a lot of people refuse to see a doctor to find out what the issue is. Instead they will try to self-medicate and change things in their lives to work around the pain and suffering. If you have been wondering when to see a gastroenterologist, the answer is if you have chronic bloating, gas or diarrhea. There are many causes for pain and discomfort and seeing a gastroenterologist can help you figure out what is going on inside your body. It could be a number of things.

When to see a gastroenterologist

As we stated above, the most common signs that you have something going on internally is if you have chronic bloating, gas or diarrhea. You will have to head to your primary care physician first to get a referral to a doctor at OIMA. You will want to tell them if you are experiencing any symptoms of GI disorders such as rectal bleeding or leakage, dark urine, vomiting, lethargy, heartburn or diarrhea.

What should you look out for?

No one knows your body better than you do and if you feel like something is not right, then you will need to keep an eye on the problem. Problems like chronic heartburn that lasts more than 6 months and drugs like proton pump inhibitors aren’t helping, you need to see a gastroenterologist to make sure it hasn’t evolved into GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

The symptoms we listed above could also mean that you have a problem in your bowels. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common bowel issues but Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can mean a group of disorders including Crohn’s disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that means that your body is not able to process gluten and can be dangerous to your body if not caught early.

If you are having uncomfortable, chronic pain in your abdomen, then you shouldn’t put off going in to see your doctor to get a referral to see a gastroenterologist to get relief. Call Overlake Internal Medicine Associates for an appointment today.

Interesting Facts About Sleep Disorders

There are lots of reasons that a person develops sleep disorders and while we know that they are no laughing matter, there are some interesting facts about sleep disorders that will make you think.

  • The higher in elevation that you are, the greater the chance of sleep disruption. Scientists believe this is because there is a lack of oxygen. It takes a person two to three weeks to acclimate to the altitude.
  • Regular exercise is said to make it easier to sleep. Sporadic exercise and exercising right before bed can contribute to a bad night’s sleep.
  • You are more likely to experience insomnia if you are divorced, separated or widowed.
  • It is reported that caffeine is the most popular drug in the world. People from all over consume coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks and it is also found in lots of drugs.
  • The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night, however, many can perform just fine with as little as six hours or need as many as 10 hours a day.
  • For a healthy lifestyle, sleep is just as important as dieting or exercise.
  • Newborns need an average of 14-17 hours a day.
  • Healthcare professionals believe that it is the responsibility of both the patient and the doctor to bring up insomnia symptoms during an appointment.
  • Over 90 million adults in the U.S. snore and it is the primary cause of sleep disruption.
  • People who don’t get enough sleep often have bigger appetites due to their leptin levels falling.
  • Scientists are trying to figure out whether or not any other animals dream. They haven’t found an answer as of now and probably never will.
  • Some studies have shown that melatonin can help people fall asleep and stay asleep. Other studies have found that this is not the case.
  • Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay going to sleep.
  • According to a study done by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) 36% of Americans have admitted to driving while being sleep deprived.

Sleep disorders occur in a lot of people. If you believe that you suffer from a sleeping disorder, call Overlake Internal Medicine Associates today.

 

Causes Of Night Sweats

Between 50 and 70 million people are living with some kind of sleeping disorder everyday. The most common disorders are sleep apnea, insomnia and narcolepsy. A lot of us don’t think about some of the smaller disorders or think they are something to worry about. Night sweats are one of those disorders that many people think are no big deal, but if you take the time to see your doctor about it you could find out something more serious.

Night sweats are described as severe hot flashes that can drench your clothes. This is not related to the temperature in the room. They can be caused by a number of things…

Menopause

Sweating due to menopause is a very common symptom and will go away eventually.

Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis

This is a condition that causes your body to produce too much sweat. This doesn’t have an identifiable medical cause at this time.

Infections

Everyone knows that when you have an infection of any kind, your body tries to burn it off. This means that you can get night sweats from something as simple as the flu or as complex as tuberculosis, which is commonly associated with night sweats. Night sweats are also a symptom of HIV, so it is important to see the doctor if you experience them often.

Cancers

Night sweats can indicate the presence of some cancers as they are an early symptom of the disease. If you have other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss or fever, contact your doctor.

Medications

Some medications list night sweats as a side effect. Antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs are known for causing night sweats

Hypoglycemia

When your body is fighting low blood sugar, it can result in night sweats. If you take insulin or other diabetes medications you could experience them more frequently.

Hormone Disorders

Disorders like hyperthyroidism, carcinoid syndrome and pheochromocytoma are all associated with night sweats. If you have not been diagnosed with these, see your doctor.

Neurologic Conditions

Although uncommon, people with conditions like autonomic neuropathy, stroke and syringomyelia have experienced night sweats.

If you are worried about the night sweats you are experiencing, it is important to come in and see the doctors at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates to figure out if they are part of a bigger health issue. Contact us today.

Could You Have Gallstones?

Gallstones are one of the most common ailments in America. Almost everyone has them. They only become a problem when they start causing discomfort and pain. Your gallbladder is located on the right side of your body, directly under your liver. The function of a gallbladder is to send the fluid called bile to your small intestine. If you develop gallstones, they could be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball (not that common).

Pain

If you are experiencing pain in your upper right portion of your abdomen, you should see your doctor. You may also experience this pain in the center of your abdomen, between your shoulder blades or even in your right shoulder. This pain can come on quickly and intense and can go just as quick. Sometimes the pain lasts only a few minutes, other times it could last several hours.

Causes

Although there are not any clear causes for gallstones, doctors have their suspicions. One belief is that the bile in your gallbladder has too much cholesterol in it. The cholesterol is usually broken up by the bile but if the liver is producing too much, the bile will not be able to keep up. Another hypothesis is that your gallbladder may not be emptying fully or correctly, which is causing the bile to become very concentrated.

If you think that you may be experiencing pain due to gallstones call your Bellevue area gastroenterologist today and schedule an appointment. There is no need to continue living in pain.

Links Between Sleep and Health

There is no getting around it; as we get older the more health issues we will encounter. Research has shown that our health is directly related to our sleep. The more sleep we get, the better we feel and vice versa. It’s a continuing cycle that never seems to end. Issues such as heart conditions and blood pressure can be linked to our sleep habits.

Exercise

As we age, our bones and joints and just about everything starts to hurt. If we don’t take action and take care of the issues that we are having immediately, we will continue to hurt and be miserable. Exercise is a way to alleviate the daily aches and pains that we will undoubtedly go through. If we stay healthy by eating right and exercising regularly, then we will in turn get into a great sleep habit.

Naps

If you think that you are not getting enough sleep at night, try taking naps during the day. Make time for an hour or two for a nice, refreshing nap. A nap will reset the brain and allow you to not be too tired for the rest of the day. You will feel rejuvenated after a nap and will be able to mark more things off of your to-do list.

Sleep Over The Years

Over the years, the amount of sleep suggested a night per person has changed. We once believed that adults could function only getting about 6 hours a night. This has since changed. The amount of sleep that a person needs to be fully rested changes depending on how old you are. At OIMA, we would like to go over some of the recent findings when it comes to sleep patterns in humans.

Adults

Studies have shown that the average human needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep a night, although this number often varies depending on genetics and how well a person is sleeping at night. If a person is getting a lot of stage 3 sleep, which has slow-wave deep sleep and is very restorative then they may only need 6 hours to be fully rested. This stage diminishes over time which means that as we get older, we can function on less sleep than we did as teens and young adults.

Elderly

On top of all of the other things that we have to worry about as we age, we also have to come to terms with the fact that we will not be sleeping as much as we did when we were younger. The elderly don’t experience a lot of time in stage 3 of sleeping, usually because of some pain or ailment, which means that they are tired throughout the day. This is often why they nap in the afternoon; so that they can catch up on sleep that they are missing for whatever reason.

If you think that you are experiencing a sleep disorder and are in the Bellevue area, call OIMA and schedule an appointment to see how we can help you.

Insomnia May Be A Bigger Problem

Life is busy. It seems that time goes by faster and faster as the years go on. As humans, we internalize so much of life that we tend to overthink things and stress out over things that we cannot control. A lot of times, this causes us to lose sleep. We have issues falling asleep or staying asleep. But what if it is a more long term issue than the current stresses that you have going on in your life?

Insomnia is a medical condition that hinders you from falling asleep or staying asleep. Doctors will diagnose and treat you for insomnia if it has been an ongoing issue for a significant period of time. Some doctors will have you keep a sleep journal for a couple of weeks to document your sleep patterns and habits. They may also need to do a physical exam to make sure there is nothing else going on with your body preventing you from sleeping.

The symptoms of insomnia are very common, like general tiredness throughout the day and irritability. But who hasn’t been tired during the day for days at a time? Some of the causes for insomnia are significant stress, illness, and noise or light causing you to not be able to sleep.

There is not a treatment for insomnia that is one size fits all. If your insomnia is minor, you can cure it simply by practicing good sleeping habits, which we will talk about in our next blog. If you think your insomnia is getting worse and you would like to seek treatment, contact your physician immediately.

Why Do You Need A Primary Care Doctor

In this day and age, a lot of young people are forgoing seeing the doctor. Reasons like “it’s not that big of an issue” or “I don’t have insurance” are heard daily. At Overlake Internal Medicine Associates we want to tell you some of the benefits of seeing a primary care physician.

Get Better Faster

So you just have a standard, run of the mill summer cold. Or do you? Sometimes you could have something that is much stronger than a little cold. Without going to see the doctor, there is no way to be 100% sure. Even if it is just a cold, your doctor could prescribe some antibiotics or other medication so that you can get back on your feet sooner than when you stick it out on your own.

Health Screenings

When you go to see your primary care doctor, even if it is just for a check up, there is a possibility that he or she can see, hear or find something that is a little off. By seeing the doctor, you have the ability to catch an illness early and get started on the medication. Whether it’s as small as an infection or something major like finding cancer,early detection can be a matter of life or death. It is important to recognize if your body is doing or feeling something that is not normal. When you notice these things, call your physician immediately. Don’t put it off if you can help it.

If you are searching for the perfect primary physician for you, look no further than the doctors at OIMA for your health care needs. Call today!

Colonoscopies: Results That Are Worth The Prep

Here’s probably not a more uncomfortable conversation then talking about stomach issues. The whole topic makes people squeamish. Talking about diarrhea and bile and everything else that goes with gastrointestinal issues. But in order to live a more pain free life, you must be uncomfortable for a few minutes. Enough to tell your doctor about everything and you both can work towards a treatment.

Sometimes, that treatment is a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy will be recommended if you are over 50 years old and are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Frequent pain or cramps in your stomach
  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhea or constipation unrelated to what you have eaten
  • Unplanned weight loss

We all have heard how you prepare for a colonoscopy. For up to three days before your procedure, you are not allowed solid food in order to empty your intestines. On your liquid diet, you cannot drink anything with red or purple dyes so we offer this list of things you can drink:

  • Water
  • Plain coffee or tea
  • Gatorade and similar products
  • Gelatin
  • Broth

The procedure will take about 20-30 minutes and you will not be allowed to drive afterwards, so be prepared. Talk to your gastroenterologist about your options.

What’s Causing The Need For All These Sleep Disorder Treatments?

If you have problems sleeping, you might have learned to live with it. But that’s not the way it should be, and though you may be functioning during the day, you might not be able to enjoy life and your productivity might be affected. What can lead to a need for a sleep disorder treatment?

Sleep apnea – One condition that can lead to interrupted sleep is sleep apnea. This is when you stop breathing when you sleep. While it can be life-threatening, it’s more likely that your brain realizes what has happened and forces you to wake up. This can happen many times per house, but you might not even remember waking. This might be happening and you don’t even know it, so your primary care physician might or sleep specialist might suggest a sleep study, and if sleep apnea is confirmed it is often treatable with a continuous positive airway pressure mask.

Stress – Sleep is supposed to be your minds time to sort through the happenings of the day and decide what to keep and what to pitch…as amazing as the brain is, it can’t keep everything! But the stresses of the modern word can cause you to worry too much about tomorrow, which leads to a lack of sleep, which leaves too much rattling inside your head, which just exacerbates the problem tomorrow. You’ll want to talk to your primary care physician to see if addressing these stress concerns might be the best sleep disorder treatment.

Forced sleep cycles – While there are arguments about the idea amount and timing of human sleep, there are certainly activities that upset a normal circadian rhythm. Sometimes it’s a work schedule, sometimes it’s distractions that keep us up too late…television, video games, and artificial light. A sleep specialist can discuss if your environment and habits are leading to a need for a sleep disorder treatment.

It’s important to address these problems right away, and the sleep disorder treatments offered by OIMA can help get your sleep cycle back on track. Call us for an appointment with a sleep specialist today.

 

What General Internal Medicine Might Mean For The Future Of Depression Treatment

When it comes to how general internal medicine works and what parts of the body that an internist treats, it might sound weird to suggest that internal medicine might be the future of mental health.

How can this be? Scientists are finding more and more that your microbiome, the creatures that live in your gut and outnumber your own cells 10-to-1, might have a large determination on your mental health and your mood.

Scientists at a university in Ireland took mice and fed them a probiotic-rich diet. (Probiotics are the living organisms that you often find in food such as yogurt.) Then they dropped the mice into a bowl of water. Mice are not fond of water and try to get out as quickly as possible, though the bowl they were dropped into had a lip so high that they weren’t able to get out.

What they found was that mice who’d been fed a probiotic-rich diet would continue to swim for longer than the control group of mice. The mice who had this particular strain of probiotic actually fought to live for a longer time! (Don’t worry, the mice were saved prior to drowning). They were found to have lower anxiety levels and lower levels of stress hormones. They literally wanted to live more!

It hasn’t been tested on humans, but it’s promising to know that someday internists can use natural probiotics to treat conditions of both the mind and body instead of pharmaceutical products. Taking care of your gut bacteria is a good way feel good physically, but it might just be the best way to stay happy too. If you’re feeling off in the future, your internist or psychiatrist might just prescribe a probiotic.

 

 

Why Your Internist Wants You To Be Good To Your Liver

 

The liver is probably the most misunderstood organ in the body. While most people would say something like “it filters out…stuff…right?” your internist will tell you that the liver actually plays a vital part in your health throughout your body.

The liver is a gland and is vital to survival. It weighs about three pounds (making it one of the largest organs in the body) and is on the right side of your belly. And it does a lot…

Filtration: Here’s the one that most people are familiar with. Your intestines extract the vitamins and nutrients from food and pass it to the blood, where it travels via the portal vein. But before the blood gets to the bloodstream it passes through the liver, which collects the toxins and either breaks them down, converts them, or send them to the excretory organs.

Digestion: The liver is a producer of bile, which is a crucial ingredient of the digestion of fats. It collects in bile ducts and then releases it into the small intestine where it helps break down fats for you body. The liver itself helps to break down fats and produce energy. On top of all that, it also helps metabolize proteins for energy. When it’s doing this, toxic ammonia is formed. Not to worry though, because the liver cleans up after itself by transforming this into urea, which it passes along to the kidneys to be excreted in your urine.

Sugar storage: The liver helps to regulate the amount of sugar in your blood. If you have a big meal and there’s too much sugar in your blood, it stores it in a form called glycogen. When your blood sugar drops, it breaks down these sugars and releases them into your blood. In fact, it does the same things for other vitamins and minerals, storing them and releasing them when they’re needed.

So how can you take care of it? Well, avoid poisons for one…the liver will do what it can to filter them out, but it can’t handle everything. Secondly, being overweight can tax the liver. And of course you’ve heard of liver disease, most often brought about by hepatitis or excessive drinking.

Want to make sure your liver stays healthy. Stay in contact with an internist from OIMA!

 

Your Internist Still Wants To Know: Your Body Is Changing…Why Are You Still Eating The Same?

So we’re all getting older and can’t do everything we used to. So why do so many of us try to keep eating the same as we’ve always eaten? Previously on the last blog, we talked about some of the ways you’re changing…let’s look at some more.

How much you eat: Remember when buffets used to be the best thing in the world and you were determined to get your money’s worth even if someone else was paying for it? When we’re going through puberty, our bodies use up a lot of calories as we grow. Not to mention that most of us are much more active when we’re younger. But if we’re not burning all of those calories, we can start to grow outward instead of upward. Again, listening to your body when it says “stop” instead of trying to eat as you always have is a good step toward a healthier GI tract.

When you eat: When you’re younger, if you’re hungry, you eat. Midnight pizza? No problem. 3 a.m. Taco Bell Run? Let’s go! But as we age, our bodies react differently, and late night food can affect our ability to get to sleep and the restfulness of the sleep we do get. Don’t try to keep up with your young self when your body was telling you to absorb all of the calories you could no matter what time of day it was.

Sometimes it’s not just age that’s affecting what you eat and how your body responds to it. Your internist might have you see a gastroenterologist if diet alone cannot fix what’s ailing you. You may have to see someone who specializes in the digestive tract to see if there’s a more serious problem affecting you.

 

Your Internist Wants To Know: Your Body Is Changing…Why Are You Still Eating The Same?

Here’s some medical news you can figure out without a internist…you’re getting older!

Of course, we all know that we’re getting older, even if we don’t want to admit it, and even if we don’t mind the age, even if we’re keeping ourselves in good shape, we often don’t want to admit that our bodies are changing on the inside as much as they’re changing on the outside.

This can be especially true with men, who might have once bragged about having an “iron stomach” and find it hard to believe that food is affecting them differently now than when it did when they were 19 years old. They might notice these changes happening in their 30’s but won’t admit it until they’re closer to 40 when it can’t be ignored any longer.

Of course, one of the biggest things that affects your GI tracts is what you eat. Many things can affect how we feel after a meal, and the composition of the food is a huge area of study. Many adults find it harder to digest lactose as they get older, and it’s important to not ignore this when it happens. Similarly, intolerances to gluten can ramp up or hit all at once, and it’s one of the great challenges in the GI field. Changing your diet can be a huge help.

 

You Are Not Alone! The Microbiome Inside You (And Your Internist, And Your Mechanic, And Your…)

When you move, you move all of your 10 trillion cells, but you also take 100 trillion other organisms along for the ride. It may be hard to wrap your head around, but for each cell in your body, there are 10 bacteria cells. 100 trillion of them, and most of them are your friends.

If you are a fan of the Science Friday radio program, you have probably heard all about the microbiome of your GI tract. It’s the part of “you” that you never even think about. We’ll take an overview of it and then get more involved in subsequent blogs. If you’ve never heard about your microbiome, you’re in for a treat…

It’s a symbiotic relationship: Our biome affects us, and we affect it. We feed ourselves and at the same time, we feed the bacteria. Subsequently, it helps us digest our food.

It’s not like anyone else’s: Although our mothers helped us jumpstart our microbiomes, we’ve altered it over the years into our own. There are species of bacteria in your gut that are as unique to you as your fingerprint.

It can be wiped out: Antibiotics can be lifesavers, but we’ve found lately that there’s more than one reason to be careful when using them. In addition to helping drug-resistant biotics thrive, overuse of antibiotics can also have a negative effect on the microbiome.

It affects your mood: When your biome is healthy, you’re more likely to feel good. Scientists are experimenting with different gut bacteria (in non-human trials) to see how it alters mood. What they’re finding is absolutely amazing.

Some people have said that this is the Age of Man, but in many ways, it’s the Age of Bacteria. Check back soon to find out more on this incredible new field of study.

 

Internal Medicine And The Gastrointestinal Tract, Part 1

When you have something wrong with your GI tract, it’s hard to enjoy any aspect of life, let alone food. That’s why it’s so important to consult your physician when you feel pain or discomfort in your gut.

Our team of gastroenterologists know what can cause symptoms and which of your organs it might be associated with. Just because the pain feels like it’s coming from a certain location doesn’t mean that the problem originated there.

The GI tract, also known as the alimentary canal, is the space between the mouth and anus that is involved in the digestion of food and processing of liquids. It is divided into two sections, the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract, with a number of organs involved:

Esophagus: This is your foodpipe, the muscular tube that acts as a pathway from mouth to stomach. It is most commonly affected by gastric reflux but can also be susceptible to cancer, constrictions, and tears.

Stomach: The stomach is more than just a holding organ; it’s an active part of digestion, secreting enzymes and acids to aid in the digestion process.

Liver: The liver is often thought of as a detoxifier, but it also helps in protein synthesis and chemicals necessary for digestion. Common problems affecting the liver include liver disease, hepatitis, and cancer.

 

Internal Medicine And The Gastrointestinal Tract, Part 2

The human gastrointestinal tract is incredibly complex, with some organs performing multiple functions that aren’t even related to digestion. It’s important to note that the upsetting of one system can disturb another. Finding out whether it’s what you’re putting into your body or whether it’s the organs themselves that are ill requires specialists called gastroenterologists.

Previously on the last blog, we started at the top of the human GI tract, with the esophagus and the stomach. Now we move on a bit lower…

Gallbladder: The gallbladder collects and stores bile for aiding in digestion. Because humans can live without the gallbladder, it’s important to have it removed if necessary. Common problems include gallstones and inflammation.

Pancreas: The pancreas is not only a hormone producer but also helps the small intestine, producing enzymes that help in mineral absorption. Inflammation and cancer are two of the most common problems.

Small Intestines: The small intestine is where most of the nutrients are absorbed from food, including carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins. Unknown to most, the small intestine is so complex that there are dozens of diseases associated with it.

Large Intestines:  The large intestine’s main purpose is to absorb water and transfer waste. If it does not handle this balance properly, ailments can arise. Because the alimentary canal is so complex, you’ll want to report pain or discomfort that you feel quickly to your physician.

 

Taking Sleep Seriously

Many people do not realize that there is a subspecialty of medicine call sleep medicine, and many also don’t recognize the importance of sleep to their overall health. Trying to function day-to-day on little to no sleep is hard on your daily life and your body. Sleepless nights make everything harder the next day, including, driving, working, concentrating, and it even affects your libido. Beyond the surface, sleepless nights make bodily functions like repairing cells, recharging the brain, and releasing hormones more difficult. Without sufficient sleep, over long periods of time, adults, teens and children, can suffer detrimental health problems and a deficient immune system.

Sleeplessness can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Daytime tiredness
  • Snoring
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep walking
  • Sleep talking
  • Narcolepsy.

If you:

  • Have difficulty staying awake during the day (at work, school, or while driving)
  • Experience chronic fatigue
  • Take frequent naps
  • Have difficulty falling asleep
  • Have difficulty staying asleep
  • Have active sleep patterns with no memory

Please consider contacting our Sleep Center for help.

Why It’s Important to Establish a Relationship with an Internist

Internists are doctors who have spent 3+ years of their post-graduate training and education in the field of diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect adults. These doctors have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the body’s entire systems and know how to diagnose and treat patients’ medical concerns and symptoms. You may be wondering, “Why would I need to see an internist? What kind of problems require seeing an interest? Is my primary care physician an internist?”

We hope this list of bullets answers some of your questions:

  • All adults, age 18 and over, should have a primary care provider.
  • This primary care provider could be an internist or family medicine physician.
  • You should be able to discuss your current health and long-tern wellness goals with your internist.
  • Your internist should be your partner in preventing and maintaining your good health as well as treat you when you have symptoms of illness or disease or when necessary, refer you to a specialist or subspecialist.
  • You should feel comfortable with your internist, and, once you’ve established a continued relationship, confident that s/he knows your medical history, and are prepared to assist you with your medical issues and wellness goals throughout your life.