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Measles Outbreak 2019: What You Need to Know

3-d rendered image of the measles virus

As of April 11th, 2019, 555 new cases of measles have been reported and confirmed in 20 states, including Washtington. The other states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Texas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this is the second highest number of measles cases since it was eliminated back in 2000.

The CDC defines a measles outbreak as three or more confirmed cases. As of April 10th, 2019, the measles outbreak in Washington state has 74 confirmed cases, with 73 cases in Clark County and 1 case in King County. These cases are being attributed to international travelers who unintentionally brought measles back with them from their travels.

While there are currently large measles outbreaks in Israel, Ukraine, and the Philippines, measles is also common in various European, Asian, Pacific, and African countries. Because the majority of domestic measles cases occurred in unvaccinated individuals, the CDC is urging that everyone get their measles vaccine to prevent the disease from spreading further. Currently, the two main reasons for measles outbreaks are the increasing number of international travelers bringing measles home and pockets of unvaccinated individuals allowing the disease to spread through American communities.

The most effective way to protect against and prevent the spread of measles is to get the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is a live virus vaccine, meaning that it contains a weakened form of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus. This weakened form of the disease essentially teaches your body how to fight the disease if it is ever exposed to it in the future.

Child receiving vaccination for measles

The MMR is highly effective against preventing measles, mumps, and rubella. In fact, a single dose of the MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles, 78% effective against mumps, and 97% effective against rubella. A second dose of MMR is recommended for lifetime immunity and because it makes the vaccine 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps.

Although the MMR vaccine is effective in most cases, there are rare cases (3 in about 100 people) where individuals who have had two doses of MMR will still get measles. In these cases, however, it is important to note that the disease is usually more mild and cannot be as easily spread to others.

The CDC recommends that children get their first dose of MMR at 12-15 months and their second dose around 4-6 years of age. Adults who have not had the measles vaccine or are unsure if they’ve had the measles vaccine, should have at least one dose of the MMR vaccine. Finally, any international travelers who have not had the measles vaccine should have two doses of the MMR vaccine 28 days apart before they travel.

After having the MMR vaccine, the next way to prevent the spread of measles is to be aware of how it spreads, what its symptoms are, and what to do if you believe you or someone close to you is exhibiting symptoms.

Measles is highly contagious, and if you have not had the measles virus, you are almost guaranteed to get it if you are exposed to someone with the disease. Measles travels through the air and the virus can live for up to two hours in a room after someone with the infection has been in that room. Also, measles is highly contagious for four days before and after a measles rash develops, meaning the infected person may not even know they are infected.

Child with measles rash

Symptoms of measles include fever, diarrhea, coughing, runny nose, red and watery eyes, tiredness, and the well-known rash. The cold of flu type symptoms will begin about 7-14 days after exposure to an infected person, but the signature rash won’t start until about 3-5 days later.

A measles rash generally begins around the face and will gradually spread to the remainder of the body. It is reddish-brown in color and will be a series of tiny spots that start at the face and gradually move down the body.  Additionally, there may be tiny red spots with blue-white centers inside the mouth called Koplik’s spots.

As soon as you notice measles symptoms, you will need to isolate the affected individual to prevent the disease from continuing to spread to others. Measles can last from 7-10 days, but the individual will still be contagious for about four days after that. Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment for measles besides allowing the body to rest and providing plenty of fluids. Fever can be managed with Acetaminophen (Tylenol), but never aspirin.

Little boy with fever lying on the couch with a thermometer in his mouth

According to the CDC, about 30% of individuals with measles can develop further complications including pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, and encephalitis. The most serious of these complications are pneumonia and encephalitis.

Pneumonia is a lung infection that can cause symptoms such as fever, chest pain, trouble breathing, and coughing up mucus. Encephalitis is swelling of the brain and affects about 1 out of every 1,000 children with measles. Encephalitis can occur during a measles outbreak or months after, and can cause seizures.

Although some people argue that vaccinations are dangerous, the consequences of not getting vaccinated are far more prevalent and more likely to affect you and your family. While there may be cases of vaccine reactions, these are extremely rare, while the chances of being infected by measles are significantly higher.

Finally, it must be stated that vaccines do not cause autism. The CDC, Autism Speaks organization, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have explicitly stated that vaccines do not cause autism. Although there have been several claims to this, there is no substantial or realistic evidence to support these claims. Conversely, there is significant evidence in support of the many benefits of vaccination.

 

 

To protect you and your family from contracting measles, Overlake Internal Medical Associates of Bellevue, WA strongly encourage you and your family to get the MMR vaccine to make sure you and your family are immune during the measles outbreak of 2019. Although there is currently only one case of measles in King County, this number can quickly spread. Protect your family and schedule a consultation today.

 

 

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

 

March is endometriosis awareness month with yellow tulips on wood background

 

Did you know that March is Endometriosis Awareness month? Did you also know that 176 million women worldwide are currently affected by Endometriosis and that it is the leading cause of infertility in women?

Endometriosis is a condition affecting women in which the endometrium, or tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside the uterus, as well as on the ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and the tissue around the pelvis. Endometriosis can also cause growths on the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, rectum, and, in extremely rare cases, the lungs, brain, and skin. Despite not being inside the uterus, the endometrium still thickens, breaks down, and bleeds with each menstrual cycle.

uterus with endometriosis

Symptoms for endometriosis may include some or all of the following:

  • Pain: Often the most common symptom, women with endometriosis can suffer from different types of pain including: painful menstrual cramps, long-term pain in the lower back and pelvis, a deep pain felt during or after sex, intestinal pain, and pain during bowel movements or urination.
  • Bleeding or spotting: Menstrual periods may be heavier than usual and bleeding between menstrual periods can occur.
  • Digestive problems: these can include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, and may become more severe during menstrual periods.
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue

While nothing can prevent Endometriosis from happening, regular pap smears and gynecologic exams can help to identify possible cases of Endometriosis early-on so that they can be properly treated and managed. Overlake Internal Medicine Associates provides pap smears, gynecological exams, and endometrial biopsies in order to identify and diagnose Endometriosis.

Female gynecologist performing a vaginal exam on a patient

Pap smears and gynecological exams are part of what is often referred to as a well-woman visit. How often you will need to have a well-woman visit will depend upon your medical history. Generally, women ages 21-65 will have a well-woman visit once every three years, however you may need more frequent exams if you have abnormal pap test results, have a history of sexual health problems, have a family history of certain cancers, have an STD or partner with an STD, or have recurrent vaginitis.

During a gynecological exam, sometimes called a pelvic exam, our doctors will examine your vulva, vagina, cervix, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and uterus. You will likely be asked to wear a paper gown and will lie down on an exam table with your feet spread apart and resting in stirrups. Although this can be an uncomfortable position, the more you can relax your butt, stomach, and vaginal muscles, the more comfortable you will be.

Your gynecological exam will generally begin with our doctors performing an external exam of your vulva for signs of cysts, abnormal discharge, genital warts, irritation, or other issues. Next, they will perform a speculum exam of your internal structures, as well as a pap smear.

Diagram of a pap smear

During the speculum exam, a metal or plastic speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina to separate the vaginal walls and allow for the viewing of your cervix. This will likely feel somewhat uncomfortable, but it should not hurt. If you feel pain, be sure to tell our doctors so that we can adjust the size of position of the speculum to make you more comfortable.

Once the speculum has been inserted and your cervix is visible, our doctors will use a tiny, specialized tool to wipe a sample of cells from your cervix in order to test for pre-cancer or cancer. If you are also being tested for STDs such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, additional samples of your cervix discharge may also be obtained. Again, this should not hurt, but it will feel slightly uncomfortable and may cause some mild cramping.

The final part of your gynecological exam is a bimanual exam in which our doctors will gently insert 1-2 fingers into your vagina while using their other hand to apply pressure to your lower abdomen. Because their fingers are lubed and gloved, this should not hurt, but can feel uncomfortable and you may feel sensations of pressure.

During the bimanual exam, our doctors can feel the size, shape, and position of your uterus, can test for tenderness or pain that may indicate infection or endometriosis, and can feel for enlarged ovaries, fallopian tubes, ovarian cysts, or tumors. Our doctors may also insert a finger into your rectum to check the tissue between your vagina and anus, as well as to check for tumors behind your uterus, on the lower wall of your vagina, or in your rectum. If a rectovaginal exam is performed, you may feel a bowel movement sensation. This will only last for a few seconds and you will not actually have a bowel movement.

If our doctors suspect endometriosis, additional diagnostic techniques may be performed. Once such technique is a transvaginal ultrasound. During a transvaginal ultrasound, a transducer, similar in shape to a long, skinny wand, is pressed against your abdomen and/or inserted into your vagina to get an internal view of your reproductive organs. While a transvaginal ultrasound won’t diagnose endometriosis alone, it can make our doctors aware of cysts that may occur as a result of endometriosis. It may also help to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms to endometriosis. An endometrial biopsy may also be performed to help rule out other conditions with similar symptoms.

Another way to diagnose endometriosis is to take hormonal birth control or a Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to block your menstrual cycle, lower your estrogen levels, and reduce pelvic pain. If these treatments reduce your pain levels, then you most likely have endometriosis. However, some doctors believe that endometriosis cannot be diagnosed by medications alone.

In these cases, a Laparoscopy may be performed to see inside your pelvic area and look for the exact location of endometrial tissue. During this surgical procedure, a small camera attached to a slender tool is inserted into your abdomen. This procedure is the only way to accurately diagnose endometriosis, although some doctors may take a tissue sample to evaluate under a microscope to be completely sure.

 

How long has it been since your last pap smear and gynecological exam? For all your well-woman needs, schedule an appointment today with Bellevue’s top internal medicine doctors at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates.  

New Year, New You: Don’t Forget Your Immunizations!

 

Many people start the new year resolving to exercise more, eat better, and to achieve an overall greater sense of health and wellness. While exercising and eating the right foods are certainly important to your overall health, so are getting the necessary vaccinations. Despite the debate around vaccinations, Overlake Internal Medical Associates believes that immunizations are an integral part of keeping yourself and your family healthy. As such, we have put together this brief guide on immunizations so that you can make the best decisions for you and your family’s health in this new year.

 

What is the difference between a vaccine, vaccination, and immunization?

First things first, let’s get our definitions straight. A vaccine refers to the dose of the disease you are being injected with. Vaccines contain tiny amounts of weak or dead viruses, bacteria, or toxins that cause the disease. By injecting this content into your body it teaches your immune system how to combat the particular virus, bacteria, or toxin and prevent the disease from spreading. A vaccination refers to the act of getting the vaccine injected into your body. Immunizations refer the process by which you body builds up an immunity to a particular disease.

 

Different Types of Vaccines:

There are four different types of vaccines including live-attenuated, inactivated, toxoid, and subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines.

 

Live-Attenuated Vaccines:

Live-attenuated vaccines use a live form of the disease that has been attenuated, or weakened. Because this type of vaccine offers long-lasting immunity, only 1-2 doses are needed to provide a lifetime of immunity. However, because they are a live form of the disease, live-attenuated vaccines may be risky for individuals with weakened immune systems, long-term health problems, or individuals who have undergone an organ transplant.

Examples of Live-Attenuated Vaccines include:

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  • Rotavirus
  • Smallpox
  • Chickenpox
  • Yellow Fever

 

Inactivated Vaccines:

Inactivated vaccines use a dead form of the disease to build immunity. Because they use a dead form of the disease, they usually require a series of doses over time, also known as “boosters”, to maintain immunity.

Examples of Inactive Vaccines include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Flu (shot only)
  • Polio (shot only)
  • Rabies

 

Toxoid Vaccines:

Toxoid vaccines use a toxoid produced by the germ that causes a specific disease to build immunity. With toxoid vaccines, the immunity is directed against the toxoid the germ produces and not the actual germ itself. As a result, boosters are required to maintain immunity to these toxins.

Examples of Toxoid Vaccines include:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus

 

Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide, and Conjugate Vaccines:

This type of vaccine uses specific pieces of the germ, such as its protein, sugar, or the casing around the germ (capsid) to establish immunity. Although they only target specific pieces of the germ, they are actually highly effective in targeting these parts of the germ to keep the body immune. Also, because they only target key parts of the germ, they can safely be used in individuals with weakened immune systems or long-term health problems. However, they may still require booster shots to maintain immunity.

Examples of Subunit, Recombinant, Polysaccharide, and Conjugate Vaccines include:

  • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) disease
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
  • Whooping cough (part of the DTaP vaccine)
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Shingles

Time to vaccinate

How Often Do I need to Get Myself or My Family Vaccinated?

To keep yourself and your family protected from harmful diseases, it is key that you remain up to date on the necessary vaccines. Remember, only a small amount of vaccines offer lifetime protection. The remainder of vaccines require intermittent booster shots to maintain immunity. However, your individual vaccination schedule is dependent upon your age and whether or not you are at an increased risk for certain diseases.

 

Infants and Young Children:

Infants and young children will require certain vaccines to protect them from potentially harmful diseases. The most common are chickenpox, measles, and whooping cough. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) has provided this 2018 Schedule of Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old.

 

Preteens and Teens

Preteens and teens (ages 7-18) will need to either or catch up on their childhood vaccines, as well as get vaccines for Meningitis, cancer caused by HPV, whooping cough, and flu. The CDC has provided this 2018 Schedule of Recommended Immunizations for Preteens/Teens Ages 7-18.

 

Adults

Adults need a variety of vaccines depending on what they had during their childhood and what age they are currently. Some vaccines are for adults only, others are boosters of childhood vaccines, some may be new vaccines, some vaccines may change as the virus changes, and some vaccines may be required as a result of travel plans, job, or personal health conditions. The CDC has provided a 2018 Schedule for Adult Vaccines for Adults ages 19-26, Adults ages 27-64, and Adults age 65 and older.

 

 

Individuals with Increased Risk:

  • Gay or Bisexual Men: In addition to the routine vaccinations, gay or bisexual men should also get vaccines that protect against the flu, HPV, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B. 
  • Health Care Workers: In addition to the routine vaccinations, health care works should also get vaccines that protect against the flu and possibly Hepatitis B. Certain institutions may also have their own required vaccinations. 
  • Military: Most military members are required to have all their routine vaccinations, however depending on travel plans additional vaccines may be required. 
  • People with select health conditions: Individuals with asplenia, type 1 or 2 diabetes, heart disease, HIV, liver disease, lung disease, renal disease, or a weakened immune system will need to speak with a doctor before receiving certain vaccines. 
  • Pregnant women: In addition to being up to date on routine vaccinations, pregnant women may also require Rubella, Hepatitis B, the flu, and whooping cough. 
  • Travelers: In addition to routine vaccinations, travelers may require additional vaccines depending on their travel destination, health, and vaccination history. 
  • People who inject drugs: Speak with your doctor about what possible vaccines you need

 

vaccine over a paper cut out of a family

Are Vaccines Safe?

Recently, the safety of vaccines have been called into question. Specifically, people are questioning their side effects and the belief that vaccines cause autism. However, vaccines are tested for years before ever becoming available for public use and continue to be tested throughout their continued use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC will not approve nor recommend a vaccine until it has been deemed safe for public use. The process for ensuring vaccine safety is quite extensive and contains many essential steps

To determine if a vaccine is safe, the vaccine is first tested for years in a lab. Once lab results indicate it can be used safely, it then can be used for clinical trials. Clinical trials will initially test the vaccine on 20-100 volunteers, and then expand to the thousands to ensure the vaccine’s safety. During the clinical trial phase, questions about the vaccines safety, dosage, and how the immune system reacts to it are closely examined. Every possible safety concern must be thoroughly addressed before the FDA will license a vaccine.

Once a vaccine is licensed, each individual batch of that vaccine is still tested before it is sent out for public use. Each vaccine batch is tested for its potency, purity, and sterility. This constant testing of vaccines maintains their quality and safety. Even once a vaccine has been recommended to the public, it continues to be closely monitored.

 

Possible Vaccine Side Effects

The vast majority of people who receive vaccines do not suffer from serious side effects. When side effects from a vaccine do occur, they are generally mild in nature and can include: mild fever, chills, feeling tired, headache, muscle and joint aches, and generalized pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site. While severe side effects do exist, they are extremely rare and generally only affect 1-2 people out of every million. Overall, the possible side effects from vaccines are still considered much safer than getting the diseases themselves.

 

Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Another large claim surrounding vaccines is the notion that they cause Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). AutismSpeaks.org states that autism “refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication”(Source). According the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities  Monitoring (ADDM) Network, it is estimated that 1 in 59 children have been identified with autism.  Although the exact cause of Autism has not be identified, current research points to both genetic and environmental risk factors as being influential. However, these factors are still currently labeled as causing an increased risk and are not considered to be actual causes themselves.

 

Genetic factors for autism include changes in certain genes that may either be passed to the child or that may happen randomly in the egg or sperm that creates the embryo. It has been found that there may be a hereditary relationship concerning autism. Certain environmental factors can also pose a possible risk. Some examples of environmental risk factors include:

 

  • Advanced age of either parent
  • Pregnancies that occur less than one year apart
  • Complications that occur during pregnancy or birth such as extreme prematurity, low birth weight, multiple pregnancies at once

 

It is currently believed that the genetic and environmental risk factors can affect the development of the brain, particularly early brain development. This results in a change in the way brain nerve cells communicate with each other. Despite many people believing that vaccines cause autism, Autism Speaks, the Centers for Disease Control, and The American Academy of Pediatrics, to name a few, adamantly state that vaccines do not cause autism.

 

Are you and your family up to date on all your immunizations? Schedule a consultation with Bellevue’s top internal medical doctors today at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates.

 

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.

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.

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.

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!

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. 

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.