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Surviving Allergy Season in Mississippi

Springtime is upon us and you know what that means--budding flowers, fresh green grass and trees, and pollen. The very things that make spring beautiful are also the bain of all seasonal allergy sufferers’existence. Okay maybe that statement's a bit extreme, but in the thick of spring, most allergy sufferers would agree.

Allergy season is especially hard on Mississippians, where foliage and trees are in abundance and pollen is everywhere from mid-March until June. The great news is, there are several ways you can survive and even thrive during allergy season. Check out our tips.

  • Know the difference between allergies and other conditions with similar symptoms like a sinus infection or cold. Generally speaking, if your symptoms last more than two weeks, nasal mucus is clear, and symptoms are devoid of aches and fever, it's probably allergies. However, allergies can develop into a sinus infection so keep an eye on any changes in symptoms.
  • Take the allergy medications recommended by your medical provider. They may prescribe an antihistamine or simply suggest the best over-the-counter drug for your allergies. If your medications aren't working, do not attempt to increase your dose. Re-visit your provider to determine a new treatment plan.
  • Keep your home a haven from outdoor and environmental allergies. Close your windows to keep pollen out, change air filters as needed, and clean surfaces regularly to keep your home free of dust, mold and other indoor allergens.
  • Natural remedies for relieving allergy symptoms include a saline nasal rinse using a neti pot for congestion and gargling with salt water to relieve an itchy throat.
  • Check the pollen count each day before making outdoor plans. You can find a daily and 5-day forecast at pollen.com
  • Stay indoors on high pollen days.
  • If you do spend time outside, shed your clothing and shoes when you come indoors and take a shower if possible. If you don't have time to shower, wash your hands and face.

If you are struggling to control your allergy symptoms with daily meds, consider talking with your provider about allergy immunotherapy treatment. This treatment will require regular medical visits but has been proven to be extremely effective in providing long-term relief for allergy sufferers.

Is your usual allergy treatment no longer relieving your symptoms? It's time to re-visit a provider for a new treatment. Medplus is open 7 days a week so you can get help with your allergies at your convenience.

February is Heart Month because the month of love is also the perfect time to focus on loving your own heart by taking steps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. In America, someone dies from heart disease every 37 seconds. That's approximately 647,000 people each year. Those numbers alone should make anyone stop and take interest in the state of their heart health.

The good news about cardiovascular disease is that many cases are preventable through making the right lifestyle choices and visiting your medical provider regularly for primary care checkups. Take a look at these lifestyle changes you can make in your life starting today for better heart health tomorrow.

Stop Being a Couch Potato
We love the occasional Netflix binge as much as the next person but our bodies are designed to move and there's a reason why many experts say "sitting is the new smoking.” A sedentary lifestyle is the quickest way to heart disease, stroke, and a plethora of other serious and deadly health issues. If you work a sedentary job, find a way to stand up for 20 minutes per hour, moving for at least 8 of those minutes. And don't forget to practice at least 2 ½ to 3 hours of exercise or physical activity per week in addition to making a point to move consistently throughout the day.

Stop Using Tobacco
There's a reason for the Surgeon General's warning on every pack of cigarettes. The dangers of smoking are numerous and heart disease is just one of many issues that develop from the habit. Your medical provider can help you quit, schedule an appointment today to learn how.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
A diet heavy in colorful fruits and veggies is the key to eating your way to a healthier heart. Reducing your meat intake while increasing the servings of fruits and veggies on your plate is the best way to lower bad cholesterol, high blood pressure, and reduce plaque that blocks arteries and causes heart attacks.

Maintain a Healthy Weight
You can do this easily by following the first few tips. Be warned: obesity isn't the only way your weight affects your heart. Any extreme weight issues, including anorexia and bulimia, can cause stress on your heart.

Manage High Blood Pressure and Bad Cholesterol
Again, changing your diet and exercise habits are the best steps to reducing high blood pressure and high bad cholesterol. A vegan diet and the D.A.S.H diet are among the best heart-healthy diets that address these issues.

Manage Stress
Exercise, a healthy diet, and stress-reducers like meditative breathing and yoga are easy lifestyle choices to manage the constant stress of daily life.

Schedule Regular Physical Exams
Your annual primary care physical exam and checkup is your opportunity with your medical provider to glimpse a clear view of your overall health, including underlying medical issues that can increase your risk of heart issues, such as high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol, and diabetes. It's also the time to discuss your current lifestyle habits and what changes you should make to improve your health.

Get serious about your heart health today. Start by visiting Medplus for a physical exam appointment. Book your appointment online now by clicking the book now link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

For most people, getting the flu means a few days of fever, chills, body aches, a sore throat, and fatigue. But for certain groups of people, the flu isn’t just more severe, it’s potentially deadly.

Who is at risk, and why?

The people groups most at risk are those whose immune systems are not fully developed, like infants and young children, or whose immune systems have become compromised. People with compromised immune systems include elderly adults, pregnant mothers, people who are obese and people with preexisting medical conditions.

What flu symptoms are considered “normal”?

Fever, chills, aches, sore throat, and a general feeling of overall ickiness are the most common signs of the flu. Other symptoms that are considered typical include:

  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Malaise

What flu symptoms should I be concerned about?

If you or a loved one are part of a people group that is at a higher risk for flu, you should know that some of the following symptoms are similar to typical symptoms of the flu. Other symptoms may not stand out as particularly dangerous to those of us with healthy immune systems, but like the flu itself, these symptoms can be deadly for people who are compromised.

  • Ear infections. Often caused by inflammation in the throat and inner ear, ear infections can develop into dangerous bacterial infections.
  • Sinusitis. Also known as a sinus infection, inflammation and fluid caused by the flu can lead to this condition, which can send a compromised immune system into a frenzy.
  • Worsening asthma. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the lungs and airways, which is why it’s not really surprising that the flu, which causes inflammation throughout the body, can lead to increased asthma symptoms. Untreated asthma can easily lead to serious complications and even death.
  • Pneumonia. Did you know the flu is one of the most common causes of pneumonia? It’s also a deadly combination. This disease cocktail can lead to inflammation and fluid build-up and reduce oxygen flow in the lungs and other body tissues.
  • Seizures. Like ear infections, children are at a greater risk for seizures during influenza than other people groups. Seizures during the flu are caused by high fever, which is why it is imperative to seek medical help when your child’s fever rises above 102°.
  • Premature birth. The flu isn’t just dangerous for expectant mothers, who are at a greater risk for developing pneumonia and other serious illness. Respiratory illnesses like pneumonia are linked to low birth weight and children born to mothers with flu accompanied by fever are at a greater risk for defects of the brain and spine.

When should I seek medical help for flu symptoms?

It’s difficult to distinguish some typical flu symptoms from those that are more serious. However, serious complications often display symptoms that are not common with the flu. You should seek medical help in the event of any of the following symptoms:

  • Long-lasting high fever that won’t go away with medication.
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe and persistent vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Skin that appears bluish or gray
  • Dehydration. Symptoms in children include lack of energy, decreased urine, and absence of tears while crying.
  • Lethargy, listlessness, and irritability in infants and young children.

MedPlus not only treats the flu, but we also help you reduce your risk of getting the flu through the flu vaccine. Getting the flu shot doesn’t always prevent the flu, but it does cut the length of illness time, reduces symptoms and may just save your life.

MedPlus is open until 7 pm seven days a week because we know that sicknesses like the flu don’t take a day off. If you’re sick, MedPlus is here for you. Shorten your wait time by checking in now directly from the website.

Long before Emilie Hutcheson met and fell in love with her husband Ryan at a high school Valentine’s Day dance, adoption was a dream for the Saltillo native. Following high school and a courtship rooted in Emilie and Ryan’s mutual love for Christ and Ole Miss, and of course each other, Ryan proposed to Emilie on Hollingsworth Field during an Ole Miss match up against Perdue.

Soon after marrying, Ryan and Emilie discussed the idea of adoption but decided to table the matter until they were more financially, spiritually, emotionally and physically ready to expand their family. God blessed them with that stability through Ryan’s career as a loan officer manager for Bancorp South and Emily’s position as the Outdoor Leadership Experience Director for Girl Scouts Heart of the South.

Eight years later, the discussion was brought up again and the Hutchesons began praying about their adoption wishes. A short time later, they learned they were pregnant with their first child. They named him James Edward, after Ryan and Emilie’s grandfathers, both veterans of the U.S. military.

Ryan Emilie and James Hutcheson

Not long after little James turned two, the idea of adoption surfaced again, this time during a Sunday morning message. After months of praying and researching their options, Ryan and Emilie signed on as a domestic adoptive family with Bethany Christian Services in Memphis in 2018.

Soon afterward, both Ryan and Emilie felt a strong urge to change their file to International adoption and are now pre-matched to a child under age 3 from China. The Hutchesons expect their child to have special needs as China is known as the world’s special needs adoption country. By the time this profile is published, the Hutchesons will have made their final decision on the child they’ll soon call their own. They plan to name their child “Charlie”, after two of Ryan’s mentors who have had a special impact on his life.

china

Though Ryan and Emilie’s careers have afforded them the financial stability they need to raise a family, the financial needs for adoption are a bit more than the couple could provide on their own. Despite grants and other financial aids available for adoptive families, the Hutchesons found themselves falling in that gray area in which they earn too much for financial assistance but not enough to pay for the adoption on their own.

However, Emilie and Ryan knew that if God was leading them in this direction, He would also provide a way to afford it. That’s where family, friends, and MedPlus step into Ryan and Emilie’s adoption story.

Ryan and Emilie have been faithful stewards in preparing for adoption and have given up many extras other families enjoy to save money. In honor of their faithfulness, God began providing funds in other ways including a public fundraiser held during 2018’s National Day of Giving, a garage sale, a t-shirt sale, a paint party, and a pie fundraiser, just to name a few.

In the midst of months of fundraisers and paperwork, Emilie received a call from a friend who told them about a medical clinic looking to provide financial support to an adoptive family in the area. After a few emails with co-owner Samantha Logan, Emilie learned the clinic was actually MedPlus, the clinic Emilie and Ryan had preferred for their family long before they learned about Medplus’s 1:27 Mission that supports orphans, widows, and adoptive families.

Soon after reaching out to the clinic, MedPlus owners John and Samantha Logan officially chose the Hutchesons as a recipient of their 1:27 adoption fund. To show her appreciation for the clinic’s support, Emilie invited Samantha to lunch, where they enjoyed sweet fellowship and discussion about their families’ adoption stories.

The Next Page in the Hutcheson’s Adoption Story
As we mentioned earlier, the Hutchesons are currently pre-matched to a child in China and are working through their dossier, the oceans of paperwork required to pursue adoption. If you are familiar with the process of adoption, you know that completing a dossier requires much more than an afternoon spent buried in paperwork. Every piece of paper must be state sealed, which means the Hutchesons have to resend every piece of paperwork to the state and themselves before sending it on to the agency. Much of the paperwork must be notarized by a notary public with at least a year or more left before their notary expires.

Emilie says that filing taxes is easier than composing a dossier, but she and Ryan receive aid and encouragement from their agency and other adoption support groups to stay on track. Once the dossier is completed, the Hutchesons will be very close to preparing for their trip to China to meet their child.

Shortly after interviewing Emilie for this profile, she reached back out to us to let us know that she and Ryan are making their final decision on a child within the next few days and may have already made that decision by the time you read this. At that time, Ryan and Emilie will pay $8500 compiled from fundraising, savings, and Ryan’s war bonds to pay for their match. After that, another $5,000 will be needed to complete the dossier along with an estimated $14,000 - $16,000 to cover travel and other expenses.

Ryan, Emilie, and little James still need financial help to bring the newest member of the Hutcheson family home. If you would like to help, click here to donate to their adoption fund now.

Want to know how you can donate to MedPlus’s 1:27 Mission? One easy way is to become a MedPlus patient! We donate a portion of proceeds from every visit to MedPlus to our ministry, which means each and every patient is part of fulfilling our mission.

By now, you probably know to "hold the salt" to protect your heart. In fact, the American Heart Association just released new stricter salt recommendations lowering the daily-recommended amount from 2500 mg to 1500 mg. However, researchers are also suggesting that you "hold the sugar". Although heart disease claims more lives in America each year than cancer or stroke, many people may not be aware how reducing salt and sugar consumption can benefit their heart health.

Americans typically consume more than 2 times the recommendation of 1,500 mg of salt per day, with about 77% of daily salt intake coming from packaged, processed, fast, and restaurant food. Excess salt can elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease. Even decreasing salt intake by only 400 mg per day can be beneficial to your heart health.

Consuming a high amount of added sugars in processed, packaged, or prepared foods, and soda pop or sugary drinks has recently been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease by researchers at Emory University in Atlanta. It appears that higher consumption of added sugars can increase the risk of heart disease. Excess sugar specifically appears to cause low levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL-C) and high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat that is in the blood. Although larger long-term research trials are needed on the relationship between added sugar and heart disease, the Emory researchers support dietary guidelines that would recommend limits on consumption of added sugars.

Here are some tips for reducing your salt and sugar intake:

  • Read food and beverage labels and keep track of your daily consumption of sugar and salt
  • Find recipe-makeovers for your favorite meals that contain less salt and less added sugar
  • Consult a nutritionist for help planning menus and meals
  • Learn what foods are best to select when dining out
  • Ask your doctor's office for educational material and resources in your area
  • The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have helpful guides on their websites

You may get the feeling right after a heavy or spicy dinner. You may keep a roll of antacids at your desk, in your car, or they are right now in your pocket. You have heartburn. What you may not know is that talking to your doctor about this common condition may save your life.

Heartburn, or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) affects 20% of all adults and is usually caused by acid from the stomach refluxing into the esophagus. Up to 50% of patients with GERD can have damage to the lining of their esophagus. Over time, continuous injury to the esophagus can cause a reaction leading to cell mutation. These transformed cells are at risk for turning into cancer. So all of a sudden that annoying sensation has turned into much more.

The appropriate initial medical treatment of GERD in most cases is to place a patient on a medication called a proton-pump-inhibitor (PPI). These extremely effective medications essentially turn off the acid producing mechanisms of the stomach. Your doctor should prescribe these medications and you should feel relief within a month or so. If relief does not come, your doctor may need to do further investigation. Most likely, he will recommend an upper endoscopy to examine the lining of your esophagus and stomach.

If you are a patient who does not respond to medications to control your heartburn, your doctor will want to perform an endoscopy to look for ulcers or evidence of Barrett’s esophagus. Barrett’s esophagus occurs when the lining of the feeding tube changes into a pre-cancerous form. If your doctor sees this kind of tissue, a biopsy will be taken to determine future steps. Usually, you and your doctor can take a “watch and wait” approach and undergo another endoscopy in a few months.

New techniques are being developed for the treatment of GERD for patients who do not respond to medicines. These include radiofrequency ablation to the muscle, which keeps food from passing backwards from the stomach to the esophagus. Other treatments include endoscopic surgery to create a fold or plication or the injection of a polymer into the tissue to prevent acid from damaging the esophagus.

No one treatment for heartburn has proved to be a cure-all for every patient. Instead, you and your doctor should take an individualized approach to your problem. But the future of treating GERD is bright, so if you’ve just finished that antacid roll, consider talking to your doctor about your symptoms before you buy your next one.

Get yourself tested. Get yourself tested. Physicians, television programs, and magazines repeat this over and over in order to increase public awareness of colon and rectal cancer. Unfortunately, most Americans who should be screened for this deadly cancer do not, even though early screening is an extremely effective way to avoid death from this disease.

Colon and rectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United Stated with almost 150,000 Americans diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, many of the over 50,000 deaths each year could have be avoided – effective screening programs have been designed to find and then treat colon cancer. Some risk factors you may not be aware of include being overweight and a history of smoking. Patients often do not seek screening because they are not aware of the options for testing that are available.

Most physicians today will recommend a colonoscopy starting at age 50 for perfectly healthy patients. This test is very effective and patients tolerate it well in the outpatient setting. Small, pre-cancerous growths called polyps, if found, can be safely removed and will prevent what would have been the development of a future cancer. This is because most polyps usually grow slowly and have not yet turned into cancer. If you have a family history of colon cancer or have a history of inflammatory bowel disease you should let your doctor know.

Newer tests you may have heard of are currently being developed including virtual colonoscopy and DNA testing for the detection of colon cancer. Enhanced standard colonoscopy using special dyes can be used to highlight abnormal tissue and newer high magnification tools are being studied. These techniques have not yet been recommended by the American Cancer Society so most doctors are not yet using them. While these tests and others hold great promise for the early detection of colon cancer, no patient who is eligible to be tested should delay their screening - it may save your life!

Talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested and what options for testing are most appropriate for you.

Most physicians and many patients are keenly aware of the dangers of heart disease. It is in fact the number one cause of death in the world. Unfortunately the majority of health care providers are entirely unaware of the effects of mental health on the development of heart disease and various outcomes from heart disease-related complications. It has only been within the past decade that researchers have begun to understand the devastating cardiovascular complications of emotional diseases, especially depression, and even more recently that clinicians have begun to treat these mental disorders in order to improve patient’s heart health.

The numbers documenting the increased risks associated with depression and heart disease are staggering. Twenty percent of people will have an episode of major depression during their lifetime. Almost half of patients with significant cardiovascular disease will have clinical depression in their lifetime. That is an increased risk of over 100%!

This information is even more startling when you consider that the risk of a patient dying from heart disease is significantly increased in patients suffering from depression. Some data has shown that males with depression have evidence of more blockages in their coronary arteries when they suffer from depression than those who do not. Some international studies have suggested that depression should be considered an independent risk factor for a heart attack – similar to diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking, - this however has not yet been accepted into common practice.

The link between heart disease and depression is the subject of intense research in both the laboratory and in schools of public health and psychiatry. Certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, are involved in maintaining emotional balance but also have important effects on both the cardiovascular and immune systems. These effects mainly involve the development of plaques in the heart’s arteries which may lead to blockages and then heart attacks. Other scientists theorize that patients with untreated depression are more apt to make bad lifestyle choices, such as smoking and an unhealthy diet, which puts the body at greater risk for heart disease.

These theories may be reflected in newer research which shows that patients who have undergone bypass surgery have a significant increased risk for their new grafts to develop blockages if they suffer from depression. Since presumably the patient’s have only had their grafts for only a few years this may suggest the potentially rapid association depression may have with the development of heart disease.

Despite a wealth of information regarding the association between heart disease and depression many health care providers do a poor job of recognizing the clinical signs and symptoms of depression and then fail to treat the condition appropriately. The most common drug prescribed to patients with clinical depression, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is tolerated well in patients with underlying heart disease. Therefore there usually is not a medical reason why a patient with both conditions could not be appropriately and successfully treated for their heart disease.

It is therefore of utmost importance to discuss any previous history of mental health problems, especially depression, with your doctor. You may find that by addressing two health problems that are seemingly unrelated you will increase you chances for a long heart-healthy life!

While the problems of various eating disorders has been the focus of both media and scientific attention for some time now, the exploding epidemic of obesity in this country as well as increased pressure for the perfect body type has led to many unique challenges for physicians and psychologists. While we are counseling some of our patient’s to lose weight for health purposes we must be careful to recognize that many of our patient’s have body image issues that require equal amounts of attention.

Thankfully significant research in the areas of eating disorders and eating behaviors has helped strengthen both our understanding and treatment of patients. New understanding of the brain chemical which control both eating centers and body self-imaging are moving forward. Additionally new and innovative techniques which use the latest technologies allow patients to have further resources to combat this dangerous problem.

Scientists are beginning to understand that eating disorders encompass psychological and genetic causes and that any treatment strategy which does not address all aspects of the problem will likely fail. More and more it is recognized that sometimes eating disorders may in fact be a component of a more serious systemic disease such as thyroid or hormonal disorders and will respond to individualized treatment. Patient with eating disorders are no longer being ignored and instead undergoing thorough medical examinations and treatment along with the psychotherapy that is needed to treat these disorders.

With more advanced imaging technologies researchers are beginning to map out specific areas of the brain, such as the hypothalamus, which control our desire to either eat or restrict food intake. Greater understanding of these mechanisms will lead to targeted therapies for each patient. New brain signals, including a protein called leptin, are being investigated as it appears the amount in our systems helps regulated our food intake. A better understanding of this molecule and other will hopefully clear the path for new drugs to treat various eating disorders.

Several drugs which have already been on the market for the treatment of eating disorders such as orlistat (Xenical) and newer developments like rimonabant (Accomplia) are continually being studied for both short and long term effects and are showing great promise. Interestingly, older drugs such as metformin which are used for other diseases demonstrate properties which may effect that brain’s signaling in food centers and are being investigated for use.

Finally, unique and effective cognitive and behavioral therapies are being rigorously tested to combat various eating disorders. A recent study showed the effectiveness of a completely Internet-based program which involved online discussions, body image journals, and up to date information in reducing weight and shape concerns. This type of approach opens up treatment options for individuals who may have been reluctant to seek traditional medical help. In addition, a movement to educate and alter meal programs in schools and offices, as well as, a better understanding of the influence of different cultural attitudes on eating disorders has made for more successful treatment.

Thus, despite the daunting problem of both obesity and other eating disorders in this country both patients and their doctors stand ready to move forward in combating this important and complex medical problem.

Cigarette smoking is a true addiction and bad habit for many people. Cigarette smoking is the single greatest cause of lung cancer and is linked to a long list of other cancers, along with heart disease and lung disease. Many people find it difficult to quit smoking. Chantix is a new medication that appears helpful for people that want to kick the habit.

Chantix is the first new medication that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 10 years. Chantix is a pill that helps ease withdrawal from nicotine and at the same time, blocks the affects of nicotine. Chantix may have some temporary side effects, but researchers have shown that Chantix is a safe and effective smoking cessation method for people that are committed to quitting. Ask your doctor about Chantix, because quitting cigarette smoking has just gotten easier!

MedPlus Family & Urgent Care was created to give back to our community, and we donate $1.27 of every visit to charities that benefit widows and orphans. We based this idea off of James 1:27 which states, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

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