Treating High Blood Pressure Happens Before Symptoms Begin

Diligence is the key to surviving this disease.

  • About 75 million American adults have high blood pressure
  • Because the disease compounds over years, it can seem symptomless
  • Tracking blood pressure readings can thwart the onslaught of hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a chronic condition. The damage it causes to blood vessels and organs occurs over the course of years. Many people consider hypertension as a “symptomless” condition. As a matter of fact, with proper blood pressure readings, it is easy to see the progression of this disease.

On the other hand, if one relies on symptoms to indicate a problem, it can come as a surprise. Ignoring blood pressure readings gives the disease somewhat of a “headstart.”

It is dangerous not to be mindful of high blood pressure.

Just a couple of years ago, 1/3 of all Americans had high blood pressure. Another one-third were at risk of hypertension. As recently as this year, guidelines to read blood pressure were updated. Many people who were at risk under the old numbers now have Stage 1 hypertension.

Does your Family Have a History of High Blood Pressure?

Diet can often be a key contributor of hypertension, but we all have heard stories of people who eat well and exercise having blood pressure issues. One reason for this is family history. Parents, uncles and aunts, cousins or grandparents with hypertension significantly increases the risk.

Everyone should be aware of their blood pressure readings. Those numbers are especially important if there is a familial history of hypertension. If left unchecked, it is possible for blood pressure to rise quickly and severely enough to create a hypertensive crisis.

Symptoms for hypertension generally don’t occur until blood pressure readings soar to dangerously high levels. By this time, damage has already happened. In the event of a hypertensive crisis, emergency medical treatment is needed immediately.

Listed below are symptoms a person in hypertensive crisis may experience:

  • Extreme readings
  • Severe headaches
  • Severe anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nosebleeds

How Can Someone Combat Hypertension?

Like many diseases, the best way to prevent or combat hypertension is to catch it early. Awareness of blood pressure readings is the only way to make sure the disease is caught in its early stages. This requires regular checkups with a physician, especially if family history is worrisome.

For patients with hypertension, evaluation of organ function and blood pressure is critical. While some damage has already occurred, a physician can determine ways appropriately manage the disease going forward. Contact us with questions about your blood pressure or to schedule an appointment.

Warning: If you get a blood pressure reading of 180 or higher on top or 110 or higher on the bottom, and are having any symptoms of possible organ damage (chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision, difficulty speaking) do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911 for an ambulance or see your physician immediately.


Staying Healthy on Vacation in a Foreign Country

Photo by Mysaell Armendariz

How You Can Stay Away From the Summertime Blues

Summertime means vacation time. Beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them and lots of photos for Facebook and Instagram. For many travelers, however, vacations can also lead to sickness. Drinking bottled water helps reduce the chances of “Delhi Belly” and “Montezuma’s Revenge;” getting appropriate vaccinations are always recommended.

The chances of contracting Hepatitis A also increases when you travel outside of the American borders. This highly contagious viral disease is hardest on seniors with weaker immune systems. The disease attacks mainly the liver. At its peak, it can leave you feeling weak for an extended period of time – in some cases, even months. The symptoms begin several weeks after contracting the disease, so Hepatitis A won’t likely ruin your vacation – but it can put a damper on the rest of your summer.

How To Know If You’re At-Risk

Traveling with reputable companies to first-class accommodations does not eliminate contracting contagious diseases. In fact, quite the opposite is true. According to the World Health Organization, most cases of hepatitis A in travelers occur in those who stick to higher-level hotels and resorts. A gourmet meal or a pristine bathroom can still harbor disease – and the rigors of traveling can weaken your natural defenses. Assume you are at risk whenever you travel abroad, regardless of the level of cleanliness and service.

If you’re traveling in regions where hepatitis A outbreaks occur, avoid raw or undercooked meat and fish. If you buy fresh fruits or vegetables at a local market, wash them with bottled water before eating. Very hot coffees and teas are typically safe, but ask for a disposable cup, not a hand-washed mug.

While you’re on vacation, you may be substituting drinking water for other beverages, but dehydration can leave you vulnerable. Alcoholic drinks tend to be safe (use your straw, and – even on vacation – always drink in moderation). Drinking water is historically less so. Quench your thirst with bottled water instead of local “tap” water – and use bottled water when brushing your teeth. Skip the ice, and don’t drink beverages of unknown purity. If bottled water isn’t available, boil tap water before using it.

Wondering If You Have Hepatitis A?

Don’t panic. Most cases of hepatitis A are mild cases don’t require treatment. Nearly everyone who becomes infected recovers without permanent liver damage. But vigilance is always a better choice than treatment. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Hepatitis A can last from a mild case of several weeks to a severe case lasting a few months. Again, age often plays a factor in the severity of the symptoms. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms appear most often four weeks after exposure and develop over several days. Symptoms may also start abruptly in as few as two weeks or as many as seven, and include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Dark urine
  • Joint pain
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Finally, not everyone with hepatitis A develops signs or symptoms. For this reason it is important to be diligent upon returning home from an area prone to the disease. Immediately, wash your clothing, bathe, and clean personal items with disinfectant.

Should You See the Doctor?

Exposure to hepatitis A can be treated before the first signs of symptoms. You can receive the hepatitis A vaccine within two weeks of exposure to thwart possible infection. Likewise, immunoglobulin therapy is also available before the beginning of symptoms. Ask your doctor – or your local health department – about receiving treatment for hepatitis A if:

  • You’ve traveled internationally recently, particularly to Mexico or to South or Central America, or to any area with poor sanitation
  • A restaurant where you recently ate reports a hepatitis A outbreak
  • Someone close to you, such as someone you live with or your caregiver, is diagnosed with hepatitis A
  • You recently had sexual contact with someone who has hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is not a living bacterial infection, it is a viral disease. As is the case with most viruses, there is no specific treatment or cure once infected. At this point, the only thing you can do is get a lot of rest.

How You Can Stay Healthy

To avoid getting hepatitis A you have to know how you can get infected in the first place. For all illnesses that commonly affect travelers, follow these simple instructions:

  • Do NOT eat food handled by someone who has not properly washed his or her hands.
  • Do NOT eat food that comes from contaminated water. Shellfish (like mussels, clams) or any local fish where there is an outbreak of disease.
  • Do NOT eat food that is washed in contaminated water. Eating even a healthful salad can make you sick in a month. Stick to cooked vegetables for your diet.
  • Hepatitis A is most often found on your hands (by shaking hands with someone who is infected, for example). The disease is then transferred to your mouth, where it enters your system. Be sure to wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Again, contaminated drinking water can put you at risk for Hepatitis A and other illnesses. Avoid ice and brush your teeth with safe, bottled water.

You can have a great vacation and not worry about contracting a disease if you practice good hygiene. Those most likely to contract hepatitis A will do so from contaminated food or water. But don’t forget that the disease can also spread from close contact with someone who’s infected. Wash your hands frequently, and any older travelers should look into the two-part Hepatitis A vaccine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: What You Need to Know

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

If you have pain or stiffness upon waking, or nagging, constant joint pain that you’ve ignored, you need to read this.

Osteoarthritis is a common cause of pain in advanced years. After decades of use, cartilage, bone and ligaments simply “wear out.” By contrast, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory, autoimmune disease, and is much different. RA, as it is often abbreviated, is found in women three times more often than in men and affects over 1 million Americans.

There are over 100 forms of arthritic diseases that are diagnosed by inflammation of joints and surrounding tissues. These diseases may begin at any age, but typically begin in the decades between age 40 and 70. In these ways, rheumatoid arthritis is very similar.

How is RA different?

RA is a chronic (long-term) disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limited motion and function of many joints. While RA can affect any joint, the small joints in the hands and feet are the most likely sites. Inflammation may occasionally affect organs as well – the eyes or the lungs, for example.

Rheumatoid Arthritis affects up to 3 percent of American women. It occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Older teenagers and young adults are sometimes diagnosed with the disease. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (a condition related to RA) is a rare condition found in children and younger teenagers. Knowledge of these diseases continues to expand through research efforts.

What is RA like?

Severity of the disease ranges from mild and moderate to severe. The more moderate cases have peaks and valleys of symptoms; the pain caused by the disease “flares up” but isn’t constant. The most severe forms of the disease have fewer to almost no periods of remission. Left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can linger for years and lead to serious joint damage and disability.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
  • Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
  • Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints – including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles and feet
  • Fatigue, occasional fevers, a loss of energy
  • Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
  • Symptoms that last for many years
  • Variability of symptoms among people with the disease

While RA is a disease of the joints, its effects are not solely physical. Rheumatoid arthritis affects all aspects of a person’s life. It can interfere with the joys and responsibilities of family life and its symptoms affect nearly all decisions. Many people with RA also experience issues related to depression, feelings of helplessness and low self-esteem.

How can I get help?

Specialists at Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic are very familiar with rheumatoid arthritis and its symptoms. Rheumatologists at ADC understand the many forms of arthritis and related diseases like lupus and gout.

Our primary goal is to limit any arthritic damage, especially in rheumatoid arthritis.  Services at ADC include bone density testing, joint injections and an IV infusion clinic for new medications.  Our rheumatologists are armed with the latest information regarding your disease and treatment options to improve your quality of life. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Over 50? Schedule Your Colonoscopy Soon.

Photo by Mpumelelo Macu on Unsplash


  • The CDC estimates that 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented if everyone over 50 got a colonoscopy.
  • Roughly 90% of new colon cancer cases occur after age 50.
  • Screenings are brief, painless and the most effective of all cancer prevention methods.
  • But 40% of Americans for whom colonoscopies are recommended do not get one.

Discussing colorectal cancer isn’t a common topic for most people, and it’s understandable. It involves talking about an intimate part of the human anatomy, and – even scarier – cancer. But if you are over 50, it is definitely a conversation you should have with your doctor.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in America; 50,000 Americans die annually from the disease. The American Cancer Society and Center for Disease Control both recommend colonoscopies once a decade after 50.

A colonoscopy is a procedure which allows a physician to look at the interior lining of the rectum and large intestine. Using a thin, tube-like lighted instrument equipped with a lens, a doctor looks for abnormal areas, polyps, and possible cancer. This procedure may also help find other colon diseases, such as Crohn’s Disease or Colitis. It can also help identify ulcers, areas of inflammation or bleeding and causes of diarrhea.

If you are 50 and haven’t set up a colonoscopy, discuss this very important procedure at your annual physical. If you are over 50 and haven’t had this screening, or if you know someone for which this is true, contact us to set one up today. Below, some highlights are listed detailing what to expect with your first procedure.

Preparing for Your Colonoscopy
Days before the procedure, your physician or nurse will give you preparation instructions. The purpose of this preparation is to clean out the bowels and will result in multiple bowel movements and cause liquid stools.

If you are unable to complete the prep as directed: please call your physician. It is likely that your test be rescheduled.

You will also receive dietary instructions prior to the procedure. In some cases, a liquid diet is requested for a short duration, 1-2 days before your scheduled procedure. For your safety, it is imperative not to consume any food or liquids within the 4 hours prior to the procedure.

Always discuss your health history if it has changed in any way since you last saw your GI physician.

Upon Admission

Plan for half a day at the doctor’s office. Whoever accompanies you to ADC will be asked to remain during your procedure and to drive you home. This person would also keep your valuables, such as a wedding ring or a cell phone.

Before the procedure you will be asked by your physician about pain of any kind. You may also ask any questions that you have at any time. You and the team will discuss your current medications and your personal allergies to any medications. Medications are given by physicians orders throughout the procedure (most commonly used are Demerol; Versed; Fentanyl; and Phenergan). Please notify your nurse if you are allergic to any of these medications. After reviewing your vitals, an IV will begin.

During the Procedure

  • The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes
  • Your blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation are monitored continuously. You will also be placed on a small amount of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
  • Your physician may take biopsies, remove polyps or perform treatment during the procedure. Specimens that may be removed will be sent out later for testing. Your physician’s office will call you with the results once that testing is completed.

Following the Colonoscopy

Following the procedure, it is typical to remain in recovery for 2-3 hours. After some time, you will receive another checkup, again checking your temperature and other vital signs. At this time, your physician will also take you through what they saw during the procedure. If appropriate, you will be able to begin drinking fluids again.

Discharge instructions are always reviewed with you and the person accompanying you. You may be sleepy at the time of discharge and are encouraged to go home and rest for the day. Any special instructions from your physician are also written on the discharge sheet. If follow-up is needed, your physician will advise you at that time.


CDC: 46 States Experiencing Flu Outbreak

Combat Flu With These 5 Sleep Hygiene Tips

Getting back to a normal pace after the holiday season can sometimes be difficult. To make matters worse, the CDC has reported that 46 states are experiencing a flu outbreak. Maintaining healthy sleep hygiene is a great way to remain healthy this time of the year.

What is Sleep Hygiene?

The behaviors that affect the quality of a person’s sleep are collectively known as that person’s sleep hygiene. These habits occur before, during and after time spent in bed. While the recent holidays may have thrown off your previous schedule, it is best for your mind and body to return to those sleeping habits.

For most people, falling asleep and staying asleep comes naturally. There are certain lifestyle and dietary habits that promote sound sleep. And it is possible those habits were instilled by parents to children. Others may have figured out through trial and error what habits work best for them.

But many people have to be more intentional with their actions. If sound sleep is elusive, try the techniques suggested here. They may help you sleep better on a regular basis.

What is causing me to sleep poorly?

1. Stress

It is no secret that any sleep problems are caused by stress. What’s surprising is that it may not be caused by current stress. When someone is dealing with stress, they may start to develop certain strategies counterproductive to effective sleep. A stressed person may partake in regular napping, excessive use of caffeine, or alcoholic beverages at bedtime, working at night, or sleeping at irregular times.

These coping mechanisms may work in the short term to reduce the stress level. The problem then lies in the time after the stressful situation is eliminated. Those coping strategies may have now become a habit. Actions that alleviate stress before may now cause sleep problems. The cycle of repeated difficulty falling asleep creates new tension and a fear of sleeplessness can result.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine stimulates the brain and interferes with sleep. Coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate, prescription and nonprescription drugs – including some OTC pain relievers – contain caffeine. Moderate daytime use of caffeine typically does not interfere with sleep at night. But heavy or regular use during the day can lead to withdrawal symptoms and sleep problems at night.

If you suffer from insomnia, try to drink fewer than two caffeinated beverages a day. Avoid caffeinated substances after lunch and see if this helps your sleeplessness.

3. Nicotine

Nicotine withdrawal can also disrupt sleep patterns. As with caffeine, nicotine is another stimulant that makes falling asleep difficult. Smokers who quit can expect to fall asleep faster and wake up fewer times throughout the night.

4. Alcohol

One of the effects of alcohol is a slowing of brain activity. It seems reasonable then that when taken at bedtime, alcohol would help one sleep. True, alcohol may help induce sleep – at first. But it also disrupts sleep later in the night.

You body metabolizes the sugars in alcohol as quickly as it can. If you have a “nightcap” before bed, your body is performing this function as you are trying to sleep. Working in this manner may lead to awakenings during the night. Alcohol is also known to induce nightmares and early morning headaches. For more sound sleep, avoid alcoholic beverages within four to six hours of bedtime.

5. Meals

Metabolizing a large meal before bed can lead to difficulty sleeping. Foods that irritate the stomach also can make sleep fitful.

A light snack at bedtime, however, can promote sleep. Milk and other dairy products consumed with carbohydrates like crackers, are especially good as bedtime snacks.


Good, restful sleep is one of the best things you can do during the flu season. The above suggestions should help you fall and stay asleep. If these tips don’t do the trick, consider scheduling a sleep study today. Sleep problems can lead to a number of health issues and should not be taken lightly.

Wishing you sweet dreams.


Five Things to Know About HPV

dmitriy-ilkevich-437760Photo by Dmitriy Ilkevich on Unsplash

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. HPV is the Leading Cause of Cervical Cancer.

79 million Americans have Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection. 12,000 American women will contract cervical cancer this year, almost entirely as a result of HPV. Of those, roughly one-third will lose their battle with the disease.

What can you do?

Cervical cancer as a result of HPV is typically a slow moving condition and – when caught early – can be treated. Learn more about the virus and the diseases it causes, and contact your healthcare provider if you have further questions.

1. All sexually active adults have at some point or another had one of many strains of the Human Papillomavirus. Many strains cause no problems and are thwarted by your immune system in one to two years. Other strains cause genital warts, which can flare up once or become a chronic condition.

But other strains are destructive to the cells at the opening of the cervix. Sometimes, weakened immune systems are unable fight off the viral infection. The virus can live in the body for weeks, months, years or decades without affecting the cervix.

2. There is no treatment for the virus once it has entered your body, but vaccinations are available for teenagers and young adults. The virus is passed by genital contact with other soft tissue areas (even without penetration). Proper use of male condoms reduces the likelihood of passing the contagion on somewhat, but only the areas covered by the prophylactic.

Pregnant women almost always have normal deliveries and healthy babies who do not have the virus.

3. 14 million Americans are infected with  HPV every year. Even if you receive this diagnosis, remember that it is a completely normal infection, much like the chicken pox. The American Sexual Health Association and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition have online support communities at where you can find information and support from others.

4. A Pap test can alert your physician if there are any abnormal cell changes to the cervix. HPV tests alert doctors and patients to which women are at the highest risk for cervical cancer. Pap/HPV co-tests are suggested for all women over 30.

A Pap test is the only way to find precancerous cells of the cervix. Catching problematic cells before cancer begins is the best way to fight cervical cancer. Get screened according to the guidelines suggested by your personal physician, typically every 3 to 5 years. But remember, the virus can be dormant for long periods of time. Don’t forget to continue screening for this reason.

5. Dr. Joanna Wilson is one of the practitioners of HerCare. At ADC, they treat each woman as a unique individual to develop physical and psychological well-being. The Practitioners of HerCare provide primary care and annual exams with an emphasis on applying the latest scientific knowledge of gender differences in diseases and treatments.

Dr. Wilson believes that the woman’s annual pelvic examination is a vital component to a patient’s overall health, and refers for obstetric and surgical gynecologic and urologic care. She believes that the patient and doctor are a team working towards a common goal, and that success is based in patient education and empowerment. Contact us at HerCare to set up an appointment for a Pap test today.

(Some information provided by the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.)

6 Tips for Cold and Flu Season

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

An apple a day isn’t all you need to do to keep the doctor away.

It’s that time of year again. The weather is cold outside and your immune system is working overtime to make sure you’re healthy. Do everything that you can to help with these simple tips.

Wash Your Hands

The number one tip of all. It’s too cold to be outside, so you’re spending even more of your free time indoors. You know what? So is everyone else. More people than ever are touching the same things you are, passing along more germs and viruses than you are used to. One is going to slip past your body’s natural defenses.

If you get a cold or flu this year, you likely have your own dirty mitts to thank. As you pick up germs on your fingers, you may scratch your eye or eat some finger food and invite those germs into your body.

There is a solution, and it’s simple and easy. Wash your hands with soap. Do it often and well. Use hand lotion to keep them from drying out in the cold winter and causing cracks in your skin. This is a key way to prevent a cold or flu.

Get Your Flu Shot

We recommend getting a flu shot.

The flu is not a minor problem; a severe case can sideline you for days. The vaccine is the best, most effective way to allay those fears. Above that, the flu can be dangerous, especially for older adults, pregnant women, and young children who don’t wash their hands as well as you do. Get your shot, and this year you may still get sick or you may not. But know that without that shot you may be more likely to cause you and your family a lot of misery.

Be Prepared for the Season

Where’s your hand sanitizer? Do you need to get some more? When you go to battle cold and flu germs, make sure you have the weapons you need. Multi-vitamins, pain relievers, decongestants – make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked. Don’t forget hand soap and hand sanitizer and tissues. Is your thermometer battery working?

When you are at the supermarket, load up on fluids, herbal tea, and simple comfort foods like chicken soup. You may not get sick, but you want to be prepared if you do! How many times have you prepared for a worst-case scenario only for it not to happen? Maybe this time you can avoid the flu by being ready for it.

Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

Do you have a bug or a virus? Is that a cold or the bonafide flu? Unfortunately, there isn’t a surefire way to differentiate your symptoms. Even your physician may not be sure.

True, colds are milder. Usually the overreaching complaint is a runny or stuffy nose.

The flu is usually more sudden and severe. Fever, body aches, and exhaustion are more common with the flu. And they are typically shorter lasting but more intense. Both of these conditions come from a virus, so you can’t “kill” it, but there are other ways your physician can help you out.

Choose the Right Medications

Over the counter, there are lots of cold and flu remedies to choose. Avoid combination medications that package lots of drugs in one pill — like a decongestant, cough suppressant, and a painkiller. If you don’t have a cough, or if you only have aches, you are taking medication that you don’t need. You don’t feel good, true – but take the time to read labels and choose only the medications that will help.

If you have antibiotics, don’t be tempted to use them. Again, these are viruses and antibiotics work only with bacterial infections. Also, using antibiotics when you don’t need them is a bit dangerous. It increases the risk of breeding dangerous germs that are resistant to drugs.

Don’t Go to Work

Stay home. Yes. It’s not easy to take a sick day. But if you have a cold or flu, you should. Even if you feel better after lunch, don’t go in for half a day. Don’t run errands. When you’re sick, stay home, rest, and recover. It’s better for you and everyone around you.

Pushing yourself when you’re sick and working instead of resting wears down your body. Your body may have a harder time fighting off the virus. Your cold could last longer. You could also spread the virus to other people. Stay home.

Colonoscopy: Everything You Need To Know

Wandering about a Colonoscopy?

Here are some questions that might help clear up any confusion you may have. Please feel free to contact BSA ADC for more extensive details and information regarding Colon health and services that may be offered at BSA ADC.

Take a video tour!

I know I am supposed to hold aspirin products for 5 days.  What are considered aspiring products?

Aspirin products include:  Advil, ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, naprosyn or any medications you take for arthritis (including iron).

What foods am I supposed to avoid 2 days prior to the procedure?

It is important that you stop eating high roughage foods such as lettuce, beans, cabbage, corn as well as any high fiber foods including whole wheat bread.  If you take fiber laxatives, you must also stop taking them 2 days prior to your procedure.

What foods are ok to eat?

It is ok to eat meat, potatoes, pastas, fruits, and white breads.

I know I am supposed to begin a clear liquid diet at breakfast on the day prior to the procedure, what is considered a clear liquid?

Clear liquids include all of the following:

  • Strained fruit juices (without the pulp)
  • Water
  • Clear broth or bouillon
  • Coffee or tea (without milk or non-dairy creamer)
  • Gatorade
  • Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks
  • Kool-aid or other fruit flavored drinks
  • Plain jello (without fruit or toppings)
  • Ice popsicles
  • No red or purple fluids/liquids
  • No milk products or solids

Where is ADC Endoscopy Specialists located?

Our physical address is #1 Care Circle Drive.  Our facility is located inside Legacy Squares office park off of Amarillo Boulevard West between Coulter & Soncy.

3 Signs Your Headache Needs Medical Attention

Sudden, Excruciating Headache?

James came home from work, dropped his briefcase on the couch, and  slid into his favorite chair. He put his head in his hands. He’d barely made it from the car to the couch. His headache was bad enough that he wasn’t aware of his wife, who’d walked in and asked him if he was alright.

James was experiencing one or more signs of severe headache. Here are 3 sure signs your headache requires medical attention:

  1. The Headache Comes on Suddenly with Excruciating Pain
  2. It’s the Worst Headache of Your Life, or
  3. The Headache Causes a Change of Your Consciousness, Making It Difficult to Walk or Talk

If you think you are experiencing these symptoms, call your doctor right away. And if you believe you are in danger, call 911. Headaches can be extreme and awful. Carefully monitor your symptoms and speak with your doctor about how you feel.

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don’t get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Types of Headaches

  • Migraine headaches
    • Pain may be generalized, or on one side or both sides of the head
    • Can cause mood swings, fatigue, food craving, nausea, vomiting or vertigo
    • May also cause visual disturbances or sensitivity to light and sound, flashing lights or floaters
    • Usually last 4-72 hours
  • Tension headaches
    • Usually occur at the base of your head and is usually on both sides of your head
    • Dull, vice-like pressure around the head
    • Can be triggered by stress or muscle tension, poor ergonomics or body mechanics
    • Can be intermittent and lasting throughout the day
  • Cluster headaches
    • Pain may affect the eye, temple, face and/or neck areas
    • Sudden and excruciating pain that can happen at night waking you up from sleep
    • May be accompanied with a runny nose on one side or nasal stuffiness
    • May cause watering in one eye
    • Can occur at the same time for several days
  • Chronic daily headaches
    • Daily or nearly daily headache for more than 3 months
  • Medication overuse headaches
    • Use of an analgesic more than 3 times weekly for more than 3 months
  • Sinus Headache
    • Pain or pressure occurring behind the brow bone or cheek bone
    • Often accompanied with nasal or sinus congestion
    • Ear fullness

Other Less Common Types of Headaches

Some headaches originate from the neurological system:

  • Post traumatic headaches
    Brain injury
  • Tumors and other causes of increased intracranial pressure
    Pseudotumor cerebral (too much fluid in the brain compartment)
    Subdural hematoma (blood outside the brain but putting pressure on the brain)
  • Cervical spine disorders

Some headaches originate from causes outside the neurological system such as:

  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Sinusitis
  • Sleep apnea

When to Seek Treatment

  • Sudden onset of excruciating pain
  • First or worst headache of your life
  • Worsening pattern of headaches
  • Fever associated with a headache
  • Rapid onset of headache with strenuous exercise
  • Any change in mental status or level of consciousness
  • New headache in patients under 5 or over 50

Clinical Services Available

  • MRI
  • Lab

Treatment Options

  • Medication to prevent or relieve the pain
  • Physical therapy referrals
  • Botox therapy
  • Occipital nerve blocks

Not all headaches require a doctor’s attention. But sometimes headaches warn of a more serious disorder. Let us know if you have sudden, severe headaches. Get medical help right away if you have a headache after a blow to your head, or if you have a headache along with a stiff neck, fever, confusion, loss of consciousness, or pain in the eye or ear. Contact us if you have any questions or to set up an appointment.

Some information provided by Medline Plus.

A Simple Guide To Echocardiograms

Echocardiograms use ultrasound to evaluate heart and circulatory function.  This non-invasive procedure gives your physician real-time images of the heart in motion.  These real-time images enable your physician to accurately diagnose a wide range of cardiac abnormalities and initiate appropriate treatment.

Why It’s Done

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram if he or she suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart or if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain. An echocardiogram can also be used to detect congenital heart defects in unborn babies (fetal echocardiogram).

Types of Echocardiograms

Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of several types of echocardiograms. Each type of echocardiogram has few if any, risks involved. You may have one of the following kinds of echocardiograms:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram. This is a standard, noninvasive echocardiogram. A technician (sonographer) spreads gel on your chest and then presses a device known as a transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart. The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart. A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

    If your lungs or ribs block the view, you may need a small amount of liquid (contrast agent) injected through an intravenous line (IV) that will make your heart’s structures show up more clearly on a monitor, improving the images.

  • Transesophageal echocardiogram. If it’s difficult to get a clear picture of your heart with a standard echocardiogram or if there is a reason to see the heart and valves in more detail, your doctor may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram.

    In this procedure, a flexible tube containing a transducer is guided down your throat and into your esophagus, which connects your mouth to your stomach. From there, the transducer can be positioned to obtain more-detailed images of your heart. Your throat will be numbed, and you’ll have medications to help you relax during a transesophageal echocardiogram.

  • Doppler echocardiogram. When sound waves bounce off blood cells moving through your heart and blood vessels, they change pitch. These changes (Doppler signals) can help your doctor measure the speed and direction of the blood flow in your heart.

    Doppler techniques are used in most transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms, and they can be used to check blood flow problems and blood pressures in the arteries of your heart that traditional ultrasound might not detect. Sometimes the blood flow shown on the monitor is colorized to help your doctor pinpoint any problems.

  • Stress echocardiogram. Some heart problems — particularly those involving the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle — occur only during physical activity.

    For a stress echocardiogram, ultrasound images of your heart are taken before and immediately after walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. If you’re unable to exercise, you may get an injection of a medication to make your heart pump as hard as if you were exercising.



If you get an “echo” test, you don’t have to stay in the hospital. It’s not surgery and doesn’t hurt. For more information about your heart health, or about becoming a patient at ADC, visit our website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube Channel.

(Some information provided by the Mayo Clinic).