Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center
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2017 Flu Season May Be Worst on Record

Although it is never possible for experts to predict exactly what flu season will look like in any given year, the numbers so far indicate that the 2017 season may be the worst one on record. The number of people seeking emergency care for flu symptoms is high, which means it is more important than ever to get a flu shot.

What exactly is flu season?
The flu virus circulates throughout the year, but flu season is the period of time in which the U.S. experiences epidemic levels of flu infections. Typically, the peak period of flu season is between December and March, but it can start in October and may continue until May. It’s not possible to predict exactly when flu season will begin, because it depends on so many different factors, from the weather to the types of flu viruses that are circulating. Getting your flu vaccination early in the usual flu season is the best way to ensure you are protected when the viruses begin to circulate.

What flu shots are available this year?
For the 2016-2017 flu season, the vaccine is only available via injection. The nasal mist is not considered to be effective. The vaccine for this season protects against the viruses H1N1, H3N2, B/Yamagata lineage, and B/Victoria lineage. Experts believe that these strains of the virus will be most prevalent. Keep in mind that the flu virus may change and adapt over the course of the season, so although getting a flu shot drastically reduces your risk, you aren’t completely protected from contracting the flu.

What should I do if I think I have the flu?
Your physician can perform a flu test to make a definitive diagnosis. For most patients, simply waiting for the virus to pass is the best treatment. If you have a chronic medical condition that could be made worse by the flu, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to reduce the severity of the infection. If you experience symptoms such as chest pain or breathing difficulties, seek emergency care immediately.

Our physicians and emergency care providers at Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center are ready to help your family get through flu season, whether you need a flu shot or ER care for a crisis. You can find out more about our hospital services by calling (702) 880-2700.


Make a New Year's Resolution to Drive Safer This Year

When most people think about New Year’s resolutions, they think about things like losing weight and exercising more. One important, if often overlooked, resolution that can also have a big impact on your health is driving safer. Safe driving reduces the chances you’ll need emergency care and orthopedic surgery for serious injuries. Commit to being safer on the roads this year with these tips.

Learn Child Seat Safety
In the past, there was one type of car seat that kids used for a few years before they graduated directly to sitting in a regular seat. Now, there are a number of age-appropriate car seats that change as your child grows to give him or her the best possible protection as they grow. Infants and children up to two years of age need a rear-facing car seat, while kids over two can sit in a forward-facing car seat until they are five or have reached the weight limit for the seat. After that, children should sit in a booster seat until the seatbelt fits them correctly.

Talk to Teens About Safe Driving
Teens face tremendous responsibility when they are behind the wheel, and they might not always be ready for the challenge. Talk to your teen about your expectations for safe driving, and set the ground rules for using your car. Limiting the radio and the number of friends in the car can make a big difference in your teen’s ability to focus on the road.

Stay Calm Behind the Wheel
Stress and traffic are a bad combination. When you’re driving, decide to remain alert and level-headed instead of aggressive and frustrated. Not only does aggressive driving and road rage put you at risk of a dangerous confrontation with another driver, but it also makes you drive recklessly and increases your chances of being in an accident.

Whatever healthy living items are on your New Year’s to-do list, Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center is here to help. Our primary care network of physicians work hand-in-hand with our specialists in emergency care, stroke care, and orthopedics in Las Vegas. Learn more about the scope of our care and get a referral to a physician by calling (702) 880-2700.

How Does Stress Hurt Your Body?

Short-term stress, such as that you may be feeling right before a big presentation, can cause helpful changes in your body that make it possible to complete your task. However, when stress persists for an extended period of time, the effects on your body can be severe. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to depression, weight gain, poor disease management, and many problems that require emergency care, including heart attacks and stroke. Here are just a few of the ways that stress can impact your body.

Heart Disease
When stress occurs, your heart pumps harder than normal, and your blood vessels dilate, which causes increased blood pressure. These effects aren’t dangerous for most people during an acute bout of stress and are part of the body’s natural flight-or-fight response. When they happen for a prolonged period, the excess burden on your heart and vascular system can have devastating impacts, including heart attack and stroke. If you have existing heart disease or are at risk of heart disease, these impacts can be even more damaging.

Type 2 Diabetes
Stress causes your body to release cortisol, a hormone that causes your liver to produce glucose to give you the energy to fight back against your stressor. High levels of cortisol for extended periods upsets your blood glucose levels and can cause an increase in hunger that can lead to obesity. Excess weight coupled with the excess blood glucose can lead to type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that reducing stress can reduce blood glucose levels almost as much as medications for some people.

Digestive Problems
Stress can cause you to overeat comfort foods, which are typically high in fat and sugar and can lead to gastrointestinal upset. It can also impact the rate at which food moves through your digestive system and cause constipation or diarrhea. The butterflies you feel in your stomach during short periods of stress can turn into ulcers and pain when stress becomes chronic.

Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center offers extensive resources for stress management, from emergency care and stroke care in Las Vegas in times of crisis to behavioral health services and primary care doctors to manage your symptoms. Request a referral to a doctor today by calling (702) 880-2700.


Preventing Fires in the Holiday Season

The holiday season not only brings good cheer but also a unique set of risks that impact your entire family. People seek emergency care more frequently during the holidays for things like injuries, heart attacks, and strokes. Fires are another risk that peaks during the holidays. Protect your family by ensuring your smoke detector is in working condition as the season approaches, and reduce your risk of a fire with this advice.

Keep Trees Watered
Christmas tree fires are especially dangerous. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of one out of every 31 Christmas tree fires cause a death, compared to one per 144 in other home fires. Trees that are dry burn extremely fast, so make sure your tree is well watered or consider an artificial tree that doesn’t run the risk of going dry. Trees should be watered daily.

Monitor Your Candle Usage
The NFPA reports that December is the most common month for home fires started by candles. Use your candles safely by ensuring that they are always on a flat and stable surface, and never leave a burning candle unattended. Children should always be supervised in rooms with candles. Consider switching to battery-operated candles, which can look natural but don’t have the same risks as traditional candles. If you miss the scent of your favorite candle, use potpourri to recreate the aroma while opting for battery-powered candles.

Check Lights and Wires
If you decorate with stringed lights, you have an increased risk of experiencing an electrical fire. Carefully check all lights and wires before hanging them, and don’t use any frayed or exposed wires. When hanging lights outdoors, be sure to select versions that are approved for outdoor use.

If an emergency does occur during the holidays, trust Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center for the care you need. We provide emergency care in Las Vegas around the clock throughout the holidays, including stroke care, treatment for injuries, and geriatric psych services. Find out more by calling our hospital at (702) 880-2700.


Why Older Adults Have a Higher Risk of Decorating Injuries

Decorating injuries are always problematic during the holidays, and for older adults, the effects can be even more devastating. As Dr. Yevgeniy Khavkin of Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center discusses in this video, for instance, osteoporosis can increase the risk of serious fractures resulting from injuries that may be less serious in younger people with stronger bones. Although everyone needs to take care while decorating during the holidays, here are some of the reasons older adults have an increased risk of injury.

Medication Side Effects
Many older adults take multiple medications each day to manage chronic conditions. These medications can cause side effects that can make decorating riskier than normal. For example, someone taking a medication that causes dizziness may struggle to use a ladder safely. Blurred vision and drowsiness are two other medication side effects that can make decorating less safe.

Failing Vision
It’s normal for eyesight to decline with age, and certain medical conditions can further exacerbate age-related eye changes. Failing vision can make it more difficult to decorate safely and increase the risk of things falls and burn injuries. If your eyesight makes it difficult for you to complete tasks, ask for help with decorating, so that you don’t injure yourself or inadvertently increase the risk of injury to others by using unsafe frayed wires that may have been difficult to see.

Chronic Medical Conditions
In some cases, chronic medical conditions can increase the risk of decorating injuries. Older adults with orthopedic conditions or who are recovering from joint replacement surgery may be unable to safely manage the weight of decorating items. People with heart disease could be at risk from the exertion required to decorate, while others who are recovering from a stroke may need physical or occupational therapy before they can undertake decorating safely.

Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center offers comprehensive services for older adults, including emergency care and geriatric psych in Las Vegas through our RISE Behavioral Health Department. Whether you need primary or specialized care, get a referral to a doctor by calling (702) 880-2700.

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