• Why has asthma become more common?

    Asthma is a common respiratory condition that seems to be on the rise. It is commonly diagnosed during childhood, but more adults are also being diagnosed with the condition than in the past. This increase in the rates of asthma can be seen everywhere from the emergency rooms of hospitals across the country to the offices of primary care providers, but why is asthma suddenly becoming more common? Although experts are still trying to figure out the answers, there are some theories that could explain this increase in disease.

    Pollution
    As the video suggests, may experts point to an increase in air pollution as the cause of an increase in asthma rates. Particles in the air from chemicals, cigarettes, smoke from commercial facilities, and even farm animals could be causing people to experience asthma symptoms more often.

    The rise in e-cigarettes could also be to blame. As mentioned in the video, no one really knows the long-term consequences of e-cigarettes. They could be releasing pollutants that exacerbate respiratory problems, including asthma, for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke, and they could also be increasing the risk of asthma in people who use them.

    Hygiene hypothesis
    The hygiene hypothesis is the idea that homes and public spaces are kept so clean in many developed countries that children’s immune systems are not able to develop appropriately. According to the hypothesis, children aren’t exposed to enough germs for their immune systems to develop the ability to tell the difference between dangerous germs and normal substances, so the body overacts to things like allergens, causing asthma symptoms.

    According to the hygiene hypothesis, people who live on farms develop asthma and other respiratory issues at lower rates than others, because they are exposed to more germs. The hygiene hypothesis is also being examined as a cause of autoimmune diseases, like type 1 diabetes.

    Asthma can be a disconcerting diagnosis, but at Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center , we’re here to help you manage it every step of the way. From emergency care in Las Vegas for urgent symptoms to outpatient care to manage your condition, we have the treatments and providers you need. Contact us at (702) 916-5023 to request a referral to one of our physicians.

  • Exploring the unexpected health benefits of volunteering

    When most people think about volunteering , they think about the impact their service has on the people who are benefiting from it. In reality, the people who give their time volunteering may be the ones who benefit from it most of all. Volunteering can positively impact your life in many ways, including by improving your health. As it turns out, donating your time as a volunteer could be one of the best ways to make a commitment to your health. Here is what you need to know:

    Health and volunteering
    Researchers have been exploring the impact of volunteering on health for an extended period of time through multiple studies. The results of these studies have indicated that there is a clear, positive relationship between your health and donating your time as a volunteer. Volunteering may affect your health in these ways:

    • Lower mortality rate
    • Lower rates of depression
    • Great functional ability

    The health benefits of volunteering seem to increase the more you do it. The greatest benefits were found in people who volunteer for 100 hours per year or more.

    Seniors and volunteering
    Volunteering can be especially helpful to seniors. Seniors who volunteer receive the greatest health benefits from volunteering. They are less likely to experience things like depression and dementia, and they are less likely to experience physical health problems.

    The reasons that seniors receive the largest number of benefits are unknown, but researchers think that volunteering helps them avoid a significant health risk: loneliness. Seniors are more likely than other age groups to face isolation, as well as depression and anxiety associated with being alone. Volunteering keeps seniors from being alone and gives them a social group.

    Volunteer opportunities
    There are volunteer opportunities throughout every community. The Corporation for National & Community Service connects people with volunteer opportunities, as can local churches, schools, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations.

    Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center welcomes volunteers to assist with serving patients, greeting guests, and performing clerical work. Students, retirees, professionals, homemakers, and former patients all come together in our dedicated team of volunteers at our hospital in Las Vegas . To learn how you can volunteer your time, call (702) 916-5023.

  • Walking your stress away

    No matter how much you try to avoid it, stress is a part of life. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, the way you manage it has an enormous impact on how it affects you and your health. Exercise can be a powerful part of stress relief for many people, whether you are facing occasional bouts of stress or prolonged periods of chronic stress and anxiety . Patients of all ages who visit their providers for help with stress management are likely to have exercise as part of their treatment plans, because of its powerful ability to manage stress without medication.

    How does stress impact your body?
    The impact of stress on the body can be far-reaching. When you suffer from chronic stress, your body is coping with an influx of the hormone adrenaline. In small doses, adrenaline can be a good thing. It spurs your body into action so that you are ready to face an acute stressor. Adrenaline is responsible for the “fight or flight” response people feel when they are facing a threat.

    Adrenaline—and the responses it causes in your body—are meant to be present only until the threat has passed. When you suffer from chronic stress, adrenaline stays in the body for an extended period of time. This can lead to heart disease, weight gain, insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

    How can walking help?
    Exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels and be an effective means of controlling anxiety. Walking may be the most beneficial exercise of all for people dealing with chronic stress. Research has indicated that a 10-minute walk can be as effective as a 45-minute workout in curbing anxiety.

    To use walking to deal with stress, walking frequently is more important than walking far or for long. Aim to walk at least five times per week, for about 30 minutes at a time, for lasting benefits.

    If you’re suffering from the effects of chronic stress, speak to a behavioral health specialist at Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center. From inpatient geriatric psych care in Las Vegas to comprehensive outpatient services, we help patients overcome a multitude of behavioral health issues . Call us today at (702) 916-5023 to get a referral to one of our providers.

  • How occupational therapy helps families with autistic children

    For families dealing with autism, occupational therapy can make a dramatic difference. Occupational therapy helps children with autism overcome issues that affect their behavior and development by teaching new ways of tackling problems. This kind of intervention can be helpful for children in a number of different places on the autism spectrum and in a number of different settings. Here is what families need to know.

    What is occupational therapy?
    Occupational therapy is designed to help people accomplish tasks that they want to accomplish in ways that work for them. It is useful in helping people with a number of different diagnoses, from people who are learning new ways of doing everyday activities after suffering brain damage from a stroke to children who have been diagnosed with autism and need to learn how to function in a classroom.

    The goal of occupational therapy is to help everyone do the things that they want to do, even if they have obstacles that prevent them from doing things the way that other people do. For families that are affected by autism, this usually means developing a customized therapy plan, based on personal symptoms and needs.

    How is occupational therapy used to help children with autism?
    For people with autism, occupational therapy is usually centered on sensory processing issues. Many children with autism experience sensory processing problems, which can make it difficult for them to manage sensory stimulation. This is why many children with autism dislike loud noises or touch.

    Through occupational therapy, children can learn to process sensory stimulation in a more effective way. This can allow them to cope better in classrooms and at home, and it can help reduce behavioral issues that are associated with sensory issues.

    Could occupational therapy be beneficial for your family as you deal with autism? Let a physician at Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas help you make a customized autism management plan that meets your family’s needs. To learn more about our programs or to get a physician referral, call (702) 916-5023.

  • Is tuberculosis a modern health concern?

    Every year on March 24, hospitals around the U.S. recognize World TB Day. March 24 is the anniversary of the date on which Dr. Robert Koch announced that he’d discovered the cause of tuberculosis , Mycobacterium tuberculosis . Since that day in 1882, researchers have made remarkable strides in treating and preventing this serious disease. Although TB is no longer a leading cause of death among Americans, it’s still a health concern. At Southern Hills Hospital, we applaud the public health advocates who are working tirelessly toward a TB-free world.

    Tuberculosis control efforts
    TB was once a widely feared disease in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it killed one out of every seven people during the early 1900s.

    Although the bacterium that causes TB was discovered in 1882, it wasn’t until the 1940s that doctors had drugs to treat it. For the next few decades, the incidence rate of TB in the U.S. declined. Unfortunately, there was a resurgence of TB during the 1970s and 1980s.

    TB is both preventable and curable, but it continues to be a health concern today. This is partly because of the rise of drug-resistant TB. This means that the disease doesn’t respond well to certain drugs used to treat it.

    Tuberculosis identification
    Tuberculosis is a very serious disease that requires emergency care. TB often settles in the lungs, where the bacteria attack the tissue and can even create holes in the lungs. TB is identifiable by the following signs and symptoms.

    • Chest pain
    • Severe cough that can last longer than three weeks
    • Cough that produces blood or sputum
    • Weakness and fatigue
    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Chills
    • Night sweats
    • Fever

    The drugs used to treat active TB usually need to be taken for at least six months. It’s very important that patients complete the full course of medication. Otherwise, drug-resistant TB can develop.

    When a serious or persistent infection affects your family, the emergency care providers at Southern Hills Hospital are here to help 24/7, every day of the year. The health and safety of our patients are important to us because they are our neighbors in Las Vegas. Call 911 if you have a true medical emergency, or call a registered nurse at (702) 916-5023 if you have general questions about our medical services.

  • Understanding the link between drinking and GI health

    Excessive alcohol consumption can affect your health in some surprising ways. For instance, people with alcohol use disorder are more likely to develop frequent infections and heart problems. Alcohol can even affect whole bodily systems, such as your digestive system. The accompanying video features a doctor at Southern Hills Hospital. He introduces the main ways in which alcohol affects your gastrointestinal health.

    How alcohol affects your liver
    Your body isn’t able to store alcohol; unlike the food you eat. When you drink alcohol, metabolizing it becomes your body’s top digestive priority. This places excessive strain on your liver, as this organ is responsible for processing the alcohol.

    As a result of excessive alcohol consumption, the liver cells become damaged and are replaced by scar tissue. This is called liver cirrhosis. The scar tissue isn’t able to function like normal liver tissue.

    Over time, the liver begins to fail. Liver failure affects the many other functions of the liver, including the following:

    • Blood clotting
    • Toxic waste processing
    • Hormone metabolism
    • Nutrient metabolism

    Liver cirrhosis can result in death. It also increases the risk of liver cancer.

    How alcohol affects your pancreas
    The pancreas, which is an organ in the abdomen, performs important digestive tasks. People with alcohol use disorder are at an increased risk of acute pancreatitis, which is the inflammation of the pancreas. This condition can sometimes be life-threatening.

    Acute pancreatitis requires emergency medical care, and often requires hospitalization. It can cause intense, long-lasting pain that begins in the upper abdomen, along with these symptoms:

    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Fever
    • Rapid pulse
    • Swollen, tender abdomen

    Pancreatitis interferes with your digestive system’s ability to digest food. Patients are at risk of severe malnutrition.

    How alcohol affects your stomach
    Another way alcohol endangers your GI health is its effects on the stomach. Alcohol irritates the stomach lining because it triggers the overproduction of acids. This can result in:

    • Stomach pain
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Acid reflux
    • Ulcers

    Additionally, heavy alcohol use increases the risk of stomach cancer.

    Gastroenterology Services at Southern Hills Hospital is committed to maintaining the highest standards of patient care and safety. Our team has specialized training and experience, and it’s important to us to give each patient the best possible health outcome. Call a registered nurse at our hospital in Las Vegas at (702) 916-5023.

  • How does your diet influence your colorectal cancer risk?

    What you eat can influence your energy level and mood. It can affect your sleep and the microbiome of your gut. And, of course, what you eat contributes to your health, including your risk of certain cancers. There isn’t a foolproof way of preventing cancer, but the choices you make can manage your risk. Individuals throughout the greater Las Vegas area are always welcome to discuss their healthcare concerns with a physician at Southern Hills Hospital. You can also request a preventive health screening, such as a routine colonoscopy .

    Risks of colorectal cancer
    Anything that might increase your risk of a certain disease or disorder is a risk factor. Be aware that having one or multiple risk factors doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to develop a certain health condition. Similarly, patients at a low risk of diseases may still develop them.

    Knowing your health risks is still important because it helps you make smart decisions with the guidance of your doctor.

    Foods to choose
    Researchers are still investigating why some foods seem to be associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. It’s generally thought that a high-fiber diet offers a protective effect, but more research is needed. Still, your doctor will likely recommend that you increase your consumption of vegetables, fruits and whole grains if you’re concerned about your risk of colon cancer.

    Foods to limit
    Although there is no definitive evidence, the research suggests that having a diet high in red meats and processed meats may increase the risk of colorectal cancer . These foods include the following:

    • Hot dogs
    • Corn dogs
    • Bacon
    • Sausages
    • Salami
    • Smoked meat
    • Dried meats
    • Beef jerky
    • Canned meat
    • Corned beef
    • Salted and cured meat
    • Processed luncheon meats

    Processed meats also tend to be high in sodium, so limiting these items is beneficial for your cardiovascular health as well as your risk of colorectal cancer.

    Other research studies have focused on the possible link between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer. One or two drinks on an occasional basis aren’t likely to raise your risk, but regular or excessive alcohol consumption might.

    Southern Hills Hospital encourages patients in Las Vegas to be proactive about their health. Our compassionate physicians provide personalized guidance to each patient, including a review of individual risk factors, and recommendations for nutritional improvements. You can request a referral to a doctor at our state-of-the-art hospital by calling (702) 916-5023.

  • What are the signs of kidney disease?

    Millions of Americans are living with chronic kidney disease . This serious disease affects the ability of the kidneys to filter out waste products and excess fluids from the bloodstream. The kidneys are also essential for the regulation of acid, potassium and salt levels. When chronic kidney disease goes untreated, patients may develop kidney failure, which can lead to death. The doctors at Southern Hills Hospital encourage our neighbors in Las Vegas to learn about the potential signs of kidney disease, and to seek a medical evaluation right away if they develop.

    Changes in urination
    Let your physician know if you notice any abnormal changes with your urination. Kidney disease can affect the way the urine looks. For example, your urine may look bloody, bubbly or foamy.

    Additionally, kidney disease can cause:

    • Less frequent or more frequent urination
    • Smaller or greater amounts of urine
    • Difficult urination

    Pain
    Your two kidneys are located in your lower back, on either side of the spine. Some patients with chronic kidney disease develop pain in the back, although it’s also possible to have pain in the side or leg.

    Unusual taste
    As the kidneys sustain damage , they are less able to remove waste products effectively. This means waste products build up in the body, causing some unusual side effects.

    Patients may notice that food tastes differently, and they may experience a metallic taste in the mouth. Chronic kidney disease can also cause a loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss.

    Edema
    Edema is a medical term for the excess accumulation of fluid. Since kidney disease reduces the ability of these organs to remove fluid from the body, patients can develop edema. You may notice swelling in your:

    • Hands
    • Face
    • Feet
    • Ankles
    • Legs

    Respiratory distress
    Excess fluid can also accumulate in the lungs. This can cause unusual shortness of breath that can’t be attributed to physical exertion.

    Additionally, people with kidney disease may have anemia. Anemia reduces the oxygen in the body, which can also contribute to shortness of breath.

    Southern Hills Hospital is a widely acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical facility serving Las Vegas. We’re known for our highly trained and experienced specialists, and for our compassionate, patient-centered care. A registered nurse is available to take your call at (702) 916-5023.

  • Understanding how eating disorders affect older adults

    Eating disorders are not just a young person’s problem. Older adults—particularly older women—can and do suffer from eating disorders, and the impacts can be more extreme because of age-related changes in their bodies. Older women who suffer from eating disorders can often benefit from geriatric psych care .

    How common are eating disorders in older adults?
    Although the exact number of seniors suffering from eating disorders is unknown, the problem is significant. One survey of women over 50 had these findings:

    • 13% of women in this age group had symptoms of an eating disorder
    • 70% were trying lose weight
    • 62% felt that their weight had negatively impacted their lives

    These numbers are similar to findings about younger women. Some older women who have eating disorders had the disorder when they were younger and experience a relapse as they age. In other cases, older women are experiencing eating disorders for the first time.

    What are the symptoms?
    The symptoms of eating disorders in older people are similar to those in younger patients. Although some of the signs vary depending on the type of eating disorder, some common symptoms include:

    • Compulsive exercise
    • Rigid eating habits/Extreme calorie restriction
    • Vomiting or laxative use
    • Binge eating, with or without purging
    • Significant weight loss or weight fluctuations

    Older people are especially vulnerable to developing these symptoms after a major life change, such as divorce, retirement, menopause, or adult children leaving the home.

    What treatments are available?
    Therapy designed to treat younger patients is not usually helpful for older people with eating disorders. Instead, older patients can benefit from a geriatric psych program that has been created to meet the unique needs of seniors.

    It is also important for seniors with eating disorders to get help for underlying issues that could affect their appetites, such as medications and health conditions.

    Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center offers geriatric psych in Las Vegas as part of our behavioral health unit. We offer outpatient care specifically designed for senior patients as well as a dedicated 14-bed inpatient unit. To learn more about our behavioral health services, call (702) 916-5023.

  • Taking stock of the top risk factors for heart disease

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. Fortunately, many of the risk factors for heart disease can be controlled, so you can dramatically reduce your chances of developing it and experiencing the associated complications, like heart disease and stroke. Here is a look at some of the top risk factors for heart disease. Consider discussing your personal risks and the steps you can take to control them with your physician.

    Smoking
    As explained in the video, smoking is one of the most disastrous things you can do for your heart health. People who smoke may have as much as four times greater risk of getting heart disease than people who don’t. Smoking also increases your risk of other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure.

    If you are currently a smoker, quitting can be difficult. Fortunately, your physician can offer advice that can help, from medications that can curb cravings to support groups for people who are trying to quit.

    High blood pressure
    When you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder than normal, which can cause the muscles in your heart to weaken and become thickened. It also weakens your blood vessels by putting intense pressure on them, which can make them leak or rupture.

    High blood pressure also increases the risk of blood clots from forming. These blood clots can impact your heart and can also travel to the brain and cause a stroke.

    Obesity
    As with high blood pressure, obesity increases your heart’s workload, causing damage that can lead to heart disease. People who have excess weight around their midsections are particularly at risk of developing heart disease.

    Obesity also increases the risk of other heart disease risk factors, including high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

    By taking steps to control your risk factors, you can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease. At Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas, our cardiovascular team is committed to helping patients achieve healthy hearts, from emergency care for heart attack symptoms to procedures in our cath lab. For a referral to a physician, call (702) 916-5023.