Dopamine: What It Is & How to Increase It

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter — a chemical that transmits messages — produced in the brain and other parts of the body. Sometimes referred to as the “feel-good neurotransmitter,” it plays an important role in the pleasure/reward system that motivates people to repeat certain behaviors. It’s also involved in memory, attention, and controlling physical movement. 

Consequently, dopamine is essential for overall mental and physical wellbeing. Typically, the body does a good job of regulating its dopamine level. However, there are actions you can take to boost your dopamine levels. 

9 Tips for Increasing Your Dopamine Levels

If you want to increase your dopamine levels naturally, use these nine tips:

  1. Exercise regularly. Physical activity is known to improve mood. While that improvement isn’t entirely due to dopamine, animal studies suggest that exercise can increase dopamine levels in the brain, and some human studies have found similar results. Plus, as everyone knows, regular exercise provides many other benefits.
  2. Eat protein. Protein is made up of amino acids, one of which is called tyrosine. It’s vital in the production of dopamine. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein from foods like turkey, eggs, beef, legumes, soy, and low-fat dairy helps ensure that your body has what it needs to maintain the proper dopamine levels. 
  3. Reduce saturated fat consumption. It’s believed that high levels of saturated fat in the body from foods like full-fat dairy, butter, animal fat, palm oil, and coconut oil can disrupt dopamine signaling. 
  4. Pay attention to “gut health.” Researchers continue to learn more about the digestive system and its role in producing neurotransmitters, including dopamine. Some studies suggest that consuming probiotics helps improve or restore gut health.
  5. Get enough sleep. Studies have found that lack of sleep can disrupt the normal cycle of higher dopamine release in the morning and tapering dopamine release in the evening, which supports normal wakefulness and sleepiness.
  6. Meditate. Meditation is associated with better mental and physical health, which may be due to it increasing dopamine production. You can meditate while sitting, standing, or even walking. 
  7. Get an appropriate amount of sunlight. Evidence suggests that sun exposure can increase the density of dopamine receptors in certain areas of the brain. However, it’s important to follow safety guidelines about sun exposure since it’s associated with an increased risk of conditions like skin cancer.
  8. Listen to music you enjoy. Music has been found to increase activity in areas of the brain associated with the reward and pleasure systems. In particular, if a piece of music creates an emotional response like giving you chills, it may increase your dopamine levels. 
  9. Talk with your doctor about supplements. Your body needs adequate amounts of several vitamins to create dopamine — iron, vitamin B6, niacin, and others. If blood work shows that you’re deficient in necessary vitamins, your doctor may advise you to take supplements to elevate your levels. 

Maintain Proper Dopamine Levels for Motivation, Memory, and More

Dopamine plays a critical role in mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Follow the tips above to help maintain proper dopamine levels. 

If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of your health, your Baptist Health physician is here to help. Use our online directory to find a provider if you don’t have one.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
How To Stay Mentally Healthy During Quarantine
What Factors Affect Libido (Sex Drive)?
How Does Depression Affect Sleep?

Can You Outgrow Asthma & Can it Come Back?

Asthma is a lifelong lung condition that causes breathing problems. It can affect people of any age and typically starts in childhood. There are different types of asthma, including childhood asthma, exercise-induced asthma, and occupational asthma

Asthma symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Wheezing when exhaling, especially in children
  • Reduced sleep quality caused by coughing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
  • Wheezing or coughing attacks that are worsened by a cold or the flu

Asthma varies in severity, with some people having milder symptoms and others having severe asthma attacks. Either way, asthma is a serious condition that can be fatal in some instances, so patients need to monitor their symptoms carefully and treat their condition according to a doctor’s directions. 

Taking action to address asthma only when symptoms occur isn’t effective. Managing asthma must be a partnership between doctor and patient.  

Asthma is a serious condition even if you only have mild symptoms. Research into cases in which children have died of asthma has shown that approximately one-third of deaths are in children with mild disease. 

Can asthma go away on its own or can you outgrow asthma? Yes, some people have childhood asthma, and its symptoms decrease with age. This is more likely for people who have mild asthma. However, a decrease in symptoms doesn’t always mean that the disease is truly gone. It’s not uncommon for childhood asthma to resolve and then to have asthma symptoms return later, even in middle age. 

Consequently, it’s important to be prepared for symptoms to return and to talk with your doctor if they do. You don’t want to be caught off guard with a serious asthma attack when you have no way to treat it. 

Who Is Most Likely to Outgrow Asthma?

It may be more accurate to ask who is most likely to have their asthma go into remission. Several factors increase the likelihood of your asthma symptoms going into remission, including that you:

  • Are male
  • Are older when you’re first diagnosed with asthma
  • Don’t have other allergic diseases such as eczema
  • Are mostly symptom-free and only wheeze when you have a cold
  • Have lower levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and other biochemical asthma indicators
  • Have less sensitive or hyperresponsive lungs
  • Have better FEV1 or “forced vital capacity”
  • Have less sensitization and exposure to allergens
  • Have fewer asthma attacks overall and less need for rescue medication

In general, the more severe your asthma is, the less likely you are to experience remission.

Can Asthma Flare Up After Years?

The degree and pattern of asthma symptoms are different for every asthma patient. But, yes, for people whose symptoms go away for a time, asthma can flare up after years in remission. It’s estimated that of those people who have childhood asthma that resolves as they move into their teens, 25% will have symptoms return by age 21 and 35% will relapse by age 26.

So, if your asthma symptoms go away but then return later, you’re not alone. 

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

What Can Trigger Asthma to Come Back?

It’s not entirely clear why a person can start experiencing asthma symptoms after going years without them. In some instances, the reappearance of symptoms occurs when an upper respiratory infection causes inflammation of the airways that makes them more sensitive to stimuli. When that happens, muscles in the airways twitch, and then an asthma attack follows.

The underlying cause of this sequence of events may be immune system changes that occur with age. Changes in hormone levels may also be involved. And increased exposure to allergens and other irritants may play a role, too. 

How Do You Know if Your Asthma Is Coming Back?

If you notice that you’re having increased breathing difficulties, your asthma may be coming back. Other conditions like the common cold can be responsible for breathing problems, of course, but if you’ve had asthma in the past, it’s important to be looking for signs of its return. 

How Do I Get Rid of Asthma Forever?

Is asthma permanent? At least at some level, yes, asthma typically is permanent. But while there’s no cure for asthma, there are many steps you can take to avoid asthma symptoms. 

The most important of these steps is to take the long-term controller medications that your doctor prescribes. Even if your symptoms start to improve, you should keep taking the medicines. If you don’t, your symptoms can return and require you to use fast-acting inhalers and other rescue medications, which isn’t ideal. 

It’s also helpful to avoid your asthma triggers as much as possible. For example, if you smoke, you should try to quit. You should keep pets out of your bedroom if pet dander is one of your triggers. You should also wash your bedding weekly and keep your home clean. Doing so is easier the fewer soft surfaces you have, so you might consider replacing your carpet with hard flooring and your curtains with blinds. 

It’s also a good idea to avoid exercising outside in cold weather, as this can trigger an asthma attack. 

If you have allergic asthma, you can take over-the-counter antihistamines during allergy season to minimize your asthma symptoms. Also, your doctor may recommend that you consider immunotherapy. 

Sometimes referred to simply as allergy shots, immunotherapy is a process in which small amounts of the substance(s) you’re allergic to are put into your body regularly for months or years to reduce your reaction to them. Many people can benefit from immunotherapy, but it can be especially helpful for children who have asthma and also seasonal allergies. 

So, while most asthma patients never get rid of their symptoms entirely, it’s possible to reduce them, potentially to the point where they have very little impact on a person’s quality of life. 

Severe Asthma Attacks Can Be Life-Threatening

Whether you’re currently having mild, moderate, or severe asthma — or no symptoms at all — it’s important to keep in mind that asthma can be life-threatening. If you experience an asthma emergency, it’s important to get medical help right away. Signs of an asthma emergency include:

  • Quickly worsening wheezing and shortness of breath
  • No improvement after you use a quick-relief inhaler or other rescue medication
  • Shortness of breath even with mild exertion or physical activity

It’s also crucial to understand your condition and what your “baseline” symptoms are — meaning how often they occur, how serious they are, etc. If your level of symptoms increases significantly, you should talk with your doctor. It may be that the medications you take to control your asthma and respond to attacks need to be modified. Your doctor can perform tests and make the necessary adjustments to your medications. 

Learn More About Asthma from Baptist Health

Asthma is a serious condition that requires treatment and monitoring. Your doctor can work with you to find the best ways to reduce your symptoms when they first appear or if they go away for a time and then return. 

If you don’t have a Baptist Health doctor yet, you can find one using our online provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Discover Care Options
How to Sleep Better with Asthma
Is Asthma Inherited?

Why Do I Have Allergies All Year Long?

Allergies are your body’s overreaction to the substance you’re allergic to, which is called an allergen. Your body sees the substance — which doesn’t affect someone who doesn’t have allergies — as an invader and reacts by triggering the release of chemicals like histamine to fight it. It’s those chemicals that produce your allergy symptoms. 

Most people are familiar with seasonal allergies — allergies that typically flare-up in the spring, summer, or fall, when different types of grasses and weeds are growing. But can you have allergies all year round? Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, yes, you can have constant allergies. 

Seasonal allergies are one of two types of hay fever. The other’s called perennial hay fever. It’s triggered by indoor allergens. 

Causes of Year-Round Allergies

Allergies that persist all year can be caused by a variety of substances, including:

  • Pet dander. Dander is tiny bits of dead skin that flake off animals. Its small size and shape help it stick to things like carpet, furniture, and clothing. If you’re allergic to dander and you inhale it, your body reacts to it.
  • Mold. Mold is a type of fungus that grows in damp environments. It often can be found in bathrooms, basements, and garages. It’s also frequently present in air conditioners and refrigerators. 
  • Dust mites. Dust mites live in dust, feeding on human skin cells. The bodies, saliva, and feces of these tiny creatures become part of the dust as well. Breathing those components in can cause an allergic reaction. 
  • Insects. Feces and saliva from bugs like cockroaches can trigger allergies when inhaled.  

Why Are My Allergies So Bad Year-Round?

If you have allergy symptoms all year, you either have perennial hay fever or both seasonal hay fever and perennial hay fever. If that’s the case, you may have allergy symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, etc. that are present all year but that intensify when seasonal allergies typically kick in.

If your allergies are particularly bothersome, a doctor called an allergist can do tests to determine exactly what you’re allergic to and work with you to formulate a strategy for minimizing or eliminating your symptoms.

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

Is It Normal to Have Allergies All Year?

Allergies are very common, and many people who have allergies have some degree of symptoms for much of the year. But is it normal to have allergies all year? It might be more accurate to say that it’s not uncommon to have allergies all year long. 

But the fact that many people have year-long allergies doesn’t mean you have to simply accept them. If allergies interfere with your enjoyment of life, you should talk with your doctor about them, since there are ways to treat both seasonal and perennial allergies. 

How Do You Treat Chronic Allergies?

The first step in treating chronic allergies is to eliminate allergens from your home as best you can. For example, since soft surfaces harbor allergens, you might want to get rid of drapes and use blinds instead. Similarly, you should consider replacing your carpet with hard flooring. 

It’s also helpful to have good ventilation in your home and to keep the humidity relatively low to discourage the growth of mold. 

Keeping your home clean and giving your pet regular baths can reduce the number of allergens in the air. It’s also a good idea to keep your pets out of your bedroom and off your furniture. And if you have bugs like cockroaches in your home, you should take steps to exterminate them. 

All that being said, it’s virtually impossible to make your house completely allergen-free. So, often it’s necessary to take allergy medication—either as symptoms worsen or regularly. 

Some people get shots to help them reduce their allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are a form of immunotherapy in which a small amount of your allergy trigger is put into your body periodically so that eventually your immune system doesn’t see the substance as an invader anymore and doesn’t react to it. And more recently, the FDA has approved under-the-tongue tablets that work the same way as allergy shots.

Can allergies be cured? Maybe not completely. But treatment can increase your tolerance to your allergy triggers.  

Talk with Your Doctor About Year-Round Allergies

Help’s available for year-round allergies. Talk with your doctor or an allergy specialist to learn more. If you don’t have a Baptist Health doctor, you can find one near you using our online provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Discover Care Options
Allergies vs. Colds: What’s the Difference?
How to Sleep Better with Allergies
Do I Have COVID-19 or Just Seasonal Allergies?

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance: What’s the Difference?

Food allergies and food intolerance have certain symptoms in common. But the two conditions are very different, particularly in the risk they pose. 

Food allergies involve a reaction from your immune system, whereas food intolerance is a reaction in your digestive system. Consequently, while food intolerance can make you feel uncomfortable, the consequences are primarily limited to your gut. Food allergies, on the other hand, can have wide-ranging effects and can be life-threatening.  

What’s a Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance?

A food allergy is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly sees a particular food as a dangerous foreign substance and takes action to defend you from it. If, for example, you’re allergic to cow’s milk but you drink some, your body responds by creating antibodies that travel to cells and cause them to release chemicals that ultimately produce an allergic reaction. 

With severe food allergies, a type of reaction called anaphylaxis can occur. It’s a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. People who have severe food allergies often carry injectable medicine with them that can counteract the reaction until they can get to an emergency room.

Food intolerance occurs if a person is unable to properly digest a particular type of food. For instance, people who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme needed for the breakdown of lactose. As a result, they experience gas and bloating if they consume it. But this isn’t an allergic reaction — it’s simply their body struggling to deal with food it can’t digest. 

What Are the Signs of Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance?

Knowing the signs of a food allergy versus intolerance is important, as your response to the two conditions may be very different — most notably a trip to the emergency room for someone who consumes food to which they’re highly allergic. 

Food allergy symptoms

  • Swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips
  • Itching or tingling in the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Hives
  • Rash 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

Food intolerance symptoms

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

How Do You Find Out if You Have a Food Allergy or a Food Intolerance?

There are two steps to determining if you’re allergic or intolerant to a particular food. The first is simply noting any reaction you have to the food. Food allergies tend to be easier to identify for a few reasons. One is that they come on suddenly. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you’ll likely experience symptoms soon after you start eating it. Also, you don’t have to consume much before an allergic reaction begins. 

The symptoms of food intolerance tend to come on more gradually, and you may have to eat a large amount of the food. Some people only experience symptoms of food intolerance if they eat the food often — the occasional serving of it doesn’t have much if any effect on them. 

If you believe you have a food allergy, your doctor can perform skin testing to check your reaction to food allergens. They can also do blood tests to look for elevated levels of allergy antibodies. 

There aren’t any tests for detecting food intolerance. That diagnosis is based primarily on your reports of what you ate and how you felt afterward. 

What Causes Food Allergies and Food Intolerance?

People can have allergies or intolerance to one food or many foods. 

Food allergy causes

  • Peanuts
  • Milk
  • Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Soy

Food intolerance causes

  • Milk, cheese, and other dairy products
  • Gluten
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggs (egg whites in particular)
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Wine (especially red wine)
  • Food additives and flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Can Food Allergies or Food Intolerances Go Away?

Generally speaking, food allergies and food intolerances are persistent. It’s not unheard of for food sensitivities to change, but if you discover that you have a problem with a particular food, it’s likely that you always will, as these conditions can’t be cured. 

With certain types of food intolerance, taking an enzyme supplement before consuming the food can help. Lactose intolerance is one example. You can take a lactase enzyme supplement before consuming foods containing lactose to minimize or prevent symptoms. 

But the only way to guarantee that a particular food won’t cause you problems is to avoid eating it. That can be challenging, especially since it can be hard to know whether a food is used as an ingredient in a particular recipe. But over time, people with food allergies and intolerances develop a good understanding of where they can expect to find their triggering food(s).  

Talk with Your Doctor About Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

There’s a significant difference between food allergy and food intolerance. So, if it seems that your body “isn’t happy” with certain foods, it’s a good idea to determine if you’re allergic to them or have an intolerance issue. Your doctor can help you do this.  

Learn more about food allergies and food intolerance from Baptist Health. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can find a provider and location near you at Baptist Health.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Start a Virtual Visit
How to Spot a Food Allergy
Milk Has Overtaken Nuts as the Most Severe Food Allergy
Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Pfizer vs. Moderna: What’s the Difference?

Both Pfizer and Moderna make COVID-19 vaccines that are safe, effective, and free at sites around the U.S., including through Baptist Health. But some people wonder if there are any differences between the two vaccines. 

Yes, there are some minor differences, as this article explains. 

Pfizer and Moderna Are mRNA Vaccines

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines both use what’s called messenger RNA or mRNA. The mRNA contains genetic instructions that tell cells to make a particular protein found on the COVID-19 virus. When the human immune system detects that protein, it begins developing defenses against it, which prepares it for encounters with the actual virus. 

So, in terms of their approach to producing immunity, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the same.

Effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines

Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness. That’s been proven in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of participants. 

According to the CDC, the Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective. 

Don’t take a chance with your health.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and end the pandemic. The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19, but it can help protect you from serious illness. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and make a first, third, or booster vaccination appointment at a location near you. 

Side Effects and Safety of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines — like vaccines for other illnesses — can cause side effects. For both vaccines, the possible side effects include:

  • Pain and redness at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

These side effects are generally mild and last a short time. There may also be a slight risk of developing conditions called myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly in adolescents and young adults. This risk is being monitored by the CDC and other health experts.  

As with any vaccine, there also is a risk of severe allergic reaction with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Severe allergic reactions are rare, typically happen soon after injection, and can be treated. That’s why people are required to remain under observation for 15-30 minutes after getting vaccinated.  

Other Differences Between the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines

Another area of difference between the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines is their use in young people. Testing continues, but the eligibility age continues to drop, meaning that younger people can get the vaccines. Your Baptist Health doctor is your best source for up-to-date eligibility information. 

The transport and storage requirements of the two vaccines are slightly different, as well. The Pfizer vaccine must be shipped and stored at -94º F (-75º C), meaning doctor’s offices and pharmacies need special freezers. Once thawed and placed in a standard refrigerator, the Pfizer vaccine must be used within five days. 

The Moderna vaccine must be shipped and stored at -4º F (-20º C). That temperature is similar to a typical home freezer. After being thawed, the Moderna vaccine can remain in the refrigerator for up to 30 days or at room temperature for 12 hours.

Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

It’s important to get vaccinated to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from COVID-19. What’s the best vaccine? The one that’s available to you! 

Schedule an appointment with Baptist Health or get vaccinated at another authorized site as soon as you can. Vaccination is fast, free, and effective.  

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Schedule Your Vaccine Appointment
Start a COVID-19 Test Online
What Are mRNA Vaccines?
COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Doses and Third Doses Explained
Tips to Mitigate COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects

Allergies vs. Colds: What’s the Difference?

Allergies vs. cold… It’s an internal debate people often have when they find themselves sneezing and blowing their noses frequently. Why does it matter whether it’s allergies or a cold that’s causing their symptoms? The duration of the episode is one reason. A cold will run its course, but allergies can go on indefinitely, so you have to plan for that. 

There are differences between allergies and a cold, but not everyone knows what they are. This article explains them.  

How Do You Know the Difference Between a Cold and Allergies?

You feel rundown, it’s hard to breathe through your nose, and you’re just generally miserable. How do you know if you have a cold or allergies? Below are the symptoms of each condition.

Cold symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and congestion
  • Mucus that’s thick or colored
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Mild body aches and/or headache
  • Low-grade fever
  • Symptoms that last 7 to 10 days
  • Symptoms that aren’t specific to a time of year, location, etc.

Allergy symptoms 

  • Sneezing
  • Mucus that’s clear and watery
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Symptoms that last longer than 7 to 10 days 
  • Symptoms that occur only in certain situations like certain times of the year or being in a certain place (like the home of someone who has pets) a cat.

In summary, some of the key differences between allergies and a cold are in the consistency of mucus (thicker with a cold), the itchy/watery eyes (typically not present in a cold), the lack of a “trigger” (time of year, presence of pets) in a cold, and the duration (allergies last longer).  

What Causes Allergies and Colds?

Allergies and colds have different triggers or causes. 

Allergy triggers

  • Tree, grass, and weed pollen
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Saliva and feces from insects in the home (like cockroaches) 

Common cold causes

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

Can Allergies Be Mistaken for a Cold?

For people who haven’t considered the symptoms listed above, it can be easy to think an allergy is a cold or vice versa. But upon closer assessment, it’s typically fairly easy to tell the two conditions apart. 

Of course, there’s no reason that you can’t have them back-to-back or simultaneously. You might catch a cold right when symptoms from seasonal allergies (also called hay fever) are declining. Or you might be a seasonal allergy sufferer who comes down with a cold at the same time. 

How Do You Tell if Sneezing Is a Cold or Allergies?

It can be difficult to determine the cause of one symptom in isolation. You’ve sneezed a few times — is that an allergy flare-up? A cold? Or have you simply inhaled something that’s irritated the lining of your nose? 

You have to look at any other symptoms you have to get the full picture.  

Is a Stuffy Nose an Allergy or Cold?

Just like sneezing, a stuffy nose can have multiple causes. This can include changes in humidity. Dry air can keep the mucus in your nose and sinuses from flowing and draining properly, making you feel stuffed up and congested.  

Can Allergies Turn into a Cold or Sinus Infection?

People sometimes wonder if allergies can turn into a cold or sinus infection. The first part of the answer is that allergies can’t cause a cold. There are two different mechanisms at work — an immune response to something that shouldn’t cause a response in the first case and an appropriate response to a cold virus in the second. 

As for allergies and sinus infections, there can be a link in that allergies can affect sinus drainage, and it’s easier for an infection to develop if the sinuses aren’t draining properly. 

Learn More About the Common Cold vs. Allergies from Your Baptist Health Doctor

If you tend to get “colds” at the same time every year but are now wondering if maybe you have allergies instead, your doctor can help you sort things out. Tests can be performed to determine if you have seasonal allergies or even what’s called perennial hay fever — a year-round allergy to indoor allergens. 

It’s also helpful to keep in mind the difference between a cold and the flu, since there are symptoms that overlap there, as well. This is especially important during cold and flu season

If you don’t have a Baptist Health doctor yet, you can find one using our online provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Discover Care Options
How to Sleep Better with Allergies
Flu vs. Cold: How to Tell the Difference
What is a Summer Cold?

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric is a common spice from the same family as ginger. Its active ingredient curcumin is what gives curry and mustard their vibrant yellow color. Curcumin is also being studied for its anti-inflammatory properties, which may produce a wide variety of positive benefits throughout the body. 

Turmeric can be added to foods like curries and smoothies, and there are also turmeric supplements. However, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before adding turmeric to your diet, as they can provide the latest information on potential health benefits and any side effects.

Also, you should be aware that other substances use the name “turmeric” but aren’t the same as the spice from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. They include Javanese turmeric root or tree turmeric, zedoary, and goldenseal, to name a few. 

Is Turmeric Good for You?

Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in India as a spice and in traditional medicine. However, modern research into its health benefits is ongoing. 

That said, studies suggest that consuming turmeric daily may help:

  • Reduce inflammation. Turmeric may help with chronic conditions that involve inflammation, such as ulcerative colitis. 
  • Decrease pain. People who have conditions like osteoarthritis may experience less pain when consuming turmeric.
  • Fight free radicals. Turmeric appears to have two benefits in this area: neutralizing free radicals and helping other antioxidants work more effectively.
  • Improve memory. Research suggests that patients with dementia may have better memory performance when consuming turmeric regularly and a slower decline in neurocognition.
  • Prevent cancer. Studies have found that turmeric may reduce the growth and development of cancer.
  • Decrease hay fever symptoms. People who consume turmeric may experience less sneezing, itching, and congestion
  • Fight fatty liver disease. Turmeric appears to prevent the build-up of fat in the liver.
  • Reduce symptoms of depression. Turmeric may increase the levels of mood-regulating chemicals in the brain called dopamine and serotonin. It may also boost the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that’s important in memory and learning.
  • Decrease the risk of heart disease. By reducing inflammation and oxidation, turmeric may lower the risk of heart disease.

Turmeric and Curcumin: Potentially Important Health Benefits

Both from its use in traditional medicine and scientific studies, turmeric appears to have health benefits. If you’re interested in consuming it as part of a healthy diet, you should talk with your doctor first.

While the risk of side effects from turmeric is low, it may not be recommended for people with certain health conditions including gallbladder disease and it may interact with blood-clotting medications. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can find a Baptist Health provider near you via our online directory.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Health Benefits of Ginger
6 Foods that Help Fight Inflammation
[RECIPE] Strawberry Ginger Refresher

How to Help Your Child Through an MRI Procedure

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a procedure that can be used to help doctors diagnose or assess medical conditions in children and adults. It doesn’t involve radiation and an MRI for kids is completely safe. MRIs can even be performed on pregnant women. 

A child MRI can provide valuable information on a wide variety of health conditions including congenital abnormalities, sports injuries, cancer, and many more. 

Before an MRI Procedure

Patients must remain still throughout an MRI procedure. That can be challenging for kids since they’re inside a tunnel (called the “bore”) and the machine makes loud noises. Consequently, you should explain the MRI to your child in advance.

Younger children are often sedated for an MRI procedure. Consequently, all that’s required of parents for a sedated MRI for a child is to prepare them for the process as directed by your care team. 

Children who are eight or older generally aren’t typically sedated. For them, an understanding of child MRIs and what to expect is important. Explaining what the MRI machine looks and sounds like can help minimize their nervousness or anxiety about the procedure. This can include finding recordings of MRI machine sounds that are available online and listening to them with your child.  

Keep in mind that some children may not want to hear details about the procedure. If that’s the case, there’s no reason you have to give them lots of information. It may be that all you need to do is emphasize that it’s a completely pain-free process.

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

During the MRI

MRIs for kids vary somewhat based on the provider, the child’s condition, and other factors. But some aspects are pretty standard. Learning about them and sharing information on a child MRI and what to expect with your child can help you both be more comfortable with the procedure.

If your child will be given sedation or a contrast dye, they should expect a little pinch at the injection site. They’ll then be taken to the MRI room where the technologist performing the test will explain it. You’ll be asked to stay by the scanner, and MRI rooms can be chilly, so dressing in layers is a good idea. Both you and your child will be given earplugs to help block out the machine’s loud noises

Next, the tech will place your child in the appropriate position on the MRI table. In some cases, your child will be able to see you during the test, but in others, they won’t. A red light will come on to help the tech ensure your child’s properly positioned, then the table will move into the tunnel.

After that, the tech will leave the room and start the test. The machine will progress through multiple sequences, with a brief pause after each. The tech can talk with your child through a speaker during the test. Again, your child must remain still during the procedure. If they move and the captured images are blurry, that part of the procedure will have to be repeated. 

Comforting Your Baby During an MRI

For a baby MRI, you can do things like talking or singing to your baby or playing music to help them get through the procedure. Providing them with a blanket and/or pacifier can also be helpful. Gentle touching or massaging may also keep a baby calm in an unusual environment. 

Comforting Your Toddler During an MRI

In an MRI for a 2-year-old child, having a favorite toy (or a cool, new one) available is helpful. Reading a story or listening to music are also good ways to calm a toddler. And like with babies, gently touching your toddler’s head or feet can be very reassuring to them. 

Comforting Your Preschooler During an MRI

To help an MRI for a 5-year-old go smoothly, you can play music, sing songs, or tell a story. You might also consider holding your preschooler’s hand during the test. And you can give them a sense of control by asking them if they want to watch the procedure. 

Comforting Your Child During an MRI

Good tactics for MRIs for kids include doing gentle breathing exercises, having your child close their eyes and picture a favorite place or activity, and having them do a simple counting task to occupy their mind — like counting upward by twos or three or backward from a particular number. You can also give them a ball or toy that they can gently squeeze. 

Comforting Your Teenager During an MRI

As with MRIs for kids, the key to helping a teen pass the time during an MRI is getting them thinking about something else. Talking about their friends or hobbies can be helpful. They may also want to listen to music or do gentle breathing exercises. 

After the MRI

In an MRI for kids that involves sedation, the anesthetic will wear off within an hour or two after the procedure. If contrast dye is used, it passes through the body within a day. In other child MRIs, what to expect after the procedure is an immediate return to normal activities unless told otherwise by your care team. 

After your child’s MRI, a radiologist (i.e., a doctor trained in interpreting medical images) will review the scans. Then they’ll send a report to your doctor, who will contact you to talk about the results. Generally speaking, the results of an MRI can’t be given directly to the family. 

Learn More About MRI Imaging at Baptist Health

MRIs are helpful, pain-free diagnostic tests that provide doctors with important information about a patient’s condition. Learn more about MRI services at Baptist Health.

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider Near You
MRI vs MRA: What’s the Difference?
How to Prevent Head and Brain Injuries
Concussion Symptoms in Young Children

What Is a Chemical Pregnancy?

The term chemical pregnancy refers to a miscarriage that occurs very early in a pregnancy — before the fifth week. Chemical pregnancies are common and account for 50-75% of miscarriages. 

Sometimes called a biochemical pregnancy, this type of event is the result of an egg being fertilized but not fully implanting in the uterus. Because it happens so early in pregnancy, you may not be aware that conception occurred. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Chemical Pregnancy?

A chemical pregnancy ends soon after it occurs. Even so, the fertilization of the egg triggers hormonal changes like the production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) that can be detected and can produce a positive pregnancy test. 

Other symptoms can include a heavier than usual period, more menstrual cramps than normal, and the lack of typical signs of pregnancy like breast soreness and morning sickness after a positive pregnancy test.

What Are the Causes of Chemical Pregnancies?

First, it’s important to note that there’s very little a person can do to prevent a chemical pregnancy, and neither partner should consider themself “responsible” for an early miscarriage. Also, a chemical pregnancy is no indicator of your ability to get pregnant in the future.

There are many causes of chemical pregnancies. Among the most common are:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Lack of secure implantation in the uterus
  • Uterine abnormalities
  • Genetic problems in the embryo
  • Low body weight
  • Infections like syphilis or chlamydia
  • Being over the age of 35

Other risk factors may affect the likelihood of a chemical pregnancy occurring, including having diabetes, thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or blood clotting disorders. 

Healthy Ways to Grieve

Healthy grieving results in an ability to remember the importance of your loss with a newfound sense of peace. Learn more about the stages of grief and healthy ways to cope in this article.

Treatment Following a Chemical Pregnancy

Typically, no treatment is required following a chemical pregnancy. Because the miscarriage happens so early in pregnancy, it’s likely to produce a heavier-than-usual period but no other issues. And, if you choose to, you can start trying to conceive again immediately following a chemical pregnancy.

If you experience multiple chemical pregnancies, you should contact a fertility specialist. They may be able to determine why this is occurring and provide guidance and treatment focused on helping you sustain a pregnancy and carry a baby to term.

Managing the Emotional Impact of a Chemical Pregnancy

A miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy can produce strong emotions such as feelings of grief and loss. It can be helpful to talk about these feelings with your partner, family members, close friends, or a counselor. 

Keep in mind that every person’s grieving process is different and that you should allow yourself to grieve in whatever way helps you heal. You should also be aware that emotional healing often takes longer than physical healing. So, while your body may be ready to conceive again quickly, your heart may not. Both you and your partner have to be patient. 

Mother & Baby Care at Baptist Health

Most who experience a chemical pregnancy can conceive again and enjoy a normal, healthy pregnancy. As you begin thinking about delivering your baby, you can find information on our Maternity Care services online. 

And if you don’t yet have a Baptist Health doctor, you can find one near you using our provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Understanding Miscarriage
Healthy Ways to Grieve

How to Calculate Macros for Weight Loss

There are many strategies you can use to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. All of them involve reducing your caloric intake and/or increasing the number of calories you burn. However, one type of flexible dieting focuses on what’s referred to as “macros,” and many people find it to be an effective way to lose unwanted pounds. 

What Are Macros?

“Macros” is short for macronutrients — the four types of food molecules that your body can break down to produce energy. Alcohol is one of them, and it’s not included in this type of eating plan. The other three macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat.

What’s called the IIFYM diet (for “if it fits your macros”) uses these three macros as the basis for developing an eating plan that helps you lose weight.

Introduction to Calculating Macros

When calculating your macros, you need to know that:

  • Protein has 4 calories per gram.
  • Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram.
  • Fat has 9 calories per gram.

With those numbers in mind, you then take these steps:

  1. Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is done using an equation that factors in your height, weight, age, and sex. 
  2. Adjust your BMR based on your activity level. You multiply your BMR by a number representing your activity level to get what’s called your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
  3. Adjust your caloric intake to achieve your weight loss goals. To lose weight, you reduce your caloric intake by 15-25%. 
  4. Determine your macros. Your protein intake should be 0.7-1.0 grams per pound of body weight. Your fat intake should be 0.25-0.4 grams per pound of body weight. All remaining calories can come from carbs.

Generally speaking, for weight loss, you reduce calories while increasing protein consumption. This helps you lose body fat while preserving lean muscle mass. 

There are several websites and apps you can use to track your macros and make it simple and achievable. And, as long as you stay within your macros, you can eat whatever you choose. Many people find they’re able to stick with this approach because it gives them the freedom to enjoy any type of food within the system’s guidelines.  

Take Control of Your Health

Staying at a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. Learn how weight can impact your quality of life, and discover your healthy weight range by taking our free, online healthy weight range assessment. Take the assessment.

How to Read Nutrition Labels

People who start the IIFYM diet very quickly become experts in reading food nutrition labels. Labels indicate how many grams of protein, carbs, and fat a portion of food has. Those figures are used in counting macros. 

However, another important number you need to look for on a nutrition label is servings in the container. That number must be multiplied by the number of grams of different components to tell you the total grams of, say, fat in the food. 

For example, if an item’s nutrition label says it has 3 grams of fat per serving and there are 2 servings in the package, if you eat the whole package, you’ve consumed 6 grams of fat. It’s not uncommon for people to focus only on the number of grams of a particular macro and to feel like they’ve stayed within their plan when they consume the whole package, only to realize later it had 3 or 4 servings—meaning, in some cases, that they greatly exceeded their macros. 

Helpful Weight Management Resources

If you’re looking to manage your weight more effectively, a health risk assessment (HRA) can be very useful. It’s a free, confidential questionnaire that helps you better understand your health risks. 

Another helpful resource is the Baptist Health HMR Weight Loss Program. This nutrition-based program is safe and effective and has been awarded the best FAST Weight Loss Program in America by US News and World Report for five consecutive years.

When you set yourself up for success, reaching a healthier weight can be easier than you think!

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Take a Healthy Weight Assessment
Did You Gain Weight During Quarantine? Here’s How to Lose It.
Does Food Tracking Help With Weight Loss?
Medical Weight Loss Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Pain When Urinating?

Pain during urination is called dysuria. The pain may also be described as a burning sensation. What causes pain when urinating? Several medical conditions can produce painful urination in men and women. Typically, doctors can determine the cause, but not always.

Pain After Urination Causes for Women

Because of differences in male and female anatomy, there are different causes for pain when urinating. Pain after urination causes for women include:

Bladder infection

Also called cystitis, this is an infection of the bladder lining. It causes painful urination as well as tenderness in the pelvic and bladder regions.  

Vaginal infection

Infection in the vagina or vulva can cause irritation that results in painful urination.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTIs are very common and can involve any part of the urinary system — kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. 

Inflammation of the bladder or urethra

Inflammation can be caused by an infection as well as by having sex or using soaps, scented toilet paper, douches, spermicides, or contraceptive sponges. 

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and others can cause painful urination in women. 

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

Painful Urination Causes in Men

There are multiple potential causes of painful urination in men, including:

Urinary tract infection

UTIs are much more common in women, but men can get them, too. 

Infections outside the urinary tract

Infections like diverticulosis and diverticulitis can cause painful urination in men. 


Certain types of cancer can make it painful for men to urinate.

Prostate disease

Painful urination in men can be the result of prostate disease, which includes inflammation of the prostate (or prostatitis), benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH (a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate), and prostate cancer.

Medication side effects

Some medications or treatments have painful urination as one of their side effects. For example,  cancer chemotherapy drugs or radiation treatments in the pelvic area can produce inflammation in the bladder and painful urination.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and others can cause painful urination in men. 

How Do You Get Rid of Pain After Peeing?

The first step in eliminating painful urination is determining whether you have an infection or some other condition that’s causing the pain and, if so, getting proper treatment. If you frequently develop UTIs, your doctor can help determine the cause and prevent them if possible.

If the pain’s being caused by inflammation produced by an irritant (vaginal sprays in women, for example), the solution is to stop using that substance. 

And proper hydration can help reduce pain when you urinate in some instances. Drinking two or three liters of water a day is recommended. 

When to See a Doctor About Painful Urination

In some cases, pain when urinating is temporary and resolves on its own. However, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you have pain when you urinate and:

  • You’re pregnant
  • The pain is persistent
  • The pain is accompanied by a fever
  • Painful urination is accompanied by abdominal pain
  • Your urine has a strong or different odor
  • Your urine is cloudy or has blood in it
  • You have discharge from your vagina or penis
  • You pass a bladder or kidney stone

You can find a Baptist Health doctor using our online provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Why Do I Keep Getting UTIs?
How to Pass a Kidney Stone
What Causes an Overactive Bladder?

UTI vs. Yeast Infection

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections, which commonly occur in women but can affect men, both can cause pain and discomfort in the genital area. And while they’re similar in how you can prevent them, they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments. 

The main differences between UTIs and yeast infections are that UTIs are typically caused by bacteria and affect the lower urinary tract, including the bladder and urethra, whereas yeast infections are caused by Candida fungus and most often affect the vagina. 

Does a UTI or Yeast Infection Smell?

Regarding UTI vs. yeast infection symptoms, an odor is one area where the two differ. UTIs cause urine that’s cloudy or discolored, may contain blood and has a strong odor. Yeast infections produce a thick, white, odorless vaginal discharge. 

Is There Itching With a UTI?

Pain or a burning sensation when urinating is a symptom of UTIs — itching typically isn’t. However, itching is common with yeast infections, as is a burning sensation in the genitals and swelling of the vagina and vulva. 

What Causes a UTI Versus a Yeast Infection?

Several factors can increase the risk of developing a UTI. Being female is one of them. Females have a urethra that is much shorter than the urethra in males, which makes it easier for bacteria near the vagina to get into the bladder. Other UTI risk factors include:

It’s common to have yeast cells in various places on the body. A yeast infection is an overgrowth of that yeast and, in addition to the vagina, it can affect the mouth, throat, gut, anus, or penis. Regarding vaginal yeast infections in particular (which are sometimes called candidiasis or vaginal thrush), risk factors include:

  • Using birth control that contains high doses of estrogen
  • Wearing tight underwear or other clothes that trap heat and moisture in the genital area
  • Being pregnant
  • Weakened immune system
  • Taking or recently having completed a course of antibiotics
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Using vaginal sprays or douches

Never Miss a Beat

Get the health and wellness news that matters most delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to our free email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest news and more.

Will a UTI or Yeast Infection Go Away on Its Own?

It can be dangerous to avoid treatment for a UTI or yeast infection. While a very mild UTI or yeast infection can go away on its own, it may worsen if untreated and cause serious complications. For example, an untreated UTI can result in a kidney infection.

If you think you have a UTI or yeast infection, you should contact your doctor. There are effective treatments for both conditions. This includes over-the-counter medications for yeast infections. 

Prevention: Yeast Infection vs. Urinary Tract Infection

The actions you can take to prevent a yeast infection vs. a urinary tract infection are the same.

They include: 

  • Avoiding clothing that’s tight or restrictive
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Urinating when you feel the need to go rather than holding it in
  • Urinating before and after sex
  • Wiping from front to back after a bowel movement
  • Changing out of exercise clothes and swimsuits as soon as you’re done with the activity
  • Changing female sanitary products often
  • Avoiding the use of scented feminine hygiene products, vaginal sprays, and douches

Can a Yeast Infection Act Like a UTI?

If you never have been diagnosed with a vaginal yeast infection or a UTI, it can be hard to tell the two apart since their symptoms are somewhat similar. Ovarian cysts, interstitial cystitis, bacterial vaginosis, and other conditions can cause symptoms similar to yeast infections and UTIs, making self-diagnosis even more challenging. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor any time you have significant pain or discomfort in your abdominal or genital area. 

Get Help with UTIs and Yeast Infections From Your Baptist Health Doctor

UTIs and yeast infections are very common. If you think you have one or the other or both — yes, you can have a yeast infection and a UTI at the same time — contact your Baptist Health doctor. If you don’t yet have a doctor, you can find one in our online provider directory

Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Why Do I Keep Getting UTIs?
7 Women’s Health Screenings & Check Up Exams
What Causes an Overactive Bladder?