8 Natural Remedies for Upset Stomach

What Causes Upset Stomach (Indigestion)?

Upset stomach (also called indigestion or dyspepsia) is a term used for pain and discomfort in the stomach. What causes an upset stomach? A number of factors can play a role including eating greasy or spicy foods, eating too much or too quickly, consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, or carbonated beverages, anxiety, smoking, and certain antibiotics. Knowing what causes indigestion can help you avoid it, but there are also natural remedies you can use to soothe an upset stomach if it occurs.

How to Cure an Upset Stomach Naturally

If you have indigestion and want to avoid taking medication to address it, there are many ways to get natural upset stomach relief. Below are some indigestion remedies that many people find helpful.

1. Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe an upset stomach. It also contains chemicals that can accelerate stomach contractions to move offending foods through the stomach more quickly. It can be consumed in chew or supplement form or added to beverages like tea.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

The acids in apple cider vinegar promote alkalinity in the stomach, which alleviates nausea. It has a strong, sour flavor, so some people consume it as a “shot.” You can also add it to water with a touch of honey and sip it, if you prefer.

3. Carbonated Drinks

Some people find that the bubbles in carbonated drinks help soothe an upset stomach, in part by making it easier for them to burp and release stomach pressure. For others, gas and acidity can make matters worse. If you’re not sure how these drinks affect you, sip them slowly and cautiously.

4. Peppermint or Chamomile Tea

Peppermint and chamomile tea can be used for natural upset stomach relief. They relax the muscles of the digestive tract and reduce cramping and intestinal muscle spasms.

5. BRAT Diet

Short for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, the BRAT diet is helpful in reducing diarrhea that can accompany an upset stomach. The starch in these items bind food together in the digestive tract, creating firmer stools.

6. Baking Soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is the main ingredient in many over-the-counter antacids. You can consume it mixed into a glass of water to achieve the same stomach-soothing effect. About half a teaspoon in four ounces of warm water is all you need.

7. Use a Heating Pad

Applying a heating pad to can help relax the stomach muscles and reduce nausea and stomach pain. Just be careful not to use too high a heat setting or leave the heating pad on too long, as this can damage your skin.

8. Drink More Water

The body uses water in the digestion of food. Being dehydrated can inhibit this process and cause nausea and cramping. Be sure to stay hydrated by consuming water throughout the day, and up your intake if you have an upset stomach and suspect that dehydration may be the cause.

Take Care of Your Stomach

In most cases, natural remedies for indigestion can provide relief. However, you should talk with your doctor if you have ongoing stomach issues, and especially if they’re accompanied by these or other concerning symptoms:

● Frequent or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
● Chronic constipation
● Inability to pass gas
● Blood in your stool or vomit
● Trouble swallowing
● Fever
● Unintended weight loss
● Dizziness
● A lump in your stomach or abdomen
● Unexplained arm pain
● Painful urination
● A history of iron-deficiency anemia

Learn more tips on managing other stomach-related problems, such as bloating.

5 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

Make today your quit day. Cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke this week. This way, you slowly reduce the amount of nicotine in your body. Be sure to get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car and at work. Here are some other tips to help you on quit day:

  • Talk to your friends and family. Ask them for support during these first few days and weeks. Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you, and not to leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
  • Pick a plan. It is hard to quit smoking on your own, but quitting ‘cold turkey’ is not your only choice. Will you use nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines? Talk to your doctor about your options. Kentucky offers its residents free access to online quitting tools, support from other tobacco users who are trying to quit and other information to make your quitting easier.
  • Stay busy. It might seem simple, but staying busy is one of the best ways to stay smoke-free on your quit day. Get out of the house. Go to a movie. Chew on hard candy. Exercise and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid smoking triggers. Triggers are the people, places, things and situations that trigger your urge to smoke. On your quit day, it’s best to avoid them all together.
  • Stay positive. Quitting smoking happens one minute, one hour and one day at a time. Stay positive and the days will add up!

Alarming Facts: Kentucky has the nation’s second-highest adult smoking rate and smoking-related deaths. Are you ready to quit smoking? Your primary care doctor can help. If you don’t have a Baptist Health provider, you can find one using our online provider directory

Chocolate Allergy

What is a Chocolate Allergy?

Chocolate is an ingredient used in many foods, including some that aren’t especially sweet. Unfortunately, some people don’t have a positive experience when they consume chocolate. This can indicate they have either a chocolate allergy or chocolate intolerance. 

Chocolate (cacao or cocoa) allergy vs. chocolate intolerance/sensitivity

Chocolate allergies and chocolate sensitivities aren’t the same things. If you eat chocolate and you have a chocolate allergy, it affects your immune system, which releases chemicals like histamine into the bloodstream. If you have a chocolate sensitivity or intolerance, most reactions will occur in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or elsewhere in your body. 

If you find that chocolate “doesn’t agree” with you, understanding the symptoms of chocolate allergy and chocolate intolerance is essential. If you have a chocolate allergy you should steer clear of things that contain it.

Chocolate Allergy Symptoms

A chocolate allergy can produce a reaction that’s more severe than that caused by chocolate intolerance, which is sometimes referred to as chocolate sensitivity. You may be allergic if you experience any of the following when you consume chocolate:

  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat

All the above symptoms can be precursors to a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which must be treated immediately. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor.

Chocolate Intolerance/Sensitivity Symptoms

You may have chocolate intolerance or sensitivity if you experience any of the following when you consume it:

  • Bloating, gas, or cramps
  • Headaches
  • Rashes, hives, or acne
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach

Fortunately, chocolate intolerance or sensitivity symptoms are usually not life-threatening and can be managed by limiting your chocolate intake or eating chocolate substitutes, like carob.

Causes

Because chocolate can include a variety of other ingredients, it’s possible that reactions after eating chocolate could be related to one or more of its components. 

Some of these ingredients include:

  • Milk. Dairy allergies are common, especially in children, and most chocolate contains at least some milk.
  • Peanuts and tree nuts. Many chocolates are filled with peanut butter or whole nuts, which can cause serious reactions for those with nut allergies. But, even if chocolate doesn’t contain nuts, there’s a chance it might come in contact with nut remnants if it’s being manufactured on the same production line. If you have a nut allergy, ensure the chocolate was manufactured in a nut-free facility.
  • Soy. Chocolate is a mixture of two liquids that would otherwise separate without the addition of an emulsifier to keep it solid at room temperature. The most common emulsifier is soy lecithin, which can be a problem for those with soy allergies. Check the food label, which will usually indicate if soy is used.
  • Corn. Corn is very difficult to avoid in industrial food production, and chocolate is no exception. High-fructose corn syrup can be used in some chocolates. Corn is also found in many white chocolates.
  • Wheat and gluten. Filled chocolates often use flour or wheat starch as a binder, which affects those with celiac disease or wheat allergies.

Caffeine Hypersensitivity: Reaction to the Caffeine in Chocolate

It’s possible that a person experiencing a reaction after eating chocolate can be reacting to the caffeine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that a 100-gram bar of chocolate has around 43 milligrams of caffeine, which is roughly the same as half a cup of coffee. 

If you’re highly sensitive to caffeine, you may want to avoid chocolate. Dark chocolate contains significantly more caffeine than milk chocolate.

Symptoms of caffeine sensitivity

  • Jittery or nervous behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or stomach pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Foods to Avoid

You should avoid obvious sources of chocolate like candy bars and desserts if you have a chocolate allergy or intolerance. But you should also be aware that chocolate is an ingredient in many other foods and beverages. 

For example, it’s often used in flavored coffees, alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks. You may also find it in jams, marmalades, and some sauces like mole. Cocoa can even be a component of medications like laxatives. 

If you’re allergic to chocolate, you likely can still enjoy white chocolate. However, your reaction to white chocolate will depend on the actual reasons you’re allergic or sensitive to chocolate.

People who are allergic to chocolate often replace it in recipes with carob, a legume similar in taste and color. 

If you have a nut or dairy allergy, you should avoid chocolate that doesn’t specifically indicate that it’s nut- or dairy-free.

Risk Factors

In addition to the cocoa and caffeine in chocolate and the ingredients companies use to make it, it poses other risks. For example, some chocolates are high in nickel, which means people with a nickel allergy shouldn’t consume them. Chocolate may also contain heavy metals like cadmium and lead. 

Diagnosis

If you suspect you may have an allergy or sensitivity to chocolate, see an allergist for a chocolate allergy test. Chocolate allergy diagnosis methods include:

  • Skin prick tests
  • Blood tests
  • Elimination diets 

Treatment

Depending on whether you have an allergy or intolerance, your doctor may advise you to avoid chocolate completely or reduce the amount of it you consume. If you have a severe chocolate allergy, you may have to carry an auto-injector device containing epinephrine. This hormone can stop an allergic reaction.

Learn More About Chocolate Allergy and Sensitivity Treatment from Baptist Health

To find out if you have a chocolate allergy or sensitivity, get diagnosed by a Baptist Health professional and receive treatment. Find a Baptist Health provider near you.


Stuffy Nose or Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)?

If you’re like most people, at some point in your life, you have dejectedly uttered (or will utter) the words, “I think I have a sinus infection.” You’ll then reach for another tissue as you struggle to breathe through your nose.

More than 28 million adults are affected by sinus problems each year, and 11.7 million are diagnosed with sinusitis (the medical term for a sinus infection), according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics.

How Do I Know If I Have Sinusitis?

W. Andy Logan, MD, an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician with Baptist Health Madisonville, says that when you experience sinus congestion symptoms, it’s not always easy to determine whether you have an infection or simply a cold. 

In those situations, let these three questions guide you:

Is it sinusitis?

Sinusitis refers to infection, inflammation, or swelling of the nasal cavity and sinuses, a group of hollow spaces surrounding the nose and eyes. Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can cause sinusitis, and it may be classified as acute (lasting up to four weeks), recurrent (repeated), or chronic (long-lasting). 

The primary symptoms of sinusitis are:

  • Cloudy or colored nasal discharge
  • Nasal blockage
  • Pain or pressure in your forehead, between your eyes, alongside your nose, or in your upper jaw and teeth

Sinusitis may also cause:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced or lack of sense of smell
  • Ear fullness

Dr. Logan says to keep in mind that while headache and facial pain, and pressure are well-known symptoms of a sinus infection, those symptoms alone rarely indicate you have a sinus infection.

How long does a sinus infection last? That depends on many factors, with a range of 10 days to eight weeks.

What should I do if I think I have a sinus infection?

If you’ve had symptoms for fewer than ten days, you may simply have a virus. Treat symptoms with over-the-counter medications, including decongestants (ask your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or heart problems), antihistamines (if sneezing and watery drainage are predominant symptoms), and saline nasal spray (which you can use as often as needed to treat dryness or congestion). Avoid decongestant nose sprays like Afrin and Vicks, as they can be addicting.

You may also get relief by putting a warm compress over your nose and forehead to help reduce sinus pressure. Breathing steam from a bowl of hot water or in the shower may also help.

If you have symptoms for more than ten days, or if your symptoms seem to improve, then get significantly worse, you should see your doctor. 

If your sinusitis is due to a cold or other viral illness, antibiotics won’t make you better. If your sinus infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may help but may not be necessary for you to beat your sinus infection. In many instances, a doctor will recommend “watchful waiting” to determine whether treatment is needed.

If symptoms occur repeatedly or persist for months, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.

How can I avoid getting sinus infections?

Some people are more prone to sinus infections than others. If you find that you have frequent sinus problems, you can reduce your risk by taking these actions:

  • Be proactive about avoiding viral illnesses. That includes getting a flu shot, practicing good hand washing, keeping your home clean, and not touching your face. You should also avoid unnecessary contact with people you know are sick.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Cigarette smoke is a chronic irritant of nasal passages and can trigger allergies that lead to sinus infections.
  • Address your allergies. Allergy flare-ups increase your risk of developing sinus infections. As much as possible, eliminate allergens like dust or mold from your home, office workspace, etc. You should also ask your doctor if you should take regular allergy medication or see an allergy specialist to control your condition more effectively.
  • Use a humidifier at home. Moistening the air can reduce irritation and inflammation in the sinuses and airways. 
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of sleep are good ways to support your immune system and enable it to fight infections effectively.
  • Consider surgery if appropriate. Surgery to remove sinus blockages or to enlarge narrow sinus openings can help people with severe sinus problems avoid sinusitis. 

Get Help with Sinus Infections from Baptist Health

Your doctor can help you determine whether letting a sinus infection run its course or treating it is appropriate in your case. And if you struggle with frequent or long-lasting sinus infections, they can talk with you about your treatment options. 

If you experience significant sinus infection symptoms when your doctor is unavailable, you can seek a diagnosis or treatment at a Baptist Health Urgent Care Clinic


Tips to Avoid the Flu

Getting the flu doesn’t have to be an annual rite of passage. We all know people who brag about their decade-long flu-free streak – and you could be one of them. Nurse practitioner Lori Lipinski, APRN, with Baptist Health Paducah’s Calvert City Clinic shares the top ways to prevent the flu this winter:

Schedule your flu shot online in your MyChart account

Learn How to Schedule

Clean and Sanitize Surfaces

Treat every surface with suspicion. Influenza viruses can live on hard surfaces (like doorknobs) for 24 to 48 hours – and up to 72 hours when those surfaces are wet. If you touch those surfaces and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, the flu’s got you. Frequent hand-washing is key to preventing the spread of the flu, said Lipinski.  Wash, then wash again.

Stay Home if You’re Sick

Keep your sniffles on the couch. This is good news for people who need a day off, bad news for workaholics. You can spread the flu for five to seven days after becoming sick and, unfortunately, a day before the symptoms appear, meaning you could pass it on before you even know you’re sick. If you’re sick, stay home.

Get the Flu Shot

Don’t be afraid of a little shot. “The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year,” said Lipinski. Anyone 6 months old and up can get the vaccine, though you shouldn’t get it if you’re already sick, if you’re immunocompromised or if you’ve had an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Find a Baptist Health Urgent Care location convenient for you.

Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat: How to Know the Difference

Many physical and environmental conditions can cause a sore throat, including dry air, allergens, cigarette smoke, chemicals, viral infections (like colds), and postnasal drip. Typically, a sore throat will go away on its own in three to seven days or after you remove yourself from an environmental cause. 

However, a sore throat can also result from strep throat, which is a bacterial infection. It gets its name from the Streptococcus bacteria that causes it. Strep throat is easily spread from person to person and can lead to more serious conditions like tonsil and sinus infections and rheumatic fever. 

Consequently, it’s essential to determine whether you have strep throat to avoid infecting others. 

Signs of Strep Throat

Your doctor can perform a quick, painless test to determine if you have strep throat. However, you’ve got to decide whether to see your doctor. 

What does strep throat look like and feel like? Here are some strep throat symptoms you should be aware of:

  • Sudden sore throat
  • Red tonsils with white spots
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Fever
  • Swollen thyroid
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rash
  • Body aches

Some people find it helpful to look at strep throat pictures online and compare the appearance of their mouth and throat. You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above, particularly if they occur without a cough.

How Your Doctor Diagnoses and Treats Strep Throat

If your doctor suspects strep throat, there are two tests they can use to confirm the diagnosis. A rapid swab test can render results in minutes. Your doctor simply dabs the back of your throat with a cotton swab and tests for the presence of strep bacteria. 

The second option, a throat culture, takes up to two days to return results but can pick up traces of bacteria that a rapid swab test may miss.

If you test positive for strep throat, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, such as penicillin or amoxicillin, to help reduce healing time, ease symptoms, and minimize the risk of spreading the infection to others. Treatment also prevents strep throat from leading to more serious ailments.

It’s crucial that you take your complete course of antibiotics (meaning you take all that your doctor prescribed), even if you begin to feel better while you still have medication left. It’s also important that your doctor never prescribes antibiotics for a viral infection. They aren’t designed to address viruses and taking them can cause antibiotic resistance and make future antibiotic treatment less effective.

How to Prevent Strep Throat

There’s no vaccine for strep throat. The best thing you can do to keep yourself from getting strep throat and other illnesses is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. That includes when returning home after being out in public. You should also avoid sharing foods and beverages with others. 

If you know someone who has strep throat, it’s best to limit contact with them until they’ve recovered. If you have strep throat, a cold, the flu, etc., be sure to cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing. 

Get Tested and Treated for Strep Throat at Baptist Health

If you think you may have strep throat, contact your doctor. If you don’t have a Baptist Health physician, you can find one using our online provider directory. And if you need to see a doctor when your primary care provider isn’t available, you can visit a Baptist Health Urgent Care Clinic


Breast Cancer in Young Women: What to Know About Your Risk

Clinically reviewed by Dr. Lindsey Arnold, MD and Megan May, Pharmacist

Breast cancer is a form of cancer that develops in one or both breasts. It occurs when abnormal cells form in the breast and then grow out of control. If not caught and treated early, breast cancer can get into your blood or lymphatic system and travel to other parts of your body. This is what doctors call metastatic breast cancer. 

Most breast cancers are found in women age 50 and older. If you haven’t reached that age, you might think you have little or no risk of developing breast cancer. However, approximately 11% of new breast cancer cases in the U.S. are found in women younger than 45 years old. It is also important to know that breast cancer in young women tends to be more aggressive.

Because of this, it’s essential to understand your risk and how to reduce it.  

Factors That Increase Cancer Risk for Women Under 45

If you’re under 45 years old, you may have a higher breast cancer risk if:

  • You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer (particularly at age 50 or younger).
  • You or your close relatives have changes in specific breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2).
  • You have had previous breast cancer or have other breast health problems.
  • You were treated with radiation therapy to your breast or chest as a child or young adult.
  • You have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2)

Having a higher risk of developing breast cancer shouldn’t worry you, but you should be proactive and talk with your doctor about starting mammograms earlier, genetic testing and additional imaging, medicine, or surgery to help lower your risk.

How to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk Prior to Age 45

The thought of breast cancer understandably concerns many women and their families. The good news is that you can take steps right now to reduce your cancer risk. They include: 

  • Knowing how your breasts typically look and feel
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly (at least four hours a week)
  • Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption (no more than one drink per day)
  • Learning about any family history of breast cancer
  • Breastfeeding your babies, if possible
  • Talking to your doctor about risks associated with hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills)

Being vigilant is very important. Be aware that breast lumps are often benign (meaning they are not cancerous), but only your doctor can make that determination. If you notice a change in the size or shape of your breast, feel pain in your breast, have nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood) or have other symptoms, contact your doctor right away. 

Learning about breast cancer detection and diagnosis is also a good idea.  

Take Charge of Your Breast Health with Guidance from Baptist Health

Breast cancer is a potentially life-threatening disease. Fortunately, doctors can treat it successfully in many cases, especially if they catch it early. 

Take our free breast cancer health assessment today and learn more about Baptist Health’s cancer care services or find a doctor near you with our online provider directory

Understanding Suicide Risk

Clinically reviewed by Dr. Imran Iqbal, MD.

Nearly 800,000 people die by suicide each year, according to a World Health Organization estimate. And for every death, many others attempt suicide. 

People of all ages die by suicide, but it’s the second leading cause of death among those 15–29 years old. Knowing what to look for when someone is considering suicide enables you to intervene and help them get treatment. This includes seeing the signs in yourself and reaching out for help.

Suicide Warning Signs & Risk Factors 

Some people attempt or die by suicide without ever exhibiting signs of the risk. However, in many instances, there are indicators of heightened risk. Seeing any signs is a reason to take action, but experts group them into “immediate risks” and “serious risks.”

Indicators of immediate suicide risk are listed below. If you see them in yourself or someone else, call 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

  • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
  • Looking for a means to end one’s life, like obtaining a gun or pills, or researching suicide methods
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness and having no reason to live 

Signs of serious suicide risk include:

  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Experiencing extreme mood swings
  • Talking about having “no way out” of emotional pain
  • Behaving recklessly, including increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Displaying increased anxiety or agitation
  • Expressing a desire to get revenge 
  • Demonstrating extreme anger
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Taking action to “get one’s affairs in order,” such as saying goodbyes or giving possessions away
  • Displaying sudden happiness, relief, or a sense of calm due to deciding to end one’s life
  • Having attempted suicide previously

Take Action to Address a Potential or Imminent Suicide Attempt

If you see signs that someone may be suffering from depression or considering suicide, evidence shows that talking with them supportively and non-judgmentally can help prevent them from taking action. You shouldn’t hesitate to have the conversation due to fears that it might encourage them to carry out the act. 

If you see the signs of a heightened risk of suicide, you should be prepared to take prompt action. This can include contacting an emergency medical or crisis counseling center and removing or preventing access to the means of self-harm. You should also stay with the person until they are safe.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide:

  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call 911
  • Call 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

It is vital to understand that all the mental and emotional conditions that can contribute to the risk of suicide can be treated successfully. That includes new methods and medications that are continually being developed. 

Plus, in many cases, the life circumstances that may be factors in a person’s decision to end their life can also be addressed. The key is seeing the signs of an impending suicide attempt and taking action to ensure the person gets help.

It’s also helpful to address mental health issues before a crisis occurs. Learn about behavioral health services at Baptist Health

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 800,000 people die by suicide each year, and that for every death, many others attempt suicide. While people of all ages end their own lives, suicide is the second leading cause of death among those who are 15–29 years old. Awareness indicators that someone is considering suicide can enable you to intervene and help them get treatment. This includes seeing the signs in yourself as well.

Suicide Warning Signs & Risk Factors

While some people attempt or die by suicide without there ever being observable signs that they are considering it, in many cases, there are indicators of heightened risk. They include:

  • Prior suicide attempt
  • A sense of hopeless and despair
  • Talking about suicide
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Preoccupation with the idea of death
  • Looking for the means to perform the act (e.g. weapons, pills, high places from which to jump, etc.)
  • Feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing
  • Self-destructive or reckless behavior
  • Getting one’s affairs in order, such as giving away possessions and saying goodbyes to loved ones
  • Sudden happiness, which results from relief or sense of calm having reached a decision to end their life

How to Respond if You See the Signs of Impending Suicide

It is recommended that if you know someone who is exhibiting these behaviors or traits, you should talk with them. Some people worry that addressing the subject might encourage the person to carry out the act. However, evidence shows that talking with the person supportively and non-judgmentally can assist in preventing them from taking action.

Also, if you see the signs of a heightened risk of suicide, you should be prepared to take prompt action such as contacting an emergency medical or crisis counseling center and removing or preventing access to the means of self-harm. You should also stay with the person until you are sure they are safe.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide:

  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call 911
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-273-8255)

All of the mental and emotional conditions that can contribute to the risk of suicide can be treated. Plus, in many cases, the life circumstances that may be factors in a person’s decision to end their life can be addressed as well. The key is seeing the signs of an impending suicide attempt and taking action to ensure the person gets help.


Do I Need Stitches?

Cuts (also called lacerations) are common, and most minor injuries can be treated at home. But in some cases, a cut requires stitches. Doctors use stitches to hold the edges of the wound together to aid in healing. 

How do you know if you need stitches? The common characteristics of wounds that require medical care are listed below. 

But if you’re ever unsure, it’s best to have your doctor or one at an urgent care center evaluate a wound. It’s better to have a medical professional tell you stitches are unnecessary than to skip the visit and have a wound heal poorly or develop complications. 

10 Signs a Wound Requires Stitches

If you, your child, or someone else you’re with has suffered a laceration, use these 10 factors to help you decide whether to get medical attention: 

  1. Blood is spurting from the wound in time with your pulse. Cuts can sever veins (which are returning blood to the heart) and arteries (which are taking blood to where it’s needed in the body). If you’ve cut an artery, you probably will need stitches.
  2. Direct pressure doesn’t stop the bleeding. Even in situations where a cut isn’t spurting, if putting consistent pressure on the wound doesn’t stop the flow of blood, stitches are probably required. 
  3. The cut is deeper than ¼ inch. Lacerations less than a quarter inch deep typically can heal without stitches. Those deeper than that typically require stitches to keep them closed during the healing process.
  4. The cut is near the eyes, mouth, or genitals. You should seek medical attention for any wound in these areas.  
  5. You see white fatty tissue or bone in the wound. If you can see anything in the wound other than skin and blood, you probably need stitches. 
  6. The damaged skin won’t come together or stay together. If it’s difficult to make the edges of the wound meet and stay together, stitches can help.
  7. The laceration is on a joint. Significant cuts on knees, elbows, and fingers often require stitches since there is less flesh and the skin pulls apart easily, especially with movement. 
  8. Something rusty or dirty caused the wound or it’s a puncture. These types of wounds may require stitches, but just as importantly, they may need special cleaning and care. To prevent infection with this type of wound, the doctor may give you a tetanus shot (if you haven’t had one recently) and prescribe antibiotics. The same advice applies to injuries where a foreign object is protruding from the wound.  
  9. The skin around the wound is turning red, or the cut is oozing pus. Redness, warmth, and pus around a wound are signs of infection. If these symptoms develop, you should seek medical attention. The doctor may clean the wound and then stitch it to keep it closed. 
  10. Severe symptoms accompany the wound. You should get immediate medical attention If you experience severe pain, dizziness, trouble breathing, vomiting, or loss of consciousness due to a laceration.

If a wound needs to be held closed, the doctor will decide whether stitches are needed or if another method such as Steri-Strips (a type of surgical tape) or tissue “glue” is more appropriate. 

If your doctor uses stitches, they’ll likely need to remove them after the injury has begun to heal. Don’t attempt to take them out, as that can damage the tissue and increase the risk of infection.   

Basic First Aid for Cuts

If you suffer a laceration, take these actions to help with healing and prevent further damage as you decide whether to seek medical attention:

  • Gently clean dirt and debris from the wound.
  • Apply consistent pressure with a clean cloth or bandage.
  • Avoid removing the material to check the injury for at least 5 to 10 minutes, as this can disrupt blood clotting.
  • If blood soaks through the dressing, don’t remove it. Apply another cloth or bandage on top of it.  
  • If an object like a nail is protruding from a deep wound, don’t remove it. Keep it in place to minimize bleeding and infection risk while you go to an urgent care center or emergency room for treatment.

Learn About Baptist Health’s Urgent Care Services

Baptist Health has urgent care clinics in several area locations. It’s a good idea to learn about our urgent care services and familiarize yourself with the sites. That way, should you need prompt medical attention for a cut or other injury, you know where to go. 


Why Am I Always So Tired?

It’s normal to be tired periodically. Everything from fighting a cold to going through an emotionally stressful period can make you feel less energetic. But if you’re always or almost always tired, you may be experiencing what’s commonly abbreviated in the medical community as TATT — tired all the time. 

Chronic fatigue may also cause symptoms like muscle aches, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and problems with attention and memory. In addition, despite being tired, you may have trouble sleeping. 

You shouldn’t ignore persistent fatigue for a couple of reasons. First, it’s no fun going through life constantly tired, and the “fix” may involve simple lifestyle changes. Second, several serious medical conditions can cause or worsen persistent tiredness. 

Chronic Fatigue and Disease

Both physical and mental health issues can lead to chronic fatigue. Some of the most common causes include:

If you suffer from one or more of these conditions, getting treatment can reduce the symptoms and increase your energy level. 

Chronic Fatigue and Lifestyle

Even if your lifestyle hasn’t changed significantly, it can still be the cause of your newly developed fatigue. That’s because our bodies constantly change due to age and other factors. Behaviors that may not have been problematic previously can “catch up with you” and start making you feel tired all the time. 

Some of the lifestyle factors that can contribute to chronic fatigue include:

  • Lack of exercise. This can be a “downward spiral” scenario in which you’re tired, so you don’t exercise, and the lack of physical activity increases your fatigue. The solution is to start an exercise program, gradually building from short walks or other low-exertion activities to more vigorous workouts. And it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.
  • Improper Nutrition. What you eat affects your energy level. A common problem is prioritizing carbohydrates over protein. Carbs can be useful since they provide a quick energy boost. Unfortunately, your body burns them rapidly, causing your energy level to crash. High-quality protein, on the other hand, provides sustained energy. You can avoid nutritional problems by reducing your carbohydrate intake, getting more calories from protein, and ensuring you meet other dietary recommendations.
  • Being overweight or obese. Being above your recommended weight increases your risk of several medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and others, all of which can cause fatigue. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly is the best and safest way to get to and maintain a healthy weight
  • Dehydration. Your body doesn’t get energy from water, but water is crucial to a wide variety of biochemical processes in the body, many of which affect your energy level. To avoid dehydration, increase your water intake. A good goal is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. And it’s best to consume most of them in the morning and early afternoon since waking up at night to go to the bathroom can adversely affect your sleep quality. 
  • Lack of quality sleep. This can also create a downward spiral. You sleep poorly, which creates chronic fatigue, which worsens your sleep. To break out of that pattern, you should focus on using good “sleep hygiene” practices. This includes following the same sleep/wake schedule on weekdays and weekends, keeping your bedroom quiet, dark, and comfortably cool, avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime, and avoiding screen use for an hour before bedtime. If you still have trouble sleeping, your doctor can propose treatments.
  • Ongoing elevated stress levels. Everyone feels stressed at times. But if you’re continually stressed, that condition can drain your energy. Taking action to resolve the stress when possible is important. You can also practice mind-body activities like yoga and meditation to help better manage stress.

Get Advice on Chronic Fatigue from Your Baptist Health Physician

There are many possible reasons why you’re frequently or continually tired. Consequently, it’s essential to talk with your doctor about how you feel. They can work with you to identify the cause or causes of your fatigue and develop a plan for addressing the issues. 

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


What Color Should Urine Be?

The color of your urine (what doctors call “urochrome”) tells an important story. It can be indicative of your lifestyle, diet, and, in some cases, the presence of disease. 

Urine is 95% water. The remaining 5% is a complex mix of components that includes:

  • Urea
  • Chloride
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Creatinine and other dissolved ions
  • Other inorganic and organic compounds

The most common color of urine is yellow. Urobilin, a biochemical waste product your body creates as it breaks down old red blood cells, causes the various shades.

Urine Colors and What They Mean

You should contact your doctor if you have questions or concerns about the color of your urine. For example, some people wonder, “What color is urine when your kidneys are failing?” Or, “What does healthy pee look like?”

The information below can help you understand what may be influencing the color. 

Clear Urine

Clear urine is a sign that you’re over-hydrated. Staying hydrated is good for you, but drinking too much water can flush out electrolytes. While clear urine isn’t something to worry about, you should probably consider reducing your water intake.

Yellowish or Amber Urine

Most urine color falls into this category, ranging from light yellow to a deeper amber color. The urochrome pigment naturally in your urine becomes diluted when you drink water. 

Urochrome results from your body breaking down hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in your cells. If you have a significant amount of B-vitamins in your bloodstream, your urine can appear neon yellow.

Pink or Red Urine

If your urine appears pink or red, it might be due to something you ate. Fruits with naturally deep pink or magenta pigments, such as beets, blueberries, and rhubarb, can make your urine turn pink or red. However, other things can change your urine to this color. For example, vigorous exercise may produce urinary bleeding.

Certain health conditions can also cause blood to appear in your urine, a symptom known as hematuria. Some of these conditions include an enlarged prostate, urinary tract infection, kidney stones, and tumors in the bladder or kidney. 

If you’re concerned about blood in your urine and haven’t eaten any of the foods mentioned above or recently completed an intense workout, you should call your doctor.

Do you have additional questions?

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Dark Brown Urine

In most cases, dehydration causes dark brown urine. But certain medications, such as metronidazole, and chloroquine, can also cause it.

Specific foods eaten in large amounts, such as rhubarb, aloe, or fava beans, can also result in dark brown urine. In addition, liver disease can cause dark brown urine due to bile getting into the urine.

Orange Urine

Orange urine can be a sign of dehydration. Orange urine can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as the anti-inflammatory drug sulfasalazine, some laxatives, and certain chemotherapy drugs. 

If you have orange urine and light-colored stools, it could be a sign of liver or bile duct malfunction. Adult-onset jaundice can also turn urine orange.

Blue or Green Urine

Blue or green urine can be caused by:

  • Dyes. Brightly colored food dyes can cause blue or green urine. Dyes that are used in some tests for kidney and bladder function can turn urine blue.
  • Medications. Some medications that can turn urine blue or green include amitriptyline, indomethacin, and propofol.
  • Medical conditions. Familial benign hypercalcemia, a rare inherited disorder, can cause blue urine. Green urine can sometimes happen with urinary tract infections caused by pseudomonas bacteria.

Cloudy Urine

Cloudy urine may result from dehydration, but it can also be a sign of urinary tract infection or other chronic diseases and kidney conditions.

Another common question is, “Is foaming pee bad?” The answer is that cloudy urine with foam or bubbles may be a symptom of serious health conditions, like Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis. It’s something you should talk with your doctor about.

Get World-Class Urology Care at Baptist Health

Baptist Health doctors are experts in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the urinary tract. If you or a loved one is facing a urinary health challenge, learn more about our urology care services.

Are There Differences Between a Sonogram vs. an Ultrasound?

Reviewed by: Aaron Stewart, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology

Is an Ultrasound and a Sonogram the Same Thing?

Sonography is the application of ultrasound technology to diagnose medical conditions. Sonographers are trained medical technicians who perform ultrasounds, generate images of your body, and provide doctors with the images. Sonography is sometimes called ultrasonography.

The terms “sonogram” and “ultrasound” are often used interchangeably. While people will generally understand what’s meant regardless of which word is used, technically they’re not synonyms.

The confusion is likely a result of the usage of both terms in the description of “sonography”. What is sonography? Sonography refers to the use of ultrasound tools for diagnostic purposes. In general, an ultrasound is a procedure and a sonogram is the picture it produces.

More on the difference between sonogram and ultrasound is provided below.

What is an Ultrasound?

An ultrasound is a simple, radiation-free, non-invasive procedure. Many people are familiar with it from its use during pregnancy to provide doctors with an image of the fetus in a mother’s womb. However, there are many other uses of an ultrasound.

How Does an Ultrasound Work?

An ultrasound uses sound waves to produce a picture of a structure or area inside the body, or to affect tissue in the body. There are multiple types of ultrasounds, including:

  • Elastography is used to determine what is healthy tissue and what is a tumor.
  • Bone sonography helps doctors tell how dense bone is.
  • Doppler ultrasound is used to assess blood flow in the heart and blood vessels.
  • Therapeutic ultrasound can break up or heat tissue as a form of treatment.
  • High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is used to help the body eliminate abnormal tissue.

Often, an ultrasound is used on the skin surface. However, in some cases, a device is inserted into a body opening to capture a better image. Examples include:

What is an Ultrasound Used For?

Ultrasounds can be used in many ways. One area where they’re useful is in diagnostics. The images captured using ultrasound technology help doctors diagnose conditions affecting soft tissues and organs.

Doctors use ultrasounds to examine the following soft tissues and organs:

In medical procedures, ultrasounds can be used to help guide a doctor such as when they’re performing a needle biopsy. Ultrasounds can also be used therapeutically to help treat soft tissue injuries.

What is a Sonogram?

A sonogram is an image produced by an ultrasound procedure. The term sonogram loosely translates as “sound writing,” since the sound waves effectively “write” the image that’s produced.

What is a Sonogram Used For?

Sonograms assist doctors in evaluating organs for infections, damage, or disease. Pregnant women may get ultrasounds to generate sonograms of the fetus. Doing so allows a doctor to check a baby’s development and health.

Reading a Sonogram Picture

Reading the sonogram from a prenatal ultrasound is easy if you know what to look for. For example, black areas generally indicate fluid, such as amniotic fluid or blood.  Bright white areas indicate solid structures such as bone.  In between would be shades of gray that would represent organ structures. With that in mind, identifying things like the baby’s head or legs can help you get oriented.

sonogram picture

Learn More or Get Treatment with Baptist Health

Baptist Health is committed to partnering with you on your journey to health. Learn more about our imaging and diagnostic services, mother and baby care, or women’s health services to get up-to-date information on common conditions, procedures, and treatment.


Next Steps and Useful Resources

Find a Provider
Diagnostic vs. Therapeutic Ultrasound
Types of Ultrasounds
Pregnancy Ultrasound Schedule by Week