Side Effects of Shorter Days

When Daylight Savings Time (DST) ends at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, you’ll turn back your clock and (hopefully) get an extra hour of sleep. Most of us need it. And while getting plenty of sleep is beneficial to your health, the shorter days and less sunlight can also have negative side effects on your health.

Here are four potential side effects of shorter days:

  • Your risk of being in a car accident may increase. The week after DST ends there’s a seven percent increase in car crashes. Driving home in the dark may be to blame for the increase in accidents. Take your time to leave work. Make sure your headlights are on and drive carefully.
  • You may exercise less. With less sunlight and cooler temperatures, you may want to skip your normal exercise routine. However, making time for exercise can help prevent weight gain through the darker, winter months. To stay in shape, join an after-work indoor sports team such as basketball or volleyball. Or wake up early and exercise before your workday begins. If you do exercise outdoors in the dark, wear brightly colored clothing or reflective gear.
  • You may feel SAD. Reduced sunlight can disrupt daily body rhythms and put you at risk for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression. SAD is four times more common in women than in men. Even if you don’t have full-blown SAD, you can experience the “winter blues,” or feelings of exhaustion, sluggishness, and sadness. Sunlight may be your best medicine. Spend at least 30 minutes a day outside.
  • You may have a headache. Weather changes are known for triggering headaches. But time changes pose problems, too. The end of DST is a common trigger for cluster headaches (extremely painful headaches that occur in “clusters,” usually at the same time of the day and night for several weeks). See your doctor if are experiencing frequent headaches. Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Cluster headaches are more common in people who smoke and drink alcohol.

If you’re struggling with sleep, weight, mood, headaches, or any of the effects related to time change, Baptist Health is here to help. Find a provider near you and get started on the road to better health.

Choosing Urgent Care or the Emergency Room

Baptist Health Floyd: Choosing Urgent Care or the Emergency Room

Bryan Grumley, MD, offers guidance to help patients decide whether to head to the emergency room or seek faster treatment in an Urgent Care clinic.

Choosing Urgent Care or the Emergency Room Health Talks Transcript

Bryan Grumley, MD, Urgent Care
Urgent care is for quick, convenient care of everyday problems, everyday injuries and illness. Our Emergency Department at Baptist Health Floyd sees over 50,000 patients a year. Lots of those patients are emergency conditions. Many of those patients are not emergency conditions and can be more appropriately seen at our Urgent Care centers. That allows our Emergency Department staff to concentrate on true life-threatening and more serious conditions.

Care When You Need It – 24/7

If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or had been exposed to COVID-19, Baptist Health is able to see you virtually, diagnose and order a COVID-19 test to the urgent care closest to you. You don’t even need to get out of your car to be tested. Get started with an urgent care video visit by logging in or signing up for MyChart.

The Emergency Department sees patients based on level of severity, and those who visit the Emergency Department for a cold or a cough or a minor injury oftentimes end up having a really long wait time. Most people’s least favorite part of seeing the doctor is the wait time.

Within the past year, Baptist Health Floyd Urgent Care centers have introduced online check-in services. With online check-in, we can eliminate a lot of the waiting. Sign in online; pre-register for your visit; show up at your appointed time; and you’ll be next in line. Our Urgent Care centers have a variety of resources available onsite. We’re here for everyday conditions that slow you down and we can help get you back to normal activities.

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Find an Urgent Care Location Near You
Start a Virtual Care Visit
The Difference Between Urgent Care & the ER
ER or Urgent Care?
See a Doctor Online with Virtual Care eVisits

4 Things Men Need to Know about Skin Cancer

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, men are more likely to die of melanoma — the most serious form of skin cancer — than women. One of the reasons seems to be that men typically don’t know as much about skin cancer as women do. For example, men are less aware that a base tan can’t protect you from the sun’s damaging rays or that cancer can develop on skin that rarely is exposed to sunlight.

Many men also either don’t know about or don’t follow four important actions for preventing skin cancer. 

Men: Protect Yourselves from Skin Cancer by Taking These Simple Steps

Depending on the type and how far it’s progressed, skin cancer can be treated successfully in many cases. However, the truth is that it’s far better to prevent it in the first place. 

These four steps are crucial in lowering your skin cancer risk:

1. Wear sunscreen.

Men tend to be less likely than women to use sunscreen for multiple reasons. One is that men generally don’t like the feel of lotion on their skin. Another is that the makeup, moisturizers, and other skincare products women use often have sunscreen in them, so they get sun protection by default. But applying sunscreen is a habit that can be learned. Be sure to use one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are ideal, as they provide broad-spectrum protection. 

2. Wear protective clothing.

Wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants instead of shorts helps protect you from the sun’s rays. And for men — especially those with thinning hair — wearing a hat is important to protect the scalp, where many cancers develop. While baseball caps are helpful, a hat with a wide brim that shades the ears and neck is better. 

3. Look at your skin regularly.

Before or after showering is a great time to check for skin issues. And doing that frequently makes it easier to spot an area that’s changing, which can be a sign of skin cancer. Look for moles, bumps, or spots that are growing, irregularly shaped, multicolored, or prone to bleeding. And while it’s not the way we often think of this phrase, “Watch your back!” is good skin cancer prevention advice. If possible, have a friend or family member check you periodically for anything concerning. You can also look at your back in your bathroom mirror using a hand mirror. 

4. Get regular skin exams from your doctor.

Everyone should get a head-to-toe skin check from their doctor regularly. Men who have a family history of melanoma, have had blistering sunburns in the past, or tan regularly should see a dermatologist every year for a thorough skin cancer screening.  

Melanoma Can Be Deadly

One other misconception that many men — and people in general — have about skin cancer is that if they develop it, there are simple procedures to fully remove it. Some small skin cancers can indeed be removed. Unfortunately, melanoma specifically can spread to other parts of the body. At that point, it’s difficult to treat and can be fatal. 

That’s why being proactive is so important. The earlier you catch skin cancer, the better your outcome will be.

Learn About Cancer Care at Baptist Health

Whether you have a small, easily treated skin cancer or something more serious, the cancer experts at Baptist Health can develop a personalized strategy to help you fight the disease effectively. If you have questions about skin cancer prevention or treatment, find a provider today.

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

4 Best Sleeping Tips for Men
Can Men Get Breast Cancer?
What to Expect After a Vasectomy

5 Things I Wish You Knew About Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a condition that men often are reluctant to talk about with their doctor — and with their partner. Consequently, men who suffer from ED frequently don’t have important information about its cause and treatment options. 

Below are five things that doctors feel everyone should know about erectile dysfunction.

1. ED is very common.

Approximately half of all men 40 and older experience some degree of ED at times or consistently. That can include not getting an erection, not getting the degree of firmness desired, or getting a firm erection but being unable to maintain it as long as desired. It’s up to each man to determine when these issues constitute a problem in their sex life — although they can be a sign of other issues, as explained below.

2. Oral medications can be effective, but there are side effects.

Drugs like Cialis (tadalafil), Viagra (sildenafil), and others are effective for 60–80% of men who use them. They’re generally safe, but you should talk with your doctor about them, especially if you’ve recently had a heart attack or stroke. You should also contact your doctor right away if you experience rare side effects like hearing loss, vision loss, or an erection that lasts more than four hours. But the most common side effects — flushing, mild headache, and stuffy nose — are harmless and resolve on their own. As with any medication, you must only take ED medications as directed. 

3. ED can be a sign of other health problems.

The blood vessels leading to the penis are small and become blocked sooner than those in other parts of the body if there’s a problem with blood flow. Consequently, ED can be a symptom of a more generalized issue. For instance, men with ED are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as those who don’t have the condition. Other conditions including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, low testosterone, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and others can cause ED, as well.  

4. ED medications aren’t your only option.

If you’ve tried medications and have had little or no success with resolving your ED, there are other treatments and approaches your doctor can recommend. For example, you can learn to inject medication directly into your penis. Other options include vacuum pumps and inflatable penile implants. 

5. Treating BPH doesn’t have to cause ED.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that causes problems with urinating and other issues. BPH treatments have historically had a risk for causing ED. Two relatively recent advances in treating BPH, called Rezum and UroLift, provide positive results without sexual side effects. 

Diagnosing ED

If you’re suffering from ED, the first step in addressing it is getting past your discomfort about discussing it with your doctor. They have this conversation with other patients regularly and understand what you’re going through.

After talking with you about your symptoms, your doctor will perform a physical exam to determine what the possible cause or causes are. They may also ask you to fill out a questionnaire that has questions about the onset of your symptoms, your stress level, the status of any relationships you’re in, etc. 

In addition, based on what’s learned initially, they may perform an ultrasound to examine the blood vessels in your penis and additional tests like a nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test, injection test, and urine and blood tests. 

The good news is that once you start this process, you’re on your way to resolving the problem in one way or another. And just taking that first step can provide tremendous stress relief. 

Learn About Baptist Health’s Urology and Primary Care Services

Baptist Health’s primary care doctors and urologists are trained to diagnose erectile dysfunction, recommend treatments, and perform procedures as needed. If you’re experiencing ED, don’t let it cause you stress or hurt your relationship. Take action by finding a provider and making an appointment today.

How to Boost Testosterone Levels
[Podcast] Men’s Health: Deferred Maintenance (Part 2)
Lung Cancer in Men: Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis
L Arginine Benefits for Heart Health & Performance

Dad Bod vs. Beach Bod

As warmer weather arrives, so does the desire to shed layers of clothing and exchange jeans and flannel shirts for shorts and t-shirts. For dads, the next step often will be occasions when you want to shed the t-shirt as well — at the pool, playing volleyball at a picnic, or when mowing the lawn, for example. 

But those occasions may draw your attention to the fact that you’ve “let yourself go” a bit since last summer! You’re not alone in this, of course, but you might feel alone as you peel off that shirt and display your “dad bod.”

Ideally, you should experience no shame for not being fit and toned. However, few dads possess that level of self-confidence. So, what can you do? Take action!

7 Proven Tips for Getting Fit and Feeling Healthy

The good news about going from dad bod to “beach bod” is that you’ll start feeling improvements almost immediately, and you’ll see improvements soon thereafter. Follow the proven tips below to reach the point where you can say goodbye to the shirt and hello to enhanced health and confidence. 

1. Talk with your doctor, if appropriate.

If you have concerns about your ability to exercise regularly, you should have a conversation with your doctor. They may recommend that you get a physical exam first or provide some guidelines for your workout program. 

2. Make note of what’s motivating you to get fit.

Maybe it’s the beach vacation you’ve planned. Or it might be an upcoming family reunion. Whatever it is that’s motivated you, you’ll want to refer back to it if you feel your fitness commitment failing. 

3. Exercise every day.

You don’t have to exercise with the same intensity or duration every day but getting some type of activity daily can help you maintain your forward momentum. 

4. Know and respect your limits.

Trying to increase your activity level too much too quickly greatly increases your risk of an injury or of simply “burning out” and discontinuing your exercise program. If you exercise right up to your limit regularly, that limit will increase naturally. If you can only jog for three minutes today, then do that until one day you realize you can go for five minutes, and then seven minutes, and so on. 

5. Improve your diet.

If you’re like most dads, your dad bod is the result of not getting enough exercise and not eating a healthy diet. If you don’t know what qualifies as a “healthy diet,” a little online research or a conversation with your doctor or nutritionist will help you understand what to eat and how much to eat to lose weight and gain lean muscle mass. A meal log is a great resource that you can look back at as the days and weeks go by to track your progress in eliminating unhealthy foods and portions and replacing them with healthy foods and portions. 

6. Get plenty of sleep.

Your activity level is an important factor in getting fit, but so is your inactivity level — specifically, the amount of time you give your body to rest and recover. Every person has different sleep requirements, but eight hours is a good rule of thumb. Your body needs downtime to mend damaged muscle fibers, replenish energy stores, etc.

7. Pay attention to your mental/emotional health, too.

Physical health and psychological health go hand-in-hand. Don’t “beat yourself up” when things don’t go as planned. Celebrate your successes and be kind to yourself on the days when you don’t achieve your goals. Remember that fitness should be “graded” on a spectrum, not as pass/fail!

Learn More About Weight Loss at Baptist Health

Losing weight not only can help you get your beach bod, but it can also reduce your risk of the many serious health conditions associated with obesity. You can identify your risk factors by taking our bariatric health risk assessment. And if you’d like to talk with a doctor about your health and fitness, find a primary care or bariatric care provider near you.

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Does Diabetes Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
How to Boost Testosterone Levels
[Podcast] Men’s Health: Deferred Maintenance (Part 1)

Why Having a Primary Care Provider is Important

A primary care provider (PCP), sometimes referred to as a general practitioner or family doctor, is a healthcare provider who specializes in the diagnosing, treatment, and prevention of a number of medical conditions. Many PCPs have training in internal medicine or family medicine. They may be the first contact for someone with an undiagnosed illness, the provider that provides a person’s ongoing medical care, or both.

The Many Benefits of Having a Primary Care Provider

Establishing a relationship with a PCP is one of the best ways to maintain optimal health. Some of the many benefits of this relationship include:

  • Greater trust. Seeing the same provider for all of your medical concerns – and knowing that they know you both as a person and a patient – creates trust that is critical to successful disease treatment and prevention.
  • More holistic healthcare. Over time, your PCP develops an in-depth understanding of the health challenges you have faced and are facing. Knowing how those issues may be impacting one another helps the doctor prescribe the most effective treatments for you.
  • Better disease prevention. Your PCP can provide important, and very specific, to suggest lifestyle changes that prevent diseases from occurring or progressing.
  • Easier access to specialists. In some cases, your PCP will refer you to a specialist for evaluation or treatment of a particular condition. Having the PCP’s guidance can make it easier to find the right specialist and get the medical attention you need.
  • More nuanced treatment of chronic conditions. If you have a condition like arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, a PCP who has seen you regularly will have the best sense of how your treatment should be modified as the illness evolves.
  • Lower overall healthcare costs and better outcomes. People who have a PCP tend to seek help sooner when a medical issue arises. As a result, their conditions get treated earlier when the costs are lower and the prognosis is better. Early consultation with a PCP also reduces the need for costly urgent care or emergency room visits.

Ultimately, the role of your primary care provider is to develop a partnership that helps you achieve optimal health and wellness.

If you don’t currently have a PCP, it is a good idea to find one before a health crisis arises. That way you can take your time and do thorough research before selecting a provider with whom you’re comfortable and can expect a long and beneficial relationship.

Primary Care: Local, Convenient, Centered on You

Baptist Health Primary Care providers offer comprehensive healthcare services to you and your family. If you are new to Baptist Health, our primary care practice can serve as an entry point into the Baptist Health system, giving you access to expert providers, some of the most advanced technologies, and many convenient locations.

How to Be a Mom and Still Feel Like Yourself

There may be no more sudden and significant transition than becoming a new mother. One minute you’re a woman who can decide what you want to do and when you want to do it, and the next, a large percentage of your waking hours are spent meeting the needs of your newborn

It’s a wonderful responsibility, but a potentially overwhelming one, too. Women face many types of challenges during this period, including the physical changes to their bodies, the strong and seemingly unavoidable rushes of emotion, and the logistical challenges of supporting a now-bigger family.

Consequently, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for making the transition from “me” to “mom.” 

Tips for Adjusting to Life as a New Mother

To care for your newborn effectively, you’ve got to care for yourself. Below are some things you can do to bring some clarity to the sometimes chaotic world of motherhood.

Focus on one task at a time.

It’s hard but try to keep your mind on the job at hand as much as possible. Running through your mental “to do” list continually doesn’t help you get things done any faster — it just puts more stress on you.

Dismiss the “perfect mom” myth.

No mother ever has achieved perfection in caring for their baby and household, and you shouldn’t try. Make a reasonable attempt to hit a reasonable set of goals each day, and then let things play out as they will. 


Notice the advice isn’t “get plenty of sleep,” because that’s not going to happen! But you can, and should, rest frequently throughout the day. It’s important to sleep when your baby sleeps. Trying to care for your baby during their waking hours and then care for everyone and everything else while the baby sleeps leaves precious little time for your body and mind to recover. 

Eat a healthy diet.

Keep in mind that simple foods are often the healthiest foods. You don’t have to spend valuable minutes cooking “that amazing new squash dish” you heard about if you don’t have the time or energy. Your top priority should be fueling your body so you can stay healthy and, in turn, meet your baby’s nutritional needs. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy cooking and eating a nice meal if you want to. But if a substantial, healthy snack and then a nap sounds better, you should go that route. 

Understand that returning to work may be emotionally draining.

If you’ll be working outside the home after your maternity leave, that transition can be challenging. No amount of preparation will make it easy to leave your baby with a caregiver and head off to work. But you don’t want to pretend it’s not going to happen and then be crushed when it does. And with all that being said, some women find the transition back to work to be relatively easy, and there’s no shame in that!

Think through your post-leave logistics.

How long will it take you in the morning to get your baby ready for the childcare handoff? What items do you need to pack for them? When will your partner need to leave work to pick the baby up on time? It’s important to be flexible, as babies don’t always accommodate their parents’ plans. However, doing a mental (and perhaps physical) walkthrough of how your days will flow before you return to work is a good idea. 

Think of co-parenting as a “work in progress” initially.

It’ll take some time for you and your partner to settle into a comfortable expanded-family rhythm, but you’ll get there. The keys are to be flexible and to talk through what’s working and what’s not, and then adjust as needed.  

Agree with your partner to make time for each other regularly.

Being a new parent is stressful, and it’s not uncommon for relationships to be a little rocky as you both adjust to the changes in your lives. But finding some time to just be together is crucial. It can be a “date night” if that works, but even just sitting together on the couch after the baby is asleep and talking about anything other than parenting will do you both good. 

Be open and honest with your partner about sex.

Pregnancy, giving birth, and nursing a baby all cause major changes in a woman’s body — from physical trauma to hormonal changes. Your doctor may tell you when your body is likely to be physically capable of intercourse, but that doesn’t mean you have to resume sexual activity then. Talk with your partner about what you’re going through and what you’re feeling and let them know that their patience and understanding are appreciated. 

Being a new mom isn’t easy. But when you have a minute here and there to catch your breath and watch that beautiful baby sleeping peacefully, you’ll be reassured that motherhood is going to be incredibly rewarding. 

Learn About Virtual Care Services at Baptist Health

When getting to the doctor just isn’t practical, virtual care can be a great alternative. Find a Baptist Health provider and talk with them about the services they can provide remotely.  

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Register for a Mother & Baby Care Class Near You
How to Help Boost a Baby’s Immune System
What To Eat & What Not To Eat While Breastfeeding
What Does it Feel Like to Have Postpartum Depression?

Did You Gain Weight During Quarantine? Here’s How to Lose It.

It wasn’t too many months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the stay-at-home orders before the phrase “quarantine 15” was coined to note the weight that people were gaining. It’s not surprising that many people put on unwanted pounds, given that for much of the population, activity levels dropped while caloric intake remained the same or even increased. In addition, people often gravitated to stress-relieving, but less nutritious, “comfort foods.” 

Now that life’s slowly returning to normal, you may be interested in shedding some pounds. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight is always a good idea. The key is to be sure you do it the right way. 

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10 Steps for Losing Quarantine Weight

To lose weight that you gained as a result of changes in habits during quarantine, you’ve got to make changes that bring your lifestyle back into alignment with your weight goal. Below are 10 steps for doing that.

  1. Avoid processed foods like fatty meat products (bacon and sausage, for example), baked goods, and quick-serve, pre-prepared meals. No doubt about it — this will be a challenge! But the more of these items you take out of your diet, the hungrier you’ll be for healthy options.
  2. Eat more whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds. Your body needs the nutrients and fiber that these foods provide to be healthy and energized.
  3. Focus on portion control. In terms of eating, losing weight is about consuming the right foods and the right quantities of them. Just be sure to decrease the amount of food on your plate gradually. Cut back too quickly and you’ll likely find yourself getting grumpy and losing your motivation. 
  4. Log your food intake. Keeping notes on what you’ve eaten each day can help you manage your diet more effectively. Plus, as you start eating better, your food diary can be a source of pride and encouragement. 
  5. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks. That quick jolt of energy you get from them is enticing, but it’s a “short-term loan,” so to speak. It’s much better for you, in the long run, to drink more water and eat healthy snacks. 
  6. Get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. Of course, you need to be sure that your selected activities, intensity, and duration are appropriate for your current fitness level as you work to increase that level. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about what’s right for you. 
  7. Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast to reduce your calorie intake isn’t a good idea. You want to get your metabolism cranked up in the morning, and consuming food does that. Plus, people who skip breakfast often end up overeating at lunchtime. 
  8. Get plenty of sleep. Failing to get enough rest can increase your risk of becoming obese. There are multiple reasons for that, one being that tired people often eat more to generate the energy they need to get through the day. 
  9. Take your time and be mindful while eating. As much as possible, focus on the meal you’re eating as you eat it. It’s too easy to overeat when your mind is on other things. 
  10. Remind yourself that you don’t need to “clean your plate.” You should serve yourself the portion you think your body truly needs, but if you overestimate, don’t feel you need to eat the entire portion just because it’s there.

Keep in mind that gradual progress is more effective, sustainable, and safer than any “crash diet.” And be kind to yourself! You’ll probably have good days and not-so-good days as you work toward your goal. But with patience and persistence, you can get there!

Learn More About Weight Loss at Baptist Health

Losing weight can reduce your chances of dealing with multiple serious health risks associated with obesity. You can identify your risk factors by taking our bariatric health risk assessment.

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Find a Weight Loss Provider Near You
Register for a Free Weight Loss Surgery Seminar
Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss
Berry Blast Protein Shake Recipe

What You Need to Know About the Fat-Burning Heart Rate

The fat-burning heart rate is the rate at which your heart should beat per minute to achieve maximum fat-burning results. Fitness professionals and people looking to lose weight often talk about the fat-burning heart rate.

While there may be evidence to suggest that this primarily burns fat, there are more factors you should consider when working out. Below we’ll provide information about a fat-burning heart rate and whether it’s effective for weight loss.

What’s Fat-Burning Heart Rate?

Your heart rate is often a good indicator of the intensity of the activity you’re doing. When you’re sitting or lying down, your heart rate is usually 60-100 beats per minute. This is your resting heart rate.

When you exercise, your heart rate starts to increase. Your maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate you can safely achieve, often during high-intensity exercises. Most people working at this intensity will have shorter workouts because it’s hard to maintain. 

The fat-burning heart-rate supposedly falls between the resting heart rate and the maximum heart rate. When a person is in their fat-burning heart rate, their body is burning more stored fat than sugar and other carbohydrates. Your fat-burning heart rate is 70% of your maximum heart rate. 

How to Calculate Fat-Burning Heart Rate Zones

As you age, your fat-burning heart rate decreases. The chart below lists the fat-burning heart rates for various ages. Certain medications can affect your heart rate, so talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Achieving the Ideal Heart Rate to Burn Fat

The best workouts to maintain the fat-burning heart rate may vary from person to person. Try to monitor your heart rate during different activities to see where you are then go from there. 

For fat burning, it’s best to stick with moderate activity. To gauge this, try the talk test, which is where you try to talk during your exercise. If you can’t talk, you’re likely working at vigorous levels. If you’re slightly out of breath but can still maintain a conversation, you’re probably working at moderate levels and may be in your fat-burning zone. 

Here are some exercises that can help you reach your fat-burning zone:

  • Slow jogging
  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Cycling (under 10 miles per hour)
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Ballroom dancing

Take a Health Risk Assessment

Before you start a new fitness routine for weight loss, make sure to talk with your doctor to make sure you’re on the right track and to see if you’re taking any medications that could interfere with exercise. 

To understand more about your health, take a health risk assessment at Baptist Health.

Useful Resources and Next Steps:

The 2 Most Important Things Every Black Patient Should Know About Heart Risk and Heart Care
What’s the Difference Between a Stroke and a Heart Attack?
Are High Fat Foods Good for Your Heart?
Find a Heart Care Provider
Read More in the Patient Story Library

Asthma vs. Bronchitis: What’s the Difference?

Asthma and bronchitis are conditions that cause difficulty breathing. While some of their symptoms are similar, there’s a difference between asthma and bronchitis in terms of their cause and treatment. In trying to determine bronchitis vs. asthma, you can start by looking at your symptoms.

Asthma Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

You may notice that your symptoms are worse first thing in the morning or at night, and that they get amplified by triggers like exercise, pollen or cigarette smoke.

Bronchitis Symptoms:

  • Cough that produces green, white or yellow mucus
  • Tightness or soreness in the chest
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Acute bronchitis symptoms typically resolve in anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Chronic bronchitis symptoms persist.

Can You Have Both Asthma and Bronchitis?

Asthma can make you more susceptible to bronchitis. When asthma and acute bronchitis occur at the same time, this is what’s known as chronic asthmatic bronchitis. And while asthma and bronchitis are two different conditions, it is possible that they can also occur in some people simultaneously. When this occurs, the condition might be termed ‘asthmatic bronchitis.’

What Are the Causes of Asthma and Bronchitis?

Doctors think asthma is caused by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. These triggers can include things like smoke and pollution.

Bronchitis can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection and is a short-term illness. Chronic bronchitis lasts longer and is caused by substances that irritate the lungs and airways.

If you have asthma or are prone to bronchitis, you should be aware of issues that can cause or worsen your symptoms. These include:

Viral Infection

Viral infections can cause bronchitis. While they don’t cause asthma, they can make breathing more difficult for people with the condition.


Cigarette smoke is an irritant that harms the lungs and can worsen breathing problems for people with asthma, acute bronchitis or chronic bronchitis.


A common question from people with breathing problems is, “Can allergies cause bronchitis?”. Yes, allergy triggers like dust, pollen, and cigarette smoke can cause what is known as allergic bronchitis. This can make it more difficult to determine if symptoms are caused by allergies or bronchitis since, in some cases, they are the result of allergy-induced bronchitis.

When To See a Doctor

You should see a doctor if you have ongoing breathing issues or a short-term problem with significant breathing impairment. You should seek immediate medical attention if you have a serious asthma attack that includes severe breathlessness and the inability to speak more than a few words at a time.

How Can I Treat Asthma or Bronchitis Conditions?

For people who ask, “How do I treat asthma?” or “How do I treat bronchitis?”, fortunately, the answer is that there are many ways to address these conditions. Bronchitis and asthma treatments include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Respiratory therapy (asthma breathing treatments)
  • Inhalants

Asthma, asthmatic bronchitis, acute bronchitis and chronic bronchitis treatments can help people with these conditions breathe more freely and comfortably.

Get Relief

If you’re experiencing asthma or bronchitis symptoms, contact Baptist Health to schedule an appointment.

Barium Swallow Vs. Endoscopy: What’s the Difference?

Two procedures used to examine the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract are a barium swallow and an endoscopy. While they are related in their goal of helping your doctor assess areas and structures in your digestive tract that cannot be viewed externally, they are very different processes. A barium swallow enables your physician to diagnose relatively simple medical conditions solely through the use of X-rays. More difficult-to-diagnose procedures may require endoscopy, which is an invasive procedure requiring the insertion of a small camera into the upper GI.

What Is an Endoscopy?

An endoscopy allows surgeons to see problems inside your body without having to make surgical incisions. In the case of an upper GI endoscopy, a specialized flexible tube with a light and camera attached to it is inserted through your mouth and down into your GI tract. The scope allows your doctor to see interior structures in much greater detail than an X-ray. Attached to the scope are forceps and scissors, which allow the removal of tissue for further examination and biopsy if appropriate.

EGD Vs. Endoscopy

What is the difference between EGD and endoscopy? An endoscopy is another term for an EGD procedure. You will sometimes see endoscopies referred to as EGDs. EGD is another name for the same procedure. EGD stands for esophagogastroduodenoscopy.

What Is an Endoscopy Used to Diagnose?

Your doctor may order an endoscopy if you have

Symptoms such as:

  • Bleeding in the digestive tract
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swallowing problems
  • Weight loss

Conditions such as:

  • Stomach ulcer
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD (acid reflux) and heartburn
  • Tumors (cancerous and noncancerous)
  • Infections, inflammation, or allergic conditions of the esophagus (esophagitis, gastritis, and duodenitis)
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (celiac disease or Crohn’s disease)

What Is a Barium Swallow?

A barium swallow is an X-ray procedure in which you swallow a chalky, white substance called barium that is typically a thick drink with the consistency of a milkshake. This exam is used to provide images of your GI tract. This includes your pharynx (the back of your mouth and throat), esophagus (the tube that starts behind your tongue and runs down to your stomach), stomach, and the first part of your small intestine, which is called the duodenum.

The barium coats the surface of your upper GI tract and appears white on X-rays. The procedure produces detailed images of the linings of the tract and can provide insight into the motion of your swallowing.

Barium Swallow Vs. Esophagram

Barium swallows are also known as esophagram procedures. Esophagrams are the X-ray images produced by a barium swallow test.  

What is a Barium Swallow Used to Diagnose?

A barium swallow can help diagnose a number of conditions, including:

  • Cancerous and noncancerous tumors
  • Inflammation
  • Blockages
  • Ulcers
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Muscle disorders that cause spasms or problems with swallowing.

Should I Get a Barium Swallow or an Endoscopy for Upper GI Problems?

The main advantage of a barium swallow is that it is less invasive because it’s a special type of X-ray. While many patients report that swallowing the barium is unpleasant, no instruments are inserted into the body. An endoscopy is a more invasive procedure, but it enables a doctor to immediately see the structures or areas of interest and to take actions such as removing tissue for biopsy.

Your physician’s decision to perform a barium swallow or an endoscopy will depend on several factors, including the nature of your symptoms, the potential diagnosis, and your comfort level with the procedures. In some cases, if a barium swallow proves insufficient for diagnosis, an endoscopy might still be required. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your diagnostic and treatment options.

What Are the Main Differences Between a Barium Swallow Vs. Endoscopy

Endoscopies and barium swallows are distinguished by the way they’re conducted and the degree of information they provide. There are other significant differences between the two as well.


Patients undergoing a barium swallow rarely require sedation. As is typical of X-rays, you remain awake during the procedure. On the other hand, an endoscopy usually requires some degree of sedation. Few of us have the patience to lie still while our physician is manipulating a scope inside our body. Moderate to heavy sedation is typical, to reduce irritation and anxiety during the procedure. Heavy sedation leads to the temporary loss of consciousness (sleep state). You will have no memory of the procedure on waking.

Degree of Invasiveness

The main advantage of a barium swallow is that it is less invasive because it is a special type of X-ray. While many patients report that swallowing the barium is unpleasant, no instruments are inserted into the body. An endoscopy is a more invasive procedure, but it enables a doctor to immediately see the structures or areas of interest and to take actions such as removing tissue for biopsy.

Side Effects

Both barium swallow and endoscopy are typically outpatient procedures, meaning you can go home the same day. Each has side effects that are generally mild. These include constipation with a barium swallow and a sore throat with an endoscopy. In both procedures, the side effects tend to resolve on their own with proper aftercare such as hydrating and eating high-fiber foods after a barium swallow and eating soft foods after an endoscopy.

Learn More About Barium Swallow and Endoscopy Procedures from Baptist Health

Baptist Health provides safe and efficient inpatient and outpatient diagnostic imaging, including endoscopies and barium swallow X-rays. As one of the area’s most advanced diagnostic imaging centers, our services are fully integrated with our excellent medical care. In this way, we work together to detect the earliest signs of disease or injury and provide expert treatment.

If you need diagnostic imaging, you can count on the compassionate and skilled team at Baptist Health to be with you every step of the way. From helping you prepare for your tests to listening carefully to your questions and clearly explaining everything you need to know, you’ll appreciate our careful attention and support.

To schedule an appointment, contact your Baptist Health primary care provider.

The Power of a Grateful Heart

Gratitude is often overlooked in today’s hurried world. More than an obligatory “thank you,” gratitude can be as simple as noticing the goodness in the world around us and the people in our lives. Like that nice man who held the door for you at the coffee shop this morning. And the more space in our mind and heart that we allow gratitude to take up, the less space for those minor annoyances throughout the day.

The Science of Gratitude

Research tells us gratitude can improve general well-being, increase resilience, strengthen our relationships, reduce stress, and fight depression. When the brain feels gratitude, it activates the ventral and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex. These areas of the brain engage feelings of reward (the reward when stress is removed), morality, personal relationships, and positive social interactions. They also enhance our ability to empathize with other people and understand what they’re thinking or feeling. 

Gratitude also can increase important neurochemicals. When our thinking shifts from negative to positive, we get a blast of feel-good chemicals, including dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.  These lead us to feelings of closeness, connection, and happiness that accompany gratitude.

Benefits of Gratitude

1. Gratitude helps create and improve relationships.

Of course, the simple act of saying “thank you” is good manners. Beyond that, though, showing appreciation can help you win new friends. One study showed that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So, whether it’s an appreciative wave to the fellow commuter who let you into traffic, or a quick thank-you note to the neighbor who looked in on Fido while you were out of town, acknowledging other people’s actions can lead to new opportunities.

2. Gratitude improves our physical health.

It’s been documented that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. This includes more exercise and attending regular check-ups with their doctors, both of which will likely contribute to a longer, healthier life.

3. Gratitude improves psychological health.

Gratitude can take up space in our minds, replacing a range of negative emotions from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. 

4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.

Grateful people are more likely to interact more positively with others, even when those others behaved negatively.  More grateful study participants were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people.

5. Grateful people sleep better.

Spending as little as 15 minutes before bed writing in a gratitude journal may help you sleep better and longer.

6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.

Gratitude has been proven to increase an athlete’s self-esteem, which is a significant contributor to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude leads us to fewer personal comparisons. Instead of being resentful toward people with more money or better jobs — often a factor in reduced self-esteem — grateful people can appreciate other people’s accomplishments.

7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

For years, research has shown gratitude reduces stress. It can also be beneficial in trauma recovery. Recognizing all we have to be thankful for — even during the worst times of your life — fosters resilience.

6 Simple Tasks that can Help Cultivate Gratitude

1. Write a thank-you note.

You’ll feel happier and deepen relationships with others by just writing a thank-you note for that person’s impact on your life. Try sending a thank-you note each month. And occasionally, write one to yourself.

2. Thank someone mentally.

Can’t sit down and write? It sometimes helps just to think about someone who has done something nice for you and mentally thank the individual.

3. Keep a gratitude journal.

Develop the daily practice of writing notes in a journal about gifts you’ve received, then share with a loved one to improve their day, too.

4. Count your blessings.

Can’t make time to write daily? Then pick a time each week to sit down and write about the bigger-picture blessings, rather than the daily occurrences in your life. Be specific and think about the sensation you feel as you recount your reasons to be grateful.

5. Pray.

People who are religious or otherwise spiritual can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

6. Meditate.

Practicing mindfulness meditation focuses us on the present moment, washing away life’s worries and concentrating on the gift that’s the present moment.  

Need Help Finding More Gratitude in Your Life? 

The Baptist Health Foundation has collaborated with the communities we serve on Project Gratitude on a multi-phase, multi-year initiative to better understand the role gratitude can or should play in our culture and in a person’s health journey.

Useful Resources and Next Steps:

Learn more about the Baptist Health Foundation