Understanding Childhood Obesity 

Childhood obesity is a medical condition that can affect young people and also increase their risk of health problems later in life. That includes issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes

Childhood obesity is also a condition that can’t be diagnosed simply by observing a child’s appearance.

Obesity and Body Type

Assessing a child’s physical stature isn’t an accurate way to determine if they’re obese. Some children have larger frames than others and carry extra pounds without actually meeting the standards for obesity.  

This doesn’t mean a child’s weight should be ignored or automatically attributed to them being “big-boned.” Instead, parents and doctors should look to growth charts and body mass index (BMI) calculations to gauge obesity accurately.

Diagnosing Childhood Obesity

As part of well-child care, doctors calculate a child’s BMI, which is their weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared. Then, they find the figure on a BMI-for-age growth chart and calculate the child’s BMI percentile — meaning how they compare to children of the same age and sex. 

A young person is diagnosed as overweight or obese based on standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • 85th to 94th percentile: overweight
  • 95th percentile and above: obesity
  • 99th percentile or higher: severe obesity

Childhood Obesity Causes and Risk Factors

Childhood obesity occurs when a young person consumes more calories daily than their body burns. Risk factors for a child reaching this state of caloric imbalance include:

  • Poor diet. Eating foods high in calories and low in nutrition increases the risk of obesity. This includes baked goods, fast food, desserts, candy, and sugary beverages like fruit juices and sports drinks. 
  • Lack of exercise. Sedentary activities such as playing video games and watching TV don’t burn many calories. In addition, children are frequently exposed to advertisements for unhealthy foods while watching television.
  • Genetics and family behaviors. Children with obese parents are more likely to become obese. This may be due to genes predisposing them to the condition and an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Socioeconomic factors. Children in communities with limited access to fresh, healthy foods have a higher risk of obesity. 
  • Psychological/emotional issues. Stress at home, in social situations, etc., can increase obesity risk, as can other psychological or emotional problems. This may be due to children overeating as a way to cope with these challenges. 
  • Medications. Certain prescription drugs can increase a child’s risk of developing obesity.  

Childhood Obesity Treatments

Doctors address childhood obesity in various ways. Treatments primarily focus on lifestyle factors and include working with a nutritionist to develop a healthier diet and increasing physical activity

Behavior modification can also play an essential role in overcoming childhood obesity. This treatment involves learning about behaviors that increase obesity risk and avoiding them. Doctors and counselors also encourage children to develop interests and pursue activities that keep them active and less focused on food.

In addition, doctors can prescribe medications and surgeries for childhood obesity. Surgery is typically only considered for children who are severely obese and whose weight is causing other medical problems. 

Learn More About Childhood Obesity from Baptist Health

It can be difficult to address childhood obesity without hurting your relationship with your child or risking their emotional well-being. For example, negative comments about your child’s weight or that of others (including you) can be harmful. Dieting and skipping meals can also be detrimental to a child’s physical and mental health. 

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s weight, their pediatrician is happy to answer them and help you find solutions. You can locate a Baptist Health physician near you using our online provider directory


Understanding Cranial Nerves and Their Functions

You have 12 sets of cranial nerves, each responsible for carrying information about a particular type of sensation or movement. What’s the function of each set, and what can you do to keep these nerves healthy? Get answers below.  

Cranial Nerve Basics

Cranial nerves — like all nerves — are thin “cables” that transmit electrical impulses throughout the body. These signals help manage everything from intentional movements to autonomic functions like digesting food and breathing. 

The cranial nerves originate near the back of the brain, with one on the left side and the other on the right. They are essential in sensory and motor skills and can play a role in both. Some of the sets work in similar or closely related ways.  

12 Cranial Nerves and Their Functions Chart

The 12 pairs of cranial nerves and their functions are:

  1. Optic nerves. Control vision. 
  2. Oculomotor nerves. Manage eye movement and blinking.  
  3. Facial nerves. Enable facial expression and play a role in the sense of taste.
  4. Auditory/vestibular nerves. Control sense of hearing and also balance. 
  5. Olfactory nerves. Manage sense of smell. 
  6. Trochlear nerves. Control up-and-down and back-and-forth eye movements.
  7. Glossopharyngeal nerves. Enable sense of taste and swallowing.  
  8. Vagus nerves. Control heart rate and digestion. 
  9. Hypoglossal nerves. Manage tongue movement.
  10. Trigeminal nerves. Control facial sensations and jaw movements, also play a role in taste.
  11. Accessory nerves (sometimes called spinal accessory nerves). Control the movement of neck and shoulder muscles. 
  12. Abducens nerves. Help manage eye movements.  

Conditions That Affect the Cranial Nerves

Injuries and several medical conditions can affect cranial nerve functioning, including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries from forceful blows to the head
  • Strokes that interrupt blood flow in the brain
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in which nerve cells break down, causing progressive muscle weakening
  • Bell’s palsy that produces muscle weakness and drooping on one side of the face
  • Oculomotor palsy and internuclear ophthalmoplegia that affect the movement and positioning of the eyes
  • Hemifacial spasms that cause twitching of the muscles on one side of the face
  • Trigeminal neuralgia that produces chronic pain in a nerve in the cheek 

Cranial Nerve Problems: Symptoms and Treatment

Your doctor can diagnose problems affecting the cranial nerves. But, in general, the cranial nerves may be involved if you experience problems with your vision or hearing, senses of taste or smell, ability to swallow or control facial expressions, or your balance. 

Injury or illness can permanently damage cranial nerves. In other cases, they may recover on their own. Some patients also benefit from rehabilitation with assistance from a medical professional such as a physical therapist, audiologist, speech pathologist, or vision therapist. 

Caring for Your Cranial Nerves

The best way to support your cranial nerves and their critical functions is to manage your health in general. That includes exercising regularly, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and managing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes

Talk with Your Baptist Health Physician About Cranial Nerve Problems

If you experience symptoms of a cranial nerve issue, you should contact your primary care physician. They can assess your health and, if appropriate, refer you to a specialist called a neurologist.  

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


What Is Diastasis Recti?

Clinically reviewed by Leslie Cook, APRN, WHNP-BC.

Diastasis recti is the technical term for a separation between the left and right rectus abdominis muscles that allows the belly to bulge or stick out. It’s common in pregnancy and can persist for months or years after giving birth. 

What Causes Diastatis Recti?

The rectus abdominis muscles are visible when someone has “six-pack abs.” A band of tissue called the linea alba divides the paired muscles into left and right sides. In pregnancy, the uterus expands, stretching and thinning the linea alba. The tissue is then forced outward. 

After delivery, the linea alba can return to its original shape, bringing the abdominal muscles back together. Sometimes, this doesn’t occur, or the gap is only partially closed. This can cause a person to appear pregnant long after they no longer are.

Diastasis recti can cause other symptoms, as well. They include:

  • Constipation
  • Lower back pain
  • Urine leakage
  • Pelvic or hip pain
  • Bloating
  • Trouble lifting objects or moving in specific ways
  • Pain during sex
  • Poor posture
  • Jelly-like texture between the abdominal muscles
  • Trouble breathing normally  

What Are the Risk Factors for Diastasis Recti?

Your risk of experiencing diastasis recti increases if you:

  • Have multiple pregnancies, especially with little time between them
  • Are petite
  • Have been pregnant with multiples like twins or triplets
  • Are 35 or older
  • Have given birth to a large baby 
  • Have had vaginal deliveries

How Is Diastasis Recti Diagnosed?

Your doctor can determine if you have diastasis recti by assessing your abdominal muscle tone and feeling for gaps. They may also perform an ultrasound and use a measuring tape or calipers to measure the amount of separation between the muscles. Often, the degree of separation is referred to in finger widths, such as a “three fingers’ separation.”

You can also evaluate yourself for the condition. You do that by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, lift your shoulders slightly off the floor, supporting your head gently with one hand. Put your other palm just above your belly button with your fingers toward your toes. Feel for the gap between your abs and note home many fingers wide it is. 

Can Diastasis Recti Be Corrected?

You might choose to simply live with a certain amount of separation between your abdominals. But if you decide to take action, there are several ways to address diastasis recti. 

The first is to avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby and other movements that can strain your abdominal area. For example, you should roll onto your side to get out of bed rather than sit up. 

You should also talk with a physical therapist or fitness instructor who’s familiar with diastasis recti. They’ll have you do specific exercises to strengthen your deep abdominals. 

Caution: Contrary to what you might think, many common exercises and activities can worsen the diastasis recti. This includes sit-ups, crunches, push-ups, leg lifts, swimming, and specific yoga poses.

In some instances, exercises don’t fully correct diastasis recti. Or, you might experience a hernia, which is when the linea alba tears and your internal organs poke out of the opening. In those cases, so-called “tummy tuck” surgery can be performed. Less-invasive laparoscopic surgery may also be possible. 

Diastasis Recti in Babies and Men

Pregnant people aren’t the only ones who can develop diastasis recti. Some babies are born with the condition, which tends to go away on its own. 

Men can also experience diastasis recti. Typically, they develop it from doing sit-ups or weightlifting with incorrect form. Yo-yo dieting also increases the risk of developing diastasis recti. 

Talk with Your Doctor About Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti is normal and may resolve on its own. If it doesn’t, and you want to take steps to address it, talk with a Baptist Health women’s services provider. 


Seasonal Affective Disorder vs. Depression: How to Tell the Difference 

Clinically reviewed by Dr. Imran Iqbal, MD.

Two similar but separate mood disorders that can cause persistent feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness, and other symptoms are seasonal affective disorder and depression. It’s important to know how to identify these conditions and seek treatment for them if needed.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by the change of seasons. It most often occurs in late autumn or early winter. 

SAD symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood most or all days
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances, particularly oversleeping
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts about not wanting to live
  • Weight gain 

Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes SAD. However, they believe that the decrease in sunlight may affect serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain.

Occasional feelings of sadness are normal, and many people experience the “winter blues” as the weather gets colder. But SAD is different and should be treated. 

If you feel depressed for multiple consecutive days — whether around the change of seasons or not — you should talk with your doctor. And if you have suicidal thoughts, you should contact a trusted friend or family member or call 988 (the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline) or 911.

What Is Depression?

Also called clinical depression or major depressive disorder, depression is a mood disorder that causes you to feel sad or depressed all the time. Specifically, doctors define it as a condition where you have five or more of the following symptoms for two weeks or more:

  • Depressed mood
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Loss of interest in your usual activities
  • Feeling tired
  • Having trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling pessimistic or hopeless
  • Having memory problems or difficulty making decisions
  • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Getting too much or too little sleep

Depression is a complicated mood disorder that may be caused by several factors, including genetics, stressful life events, and faulty mood regulation. 

As with SAD, if you’re depressed and have suicidal thoughts, you should contact a friend or family member or call 988 (the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline) or 911.

What Are the Differences Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression?

SAD and depression have similar symptoms. Doctors distinguish between the two primarily by the timing of symptom onset. They may diagnose you with seasonal affective disorder if:

  • Your symptoms begin or worsen significantly in the late fall or early winter
  • The intensity of symptoms in fall/winter significantly outweighs nonseasonal symptoms
  • You’ve experienced a seasonal increase in symptoms for two or more consecutive years

But, of course, you don’t have to wait two years to talk with your doctor. Contact them if you ever feel your depressed mood is persistent and affecting your quality of life. 

Treatment Options for SAD and Depression

Doctors can’t cure SAD or depression. However, they can prescribe treatments that successfully control the symptoms, including:

  • Talk therapy (also called psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT)
  • Light therapy (or phototherapy) involving regular exposure to a special bright light source
  • Medication

There are also environmental and lifestyle changes you can make to help minimize your symptoms. They include getting plenty of sunlight, especially during the winter, by going outside frequently, opening your curtains or blinds, etc. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and striving to get approximately eight hours of sleep nightly can also help. 

SAD and Depression Are Manageable Conditions

If you experience SAD or depression, your doctor can help you manage the condition. The key is to take the first step and contact them. 

Neither SAD nor depression is something you should just “deal with” on your own. You should seek treatment. 

Learn About Behavioral Health Services at Baptist Health

Baptist Health offers world-class behavior health services. Get details today and contact us if you have questions about seasonal depression vs. depression or need treatment. 


What to Say to Someone in Hospice 

It can be difficult to know what to say to someone who goes into hospice. You may also struggle with what to say to someone with family in hospice. But it’s crucial that you have those conversations and do what you can to provide support during end-of-life situations. 

Tips for Having a Conversation with a Hospice Patient

Every person’s hospice experience is unique. However, most will appreciate you talking openly about topics such as:

  • Their decision to start receiving hospice care. Was it a difficult decision to make? How has their experience been so far?
  • Changes in their environment. Is there any way you can help improve their experience? Are there things you can do to make them more comfortable? 
  • The need for honest communication. Whatever a hospice patient is feeling is valid. You should remind them that emotions like sadness, frustration, anger, and regret are normal. It’s also understandable for hospice patients to feel relieved that their health concerns are now behind them. 
  • Reassurance of your support. Hospice patients know they have a care team attending to their needs, but it’s helpful to remind them that you’re there for them, too.

What to Say to a Family Member or Friend in Hospice

When the person in hospice is a family member or close friend, conversations can be especially challenging. But pushing through the discomfort is essential for them and you. 

It can be helpful to talk about topics like:

  • Fond memories. What positive experiences come to mind when they look back at their life? 
  • Actions after they pass. Are there things you can take care of for the patient after they die? If so, reassure them that you’ll be diligent in addressing those tasks. 
  • Acknowledgment of your feelings for them. Telling someone you love them — even though they surely already understand that — can be very meaningful to a hospice patient. 
  • Thoughts about what’s ahead. There are many beliefs about what happens after we die. If the patient wants to discuss their expectations, you should encourage them to share their thoughts.

And at many times during a person’s hospice stay, simply being together silently may be enough. 

What to Avoid Saying to Hospice Patients

Certain conversations tend not to be beneficial to hospice patients, including: 

  • Talk of a possible last-minute cure or remission
  • Discussions about what led to the person being in hospice 
  • Conversations centered on you rather than the patient
  • Discussions about your religious beliefs or opinions about dying
  • Dismissive comments about death “just being a part of life”

Of course, if the patient brings these topics up, it’s important to respect their desire to discuss them.  

Be “Present” for a Loved One in Hospice

Ultimately, the best thing you can do for someone in hospice or someone who has a loved one who’s receiving hospice care is to be present when you’re with them. There are many tasks associated with a person’s passing, but they can wait. 

Be sure that your friend or family member knows you’re fully with them when you’re with them.

Learn About Baptist Health Home Care Services

Baptist Health provides compassionate, supportive hospice care. If you or a loved one will soon begin your end-of-life journey, Baptist Health Home Care Services can provide information on our services.


10 Common Urgent Care Procedures

Urgent care centers treat injuries that are time-sensitive but not life- or limb-threatening. You might seek treatment there if your primary care physician can’t fit you into their schedule or when their office is closed in the evening and on weekends. 

Urgent care teams are trained and equipped to handle a wide variety of medical issues. Ten of the most common urgent care procedures are:

1. Stitches

Urgent care professionals can treat minor lacerations. For example, if you cut yourself while slicing vegetables in your kitchen, and the wound is relatively deep, they can use sutures (i.e., stitches) to close it. They might also prescribe pain medication or antibiotics if appropriate. Some sutures dissolve, but others must be removed later.

2. X-rays

There are several reasons you might need an X-ray. Diagnosing potentially broken bones may be the first thing that comes to mind, but imaging can also help diagnose conditions such as constipation that’s become an urgent issue for you. 

3. Casts and splints

You’re playing volleyball at your company picnic and come down from a perfect spike only to land on an opponent’s foot and twist your ankle. The pain is intense and you wonder if you’ve broken a bone. An urgent care center can perform an X-ray to determine if that’s true. Based on the results, they can prescribe treatment, including splinting your ankle if it’s not broken or casting it if there’s a break. The doctor can also prescribe medication to address the pain and swelling.   

4. Immunizations (including flu and COVID-19)

Typically, your primary care physician will administer your immunizations. However, if you urgently need a vaccine — you’re soon taking an unexpected trip, for instance — and you can’t get in to see your doctor, an urgent care center can give you the shot. They’ll also explain any potential side effects and have you return if you experience something serious. 

5. Blood pressure check

If you think your blood pressure may be unusually high, you can visit an urgent care center to have them check it. You might also have them check it if you have hypertension and need to keep a close eye on your readings. If the urgent care team determines your blood pressure is concerningly high or trending upward during your visit, they can recommend treatment to bring it down. 

6. Skin lesion removal or skin grafts

Imagine you’re drying off after a shower and notice a spot on your skin you’ve never seen before. Urgent care professionals are qualified to remove skin tags, cysts, warts, and other skin lesions and perform skin grafts. After performing the procedure, they’ll advise you on how to care for the site and may prescribe medication if appropriate. 

7. Urinalysis and other lab tests

As part of diagnosing your medical condition, urgent care clinicians can test your urine, blood, and other specimens at their location. With many diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the sooner you start treatment, the better your outcome may be. Based on your results, the care team can determine the next steps. 

8. Inflammation and irritation issues

Skin inflammation or irritation may be caused by something minor or a symptom of a more significant medical condition. If you wake up on a weekend morning and notice something unusual, you can visit an urgent care clinic and get it checked. Based on their exam, the urgent care clinician can prescribe medication or other treatment if needed.  

9. Abscess I&D

Urgent care teams are qualified to perform incision and drainage (I&D) procedures on abscesses, which are painful, pus-filled lumps. They’ll likely then test the material to determine what additional actions if any, are needed. 

10. Wound repair

Urgent care teams can repair all types of wounds. For example, imagine your child falling off their bike at high speed and suffering a significant “road rash” on their arm and shoulder. The team can thoroughly clean the injured areas, apply topical antibiotic medication, and prescribe pain medication if appropriate. 

So, what procedures can an urgent care perform? The answer is that they can treat any issue that doesn’t put your life or limbs at risk. Hopefully, you’ll never need any urgent care procedures. But if a time-sensitive medical issue arises, it’s nice to know the centers are there. And the cost of an urgent care visit typically is much less than a trip to the emergency room.

Learn More About Common Urgent Care Procedures from Baptist Health

The list above includes just some of the most common procedures done in urgent care. If your primary care doctor is unavailable and you have an injury or illness that you think requires urgent attention but isn’t life- or limb-threatening, urgent care is the place for you. 

Baptist Health has multiple urgent care clinics in the area. Learn more


How Stress Affects Memory

Clinically reviewed by Dr. Jonathan Martin.

Stress at the right times and in the right amounts can be useful. For example, it can help us react effectively to emergency situations. But if you experience persistent or particularly intense stress, it can do more harm than good. 

It’s well known that excessive stress is bad for your body. However, it also can affect cognitive functions like your ability to form and retrieve memories. 

Stress and Short-Term Memories

Have you ever had an especially stressful experience and, soon after, struggled to recall the details? That’s probably because stress makes it harder to form short-term memories. People in law enforcement are familiar with this phenomenon from their dealings with eyewitnesses whose memories of an event are often incomplete or inaccurate.

Stress can also adversely affect the process of converting short-term memories into long-term memories. That means it’s harder to learn when stressed. 

However, studies have shown that the stress-memory relationship is complex. For example, while it’s fair to say that, overall, stress isn’t good for memory, there are exceptions. One is that memory improves if the material someone is learning is directly related to the stressor. And if you’re stressed after your brain has encoded the memory, that experience can improve the memory. 

Still, it’s a good idea for your general well-being to reduce your stress level and keep it as low as possible. 

How to Improve Your Memory When Stressed

Most people experience periods when stress is unavoidable, but there are still things they need to remember. If you find yourself in that type of situation, use these tips to support better information retention:

  • Get plenty of exercise. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can improve memory in people who are stressed. Ideally, you should get regular exercise even when life isn’t stressful.
  • Practice mindfulness. When we’re mindful, our full attention is on the present moment rather than reflecting on past events, anticipating future events, etc. It makes sense that when we’re keenly aware of important information, we’re more likely to retain it. Being more mindful can also help you sleep better, and quality sleep is vital to memory formation and health in general. 
  • Learn and use focused breathing and related techniques. Studies have shown that people who regularly face tense situations, like first responders, experience less stress from those events if they’re able to focus on their breath, on a mental image of themselves performing necessary actions correctly, etc.  

Talk with Your Baptist Health Doctor About Stress and Memory

Stress is part of life. Nobody can ever eliminate it. But if persistent stress is affecting your memory or quality of life in general, you don’t have to just endure it. You should talk with your doctor.

They can recommend ways to lower your stress level through lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, counseling, and other means. And simply talking with your doctor and learning that you aren’t at the mercy of your stress may help alleviate it!

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


When Does Menopause Start?

Clinically reviewed by Jessica Anderson-Brown, APRN-WHNP.

Menopause is the 12-month period that starts with your last period. After a year without a period, you enter what’s called post-menopause.

Menopause typically begins in your 40s or 50s but may not occur until your 60s. The average age of onset in the U.S. is 51.  

Perimenopause: Menopause Is Approaching

Knowing when you’re in menopause can be challenging because it’s preceded by several years of perimenopause or pre-menopause. This stage typically lasts four to eight years and can begin as early as your 30s. 

Natural declines in estrogen and progesterone levels cause perimenopause. These hormone changes result in several symptoms, many of which continue into menopause and post-menopause. They include:

The irregularity of periods can include a shorter menstrual cycle and also skipping periods. You can still become pregnant during perimenopause, so if you’re unsure of the cause of a missed period, it’s a good idea to take a pregnancy test.

Menopause: Your Menstrual Cycle Ends

You reach menopause when you haven’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. Because you’ve stopped ovulation (meaning your ovaries have stopped releasing eggs), you can no longer become pregnant.  

Post-Menopause: Changing Health Risks

The stage after menopause is called post-menopause. The ovaries still produce estrogen and progesterone but in much smaller amounts. Some perimenopause/menopause symptoms continue for up to seven years after your last period, although they’re often milder. 

Menopause-related hormone changes increase your risk of certain health conditions, including osteoporosis and heart disease. Consequently, it’s essential to be familiar with their symptoms and the steps you can take to reduce your risk. 

Premature Menopause

Menopause that occurs before the age of 40 is considered premature. It can be caused by things like surgical removal of the ovaries or damage to them from chemotherapy or radiation. If there’s no known cause for premature menopause, it’s called primary ovarian insufficiency. 

Managing Menopause

There’s no cure for menopause, but there are actions you can take to reduce the symptoms. For example, exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, and using over-the-counter medications can help. 

However, if your symptoms are intense and interfere with your daily activities, your doctor can prescribe treatments. They include various hormone therapies, antidepressants to help with depressive symptoms, vitamin D to reduce your osteoporosis risk, and others. 

You shouldn’t feel you have to “just deal with” menopause symptoms. If you’re uncomfortable and unhappy, talk with your doctor!

Learn About Women’s Services at Baptist Health

Menopause is a normal part of aging, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Whether you need treatment or simply have questions about what you’re experiencing, our women’s health experts are happy to talk with you and provide guidance and compassionate care.

Learn about our women’s services.   


Home Care for Dementia Patients 

Can dementia patients be cared for at home? Yes, they can. Families that care for a dementia patient at home find it both challenging and rewarding. 

Do dementia patients do better at home? Generally speaking, yes, they do. It’s been shown that dementia patients who remain in their homes are happier and stay healthy longer. 

Dementia Home Care Services

Every dementia patient is unique. Consequently, at-home care for dementia patients and those with similar conditions is highly individualized. Care plans also evolve as the disease evolves, with different services provided for those with early-, mid-, and late-stage dementia.

In addition, care regimens take into account the needs of the primary caregiver and other family members to ensure the most positive experience possible for everyone affected by the patient’s condition.  

How to Care for Dementia Patients

People often use “dementia” as an umbrella term for cognitive decline, particularly in older adults. However, it’s important to note that several conditions affect cognition, including: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Vascular dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Young-onset dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Traumatic brain injury dementia
  • Mixed dementia
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (including dementia from alcohol abuse)
  • Down syndrome

Each has unique characteristics that caregivers must address using different home care services and approaches, such as:

  • Appropriate mental stimulation, which can reduce agitation
  • Periodic home safety reviews to ensure the home environment is as risk-free as possible
  • Memory tools like established routines, to-do lists, calendars, automatic reminders, etc. 
  • Ongoing learning, which can slow the pace of cognitive decline
  • Respite care, which is temporary care outside the home to allow the primary caregiver to rest and tend to other tasks

Benefits of Home Care for Dementia Patients

Dementia patients benefit from staying in their homes in multiple ways. The advantages include a familiar environment that’s less disorienting and provides a greater sense of safety and security. Home care also ensures that a patient is eating the foods they prefer and getting proper nutrition. In addition, a home care plan can be designed around the patient’s normal daily rhythms.  

Patients get these benefits through the different services a home care professional can provide, including:

Companion services

Companionship is vital to dementia patients and an essential part of home care services. It includes helping with recreational activities and simply spending time interacting with the patient in their home.

Personal care services

These services include helping the patient with bathing and dressing, exercising, and eating. 

Homemaker services

Dementia patients benefit from assistance with shopping, meal planning and preparation, and general housekeeping. 

Skilled care services

A home care professional can provide specialized care for a dementia patient’s medical conditions. This can include giving injections, caring for wounds, and assisting with physical therapy treatments.

Learn More About at Home Care for Dementia Patients from Baptist Health

Baptist Health’s team of therapists, nurses, and other professionals provides skilled, compassionate care for dementia patients. Learn more about Baptist Health Home Care Services and our holistic, integrated approach to dementia care.  


Monkeypox: What You Need To Know

Clinically reviewed by Shaina Doyen, PharmD, BCIDP.

Monkeypox has been making headlines around the world lately, so we will discuss everything you need to know about Monkeypox, including how it is transmitted, its symptoms, and how to protect yourself from it.

What Is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox. It is believed to have originated in Africa and has since spread to other parts of the world. The symptoms of monkeypox are very similar to those of smallpox but are usually not as severe.

Quick facts about monkeypox:

  • Monkeypox is in no way connected to chickenpox
  • Monkeypox is usually benign
  • There is no specific treatment for monkeypox so prevention is key

Monkeypox Symptoms

Symptoms usually start within 3 weeks following exposure. The symptoms of monkeypox vary from person to person. If someone has flu-like symptoms, they usually develop a rash 1 – 4 days later.

The rash may be located on or near the genitals or anus and could spread to other areas such as the hands, feet, chest, face, or mouth. The rash can vary in appearance (initially look like pimples or blisters) and will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing and may be painful or itchy.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Nasal congestion, cough, and other flu-like symptoms

Transmission of Monkeypox

Monkeypox is transmitted through contact with the blood, tissues, or other body fluids of infected people or animals. The virus can also spread through contact with objects or surfaces that have been contaminated.

It is primarily transmitted through close contact with an infected person.

Risk Factors of Catching Monkeypox

There are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of contracting monkeypox.

Risk factors include:

  • Contact with an infected person including objects or surfaces that have been used by someone with monkeypox
  • Traveling to an area where the virus is prevalent
  • Contact with an infected animal

Additionally, those with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to contracting monkeypox.

Treatment of Monkeypox

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. It is recommended to relieve symptoms and support the immune system. This may include rest, fluids, and medications to help reduce fever and pain.

Additionally, treatments for smallpox may prove effective for monkeypox and may be recommended for people who are more likely to get severely ill such as patients with weakened immune systems. The monkeypox virus generally lasts between 2-4 weeks. Not everyone who gets infected with the virus requires treatment.

Prevention of Monkeypox

There are several ways to prevent monkeypox from spreading.

These include staying away from infected animals, washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Additionally, those who are traveling to areas where the disease is prevalent should take extra precautions to avoid being infected.

The CDC also recommends vaccination for those at risk of infection or those who have been exposed to the Monkeypox virus.

Monkeypox Cases

There are several things to note about the monkeypox outbreak.

First, the virus is spreading mostly through close, intimate contact with someone who has monkeypox. This means that anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

Finally, there are over 20,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States right now. The majority of these cases are currently in New York, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and California. However, cases are also growing in Illinois and other US states.

If you need to seek treatment for Monkeypox or any other condition, contact one of our Primary Care doctors to make an appointment.

What Is Cardiovascular Disease?

“Cardiovascular disease” is an umbrella term that refers to several conditions. People use the term “heart disease” in the same way. 

Both refer to medical conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels. As a group, these conditions are the leading cause of death in the U.S. 

What Are Common Forms of Cardiovascular Disease?

Problems with the heart or blood vessels can cause several medical conditions. The most common include:

  • Heart attack. This is when blood flow to an area of the heart muscle is blocked. As a result, that section of tissue begins to die. People who get prompt medical care often survive a first heart attack. However, they must undergo treatment and make lifestyle changes to prevent a subsequent heart attack.
  • Stroke. A stroke is when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted. There are two types: ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic event occurs when a clot blocks an artery in the brain. In a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in the brain bursts (or hemorrhages). The death of brain tissue can cause permanent effects. 
  • Heart failure. Doctors may refer to this condition as congestive heart failure. It doesn’t mean that the heart stops, but that it fails progressively, losing its ability to move blood effectively through the body. 
  • Heart valve issues. The heart has valves that must open and close correctly for blood to move from one heart chamber to the next and then out into the body. When valves don’t close properly, blood leaks back into the heart chamber that it should be leaving. That leakage is called regurgitation. It can result in the heart working harder than it should and other problems.
  • Heart arrhythmias. Abnormal heart rhythms are called arrhythmias. There are several types, including rhythms that are irregular, too fast (tachycardia), or too slow (bradycardia). Arrhythmias can lead to various problems, including the heart not pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. 
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism. DVT blood clots typically develop in the legs. They can break free and travel to your lungs in a life-threatening event that’s called a pulmonary embolism

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

You’re more likely to develop cardiovascular disease if you have one or more of these risk factors:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking and other tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Diet high in fat, sodium, and sugar
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Preeclampsia or toxemia
  • Gestational diabetes

How Do Doctors Treat Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease treatment varies based on the specific condition but can include:

  • Medications, such as those that help lower plaque-forming cholesterol or break up blood clots
  • Surgeries to repair heart valves or replace or bypass sections of arteries
  • Pacemaker implantation to control the heart’s rhythm
  • Coronary angioplasty and stent placement to widen narrowed arteries and keep them open 

Of course, it’s much better to prevent heart disease than to have to treat it. 

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by:

  • Eating a healthy diet that keeps your cholesterol level within the accepted range
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing your stress level
  • Having regular checkups and following your doctor’s advice for maintaining good heart health
  • Treating conditions that can contribute to heart disease, such as diabetes and high blood pressure 

As a “bonus,” the steps above also reduce your risk of several other health problems!

Learn About Heart Care at Baptist Health

Keeping your heart healthy is essential to enjoying life to the fullest. Our heart care specialists at Baptist Health can help you do that.


Can You Go to Urgent Care for Skin Problems?

Dermatologists are doctors that specialize in conditions affecting the skin. If you develop a rash, sores, or other issues with your skin, they can diagnose and treat them. 

However, if you have concerns about a skin issue when a dermatologist isn’t available — evenings or weekends, for example — urgent care centers typically are open during those times. Can urgent care treat skin infections? Yes, the clinicians at an urgent care center can diagnose and treat common skin problems. 

And if necessary, they can refer you to a dermatologist for additional evaluation and care or as a follow-up to the treatment they provide. 

Why Do Skin Rashes Occur?

The term “rash” refers to many types of skin irritations. Most are minor and go away on their own or with over-the-counter treatments. You might develop temporary skin irritation from things like:

  • Insect stings or bites
  • Contact with chemical irritants
  • Getting a piercing or tattoo 
  • Exposure to hot or cold weather

However, a rash can indicate you have a more serious health condition. Consequently, if you aren’t sure what’s causing your skin irritation, you should seek medical attention.

Common Causes of Skin Rashes

In addition to the causes above, you might develop a rash from things like:

Eczema

This term covers several similar diseases that cause skin inflammation. Multiple factors play a role in eczema, including genetics, environmental triggers, stress, immune system overreaction, and others. The condition is common but not contagious. 

Contact dermatitis

As the name suggests, this type of skin irritation occurs when you come into contact with specific substances. The list of potential triggers is long and includes many plants (poison ivy, poison oak, etc.), soaps, pesticides, fabrics, nail polish, rubber gloves, hair dyes, body lotions, oils, perfumes, fabric softeners, and antibiotics. 

Viral and bacterial infections

Chickenpox, shingles, and staph infections are just a few examples of conditions that can cause a rash. These rashes are more concerning since you can transmit the illness that causes them to others. 

Fungal and parasitic infections

Fungal infections like athlete’s foot and yeast infections can cause significant skin irritation. Some, like athlete’s foot, are contagious, whereas others (yeast infections) generally are not. Scabies is an example of a parasitic infection. It’s caused by a mite that burrows into the skin and is highly contagious. 

Hay fever

People with the respiratory allergy called hay fever may develop a rash when certain allergens contact their skin. Hay fever isn’t contagious. 

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a noncontagious autoimmune disease that causes rashes and overproduction of skin cells resulting in silvery scales. 

Rosacea

Rosacea causes blood vessels near the surface of the skin on the face to expand, producing redness and a non-itchy rash. It’s not contagious. 

When to Visit Urgent Care for a Skin Rash

Most skin rashes are benign and don’t require urgent medical attention. However, you should visit an urgent care center if you experience a rash along with any of these symptoms:

– High-grade fever
– Sudden development and rapid spread of the irritation
– Coverage of 10% or more of the skin
– Signs of infection like crusting, swelling, yellow/green discharge, red streaks moving toward the heart, or warmth in the surrounding skin
– Tightness in the chest or trouble breathing
– Purple spots on the hands and feet
– Headache, joint pain, or tightness/swelling in the throat
– Pain that worsens despite treatment
– Rash that changes to blisters
– Rash that occurs in a sensitive area like around the eyes, mouth, or genitals

Learn More About Visiting Urgent Care for Skin Rashes and Other Skin Problems from Baptist Health

Baptist Health has many urgent care clinics in the area that can treat skin issues and address other urgent medical needs. Learn more about Baptist Health Urgent Care Services or find a location.