How to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the force with which your heart pumps blood through your body. It consists of two numbers, like 122/83 (spoken as “one twenty-two over eighty-three”). 

The top number (122 in this example) is your systolic blood pressure. It’s the pressure when your heart is contracting. The bottom number (83) is the diastolic pressure as your heart relaxes and fills with blood to prepare for the next contraction.

Doctors consider blood pressure lower than 120/80 normal. A systolic pressure of 130 or higher or a diastolic of 80 or higher is considered high. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and causing heart disease. Untreated high blood pressure can also cause strokes, kidney damage, and other serious health problems. 

In the middle ground between 120/79 and 130/79 is what’s called “elevated” blood pressure. If you have elevated blood pressure, you have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and potentially needing medication to control it. 

For people wondering how to lower blood pressure fast, there are no instant solutions. However, there are several actions you can take to lower elevated blood pressure over time without drugs.  

10 Ways to Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

Follow these 10 tips to lower your blood pressure or maintain a healthy reading:

  1. Get regular exercise. Exercise strengthens your heart and helps it use oxygen more efficiently. That means it doesn’t have to pump so hard to move blood through your vessels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity most days of the week. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program and increase the duration and intensity of your workouts gradually.  
  2. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol can elevate blood pressure even in otherwise healthy people. Men should limit the amount of alcohol consumed daily to two drinks and women to one drink. A “drink” is one 12-ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (whiskey, vodka, etc.). 
  3. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Losing five pounds or more can help lower your blood pressure. It also reduces your risk of several other health problems like diabetes, some cancers, and liver disease. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help you lose weight
  4. Limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine’s effect on blood pressure is temporary. Still, you should be aware of how much you consume and cut back if your doctor feels it may adversely affect your blood pressure. 
  5. Consume less sodium and more potassium. Regarding blood pressure, some people are more affected by sodium (salt) than others. But most people can benefit from reducing their sodium intake (from canned soup, deli meats, chips, and most processed foods) and getting more potassium. Potassium, which is found in low-fat dairy, fish, bananas, oranges, avocados, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and greens, decreases the effects of sodium in your system and helps relax blood vessels. But be aware that it can be harmful when consumed in large quantities by people with kidney disease. 
  6. Practice deep breathing. Relaxation and slow breathing decrease stress hormones in the blood that elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that increases blood pressure. Just five minutes of deep breathing in the morning and at night may help reduce your blood pressure. And if you can take five minutes several times a day, that’s even better!
  7. Talk to your doctor about excessive snoring. Snoring is common. But if you snore loudly and frequently, it may indicate obstructive sleep apnea. That condition can elevate your blood pressure, but there are treatments to address it. 
  8. Try medicinal herbs. You should always talk with your doctor before consuming herbs since they may be harmful or affect the medications you take. However, research suggests that herbs like ginger root, green and oolong teas, sesame oil, and others may be a way to lower blood pressure naturally.
  9. Stop smoking. Smoking increases blood pressure and elevates your risk of heart disease, some cancers, and other serious health problems. Quitting isn’t easy, but it can significantly impact your blood pressure and overall health. 
  10. Get regular checkups. It’s much easier to address elevated blood pressure than high blood pressure. See your doctor for an annual physical exam to ensure you catch blood pressure and other health problems when they are most treatable. And if your doctor determines you have high blood pressure and prescribes medication, be sure to take it as directed.

Manage Your Blood Pressure with Help from Baptist Health

Your Baptist Health primary care doctor is an excellent source of information and encouragement on blood pressure management. If you don’t yet have a Baptist Health physician, you can find one in our online provider directory


What Is Back Labor?

Labor often causes pain, cramping, or discomfort in the lower back. However, approximately 25% of patients experience what’s called back labor. What does back labor feel like? It’s severe discomfort in the lower back that peaks during contractions but can also be present between contractions. 

In addition to causing intense pain, back labor is often accompanied by slow-progressing labor, an irregular contraction pattern, and a longer pushing stage.  

What Causes Back Labor?

The baby’s position in the pelvis is a common cause of back labor. Specifically, the risk of back labor is higher when the baby is facing the mother’s abdomen (technically called the occiput posterior position). 

This so-called sunny-side-up orientation typically isn’t “sunny” for the laboring mother! It can cause the baby’s head to put pressure on the spine and sacrum (tailbone), producing intense pain. However, that fetal positioning doesn’t always cause back labor. Some babies are born with that orientation, and it causes no additional discomfort to the mother. 

Another risk factor for back labor is back pain during the menstrual cycle. Research suggests those who experience that type of discomfort are more likely to have back labor. 

How to Avoid or Relieve Back Labor

You can reduce the likelihood of experiencing back labor by performing activities throughout pregnancy that may help ensure your baby is in the right position when it’s time to deliver. They include: 

  • Walking, squatting, or performing lunges
  • Doing pelvic tilts
  • Using a hula-hoop
  • Sitting on a birthing ball
  • Sitting backward on the toilet or a chair
  • Having someone use a rebozo (a long, flat garment) or sheet to help shift your pelvis
  • Avoiding seated positions where your knees are higher than your hips, like on couches or chairs with deep, soft cushions

Your care team may also recommend some of the activities above if you develop back labor. 

You may also be able to reduce back labor discomfort by:

  • Applying strong counter-pressure
  • Taking a shower or warm bath, or sitting in a birth pool
  • Applying cold or hot compresses or a warm, rice-filled sock to the lower back
  • Applying rolling pressure to the lower back using a tennis ball, beverage can, water bottle, etc. 

Typically, a combination of baby-repositioning techniques and pressure- or temperature-related comfort measures provides the most relief. 

Is Back Labor Harmful to Mother or Baby?

Back labor itself doesn’t physically harm a mother or unborn baby. However, it can adversely affect the childbirth experience, so it should be addressed. 

In addition, babies in undesirable positions during the birthing process typically have an increased risk of complications. This can include prolonged labor and greater fatigue for the mother, the use of forceps or a vacuum device during delivery, the need for an episiotomy (small incisions to widen the vaginal opening), and cesarean section (C-section).  

Learn More About Maternity Care Services at Baptist Health

Whatever type of labor you experience, our mother and baby care experts at Baptist Health can help you maximize your comfort and enjoy a safe, uneventful delivery. Learn more about our maternity care services today.  


How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect the Baby?

Diabetes is a condition where your body’s cells don’t use glucose (sugar) properly. When your doctor diagnoses it in you for the first time while you’re pregnant, it’s called gestational diabetes. 

Most women who develop gestational diabetes and take steps to manage it have normal pregnancies. But if you don’t treat the condition, it can have adverse effects on your baby. 

Effects of Gestational Diabetes on Babies

Gestational diabetes typically doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. Common symptoms are increased thirst and more frequent urination, which are easy to dismiss because you’re pregnant. 

Consequently, if you’re considering getting pregnant, visiting your doctor is a good idea. They can assess your gestational diabetes risk and be prepared to address it when you become pregnant. That way, you protect your baby from the effects of gestational diabetes, which can include:

Increased birth weight

High blood sugar can cause a baby to grow to nine pounds or more. That size makes a baby more likely to become stuck in the birth canal. If they do, they can suffer injuries. You may also have to give birth via C-section.

Preterm birth

If your blood sugar is high throughout your pregnancy, it increases the risk of delivering your baby before your due date. Your doctor may also decide to have you deliver early because of concerns about the baby’s size. Neither of those scenarios is ideal. It’s best to carry your baby to term.

Hypoglycemia

This condition is often referred to as low blood sugar. Severe episodes can cause your baby to have seizures. Your care team can address hypoglycemia by having you feed your baby promptly after giving birth or administering intravenous glucose. But it’s best if your baby never develops the condition. 

Respiratory distress syndrome

Babies that are born early may have trouble breathing. This condition occurs because the baby’s lungs aren’t fully developed. It can require medication, oxygen therapy, and breathing support. 

Obesity and type 2 diabetes

There are also long-term effects of gestational diabetes on children. Specifically, it increases the risk of a child being obese later in life. It can also increase the likelihood that they will develop type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or its cells don’t respond appropriately to insulin. 

Get Details on Diabetes Care at Baptist Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gestational diabetes affects 2% to 10% of pregnancies. Fortunately, your doctor can identify and help you manage the condition so you have a normal pregnancy. 

Learn more about diabetes care at Baptist Health


How to Prepare for an MRI

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure uses radio waves and powerful magnets (and no ionizing radiation) to create images of the inside of a person’s body. Doctors review these images to diagnose diseases or injuries, check on a patient’s treatment progress, etc. 

An MRI machine is like a large tunnel that produces loud sounds. And since doctors typically only order MRIs to provide insights on significant medical conditions, the process can be intimidating, both for kids and adults. 

But, as they say, knowledge is power. Below will help you prepare for an MRI so you can go into the procedure well-informed and confident.

What Is an MRI With Contrast?

Your care team may give you an injection of a contrast agent. This dye helps produce detailed images of specific areas or structures in your body. 

The contrast agent is safe, and most patients tolerate it well. However, you should be alert for signs of an allergic reaction in the hours after your procedure. They include rash, hives, itchiness, and shortness of breath. If you experience these symptoms or anything else concerning, you should contact your doctor or the imaging center promptly. 

If you have a rare severe allergic reaction, you should get treatment at an urgent care center or emergency room.

Can I Eat Before an MRI?

You don’t have to alter your diet before an MRI, including on the day of the procedure, unless your doctor specifies otherwise. The same is true of taking medications. Keep taking them as directed unless your doctor provides different instructions.

The test will take some time, so you may want to avoid drinking too much water just before the procedure to minimize the need for bathroom breaks.  

Getting Ready for an MRI

Follow these eight tips as you prepare for an MRI:

  1. Tell your doctor if you’re prone to claustrophobia. Some people have a strong adverse reaction to being in enclosed spaces. While the MRI machine is open at both ends, well lit, and has a fan to keep you comfortable, it can still trigger claustrophobia in some people. If you have concerns about this, your doctor can prescribe medication to help you relax. 
  2. Take off all jewelry before going to the imaging center. Because an MRI machine is essentially a giant magnet, your technician will advise you to remove all jewelry. Since you may be stressed when you arrive at the imaging center and potentially forget an item, it’s best to take your time and remove all jewelry at home.  
  3. Talk with your doctor about any current or past medical issues. This includes a history of kidney problems or diabetes, a pacemaker, implanted medical devices like insulin pumps, cochlear implants, shrapnel or bullets that you may have in your body, and whether you are or might be pregnant. Your doctor will also have a list of questions to ask you about your medical history, so a clear picture of your eligibility for a scan will develop between your recollections and answers to those questions.
  4. Avoid getting new piercings. Even in the relatively short time it takes for an MRI, a recent piercing hole can begin to close, and you don’t want to have to deal with that after your procedure. 
  5. Follow your doctor’s advice closely. Typically, your doctor will explain why they’re having you do or not do certain things before your MRI. However, if they neglect to explain a particular request, just know that it has to do with your safety and comfort, the quality of the imaging results, or both.  
  6. Make plans for a ride home. If you require medication to relax for your procedure, you won’t be able to drive home. 
  7. Mentally prepare yourself. During your exam, you’ll need to remain still in an environment that’s probably foreign to you. Prepare yourself for that but also know that you’ll be able to communicate with the tech during the test if you have any concerns or experience significant discomfort.
  8. Arrive early. Arriving well before your scheduled procedure time means you won’t miss it. It also gives you time to settle in and relax so that you don’t feel stressed as the procedure begins.  

After your procedure, a doctor called a radiologist will review the results, write a report, and provide it to your physician. This typically takes around five business days. The tech who performs your procedure won’t be able to provide you with any information about the images, but they may offer to give you a copy of them on a CD for your records.

Learn More About Imaging and Diagnostic Services at Baptist Health

Our imaging experts have extensive experience helping patients remain comfortable during an MRI while getting the images doctors need to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries. Learn more about imaging services at Baptist Health

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


What Is Shingles?

Shingles is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — varicella-zoster. If you’ve had chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in your nervous system until it becomes active and travels to your skin. 

Shingles causes a painful rash that can occur anywhere on the body but most often appears as a band of blisters wrapping around the torso. The condition isn’t life-threatening, but it can cause significant discomfort until it runs its course in two to six weeks. People who get shingles typically don’t experience it again, but it’s possible to have it multiple times. 

Also, some people develop postherpetic neuralgia in which shingles pain persists for an extended period after the blisters heal. 

Other Symptoms of Shingles

Shingles most often affects only one side of the body. In addition to a rash, the infection can cause:

  • Pain or burning sensation, itching, tingling, or numbness in the affected area
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fever

Typically, the first symptom to appear is pain. Depending on the outbreak’s location, patients may mistakenly attribute the discomfort to heart, kidney, or lung issues. 

Most patients develop a rash after the onset of pain. However, some people have pain but never develop a rash.

Shingles Around the Eyes

Shingles is most common on the torso. However, it can also appear on the neck or face, including around the eyes. 

If you think you have shingles, you should contact your doctor right away. It’s crucial to get prompt medical advice if the infection is near your eye. Untreated shingles around the eyes can cause permanent eye damage. 

It’s also important to talk with your doctor if you have other factors, such as:

  • Being 60 or older, as that increases the risk of complications
  • Having a compromised immune system or living with someone else who does
  • Developing a widespread shingles rash or one that’s particularly painful

Risk Factors and Shingles Treatment

Your risk of developing shingles is higher if:

  • You’re 50 or older.
  • You’re undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer, which can lower your disease resistance and trigger the shingles virus.
  • You take certain medications like steroids or drugs to prevent your body from rejecting an organ transplant.

Is shingles contagious? Yes, you can transmit the virus that causes shingles to anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. Consequently, you should avoid physical contact with others who might be susceptible to the virus until after the blisters have developed scabs. This includes pregnant people, newborns, and people with weakened immune systems.

You should get the shingles vaccine if you’re 50 or older or if your doctor recommends it. 

There’s no cure for shingles. But if you develop the condition, your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs that accelerate healing and reduce your risk of complications. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to address your shingles symptoms. 

Talk with Your Baptist Health Primary Care Doctor About Shingles and the Shingles Vaccine

If you have questions about shingles (including myths about the condition) or whether you should get the shingles vaccine, your primary care physician is happy to answer them. Check out our online provider directory if you need to find a Baptist Health doctor.


How to Make Yourself Poop 

If you’ve ever been constipated, you know how uncomfortable and frustrating it can be when you need to have a bowel movement but are unable to “poop.” Fortunately, there are actions you can take to get relief.

Be aware that while occasional constipation is normal, frequent constipation can be a sign of an underlying health condition. Contact your doctor if you have concerns about the frequency or severity of your constipation. 

Below are tips on how to poop when constipated. Some can be effective in hours, whereas others take days to work. So, whether you need to know how to poop fast or can be a little more patient, this information is helpful. 

Drink coffee

Regarding drinks that make you poop immediately; coffee is probably the first that comes to mind. You should drink it warm (rather than iced coffee, for example) to maximize the benefit. Of course, coffee contains caffeine, so you should drink it in moderation. 

Squat when you poop

Setting the soles of your feet on a small footstool in front of the toilet essentially puts you into a squatting position. That position is more effective for pooping.

Use a fiber supplement

You can find fiber supplements in stores or online. They typically contain types of fiber like psyllium, calcium polycarbophil, or methylcellulose. Fiber adds volume to your stool, making it easier for your body to move it through your digestive tract and out of your body. 

Take a stimulant laxative

There are different types of laxatives. This form makes your intestines contract, which forces contents further down your digestive tract. That action can take 6 to 12 hours to make you poop. Doctors advise patients to use stimulant laxatives only when other treatments haven’t worked.

Take an osmotic laxative

These laxatives help move fluids through the colon, which can relieve constipation. They’re effective for many people but generally take 2 to 3 days to work. 

Take a lubricant laxative

Substances like mineral oil coat the intestinal walls and your stool mass. This helps your stools retain water, making it easier to pass them. 

Try a stool softener

Stool softeners pull water from the intestines into your stool. Again, your body can move stools more easily if they are soft and bulky. 

Use a suppository

Available without a prescription in the pharmacy, suppositories soften stools and help you pass them. You insert a suppository into your rectum. 

Massage your colon

Gentle colonic massage can assist your body in moving stools through the colon. You can find videos of this technique online. 

Exercise

Exercising increases blood flow to your abdomen, stimulating your digestive tract and encouraging the movement of stools. 

Give yourself an enema

Enemas, which you can find in the pharmacy, introduce fluid into your rectum, softening your stool and helping you poop.

Eat a high-fiber diet

Eating high-fiber foods can assist in resolving a current bout of constipation and reduce the likelihood of future episodes. High-fiber foods include oats, brown rice, beans, whole grain bread and pasta, fibrous fruits like bananas and apples, nuts, and fibrous vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, and leafy greens. 

Stay hydrated

As noted in several of the treatment options above, your body can move soft stools with adequate water content more effectively. Staying hydrated by drinking approximately eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily can help prevent constipation. And if you’re currently constipated, drinking a large glass of water can encourage a bowel movement. 

Use natural remedies

Some people poop more frequently and easily when taking natural remedies like probiotics. They’re generally safe but aren’t advised for some people, such as those who are immunocompromised. Contact your doctor if you have questions about whether natural remedies are right for you. 

Talk with Your Baptist Health Primary Care Physician About Constipation

If you experience regular constipation, you should talk with your primary care doctor. They can help you determine what’s causing it and advise you on how to make pooping simpler and less stressful.  

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


Like a Pro: Gemma Bonner – Self-Care

We are continuing with our mini-series Like A Pro. Today, we hear from Gemma Bonner, a defender for Racing Louisville FC. Gemma has learned firsthand the importance of self-care, recovery and rest. As a professional athlete, these things are critical to maintaining top performance, though they ring true for everyday life, as well. 

To kick off the conversation, Gemma first shares why self-care is so important for her as a woman and athlete. The older she gets, the more important a ritual of self-care has become in her life. She has learned that self-care can be beneficial in different ways, both mentally and physically. It’s so easy to get caught up in our external world and forget the simple task of looking after ourselves. It can be as simple as making sure you are getting enough sleep and putting good fuel into your body.

Gemma reveals her practical approaches to self-care. First and most importantly, she ensures that she gets enough sleep—at least 8 hours every night. To help with sleep and relaxation, she often turns to meditation. She also drinks plenty of water and stays hydrated to avoid fatigue and brain fog. She has recently taken up the commitment of yoga, which has helped her performance and mental health. She admits that she finds self-care easier to practice when she is on her training schedule in the U.S. compared to back home in England. For those struggling with time, she offers advice on getting started.

It’s important for Gemma to find a balance between her life, work and socializing. Our society reinforces the message of hustle culture, especially for women. Gemma has learned that she doesn’t necessarily have to push herself to the extreme in one area, when there are so many other areas she could improve in. This might include something as simple as reading a book to help mental toughness. If there is anyone listening who feels they need permission to give themselves a break, this is your sign. Pushing beyond your limits can actually be more harmful than good.

Finally, Gemma participates in a lightning question round so that listeners can get to know her a little better. Hear about her bedtime routine, mood-boosting music and her favorite thing to do in Louisville.

Key Takeaways:

  • [0:49] Introduction to the episode and today’s guest.
  • [2:06] Why is self-care important for Gemma?
  • [3:46]  What do self-care and recovery look like for Gemma?
  • [8:24] Gemma’s biggest self care struggle. 
  • [11:52] The red flags which tell Gemma she isn’t practicing self-care as well as she could be.
  • [15:18] Finding the balance between self-care and peace of mind.
  • [19:54] Lightning question round.
  • [21:43] Closing thoughts.

Learn more about Racing Louisville FC.

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View Transcript

Speaker 1: Well, welcome back to HealthTalks NOW, a podcast brought to you by Baptist Health, where I ask the experts the health and wellness questions that matter most. We are so excited to be back kicking off our third season of the show. And I have to say, we have quite the season lined up for you, including some surprises and some special guests. So right now, make sure you’re subscribed to the show so you don’t miss an episode. Go click that subscribe button so that you’ll be getting notification every time we drop a new episode.

Welcome back to HealthTalks NOW, a podcast brought to you by Baptist Health, where I ask the experts the health and wellness questions that matter the most. We’re continuing on today in a spinoff, a little mini series of the show that we’re calling Like a Pro. If you missed last episode, you’ll want to go back and take a listen when we talked to Tyler Gibson from Louisville City FC. He gave us a lot of great nutrition tips on how he eats well and fuels his body well so that he can continue playing like a pro.

Today, we are talking with Gemma Bonner, a defender for Racing Louisville FC. Gemma has learned firsthand the importance of self-care, recovery and rest. As a professional athlete, these things are critical to maintaining top performance, but they also ring true in everyday life for non-athletes as well. Taking the time to care for and rest our bodies is paramount to overall health and wellbeing.

Take a listen in as we talk with Gemma and get some of her best rest and recovery tips that help her continue performing like a pro.

Well, Gemma, thank you so much for taking time to come talk with us today. I’m excited to have you on this special episode of the show.

Gemma Bonner: No, I’m so excited to be a part of it and I’m excited to get started.

Speaker 1: So we’re going to talk about self-care today. And I think the idea of self-care is something that went from kind of non-existent, to almost the complete opposite swing of the pendulum to being something that’s such a buzzword it almost loses its value a little bit. So let’s start really basic. Why is self-care important to you as a woman, as an athlete? And what role does it play in your life as a professional athlete?

Gemma Bonner: Yeah. I mean, for me, it’s usually important, especially the older that I’m getting. And I guess I’ve been exposed to a lot more different methods or ways, whether that be to help me mentally, physically or any kind of other way. And just to keep healthy in general, I think that’s so huge at the moment with the society. And I think there’s so many things that can kind of take you away, or you kind of get sidetracked with things that are going on, the social life, things like that. But it’s quite easy to forget the simple ways, like you say, about looking after yourself first and foremost. And if you do that and you’re feeling healthy in yourself, then it allows you to live a happy life. Yeah. It’s something for me that obviously I need to do it for my job. Every single day, it’s something that I really need to take care of myself. And it’s something that I try and enjoy doing to make it something as part of my routine, because it enables me to live a happy life.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think you make a good point. It doesn’t have to be this real complicated thing. It’s just generally making sure that your body is getting enough sleep. And putting good fuel into your body is a form of self-care. But let’s talk some more about practicality, because one of the things that drives me crazy when you hear talk about self-care is the lack of practical application. They’ll tell you that you need self-care, but they won’t tell you what you should do. So what does self-care and recovery look like for you? What have you found that works? Or maybe what practical tips can you share with our listeners that you use to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually?

Gemma Bonner: I mean, the first simple one for me is sleep.

Speaker 1: So important.

Gemma Bonner: I make sure I try and get at least eight hours a night. But I’ve also learned that, I think probably when I was younger I used to almost think in my head, if I don’t have eight hours sleep, I’m tired. And that was almost a mental thought. I might not have been tired, but I was almost thinking like, oh, I’ve not had a good night’s sleep. I’m tired today. But I’ve kind of learned, ideally I’ll try and get into a good routine. And I wouldn’t try and be on my phone, I won’t do anything like that probably from 9:00, 9:30 onwards to make sure I get eight hours. And now that I’m into a routine, I tend to wake up without an alarm. But I also don’t stress if I don’t have the full night’s sleep, I try and then just squeeze it, even if it’s a 20 minute nap in the next day, just to kind of get a little extra boost in.

So yeah, sleep’s probably the first thing for me. I also to help with that, I try and relax and I do a lot of the meditation, just listen to one of them. And you sometimes if I’m thinking I’ve got a lot of thoughts going through my head in the evening, I’m like, I’ve got to do this, this and this, and it’s stopping you from sleeping, I find it helps if I just put one of those on and I very rarely hear the end of the session. I mean, there’s so many of those that are readily available now online, or through podcasts, or whatever it is. And it doesn’t have to be a long one. It can be 10, 20 minutes, but I find it really helps me kind of relax and put my body in recovery mode, essentially.

Another thing I tend to do is drink water. It’s very basic, but I can usually tell in myself if I’m not hydrated. Makes me feel a bit kind of slow mentally and tired. So those two for me are probably the most easy, basic things that I try and do on a daily basis. But other than that, I’ve actually recently started doing yoga, and I’ve found it’s been amazing for me on both a performance side, it’s helped my body recover quicker, but also kind of taking the time to concentrate on what you’re doing. And yeah, I guess it was something that I wanted to do for a while and I’d kind of sporadically done it, but never made it, okay, I’m going to do it on a consistent basis and regularly every week or every few days. So I’d kind of done it for periods before, a few weeks at a time and then stopped. But it’s something now that, this is probably the longest time that I’ve really kind of committed to it and I’m really kind of starting to feel the benefits, both mentally and in terms of how my body’s recovering.

Speaker 1: So how’d you get started with yoga? What did you do? You’re like, I want to do this. What was your step?

Gemma Bonner: Well, I’ve actually done hot yoga at home, back in England. Again, but it would just be kind of in the off-season, you still want to do something, but it was a good recovery. And I guess at home I never really kind of continued it, because it’s kind of trying to find the time and you always almost find something else to do. And it was actually over here, one of the girls mentioned, “oh, I want to do yoga.” So I was like, “I want to do it as well. Let’s find somewhere.” So we found somewhere. And I think because we went regularly, I’ve actually now made it as part of a routine on a recovery day or I make sure that I go. I kind of have the routine that we do, and sometimes I’ll do it just at home on my own if I need to do a little extra or just to kind of allow myself that time to focus on myself essentially, because I think it’s quite easy to get carried away and do so many other things, and forget about actually yourself and what you need to do.

Speaker 1: It is. I think especially as women, it’s easy to let everything else kind of stack up ahead of yourself. But I love that you mention things that are attainable and basic, because sometimes it’s the easiest things that take the best care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the spa or something very fancy or elaborate. It can literally be making sure your body sleeps, and giving it good food and making sure it’s got enough hydration. But on the flip side of the coin, I heard you mention time. What is your biggest self-care struggle and how have you, or are you overcoming it?

Gemma Bonner: Yeah. I mean, I have to admit, I find it much easier to do it when I’m over here and I’m in my training schedule, whereas when I’m back home, there’s always so many other things to do. So I completely get it. There’s so many people that’ll say, I can’t have time. So if I find myself through the days kind of not giving myself time, I’ve tended to, because I wake up early, because I try and sleep early, instead of staying in bed for kind of half an hour and just slowly waking up, I’ll try and get up. And even if it’s just, like I said, the 20 minute meditation or the 20 minute yoga session, there’s actually so many online. I didn’t realize how many there was. And I’ll try and do that. Use the time in the morning, the 20 minutes, because for me, something is better than nothing.

In my head, I think I should be able to find 20 minutes out of my day to put aside that time. And in that time, I’ll try and focus on the area that I feel the most. So it might be my back, it might be my legs, whatever I feel, or it might be a mental meditation on focus. There’s so many that you can do. So I try and, if I’ve not done it, I might, okay, come on Gemma, 20 minutes of your day. And I try and think how I feel afterwards. And I’m glad that I’ve done it.

Speaker 1: That’s such a takeaway for me, especially is that I think a lot of us get into this all or nothing mode where we’re like, if I can’t do it perfectly or if I can’t do it every single day for an hour, I’m just not, what’s the point? And you’re right. I mean, 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, they stack up and they create such a change in how you feel and how you look. And it’s worth it. I saw this speaker once, she said she lives by a five second countdown rule. So like you said, when she’s trying to get out of bed in the morning, have you heard this? Where she’s like, all right, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Let’s go. And that just gives her no excuse to keep procrastinating. I think that’s such a good tip you gave.

Gemma Bonner: Yeah. I think you have to kind of not set, I’m going to do this, this and this every single day for the next five months, because I find you never really kind of do it and you almost end up like, oh, I’ve not done it again. I’ve not done it again.

Whereas I’m like, even if it’s 10 minutes a day for six out of seven days a week, that’s an hour more than I did last week, because I still couldn’t find an hour a day last week. So for me, that’s probably my biggest thing, but it’s more, as I say, as I’m getting older, I’m realizing, or I’ve probably got more time to think about what I need to do. And you start to feel a bit more tired.

But I think for me, it’s really helped me in my training. So once I’ve kind of got that sense of like, okay, it’s helping me, it makes you want to do it more. And I think the hardest thing is starting. And then once you kind of be like, oh, this is actually, I feel better once I’ve done it. And that it’s, what? 15 minutes. I think that’s probably the biggest takeaway that I’ve started to really try and find that time, whether it’s first thing in the morning or lasting at night, 15 minutes before you go to bed.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Well, I think burnout is kind of inevitable in most people, but I imagine, especially as a professional athlete, when you’re not only balancing a very physically and emotionally demanding career, but you’ve also got just the normal struggles and stressors of life and family. What are some of your red flags or warning signs that let you know, I’m not taking good care of myself, I need to take more time and recover, or that you’re not prioritizing your self-care?

Gemma Bonner: Yeah. It’s funny you should say that actually, because the other morning I’ve definitely not had my eight hours, nowhere near. And I was like, Gemma, I’ve stayed awake far too long last night, but I’d actually been out socializing and had a great night. And I was like, right, today I’m really … This is what happens when I don’t like look after myself and have as much rest as I needed to. I was on the day off the next day, so I didn’t have to go in training. So I think I probably only got five or six hours. But naturally because I wake up early, I couldn’t sleep in. So I was like, okay, I’m going to get up. I’m going to do my yoga. And then in the afternoon I had a nap. And I’m not really one that likes napping because I like to try and be productive with my day.

But that was, I really kind of felt like mentally, I was like, I’m not really in the mood. I just want to lie on the sofa all day. And that was a sign to me be like, I can’t ever be like that if I have training or whatever it is the next day. But on the flip side, it’s important that you do kind of enjoy the times, because again, that’s self-care. You need to have a good balance between your life, your work, your social. So I think I was like, I’ve had a great night, but today I need to rest and be ready to go back tomorrow. So I made sure I ate well. But I think in terms of how I felt, I just felt tired and I was like, I just need to rest. I don’t need to go and train. I don’t need to go out. I don’t need to go anywhere. I just need to just spend some time, and moving, and eating well and drinking.

Speaker 1: Well, that’s something we hear just in society overwhelmingly. So it feels like lately is just, I’m tired. I’m worn out. I’m burned out. And I think there’s probably a lot of reasons for that, especially in the last couple years. But taking better care of ourself can certainly, I think eliminate a lot of that just general drain on our energy and our fatigue.

Gemma Bonner: Yeah. I think I also, it’s quite easy, like I said before, to think, I’m tired. I can’t do anything. I don’t have the energy to. But I always find making myself get up and move around, and whether it’s have a shower straight away and go out for a walk, it almost gives you energy. So it’s quite easy to be like, oh I’ve not slept. I’m going to stay in bed all day. If you kind of get up, you make some breakfast, you walk around, then you might go back and have a nap. But I think if you kind of get up, you move, you have a walk around, then it can almost be the flip, as in you’re too tired to do something, you come back, I’ve done it. I feel so much better for it. And now I can rest again. So it’s quite easy. I almost find I’m more tired when I don’t do anything.

Speaker 1: That’s so interesting. And I think, I mean, you’re right. It’s kind of like inertia. You get yourself a little bit of momentum and then it kind of builds, and builds and builds. But if you don’t ever start that process and you just kind of give in to the temptation of just kind of lazing around all day, then you just stay in that state. Well, I think our society really reinforces the message of hustle culture, so you say. The harder you push, the more you’ll have. And I think this is especially true for women who get all these messages that they should just be able to do everything, and succeed at home, and on the field and at school, and all of our relationships, and we should look great while we do it. So how do you balance this drive that you have, I’m sure to excel on and off the field, but also giving yourself grace and respecting the natural limits of your body and your mind?

Gemma Bonner: Yeah. I mean, again, it’s something I’ve experienced in terms of, especially being around so many females and the mentality of, you’ve always got to work harder than someone next to you. And I think that’s just so normal within the female environment that you have to do everything 100% of the time and every minute of every day. And it’s something that I’ve, again, probably seen in so many different ways. But I’ve learned now, not necessarily working, you don’t have to work harder, whether it be physically, you don’t have to push yourself, because there’s also so many other areas that you can learn and improve. So it physically, you might be out on your feet and there’s still, everybody’s wanting to train, and get better and run. But actually, if you are in that much of a fatigued state, you can spend time on that recovery.

Like we just said, the self-care, but also it might be reading a book, which is going to help your mentality side, your attitude, your how you think and how you kind of process your day. So there’s so many, you’re still improving, and you’re still pushing and you’re still getting better every day, but you’re just using a different method. So it might be watching footballs, watching games back, watching the analysis side of things. You’re still learning. It might be reading a book to help your mental toughness, or you develop your winning mentality and learning from how other people do it. Or it might just be completely escaping the whole situation, but you’re still resting your mind, you’re still resting your body. So there’s so many other avenues that you can spend time working on and kind of investing yourself into it.

And in the background, you still, although it might not feel like you’re really pushing and working hard, you’re still progressing yourself as a person, you’re still developing every day. So for me, that’s something that, again, you learn as you get older as to what you need, but there’s so many, I’d say little one percenters that you can do. And it’s not always the obvious one that, okay, I need to be out on the field every single day, running as hard as I can. There comes a point where you’re going to experience the burnout. So I’m going to run this day, but the next day I’m going to use that time to watch video, have conversations with other people, and learn that way and still progress.

Speaker 1: That’s so important. I hope anybody at home who maybe needs permission to take the break is listening here, because I think you’re right. Sometimes if you push beyond kind of what your limit is, whether that’s physically, or just emotionally or mentally, you can actually do more damage then you do good. I mean, you can hurt yourself.

Gemma Bonner: [inaudible 00:18:43] … start to come and you start feeling tired, salvation. You will hit a point where your performance, it either stays the same or it starts to dip. And I always say recovery and rest is just as important, because if you don’t do that, your body doesn’t allow the time to adapt to the training that you’ve done, and recover and be stronger. And I’ve always found that as much as it’s so hard to take days off, because that’s just natural how we are as athletes, you find that you train hard all week and all of a sudden you have two days off, and on Monday it might take you a bit to kind of get back into it, but on a Tuesday you’re like, wow, I feel fresh today.

And you might not realize it until a few days afterwards, but you can really then be like, oh, and then you realize it’s because I’ve actually had rest and my body’s covered. I think it’s usually important that, especially for females, the mentality is to work all the time and the pressure. But self-care is so important. And having that balance between working, and life, and enjoyment and kind of doing what you do all in a kind of, if you manage the time, then you should be able to do everything.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Well I love that. And I really appreciate your input. I think it’s really helpful to hear from somebody who definitely has a full plate and who’s had to learn probably some lessons the hard way about juggling and taking really good care of yourself. Before we let you go, are you up for a quick little lightning question round so we can get to know you a little better?

Gemma Bonner: Yeah, let’s go.

Speaker 1: Okay. All right. Number one, what is your evening or bedtime routine?

Gemma Bonner: Oh. Cup of tea, English [inaudible 00:20:26] … meditation, sleep.

Speaker 1: Perfect. If you could pause life and plan 48 hours of pure indulgence and relaxation, what would you do?

Gemma Bonner: Right now, I would probably head back home to England, spend time with my family and come back. And I reckon with the flight times I could just get [inaudible 00:20:47]-

Speaker 1: Yeah. You’d barely make it. All right. What’s on your playlist that is guaranteed to give you an immediate mood boost?

Gemma Bonner: Oh, probably Bob Marley.

Speaker 1: Oh yeah. That’s good. If you could play any position other than what you play now, what would it be?

Gemma Bonner: I’d probably say a striker, because they are all the glory and score the goals.

Speaker 1: There you go. And what is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?

Gemma Bonner: I really enjoy, we live by the waterfront, so going out for walks around there. But also, there’s so many cool places to go out and eat. So I definitely get the social side.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Well, perfect. Well thank you, Gemma, so much. It’s been really a pleasure talking with you.

Gemma Bonner: Oh thank you so much for having me.

Speaker 1: And we appreciate your time. We will definitely be cheering you on, on the field this season and we look forward to seeing you.

Gemma Bonner: Amazing. Thanks so much.

Speaker 1:   All right. Have a great day.

Gemma Bonner:Thank you [inaudible 00:21:39].

Speaker 1: Thanks.

Gemma Bonner: Bye.

Speaker 1: Well, thanks so much for listening in today. I hope you’re enjoying this mini series Like a Pro, brought to you by our partnership with Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC. That conversation with Gemma really hit home. And I know I for one AM taking away a lot of good tips and maybe some motivation to prioritize rest, recovery and self-care in my own life. I hope you are too. We’ll put the links to Racing Louisville FC’s website in the show notes of today’s episode so that you can go on, learn a little bit more about the players, get their schedule and maybe even attend a game. And as always, for all of your health and wellness needs, you can visit baptisthealth.com to find a physician near you, or start a virtual care visit 24/7, 7 days a week. We’ll see you next time on HealthTalks NOW. Stay well.


What Are Bladder Infections?

Bladder infections occur when bacteria enter the bladder and multiply. Typically, they are acute infections, meaning they happen suddenly, although some people experience chronic bladder infections that recur frequently.

Bladder Infection vs. UTI

The term urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to a condition that develops anywhere in the urinary system. That includes bladder infections. Other parts of the tract that can become infected are your:

  • Kidneys, which produce urine
  • Ureters, which carry urine to your bladder in what’s considered the lower tract
  • Urethra, through which urine leaves your body 

UTIs are more common in the lower urinary tract since bacteria can access it more easily. And they are different from yeast infections.

What Causes Bladder Infections?

Most bladder infections are caused by a bacteria called Escherichia coli (E. coli). It’s found naturally in the large intestines and can find its way to the urinary tract if you get stool on your skin when you have a bowel movement.  

Most bacteria that enter the urinary tract are flushed out when you urinate. In some instances, bacteria get to the bladder and cling to the walls, at which point your body can’t expel them through urination. If the bacteria multiply faster than your immune system can respond, you develop a bladder infection. 

Women have a higher risk of bladder infections because their urethra is short and opens to the outside of the body near the anus. This makes it easier for bacteria to get into the body. 

Men experience a higher risk of bladder infections as they age if their prostate enlarges and inhibits urine flow.  

What Are the Symptoms of a Bladder Infection?

Bladder infection symptoms vary based on their severity. They include:

  • Painful urination
  • The need to urinate more frequently
  • Cloudy urine or blood in the urine
  • The sensation that you need to urinate urgently
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Pressure or cramping in the lower back or abdomen

If a bladder infection expands to the kidneys, it can cause pain in the middle of the back. Unlike with a backache, this pain stays the same regardless of your position. Kidney infections also cause chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting. They require urgent medical care. 

How Do Doctors Diagnose and Treat Bladder Infections?

To diagnose a bladder infection, doctors check a urine sample in a process called a urinalysis. They look for signs of infection, including white blood cells, bacteria, red blood cells, and nitrites. They also perform a urine culture to determine the specific type of bacteria present. That information helps them determine which type of antibiotic to prescribe to treat the infection

Learn About Urology Services at Baptist Health

Doctors who specialize in conditions affecting the urinary tract are called urologists. You can learn more about what they do online. Your primary care doctor may be able to treat your bladder infection or other UTI, or they may refer you to our urology experts if necessary. 

If you don’t have a primary care doctor or want to find a urologist, you can use the Baptist Health provider directory.  


Mental Health in Student-Athletes

Clinically reviewed by Jennifer Whittington, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Being a student-athlete can be a very rewarding experience. Benefits of playing sports while in school include enhanced self-esteem, better body image, and supportive camaraderie with teammates and coaches. 

But being a student-athlete can be stressful, too. Consequently, coaches, parents, and student-athletes must understand the mental health risks, including warning signs. 

Stressors Student-Athletes Face

It’s easy to believe that student-athletes — especially those who demonstrate academic and athletic success — “have it all.” What many people don’t know is that this dual challenge can come with intense pressure, including:

  • The risk of falling short of expectations in one or both areas
  • The challenge of meeting both studying and training requirements
  • The fear of injuries that could derail an athletic career
  • Conflict with teachers and coaches who push student-athletes to excel
  • Conflict with parents, siblings, and others who want more of the person’s time

In some instances, these pressures can cause or worsen mental health issues.  

Signs of Mental Health Difficulties in Student-Athletes

Every student-athlete responds to stress differently. But if you notice any or all of these behaviors, it’s a good idea to intervene appropriately:

  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Significant changes in eating habits
  • Unexplained decrease in academic or athletic performance
  • Increased apathy or hopelessness
  • Increased worry or agitation
  • Social isolation
  • Talk of self-harm

If you have concerns about a student-athlete, a good first step is to have an honest conversation about how they’re coping with everything they have on their plate. 

What Coaches and Parents Can Do to Help Student-Athletes

People who interact with and care about student-athletes can protect their mental health by taking these actions:

  • Establish and maintain a strong, trusting relationship.
  • Reduce the stigma associated with mental health by treating it as one of the many aspects of academic and athletic performance that must be prioritized and monitored.
  • Offer to be a resource and supporter for a student-athlete that experiences mental health challenges.
  • Make it clear that a mental health problem doesn’t have to end a promising academic or athletic career.
  • Have regular informational conversations about mental health topics like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use, etc.

What Student-Athletes Can Do to Protect Their Mental Health

Student-athletes who have tactics for coping with the stress they experience feel empowered to protect their mental health. Parents and coaches should advise them to:

  • Set and keep priorities. Student-athletes may experience less stress if they block separate time for schoolwork and sports and don’t allow one to interfere with the other.
  • Develop interests outside of school and sports. Student-athletes can suffer mental health issues if they build their identity exclusively around academic and athletic success, and they suffer a setback in either area. Finding time for other interests may be difficult, but being a well-rounded person is crucial. 
  • Be transparent about their stress level. Simply acknowledging to a coach, family member, or friend that they’re feeling especially stressed can help relieve some of the pressure. 
  • Seek help if the pressure starts affecting their quality of life. Student-athletes should understand they don’t need to reach a breaking point before asking for assistance. “Going it alone” isn’t a sign of strength or competitive spirit. In fact, the opposite is true: Seeking help demonstrates strength, maturity, and wisdom. Taking action is also the best way to ensure that they can continue enjoying life as a student-athlete if that’s what they want to do. 

Coaches and Parents: Your Mental Health Is Crucial, too

Being the coach or parent of a student-athlete is challenging. To provide the guidance and support they need, you’ve also got to take care of your mental health. That includes:

  • Expressing and discussing your feelings with others in healthy ways.  
  • Solving problems with the student, not for them.
  • Getting the nutrition and exercise you need to be healthy. 
  • Learning breathing or grounding techniques to help regulate your emotions. 
  • Challenging negative thought patterns so that you can start reframing them more positively.

Learn About Our Sports Medicine and Behavioral Health Services

The issues facing student-athletes include both physical and mental health challenges. Find out how Baptist Health can help by learning more about our sports medicine and behavioral health services. 


How To Talk to Your Doctor About Fecal Incontinence

Clinically reviewed by Dr. Nechol Allen

Let’s be honest: talking about poop is usually not considered a polite dinner conversation. When it comes to our health, it’s important to break the taboo and start talking about this very common and treatable condition.

Pooping is a natural and necessary part of life. For some people, it isn’t always easy. They may suffer from a condition called fecal incontinence, which can make it difficult or impossible to control bowel movements.

While it’s not the most pleasant topic to discuss, it’s important to start the conversation about fecal incontinence to break the stigma and help people find treatments that work for them.

So, let’s talk about poop!

What Is Fecal Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the involuntary leakage of stool. This might be a small leak when you pass gas or a total loss of bowel control. Fecal incontinence is often the result of a weakening of the muscles that control bowel movements.

The condition can be caused by childbirth, surgery, medication, or injuries. Health conditions, such as hemorrhoids or rectal prolapse, can also contribute to fecal incontinence.

The good news is that there are treatments available. While it may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, if you are experiencing fecal incontinence, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the right treatment option for you.

Don’t Be Hesitant to Talk to Your Doctor

Many people are understandably reluctant to discuss fecal incontinence with their doctor. If you’re worried about how to broach the subject with your physician, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

First, remember that your doctor has seen and heard it all. There’s no need to be overly embarrassed or ashamed—just honest and direct. You can simply say that you’re experiencing some problems with bowel control and would like to discuss treatment options.

Dr. Allen, a practicing colon and rectal surgeon at Baptist Health Louisville, says, “It’s an embarrassing problem but 1 in 12 have it. Fecal incontinence is taboo to talk about with friends, but you can talk to me.”

Second, be prepared to answer some questions about your symptoms. Your doctor will likely want to know how often you experience fecal incontinence, as well as what kinds of activities trigger it. It can be helpful to keep a diary of your symptoms in the days or weeks leading up to your appointment.

Finally, don’t hesitate to ask questions yourself. You may want to know about different types of treatment options, or what kind of lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your condition. By being open and honest with your doctor, you can ensure that you’ll get the best possible care.

Treatment for Fecal Incontinence

Dealing with fecal incontinence can be a real pain in the butt (pun intended).

However, there are a few treatments available that can help you get your bowels back on track:

  • Eating more fiber—adding fiber to your diet is also a good way to promote regularity and prevent constipation.
  • Physical therapy – strengthens the pelvic muscles to aid in control.
  • Sacral nerve stimulation— sacral nerve stimulation involves the implantation of a small device near the sacral nerves. These nerves are responsible for sending signals to the muscles that help control bowel movements. The device helps to send signals to the muscles, which allows them to contract and prevent leakage.

Learn More About Fecal Incontinence Care at Baptist Health

If you feel unable to control your bowel movements or the urge to defecate comes on suddenly, Baptist Health Medical Group physician, Nechol Allen, MD and her team can help.

Dr. Allen sees and treats patients with fecal incontinence very regularly and is ready to speak with you about how we can help improve your quality of life.

Please call Dr. Allen’s office – Baptist Health Medical Group Colon & Rectal Surgery—at 502.895.3633. With the right treatment, you can get your bowels back under control and get back to enjoying life to the fullest.


Things You Can’t Do After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is a procedure in which a surgeon divides the patient’s stomach and attaches a newly created stomach pouch to a lower part of the intestines. As a result, food bypasses a significant portion of the digestive tract, and the body absorbs fewer nutrients. 

It’s an effective procedure but comes with some postoperative dietary restrictions and other advice you must follow. 

What Foods Can’t You Eat with Gastric Bypass?

There are certain things you won’t be able to eat after gastric bypass surgery. They include:

  • High-caloric sweets like ice cream and cake
  • Fatty or greasy foods
  • Spicy or highly seasoned foods 
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tough or dry red meat
  • Pizza
  • Hamburgers
  • Bacon
  • Milk
  • Foods with a high glycemic index (bread, pasta, rice, etc.)
  • Caffeinated, carbonated drinks like soda and sparkling water
  • Sugar alcohols (erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, glycerol, xylitol, etc.)
  • Foods reheated in the microwave
  • Chewing gum

As for the foods you can enjoy, your doctor will provide instructions on how to transition from your initial liquid diet to eating solid food. What’s commonly called the “gastric bypass diet” will move you gradually through these stages: liquids, pureed foods, soft foods, and solid foods. 

You must adhere to the diet to allow your stomach to heal. Stretching your stomach by eating the wrong type or quantity of food can adversely affect your digestive system and the results of your surgery. 

Short- and Long-Term Lifestyle Changes After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery can put your health and your life on a more positive trajectory. However, to fully benefit from the procedure, you must adhere to some short-term and long-term lifestyle changes. 

In the short term, you can’t:

  • Consume any carbonated drinks for six weeks
  • Lift heavy items or exercise vigorously for six weeks
  • Smoke or use any product containing nicotine for at least 30 days
  • Swim, take a bath, or sit in a hot tub for at least six weeks
  • Drive until cleared by your doctor
  • Consume alcohol for six weeks

The long-term lifestyle changes you must make to ensure the success of your procedure include that you can’t:

  • Live a sedentary lifestyle
  • Eat unhealthy foods
  • Miss follow-up appointments with your doctor
  • Try to do too much too soon
  • Lose hope and give up on your weight and health goals

It takes time for your body to heal after gastric bypass surgery. It also takes weeks, months, or longer to eliminate bad nutritional and lifestyle habits and establish new ones. But if you’re patient, you’ll begin to see the changes you’ve been hoping for and start feeling healthier and more energetic. 

Learn More About Gastric Bypass Surgery

If you have questions about gastric bypass surgery and whether you’re a candidate for the procedure, we’re happy to answer them. 

Learn more about our bariatric care and weight loss services today.


What Is the Tdap Vaccine?

Tdap stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. It’s a combination vaccine for adults that protects against these three potentially life-threatening diseases. 

Tdap uses dead bacteria, which can’t cause illness, to stimulate the body’s immune system. This prepares it to fight the live bacteria if they enter the body. 

The vaccine given to children for these diseases is referred to as DTaP. 

Why You Need the Tdap Vaccine

The Tdap vaccine provides vital protection against three diseases that can be deadly:

  • Tetanus. Tetanus is caused by a bacterium that enters the body through a cut, burn, or other wound. As the bacteria multiply, they produce a toxin that causes muscles to contract uncontrollably. The toxin primarily affects muscles in the jaw and neck, producing a condition known as “lockjaw.” There’s no cure for tetanus, and it kills one in five people who become ill with it. 
  • Diphtheria. This disease causes inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose and throat that make it difficult to breathe. Doctors can treat it with medications, but if it reaches the advanced stage, it can damage the nervous system, kidneys, and heart. 
  • Pertussis. Also called whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection. It causes severe coughing followed by sharp inhalations that create a high-pitched “whoop” sound. Pertussis is rarely life-threatening but can be serious in infants who haven’t received a vaccine and teens or adults whose immunity has declined. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the Tdap vaccine for anyone 19 and older who hasn’t been vaccinated against the three diseases. The vaccine is crucial for healthcare workers who have direct patient contact, pregnant women in their third trimester, people who care for infants under one year old, and people who visit countries where pertussis is common. 

How Often Can Tdap Be Given?

Your doctor or the doctor in an emergency room or urgent care center may recommend getting the Tdap vaccine if you suffer a severe cut or burn and haven’t been vaccinated or are unsure about your vaccination status. You can receive the vaccine regardless of how long it’s been since you last received it. 

Tdap is one shot that your care provider can give at the same time as other vaccines. It’s also safe for those over age 65. 

Who Needs a Tdap Booster?

The Tdap vaccine is effective for many years. Some people only receive it once in their lifetime. 

However, people who are pregnant or care for others, particularly young children, should receive a booster. Your doctor may also recommend a booster to enhance tetanus and diphtheria protection.  

Learn More About the Tdap Vaccine and Others From Baptist Health

Vaccination is one of the best ways to avoid serious illnesses, from tetanus to COVID-19. If you have questions about the safety or effectiveness of Tdap and other vaccines, your Baptist Health primary care physician is happy to answer them. 

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