Pacific Family Practice Blog Feedhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog Kirby Thu, 29 Nov 2018 22:37:43 -0800 How to Keep Kids and Teenagers Healthy During Flu Seasonhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/how-to-keep-kids-and-teenagers-healthy-during-flu-season family-practice-sf/health-blog/how-to-keep-kids-and-teenagers-healthy-during-flu-season Mon, 19 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0800 How to Keep Kids and Teenagers Healthy During Flu Season

Keeping kids and teenagers healthy during flu season isn’t easy, especially because you’re probably relying on your fellow parents to do the same. To help your family power through the winter months, Pacific Family Practice has put together a list of tried-and-true methods for helping prevent the spread of influenza.

Important note: Pacific Family Practice offers patients after hours care. We are open until 9pm Monday – Friday and have Saturday hours as well, from 10am – 4pm. If you are sick, injured, or seeking general practice care, you don’t have to wait until the next business day or for the weekend to pass. Patients are encouraged to take advantage of our after hours care whenever needed.

1. Don’t forget the flu vaccine.

It should go without saying, but many people do forget to get a yearly flu shot. When you schedule your child for an annual back-to-school or sports physical in September or October, ask your doctor to administer the flu vaccine at that time if it is available. Please note, the flu season extends from October to May, so getting the flu shot is an option throughout that time but is especially important in the fall and early winter months.

2. Remind them to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Another seemingly obvious flu prevention tip is handwashing. It’s important that your kids use antibacterial soap after going to the bathroom and before eating. They should wet their hands, work up a good lather with the soap, massage the lather onto the skin for about 30 seconds and then rinse thoroughly. If your children’s school allows this, pop a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in their backpacks for use on the go. It’s also a good idea to show your kids how they can use a paper towel or their sleeve to open and close bathroom doors.

3. Serve them a healthy diet and daily multivitamin.

Boosting one’s intake of nourishing vitamins and minerals can help fortify the immune system during cold and flu season. Make sure your kids and teens are drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water. Ask your doctor to recommend a multivitamin and even a probiotic if your child is not already taking them every day.

4. Make sure they get plenty of sleep.

Some kids struggle to get adequate rest, especially if they are under stress from school or sports concerns. The minimum amount of sleep your child gets shouldn’t dip below eight hours, and some kids will sleep 10 or more hours per night, depending on their age and needs. If your child is having trouble falling or staying asleep, try these tips:

  • Prohibit bright light and screens for at least one to two hours before bedtime
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual with soft music, aromatherapy or meditation
  • Discourage eating and drinking right before bed to avoid indigestion or urinary urgency
  • Take some time to listen to and talk about your kid’s worries and thoughts

5. Avoid people who have the flu.

If people at school are getting sick, it’s important to remind your child to keep a safe distance from sick friends and teachers during cold and flu season. This means abstaining from hand-holding, hugging, and other touching.

If your child gets the flu, make sure to take whatever influenza treatment medication is prescribed by your pediatrician. Keep your kid home from school when ill and encourage behaviors like blowing their nose and disposing of tissues properly and covering the mouth when coughing to help prevent the virus from spreading to family members.

As a parent, it’s normal for you to want to keep your kids and teenagers healthy during flu season. If they do get sick, take this opportunity to slow down, rest more and take care of your whole family...including yourself.

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Three Ways to Cut Down Spending Time in Waiting Roomshttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/three-ways-to-cut-down-spending-time-in-waiting-rooms family-practice-sf/health-blog/three-ways-to-cut-down-spending-time-in-waiting-rooms Thu, 18 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Three Ways to Cut Down Spending Time in Waiting Rooms

Nobody likes to wait, especially if the waiting is keeping you from feeling better. When you’re visiting your primary care, urgent care, women’s health or pediatric physician, it helps to be prepared for your appointment before you arrive in the doctor’s office. Here’s how you can cut time spent in the waiting room.

1. Fill out your paperwork at home

Many physicians provide a patient portal on their website, where you can find registration forms and other essential paperwork to print and fill out. If you do this at home, you minimize the chance that you’ll be missing any data for the forms (like your spouse’s Social Security number or your child’s insurance card information, etc.). The longer it takes you to complete these forms in the waiting room, the longer you’ll have to wait to be invited to the examination room.

2. Verify your insurance in advance

With all the nuances of medical insurance plans these days, it’s easy to miss an important task or detail. Make sure you have any necessary referrals or forms in place (if applicable) before your appointment. Often a missed step with your health insurance provider can result in more than just waiting around; you might find yourself with a cancelled appointment.

3. Arrive early or on time for your appointment

Doctor offices are very active, busy places. If you arrive late for your scheduled appointment, they might be required to give your time slot to somebody else, and that can mean even more waiting for you.

If you do end up with time to kill in the waiting room, there are a few ways you can make the best of it. Bring a notebook and list any questions or concerns you have about your health so you’re prepared to get the most information you can during your appointment. You can also check out the reading material available in the waiting room, especially if the office has medical publications on hand or a bulletin board with informative notices about flu shots, common cold remedies, home breast exams, diaper rash prevention, etc.

Finally, waiting rooms provide an opportunity to relax, practice deep breathing, or collect your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes pressing pause on your hectic life for a little waiting around can be good for your mind and body. Try deep breathing before you reach for your cell phone. It’s usually considered improper waiting room etiquette to talk on the phone in the presence of other patients.

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September Is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Monthhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/september-is-national-ovarian-cancer-awareness-month family-practice-sf/health-blog/september-is-national-ovarian-cancer-awareness-month Fri, 14 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0700 September Is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian cancer is a complex disease, perhaps even more so than other cancers impacting women such as breast or cervical. On the one hand, it is considered a “rare” cancer, affecting less than 200,000 women in the United States each year. On the other, ovarian cancer is among those that are difficult to detect. This is especially true for those women are not aware of whether they are at risk or not.

With breast cancer, which is far more common, women are encouraged to perform self-breast examinations to detect early warning signs. However, unlike breast cancer, ovarian cancer is insidious. The following are some basic facts we recommend that female patients (and those close to them) keep in mind.

Symptoms
Ovarian cancer rarely manifests in obvious symptoms early on. Advanced-stage cases might exhibit abdominal bloating, weight loss, pelvic discomfort, constipation, or a frequent need to urinate. However, it’s important that women—especially those considered at risk for this disease—do not wait for these symptoms to appear before addressing their health concerns.

Risk factors
Because symptoms are difficult to spot and often nonexistent, it’s important to schedule a consultation with your physician to discuss your level of risk. You possess a heightened risk for ovarian cancer if:

  • You’re over the age of 50
  • You inherited the gene mutations breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), or other gene mutations such as Lynch syndrome
  • You have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer
  • You had estrogen hormone replacement therapy
  • You started menstruation at an early age or menopause at a late age

None of these risk factors is a definitive cancer sentence. However, if you have anything in common with this list, it’s a good idea to start a discussion with your doctor today.

Prognosis
Just because ovarian cancer is rarer than other cancers among women doesn’t make it less dangerous to those who have it. Ovarian cancer is treatable, but the American Cancer Society reports that more than 14,000 women in the U.S. will die from this disease in 2018. The risk of developing ovarian cancer is about 1 in 78, and dying from it is about 1 in 108. It’s crucial to address both symptoms and risk factors as soon as possible by opening the lines of communication with your physician.

Find out more about women’s pelvic exams and other women’s health services at Pacific Family Practice.

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Five Ways Pacific Family Practice Can Help Parents with the Back-to-School Rushhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/five-ways-pacific-family-practice-can-help-parents-with-the-back-to-school-rush family-practice-sf/health-blog/five-ways-pacific-family-practice-can-help-parents-with-the-back-to-school-rush Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Five Ways Pacific Family Practice Can Help Parents with the Back-to-School Rush

Even though some parents may see the start of a new school year with relief, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to preparing for the first day of school. Along with shopping for the right backpack, finding clothes to fit growth spurts, and planning lunches, there are items on your back-to-school to-do list that Pacific Family Practice can help handle.

Please note: Although we’re always happy to schedule an appointment, the back-to-school rush is a particularly popular time of year at our office, so we recommend scheduling your child’s visit as soon as you can.

How we can help parents prepare for the first day of school
1. The physical – A completed well-child physical is a requirement for many schools prior to the first day of school. We offer annual physicals for both adults and children.
2. Vaccines/immunizations – Is your child up to date on his or her vaccine schedule? It’s important to ensure that vaccines/immunizations are up to date. If you are unsure, please confirm whether an appointment is needed with your child’s Pacific Family Practice provider.
3. ADHD care – Screening and management for ADHD are provided at Pacific Family Practice. Parents with concerns or questions about a possible ADHD diagnosis or similar chronic conditions are encouraged to contact Pacific Family Practice.
4. Nutrition – Do you have concerns about your child’s nutrition? Even with the best intentions of implementing a healthy diet, nutritional issues can be present and are often treated through a change in diet. Your child’s provider can advise on whether an issue is present and how an adjustment in diet can assist.
5. Urgent care hours – We offer urgent care hours Monday – Friday, 5pm – 9pm and Saturdays, 10am – 4pm. Having a plan in place for urgent care needs that do not require an ER visit is often essential for parents of children and teens. Urgent care needs often occur outside normal medical office hours, and knowing the location and availability of your local urgent care clinic prior to facing the need to visit provides both peace of mind and effective parental planning.

Getting ready for the first day of school doesn’t have to feature a long to-do list, especially since the team at Pacific Family Practice can help address your child’s medical needs typically in as little as one or two visits to our office.

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Pacific Family Practice Q&A: Your Top Questions, Our Answershttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/pacific-family-practice-q-a-your-top-questions-our-answers family-practice-sf/health-blog/pacific-family-practice-q-a-your-top-questions-our-answers Tue, 17 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Pacific Family Practice Q&A: Your Top Questions, Our Answers

Pacific Family Practice’s physicians, providers, and staff all understand that going to the doctor isn’t always a simple visit. Scheduling an appointment, refilling a prescription, paying a bill, asking follow-up questions, getting test results, etc., are all part of life when you or someone you care for is unwell, and navigating this to-do list can seem complicated.

Our team works hard to ensure that your experience as a patient is as stress-free as possible, especially when you are ill or injured. We wanted to address the top questions patients ask our team, so they can be prepared for when a visit to our practice is needed. We always encourage patients to let us know areas where we can improve, so we hope you’ll comment below if you believe an important question is missing.

I need to refill a prescription. How can I do this?
Please contact your pharmacy when a refill of medication is needed. You should do this even when the prescription bottle indicates no refills remaining. The pharmacy will send this request to your Pacific Family Practice provider. You will need to allow 24-48 hours for a refill, so please plan accordingly.

I need an appointment today. How do I get one?
If you have an urgent care need, please call our office (415.876.5762) so we can discuss your symptoms and determine whether a same-day appointment is possible. If your need is not urgent — a physical exam, for example — appointments are usually scheduled within 1-2 business days. You can make an appointment online as well.

How do I pay a bill?
Your insurance coverage may require a co-pay at the time of your visit. This will need to be paid at the time of service. If this is not done, you will be billed an additional $15. If you have a deductible or coinsurance percentage, we bill you after your insurance has processed the claim. Payment is expected within 30 days of your statement. Our office accepts cash, checks, VISA, and Mastercard.

How do I transfer medical records?
You will need to fill out a Records Release Authorization form. You can mail or fax this form to whichever medical office the records are being requested from. Other patient forms, including forms for new patients, can be found here on our website.

How do I get test results?
You can log in to our patient portal to access your information, including test results when they are ready. If you are not signed up for the patient portal, we can send your test results by mail.

Still have questions? We want to hear from you! Please call 415.876.5762 or fill-out a contact form online.

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Seven Summer Safety Tips for Kids and Teenshttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/seven-summer-safety-tips-for-kids-and-teens family-practice-sf/health-blog/seven-summer-safety-tips-for-kids-and-teens Tue, 19 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Seven Summer Safety Tips for Kids and Teens

The summer season officially kicks off June 21st, but warmer weather and sunshine could already be a part of daily life where you live. As we move away from cold weather concerns like the flu, there are still important considerations parents of kids and teenagers should keep in mind throughout the summer.

Pacific Family Practice knows that keeping your children healthy and safe all year round is a top priority, and we’ve compiled seven summer safety tips to help make these efforts a little easier.

Of course, we recognize that temperatures in San Francisco do not tend to exceed the 50’s and 60’s, but summer is a popular time for family vacations to warmer, sunny climates. Additionally, temperatures can vary day to day, so even smaller increases can impact your overall health and sun exposure.

1. Protect skin – Even when mild, sunburn is still skin damage. It’s very important that kids and teens are aware of proper sun protection and that steps are taken (every day!) to ensure that skin is covered when possible or protected via sunscreen. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day, and not every brand is sweat / waterproof, so you’ll need to read packaging to ensure all needs are met. Light layers and hats are encouraged when possible. And sunscreen needs to be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure takes place. More serious sunburn (covers larger areas of the body, blisters, bubbles, pus, etc.) will require a visit to your child’s physician.
2. Hydrate – Hydration is key every day, but especially during warmer months when we are more susceptible to dehydration. This is particularly important for those children and teens playing summer sports or attending camp where they are likely to spend large parts of the day outdoors engaging in physical activity and will easily sweat out most of their liquid intake. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, severe thirst, fatigue, headache, bright yellow urine, dry skin and / or dizziness.
3. Temperature watch – This can vary widely by location, but if you live in an area where heat warnings occur, take them seriously. Young children and the elderly are most at risk for dehydration and syncope during high temperatures.
4. Bug protection – Most bug bites are not dangerous, but that does not mean you can assume children and teenagers won’t need protection. Be sure to check in with the CDC regarding outbreaks of illnesses in your area, like the Zika virus and West Nile virus.
5. Street safety – As kids and teens are more likely to be at home during the summer, it’s essential to inform / remind them about street safety. Walking, running, biking, skating and otherwise playing in the street are all part of summer fun, but cars / trucks / buses use those same roads every day. Children need to be aware (even when they have right-of-way) that people driving may not see them, and that they can’t assume all adults are aware of their presence near or on a street.
6. Pools / swimming – Pool safety is critical during the summer. Drowning can take place in less than a minute. Younger children need to be properly outfitted to spend time in or near bodies of water, and supervision at all times is essential. Teens need to be aware of everyone at a pool and take care to avoid injury and note signs of drowning. CPR training can begin as early as age nine or ten.
7. Emergency planning – Children and teens should be aware of what to do in an emergency. Parents should talk to their children about using 911 correctly, as well as how to call local police services for non-emergency situations. Cell phone numbers of family members and trusted friends should be easily accessible.

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How Can I Strengthen My Immune System?https://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/how-can-i-strengthen-my-immune-system family-practice-sf/health-blog/how-can-i-strengthen-my-immune-system Wed, 09 May 2018 00:00:00 -0700 How Can I Strengthen My Immune System?

The possibility of catching a virus or bacterial infection exists year-round. Even outside of cold and flu season (October – May), you can still experience illness that keeps you from your normal routine. No one wants to feel unwell, and of course not every illness can be prevented, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an effort to stay healthy. One of the best ways to keep from having to call in sick to school or work is to maintain a healthy immune system.

Things that hurt your immune system:

  • Tobacco use
  • Lack of regular sleep
  • Alcohol use (heavy)
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Excessive antibiotic use (should only be used to treat bacterial infections)
  • Social isolation

Things that help your immune system

  • An exercise routine
  • Time outside/sunlight
  • A balanced diet (fruits/vegetables)
  • Hydration
  • Handwashing
  • Adding probiotics to your diet
  • Supplements (with guidance from your physician)

Small changes that matter
Even small alterations to your routine, such as getting an extra hour of sleep, replacing a cup of coffee or juice with water, or spending 30 minutes outside every day, can make a big difference in how you feel and the strength of your immune system. Poor lifestyle habits like smoking, heavy drinking and regular antibiotic use are harmful to the immune system and can contribute to frequent/difficult-to-cure illnesses.

Improving your routine
For many, the most important step is to simply be aware of how your daily choices can impact your overall health. Washing your hands after visiting the bathroom or using public transportation is essential, but unfortunately not everyone (including adults) follows this rule. Cutting down on stress whenever possible is also very important, as prolonged stress is both mentally and physically draining. Water intake is something many of us take for granted, but you should be drinking enough water every day that your urine is a light-yellow color. Urine that is dark yellow means you are likely dehydrated.

If you find that you suffer from frequent colds/illness or that your illness is often difficult to cure, please contact Pacific Family Practice today. We are happy to discuss ways to improve your immune system and whether screening for underlying conditions is appropriate.

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Men’s Healthcare Age 50+: What You Need to Knowhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/mens-healthcare-age-50-what-you-need-to-know family-practice-sf/health-blog/mens-healthcare-age-50-what-you-need-to-know Wed, 25 Apr 2018 00:00:00 -0700 Men’s Healthcare Age 50+: What You Need to Know

Physicians are used to prompting patients to take proactive steps toward long-term healthcare goals, but there may be an argument for male patients needing an additional push. This is certainly not to say that all men avoid appointments with their doctor, because that is not the case. However, should you as a male patient or as a family member/friend of a male patient be aware that annual exams are not being attended to, this blog post is for you.

When men reach the age of 50, certain health screenings that only seemed relevant for the distant future become expected. Your physician will want to determine if any medical issues are currently present, as well as if any preventative measures should be taken.

Pacific Family Practice has provided a checklist, below, for you to review with your provider. This checklist will serve as a guide for which screenings are needed to ensure your individual long-term healthcare.

  • Up-to-date vaccination schedule (especially applicable to certain travel destinations)
  • Lifestyle/diet assessment (1/year at least)
  • Blood pressure screening (1/year at least)
  • Cholesterol screening (every 5 years, unless otherwise required)
  • Colonoscopy (starts at age 50, but may be required if a family/personal history of colon cancer is present; occurs every 10 years unless otherwise required)
  • Physical (1/year)
  • Self-testicular exam
  • Lung cancer screening (with a history of 30-pack/year habit or currently smoking)
  • Dental exam (2/year at least)

How do I get started?
It can seem overwhelming to begin the preventative screening process once you’ve reached age 50, but please keep in mind that these screenings can be completed over the course of a year (unless your provider suggested otherwise). The best way to begin is to schedule an appointment for a general physical with Pacific Family Practice. Scheduling an appointment with our practice is easy: you can either call us at 415-876-5762 or fill out a contact form online. Our office practice hours are 8:30am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday.

Pacific Family Practice is happy to offer patients in need of outside screening services or care a referral whenever possible. Please ask our team for referral assistance if outside care is needed.

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10 Tips for a Smooth Pediatric Visit Every Parent Should Knowhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/tips-for-a-smooth-pediatric-visit-every-parent-should-know family-practice-sf/health-blog/tips-for-a-smooth-pediatric-visit-every-parent-should-know Mon, 12 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0700 10 Tips for a Smooth Pediatric Visit Every Parent Should Know

Parents and caregivers know how stressful caring for a sick child can be. Parents with a newborn, infant or toddler not only need to address their child’s illness, but they have the additional difficulty of attempting to treat young children who cannot communicate how they feel, what hurts and what’s needed. Even for parents of older children, the constant worry and concern over the right thing to do is certainly no cakewalk.

In the event that your child does get sick, you can take steps to have an easier doctor’s visit and shorten the recovery period of an illness. You may have heard about – and skipped over – some of these steps in the past, thinking that they were obvious or perhaps not necessary. Others may come as a total surprise. Here are 10 pediatrician secrets every parent should know:

1. Timing at the doctor’s office matters.
Mondays have the longest wait times at doctors’ offices, as patients who get sick over the weekend all try to visit the doctor as soon as the office reopens. If you need to visit your child’s pediatrician on a Monday, try to get an appointment or go for a walk-in visit first thing in the morning. You may still have a brief wait if others have the same idea, but you’ll still spend far less time than you would have if you put off the appointment until the afternoon or evening. The less time your child spends waiting, the smoother the visit will be. For illnesses that can wait, many doctors’ offices are at their least crowded during the middle of the week around noon.

2. Your child should be registered with a primary care provider.
The last thing any parent wants to do is scramble to find a doctor who is accepting new patients on the day a child needs care. Take the time to find and register with a pediatrician – ideally one with flexible hours who is close to your home and who accepts your insurance – while your child is healthy. Additionally, you should ask the office if there is any paperwork you can fill out at home or online to cut down on your wait time.

3. Bring your child’s own toys to the office.
Many pediatricians will have toys, games and books available in the waiting room. Within typical office protocol, these will probably be cleaned, but it’s generally better to bring your child’s own toys so he or she can play or be entertained while you wait without risking contact with additional germs. A familiar toy may be comforting or a distraction for a sick child. Note that it’s important to clean your children’s toys after an illness in the same way you would wash their clothes or bed sheets.

4. Communicate your child’s fear.
Doctors can anticipate a lot of issues, but they can’t read your child’s mind. If your son or daughter is prone to throwing a tantrum or is particularly afraid of strangers, it will help immensely to let the doctor know what to expect as soon as he or she enters the exam room. This isn’t to say you can avoid every meltdown, especially with a sick child, but prepping the pediatrician can go a long way toward improving the visit.

5. Children need to wash their hands more than you think.
After using the bathroom and before eating a meal should not be the only times children wash their hands. Make sure your kids wash their hands when they come home from school or a friend’s home, and other times when they come into contact with others. They should always wash their hands after sneezing, coughing or encountering someone who is unwell. Parents should resist the urge to go overboard, though – you do not need to stock up on hand sanitizer, but a few extra sessions with soap and a sink can help prevent anything from a common cold to the flu.

6. Don’t forget to clean your screens.
Technology usage extends even to the youngest members of the family, and although most parents will jump to wash their child’s sheets, pillows and clothes and maybe even switch out a toothbrush after an illness, many will bypass cleaning all the screens their child touched. This includes tablets, cell phones, computers and televisions.

7. Children can – and should – receive a flu shot.
Children can receive the flu vaccine after six months of age. It is recommended that children get a flu shot, as they are among those who are most likely to contract the flu. Flu season begins in October and can last until May, and your child can come in contact with someone who has the flu at any time in those months.

8. Keep the whole family hydrated.
Hydration is a core component of illness prevention and helps your child overcome an illness more quickly when he or she is sick. Keeping children well-hydrated with water, instead of juice or other sugary drinks, is very important during times of good health as well as during an illness.

9. Don’t skip follow-up appointments.
Your child’s improved health should not lull you into a false sense of security. Even if your child is free of symptoms, a follow-up appointment is needed to confirm that recovery is complete and that a relapse is unlikely. If you are unsure whether a follow-up is truly needed, please contact your child’s pediatrician before canceling or skipping the appointment.

10. Consider urgent care over the emergency room.
There are specific occasions when the ER is necessary, such as for a seizure, difficulty breathing, chest pain, head injuries, deep lacerations or burns. However, many occasions in which a parent might default to the ER can be made easier – and more affordable – by choosing urgent care instead. Urgent care wait times are typically much shorter than the ER’s. Overall cost tends to be significantly cheaper, and many patients will only need to pay a copay.

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Unexpected Heart Attack Symptoms You Need to Knowhttps://www.pacificfamilycare.com/family-practice-sf/health-blog/unexpected-heart-attack-symptoms-you-need-to-know family-practice-sf/health-blog/unexpected-heart-attack-symptoms-you-need-to-know Mon, 19 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800 Unexpected Heart Attack Symptoms You Need to Know

Many of us have a general understanding of what someone having a heart attack looks like, or we can assume what a heart attack feels like. However, these perceptions can be either underexaggerated or downplayed, and thus an opportunity to recognize a life-threatening medical issue could be at risk of being ignored or misunderstood.

We strongly encourage both male and female patients to become familiar with heart attack symptoms, including those that are subtler. Acting fast is key to helping someone experiencing a cardiac event, so recognizing symptoms and seeking emergency medical care is essential. Pacific Family Practice has provided a list of heart attack symptoms below. Some you may already be familiar with, and some may be unexpected.

Heart attack symptoms you need to know

Chest discomfort and/or pain – These symptoms include tightness, achiness, pressure, fullness and/or squeezing that last for more than a few minutes. Please note that these symptoms can come and go, so you will need to keep an eye on them for longer than the first pass.

Difficulty breathing – The individual may not be able to take a deep breath or may struggle to breathe normally.

Upper-body pain – It’s common for pain to extend from the chest area to the arms, shoulders, teeth, neck, jaw or back. In some cases, pain will exist in these areas but not within the chest.

Sweating – A sudden cold sweat is common during a heart attack.

Vomiting – Sometimes, someone having or about to have a heart attack will feel nauseated and may vomit.

Dizziness – The person may feel faint or feel a general lightheadedness.

Palpitations – An awareness of the sensation that the heart is beating very fast or differently.

Anxiousness – Sometimes, a heart attack can mimic symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack. Symptoms of this nature should always be taken very seriously, even if a panic attack is suspected or within someone’s medical history. Do not assume it’s a panic attack without seeking medical care immediately.

Sudden fatigue – Instances of sudden, intense fatigue could be symptomatic of a heart attack, especially in cases where any of the above symptoms are also present.

Do I visit Pacific Family Practice during a heart attack?

No. Pacific Family Practice or other urgent care/family practice facilities are not the appropriate choice during a cardiac event. Please call 911 immediately or visit an emergency room for professional medical care. Your Pacific Family Practice provider is not the appropriate resource during a heart attack, though he or she may be an adviser for post-heart attack health care and screening.

If you have questions about heart attack symptoms, risk factors for a heart attack and more, please feel free to contact Pacific Family Practice today.

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