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Acute vs. chronic pain


Pain is a symptom indicating harm to the body. It involves both the mind, or central nervous system comprised of the brain and spinal cord, and the body, or peripheral nervous system made up of all the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. Your perceptions—beliefs, mood and attitudes—have an impact on your pain experiences.

Pain can be divided into two main categories: acute pain and chronic pain.

Acute pain is defined by the American Chronic Pain Association as pain that comes on quickly, can be severe, but lasts a relatively short time. The cause of acute pain is typically known; it may be physical trauma (cut, broken bones, sprained ankle) or inflammation to the tissues (overuse, infections, disease process).

Acute pain triggers your body to react with an action that would result in decreased pain. If you cut your finger, for example, the pain triggers you to quickly remove your finger away from the object you cut your finger on. Acute pain resolves once healing has occurred, which can vary from a couple of hours up to a few weeks depending on the cause. Treatment depends on the injury, but can include ice, resting the area, modifying the activity or medications.

Chronic pain is defined by the American Chronic Pain Association as ongoing or recurrent pain lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than three to six months. This kind of pain adversely affects an individual’s general well being. A simpler definition is pain that continues when it should not. Continue Reading »

The importance of breast self-exams

breast cancer

Early detection is the best weapon we have against breast cancer. Many breast cancers (almost half) are detected by women completing a breast self-exam. When detected early, your chances of surviving breast cancer increase drastically.

Women should start breast self-exams in their twenties, and it should be done monthly. If you are unsure of how to complete the exam you can ask your health care clinician to show you, or you can utilize multiple sites that offer a step-by-step diagram. I recommend breastcancer.org or the American Cancer Society. Many health care organizations offer reminder cards to hang in your shower. These typically have breast exam instructions on them as well.

When completing your exam, take note of the following:

  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Breast pain
  • Nipple pain or nipple turning inward
  • Nipple discharge
  • A lump in the underarm area
  • Swelling of all the breast (either the entire breast or a specific area)
  • Redness or changes (thickening) to the skin or nipple
  • Open sore or bump, rash
  • Difference in vein pattern over one breast

Continue Reading »

Facts about depression

Did you know that depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide?
Did you know that women suffer from depression twice as often as men?
Did you know that many people suffer with depression but do not seek help?
Did you know that depression is treatable?

Everyone has a bad day or a case of the blues once in a while, but when “the blues” result in experiencing little or no joy in your daily life, it may be an indication of something more serious. Chronic sadness or a depressed mood is something that lingers for quite some time and is difficult to shake off if untreated.

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it a sign of weakness. Anyone can be affected by depression and its onset could be due to many things, such as hormonal changes, brain chemical imbalances, medications or life crisis situations.

So how do you know if what you or someone you know is experiencing is much more than just a case of “the blues?” The short mood survey included below may help you understand that feelings of sadness or isolation could be an indication of something more serious. More than 2,000 individuals have taken this survey in our area and it has proven to be a very beneficial tool for many.

To take the Test Your Mood survey, click on the link below:
http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/NEW Continue Reading »

The ABCs of healthy aging


Back in your school days you learned to use the alphabet as the building blocks for words, but do you know the building blocks of healthy aging? Your education isn’t complete until you’ve reviewed the ABCs of aging well—in both mind and body!

  • A: Fight anemia
    While not caused by aging per se, anemia is a common condition in older adults and is often the result of more than one issue, such as poor diet, medications or hormone imbalances. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia—fatigue, feeling cold, paleness, weakness—talk to your clinician.
  • B: Break routine
    Make small changes in your daily routine to increase brain stimulation. Something as simple as taking a different route on a daily walk or trying something new for breakfast can be enough spark to keep your mind fresh instead of foggy.
  • C: Cultivate your relationships
    Staying connected with people is an important aspect of mental health. Maintain communication with your family and friends, especially after a significant loss or life change.
  • D: Dine with others
    Plan meals with friends and family several times a week. Studies show that those who share meals with others eat less than those who eat alone, decreasing your risk of overeating, and keeping your weight in check.
  • E: Eat healthy foods
    Did you know that a high percentage of adults in the U.S. consume more than double the recommended intake of sodium? Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, so skip the extra salt and focus on nutrient-dense food like fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.
  • F: Fight fatigue
    If you’re feeling tired during the day more often, having a glass of water and a high-antioxidant food, like prunes or blueberries, can revitalize the body and stimulate the mind. Continue Reading »

Strep throat now treatable via HealtheVisits


We are excited to announce that you can now use HealtheVisits to treat strep throat! All you have to do is head over to healthevisits.org and submit an online interview request. An Affinity Medical Group or Ministry Medical Group clinician will review the request within one hour. To confirm a positive strep throat diagnosis, a clinician will order a lab test, called a ZipTicket, which will be sent to you electronically via email.

A ZipTicket allows you to bypass waiting and go directly to one of our labs for a rapid strep test to confirm the diagnosis. When you receive your ZipTicket, you can either print a hard copy of it or bring it up electronically on your phone at one of three available lab locations. When the results of the strep test are available you will receive a final diagnosis that, if necessary, will include a prescription to treat your strep throat.

ZipTickets are accepted at select urgent care locations in the Fox Valley, and we are working to increase the number of labs that will accept them. Below are the urgent care locations where you can currently use your ZipTicket:

Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.