What happens to donated blood

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, and every year, 6.8 million Americans respond to this need by donating their own.

But what happens to the blood after it’s collected and the donation crew leaves for the day? As it turns out, the collection is just the first step of a long series of actions to prepare the blood to help save lives.

Step 1: Donation

  • Health history taken
  • Collection
  • Transportation

Step 2: Processing

  • Blood components (red cells, platelets, and plasma) separated by spinning in a centrifuge (a machine with a rapidly rotating container that applies centrifugal force to its contents, typically to separate fluids of different densities or liquids from solids)

Step 3: Testing

  • Blood sample tested for blood type, bacteria, or infectious disease
  • Samples testing positive for disease are discarded and donors notified

Step 3: Storage

  • Red Cells stored in refrigerators at 6ºC for up to 42 days
  • Platelets stored at room temperature for up to 5 days
  • Plasma frozen for up to one year

After going through this process, blood is ready to be shipped wherever there is a need.

For every donation, three lives could be saved, yet only 10% of the eligible population chooses to give blood. You could make the difference.

 

Why sneezing is vital to your health

Sneezing is a natural occurrence that we’ve all experienced many, many times. Sometimes, it just feels great to sneeze. But did you know it’s also good for you?

Sneezing plays a really important role in your immune system by protecting your body from infections and other antibodies that are trying to get in.

What do you need to know about sneezing?

Here are some facts about sneezing that everyone should know:

  • Sneezing helps your body: Sneezes clear your nose of unwanted bacteria.  When things get in your nose, the “sneeze center” in your brain gets a trigger that tells your body to close your eyes, throat, and mouth. Then, the chest muscles contract and the muscles in your throat open up. That’s what allows the air, saliva and mucus to come up out of your mouth and your nose.
  • Sneezes are quick: They can reach speeds 100 mph and disperse upwards of 100,000 germs into the air around you. Some of those germs can travel up to 30 feet. Yuck!
  • No sneezing while sleeping: The nerves that control your reflexes fall asleep when you do. That’s why you cannot sneeze while you’re asleep.
  • Does light make you sneeze?  One out of every three people sneezes when they see bright light. It’s a hereditary thing, and it’s nothing to worry about.
  • Ancient civilizations practiced sneezing: People of the past used to sneeze on purpose. They used grass or feathers to tickle their noses.  
  • Don’t fight the sneeze:  With speeds of 100 mph, if you try to suppress your sneeze if could cause nosebleeds, busted ear drums or other serious health problems.  
  • You might sneeze when you pluck your eyebrows: Huh? It sounds crazy, but when you pluck your eyebrows, it can trigger a nerve in your face that’s linked to your nasal passages. Thus, the inevitable sneeze.
  • Do you sneeze when you workout? You’re not alone. Exercise can make you sneeze when you work too hard. When you work hard, sometimes your mouth and your nose get dry. In response, your nose might start to drip, which will cause you to sneeze.

Does your heart stop when you sneeze?

There’s an old myth that your heart stops every time you sneeze. This, however, is not true. Researchers believe your heart rate might slow down when you sneeze, but only a little bit. That’s because most people take a deep breath before sneezing. But most people don’t even notice a change in their heart rate.

 

If you have any questions about sneezing, or if you’re having uncontrollable sneezing fits, call your doctor or stop by an Urgent Care clinic today.

 

Why do you get bruises?

Bruises are very common and can be subtle (you don’t know it’s there until you touch the sore spot) or very visible.

Bruises are skin injuries that discolor the surface of your skin. It happens because blood from blood cells that are hurt by impact collects around your skin’s surface, making your soft skin a little (or a lot) black and blue.

What causes bruises?

Are you clumsy? Then you’re probably very familiar with bruises. They mostly happen when you hit or run into something, or vice versa. They can also form from the following:

  • Vigorous exercise – Some bodybuilders and athletes will see bruises form without running into anything. They are caused by really tiny tears in blood vessels under the surface of your skin.
  • For no apparent reason – If you find yourself with unexplained bruises regularly, you could have a bleeding disorder. You should be more alarmed if your unexplained bruises happen simultaneously with nosebleeds or bleeding gums, but also know that sometimes you don’t remember bumping the bed post.
  • Elderly people are more likely to get bruises because you skin gets thinner as you get older.
  • If you’re taking prescription blood-thinners, you’re also more likely to get bruises.

What are the symptoms of a bruise?

  • Before you turn blue and black, your dark spot could be red at first. It takes a few hours for the bruise to darken to purple, blue or black. You’ll notice it lighten to yellow or green as it begins to heal.
  • Bruises are usually tender to the touch, but the pain lessens as the bruise lightens and heals.
  • No skin breaks if you only have a bruise, so there’s virtually no risk of it getting infected.

 

When are bruises serious?

  • If you have a bruise that’s extremely swollen and extremely painful, you need to see a doctor, especially if you’re on prescription blood thinners.
  • You are bruising frequently for no apparent reason.
  • If you get a bruise under your toenail or fingernail (ouch!), call your doctor.
  • If the bruise never lightens or doesn’t completely go away after several weeks, you might need to see a doctor.
  • If you have a bruise around your eye, it can become a black eye because the blood falls below your eye due to gravity. If you are having trouble seeing or if the pain is unbearable, you might need to see a doctor.
  • If you have a bruise on your head after an accident and you’ve got any signs of a head injury, you should seek medical attention immediately.

 

Do you have more questions about bruises? Stop by an Urgent Care clinic today if you have a bruise that needs attention.

 

How to deal with spring allergies

Most people get really excited at the thought of spring – warmer weather, outdoor sports, picnics, walks in the park. The list goes on!

But if you have spring allergy problems, spring time mostly brings with it the fear of sniffling, sneezing, itchy eyes and a stuffed up head.

It’s known to most as hay fever, though doctors call it seasonal allergic rhinitis.

And what’s to blame? Pollen.

Pollen season, for trees, starts in the early spring, usually right after Valentine’s Day. Late spring brings pollen in grasses, and late summer means weed pollens.

How do you control spring allergies?

Even if your allergies are severe, you can still make it through spring by doing the following things:

  • Get educated about your allergens and what’s causing them. See an allergist.
  • Lower your exposure to allergens.
  • Try over-the-counter medications.
  • Look into allergy shots or immunotherapy.

What’s causing your allergy problems?

The level of your misery is dependent on how large the pollen grains are in your area.

The smaller and lighter the pollen, the more trouble it’s likely to cause for allergy sufferers.

When it’s windy, those lighter, smaller pollens are carried miles and miles. They can travel more than 100 miles from the tree or grass on which they grew.

Different trees and grasses produce different types of pollen, so your allergies are based on where you live.

How do you avoid pollen?

Your life would be easier if you never had to step outside, but we all know that’s just not possible.

But you can strive to stay inside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. That’s when pollens are at their highest number.

Here are some other tips for reducing your exposure:

  • Use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter on your air conditioner and heater.
  • Wipe your pet’s fur before he or she comes back inside. Pollen can travel inside on pet fur.  
  • Keep your shoes outside at your doorstep so you don’t bring in pollen on your shoes.
  • Don’t hang your clothes outside to dry. Always use a dryer.

How do you treat allergies?

If you’ve done everything you can to avoid pollen and other allergens, but still feel that hay fever coming on, you can try the following to help with your symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter antihistamine
  • Over-the-counter eye drops
  • Over-the-counter decongestants
  • Over-the-counter or prescription nasal spray
  • Allergy shots from your doctor
  • Steroid nasal sprays
  • Dehumidifier for your home

It’s important to note that over-the-counter decongestants can raise your blood pressure, so you should always consult with your doctor before you decide on a course of treatment for your allergies.

If you are suffering from allergy symptoms and you can’t keep the pollen at bay, contact your local physician or stop by an Urgent Care Clinic today.

 

April fools safety

Every year on April 1 people gather all of their clever practical jokes and aim them towards the ones they love. This is not only acceptable, its appreciated. While its supposed to be all fun and games there is always the April fools prank that goes horribly wrong.  Last year there was a giant spike in emergency room visits on April 1st with over 400,000 injuries related to pranks.

According to legend, April Fools’ Day began in the year 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII (after whom the Gregorian calendar is named) moved the start of the new year from the end of March to the beginning of January. The change was made public, but not everyone got the memo, and those who didn’t and thus continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1 were laughed at. Because they were seen as foolish, they were called April Fools.

More than 400 years later things have escalated. Unfortunately the whoopy cushion has been replaced with a real life, injury causing version of slapstick comedy. Bruises, stitches, and fractures are not the ideal outcome of a prank.

What to avoid in your April fools prank

  • Don’t place pranks at the top of stairs – Never ever plan a surprise prank at the top of a staircase. A person walking on the stairs could fall as a result of being shocked or startled.
  • Avoid using water in your pranks, especially if spills will make the ground slippery –  Slippery floors and pranks don’t mix because they will likely team up to cause a serious slip and fall accident.
  • Never play pranks on someone who is carrying heavy objects or who is holding something sharp, like scissors or a knife – This can lead to serious injuries that will require a trip to the hospital.
  • Never play a prank on the driver of a vehicle. While your intentions may be to have good fun, the driver of any motor vehicle needs to be able to focus on the road, and a distraction like a prank in their car could cause them to be involved in a collision.
  • Avoid all types of pranks that could logically cause another person harm. Never play a prank when you think, “It will only hurt them a little.”

Benefits of good ol fashioned humor – Laughter IS the best medicine

There are many health benefits from laughing.  Laughter is an antidote to stress and pain. It can also improve your over all health!

There are physical benefits from laughter that you may not be aware of.

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body – after a good belly laugh, your muscles are left relaxed for almost 45 minutes.
  • Laugher improves your immune system – stress hormones are decrease and immune cells increase when laughing. This will help improve your body’s ability to fight off diseases.
  • Laughter releases endorphins – the natural, fell-good chemicals are releases while laughing, this can help with pain relief.
  • Laughter strengthens the heart – blood vessel function and blood flow are improved from laughing.

Laughter is contagious. If your April Fools joke on someone is done in a public place, just tell him or her it was so that you could help improve the health of as many people as possible today.

Infected wounds: signs and symptoms

When you’re healing from a wound of any kind to your skin, it’s important to be on the lookout for infection in your wounds.

Infections in injuries or wounds can happen in the wound or in mucous membranes (like the inside of the nose or mouth).

They can come after any type of skin problem, including:  

  • A bite
  • A sting
  • A tattoo
  • A piercing

Symptoms of an infection in your wound could include the following:

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth (heat) around the affected area.
  • Red streaks coming out of the infected area (a sign that the infection is in your blood stream)
  • Pus or other discolored drainage from the wound
  • Fever (If your fever is 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, there’s a good chance you have an infection.)
  • General discomfort, illness, uneasiness and you can’t pinpoint why

 

How do infections happen in wounds?

Infections in wounds can come from the following:

  • Your own skin bacteria
  • Outside bacteria (bacteria from the environment)
  • Bacteria on the object that punctured you in the first place

If you have an object in your wound, you are at a higher risk for infection, and you are also at a higher risk for infection if you have any of the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Any disease that compromises your immune system

It’s also worth noting that some parts of the body have more naturally occurring bacteria, like the genital and anal area, skin folds, and the webs between your toes. If you have a wound in any of these areas, you are also at a higher risk for infection.

What happens if you have an infection deep inside your wound?

It’s possible that you’ll have an infection, but it will happen deeper inside your wound instead of closer to the surface.

When that happens, the pain and swelling could be more intense, and it will likely feel like it is deeper inside your skin.

What also happens sometimes is that your skin over a puncture or wound will heal, but the infection pops up under the healed skin. When this occurs, you might end up with a pocket of pus (also known as abscess), deep inside your wound.

The best way to avoid infections in your wounds is to make sure you keep them clean. Change your bandages often. It’s imperative that you do so.

If you think you might have an infected wound, call your doctor or stop by an Urgent Care clinic today.

 

Urgent Care vs. Emergency Rooms

With so many clinics popping up on every corner – from urgent care walk-in clinics to stand-alone emergencies to traditional hospital ERs – it’s hard to know which you should choose when you’re in need.

There are two key differences in urgent care clinics versus emergency rooms:

  • Emergency rooms treat any medical situation – including trauma and life-threatening medical emergencies.
  • Urgent Care clinics are equipped to handle most non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries, and often have most or all of the services you will find at your general practitioner or family doctor’s office.

When should you go to the emergency room?

It’s important to note that the emergency room is just what it says: it is for real emergencies. They are almost always open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

They are equipped for bullet wounds, stabbings, burns, surgeries and so much more. You should opt for an emergency room or call 911 if you have any of the following:

  • allergic reactions to food, animal or bug bites
  • broken bones
  • chest pain
  • nonstop vomiting
  • nonstop bleeding
  • severe shortness of breath, trouble breathing
  • deep cuts or other types of wounds
  • weakness or pain in a leg or arm
  • Any type of head injury
  • If you’re unconscious, someone should bring you to the emergency room.

Although a trip to the emergency room is often unavoidable, it doesn’t come without a HUGE bill. Going to the emergency room costs a lot more – at least three times as much – than going to an Urgent Care clinic.

People who went to the emergency room in 2014 spent an average of two hours there, about 30 minutes waiting to be seen and another 90 minutes for treatment. If your injury is not serious and you want to save time and money, an urgent care clinic is an ideal alternative to the ER.

Also consider that most emergency rooms are triaged, which means that the most seriously injured – i.e. a gunshot victim or heart attack – will be treated before your broken finger. If there’s an unusually high number of severely ill or injured people on any given night, your wait in an emergency room will be much longer.

When should you go to Urgent Care?

Many Urgent Care clinics are open after business hours and on weekends, sometimes even holidays. A good Urgent Care clinic will have great doctors and nurses with ready access to x-rays and a lab

If you need to see a doctor and can’t wait for an appointment with your general practitioner, you should consider an urgent care clinic for the following ailments:.

  • Cold and flu
  • coughs and or sore throat
  • high fever
  • vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain
  • Some cuts and heavy scrapes
  • broken bones
  • minor wounds and burns
  • Sports-related injuries
  • and more

Call your local Urgent Care Clinic or stop by today if you have any of the

 

What happens during an asthma attack?

It’s happening again. Your coughing won’t stop. You can’t talk, and your breathing is getting more rapid by the minute. You could be having an asthma attack.

Asthma attacks are a sudden burst of severe asthma symptoms, which happen when the muscles around your bronchospasm, or airways, tighten up.

When you have an asthma attack, the lining of your airways swell up. The inflammation causes a thick mucus to form.

Asthma attacks can range in severity, but they almost always interfere with normal daily activities.

Here are some symptoms of an asthma attack:

  • Serious wheezing when you breathe in and out
  • Chronic coughing that won’t stop
  • Rapid or heavy breathing
  • Tightness of your chest or chest pressure
  • Retracting (or tightening) neck and chest muscles
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Anxiety or panic attack
  • Pale face
  • Sweats
  • Your lips or fingernails turn blue.
  • The symptoms won’t subside even with your asthma medication

 

Sometimes, asthma sufferers will go for years without having an asthma attack, or even showing any symptoms of asthma. Then, the attack comes from coming into contact with asthma triggers – mold, pollen, dust, cockroaches, household chemicals. An attack can also come from overdoing it when you exercise.

If you suffer from asthma and have any of the above symptoms, call 911.

There are mild asthma attacks and severe asthma attacks, and the good news is that mild attacks are more common than severe ones.

When a mild asthma attack happens, your airways open up and the swelling goes down after a few minutes or a few hours.

Severe asthma attacks, though they are less common, will last much longer and will require immediate medical attention.

If you suffer from asthma, you need to be able to recognize mild symptoms of an asthma attack so you can keep it under control and it doesn’t lead to a more severe attack.

What are the early signs of an asthma attack?

We’ve told you what to look for when you’re having an asthma attack, but there are also early signs and symptoms that could indicate an asthma attack is coming.

These early symptoms are less obstructive to your daily activities, and therefore easier to miss or dismiss. If you recognize the early symptoms, however, you can stop your asthma attack from setting in – or at least try to avoid a severe attack.

The following are some early warning signs of an impending asthma attack:

  • Frequent coughing, especially when you’re sleeping
  • Lower peak flow meter readings from your device that measures lung capacity. It’s important to have this device if you suffer from asthma.
  • Shortness of breath or the sensation that you’re losing your breath
  • Weakness or fatigue when you exercise
  • Wheezing or coughing while you exercise or right after your exercise
  • General fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Changes in lung function as determined by your peak flow meter
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat and other cold symptoms
  • Headache
  • Insomnia or trouble staying asleep after you fall asleep

Recognizing early signs of an asthma attack is important, and it’s equally important to see a doctor if you’re having any of those symptoms. Stop by Urgent Care or call us today.

 

The Kissing Disease: Avoiding Mono on Valentine’s Day

We’ve all heard of the “kissing disease,” also known as mono.

Mononucleosis is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, which actually infects almost everyone by the time they are 40 years old. Usually, though, it does not make you sick.

When it does, it comes in the form of mono. Once you get mono, you have the virus inside of you for life. But that doesn’t mean you are contagious for life. It does, however, pop back up from time to time, and you might never know when you are infecting someone.

It’s called the kissing disease because the virus lives in your salivary glands. It spreads through saliva – i.e. kissing or eating and drinking after someone.

What are the symptoms of mono?

Once you’ve been diagnosed with mono, you should prepare yourself for four-six weeks of illness. You can stay sick for two months.

The following are symptoms of mono:

  • a fever
  • a sore throat
  • swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpits
  • a headache
  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • swollen tonsils
  • night sweats

The problem with mono is that its symptoms can often be confused for other illnesses, like cold or flu. If you have these symptoms and they don’t go away after a week or two, it’s time to go to your doctor and see if you have the kissing disease.

The good news is that the virus does not spread as quickly or as easily as you might believe, and once you have already had it the chances of you ever getting it again are quite low.

How do you avoid the kissing disease?

There are a few easy things you can do to avoid catching mono – and avoid spreading it if you already have the kissing disease, including:

  • Avoid kissing or sharing dishes or eating utensils with a mono patient. It’s worth noting, though, that a light peck on the lips will likely not result in a case. You have to get saliva in your mouth to get infected.
  • Don’t donate blood if you have mono. Although it is typically spread through saliva, in some cases it can be spread through blood.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Stay away from someone who has mono.
  • Never share a toothbrush with someone.
  • Use disposable towels and cups in the bathroom.
  • Don’t let your children share toys if one has mono.
  • Sterilize pacifiers and bottles for your babies.
  • Keep everything disinfected, especially countertops and other surfaces.
  • Eat healthy foods that are high in antioxidants – leafy vegetables, tomatoes, blueberries and cherries.
  • Exercise regularly.

If you think you or someone you know might have the kissing disease, stop by Urgent Care and let one of our talented, passionate doctors take a look.

 

Treating childrens’ fevers at different ages

It happens to every parent, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, be patient. It will come. Your child is not feeling well, and when you touch his or her forehead, you notice it’s hot to the touch.

You rush to get out the thermometer, but what happens once you take your child’s temperature? Do you call the doctor, regardless of how high or low the fever seems to be?

The simple answer is no. What you do in response to a fever depends on how old your child is and what the thermometer says.

Infants and babies younger than 1 year old

Here are the guidelines for babies 1 year old or younger:

  • If your baby is 3 months old or younger, you should call the doctor if his or her temperature is 100.4 degrees or higher.
  • Infants’ immune systems aren’t fully formed yet at that age, so they are more susceptible to serious infections, including bacterial meningitis and pneumonia. Sometimes, fever is the only symptom you’ll notice.
  • If your baby is between 3 and 6 months old, you can wait until his or her fever hits 101 degrees, doctors say.
  • If your baby is 6 months or older, you can hold off on calling the doctor until the fever gets to 103 degrees, with a crucial exception to that rule: Call the doctor immediately if the fever is 102 degrees or higher and the baby shows one or more of the following symptoms: a cough, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue and diarrhea.

The most important thing to watch for in your baby when it comes to fever is dehydration.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your baby doesn’t become dehydrated:

  • If you breastfeed, nurse more frequently. Try to get the baby to take each one of your breasts for one to two minutes every 10 minutes.
  • If you feed your baby with formula in a bottle, feed your baby more often to make up for lost fluids. How much extra fluid should you feed them? A newborn should get as little as 1 ounce more at each feeding, and a 1-year-old should get as much as 3 ounces extra.
  • If you think your baby still isn’t getting enough fluids, call your doctor and see if you need an oral rehydrating solution.
  • If your baby eats cereal, you can also use cereal to help rehydrate him or her, and you can also try strained bananas or mashed potatoes – but only if your baby has eaten them before.

If you have tried all of these things and you still can’t get your little angel’s fever down to an acceptable level, bring him or her into an Urgent Care clinic so we can help him or her feel better.