Reducing salt intake can prevent high blood pressure.

      Reducing Sodium Intake

High blood pressure is one of the primary risks when it comes to too much sodium intake. Elevated blood pressure is a condition that can lead to other problems that can threaten one’s life, such as kidney disease, heart disease, or even heart failure. Excess sodium does this by causing water retention, which puts a strain on the arteries, kidneys, and heart. According to the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, people who are 2 years old or older should keep their daily sodium intake below 2,300 mg.

Certain people, including people with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or high blood pressure, should limit their daily sodium consumption to 1,500 mg. This lower sodium intake is also recommended for African Americans and people who are 51 years old or older. People get sodium from a number of sources, most commonly salt. In addition to salt, sodium comes from sources that include baking soda and baking powder. Salt is added to many foods, particularly those that are processed and prepackaged.

Ask for unsalted french fries to reduce sodium intake

To reduce salt intake, people must check the labels of the foods that they purchase, which will tell them how much is in the product. They should also avoid foods that have the word “salted” in the name and purchase items that are low-sodium or have no salt added. Canned foods, frozen dinners, hot dogs, and luncheon meats are all examples of foods that contain heavy amounts of salt. People can also limit the amount of salt that they add when cooking at home by using herbs and spices as flavor substitutes. Using fresh vegetables and fruits is also a way to cut back on sodium

Diabetes: Don’t cut corners, get help


The costs of managing diabetes can take their toll. A year’s worth of routine care — medication, glucose test strips, syringes, and other supplies, as well as doctor appointments — can run about

$6,000. And that doesn’t include the costs for any complications.


However, cutting back on tests or treatments to save money may compromise your efforts to control your condition, according to one study. More than half of the people who were unsuccessful in managing their condition said they had put off going to a doctor, didn’t fill a prescription, or tried other cost-cutting measures.


Instead of skimping on care, get the most for your healthcare dollars. Check your health plan. Many insurance companies offer disease-management programs for people with diabetes so they can take control of their condition and reduce any health issues.


Many disease management programs offer 24/7access to a registered nurse. “Advice nurses” usually provide general tips on managing diabetes. Many have access to your medical records, so they can provide personalized recommendations.


Also, ask your pharmacist or health plan about lower cost glucose monitor and test strip combinations. Sometimes, an inexpensive monitor and more costly test strips can add up to higher costs than if you buy a more expensive monitor with less expensive test strips. Ask your doctor about whether she or he can suggest lower cost, equally effective medications to control your diabetes.

Urgent care or emergency room?



In a life-threatening situation, a call to 911 or a visit to an emergency room is always your best choice. For minor illnesses at times when you can’t see your own doctor, like weekends or evenings, an urgent care clinic or a trip to a standalone ER such as Grace ER can give you the care you need. Grace ER has locations in Houston and Pearland, TX.

Research the urgent care options available on your health plan. These guidelines can help you decide if you or someone else needs emergency attention:



  • Chest pain with shortness of breath and/or sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Trauma or head injury
  • Sudden dizziness, difficulty seeing, slurred speech, confusion, numbness, or paralysis
  • Unconsciousness
  • Poisoning
  • Severe injury, burns, or electrical shock
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy

Standalone ER/ URGENT CARE

  • Sore throats, coughs, congestion, fever, and other flu or cold symptoms
  • Cuts that require stitches
  • Mild or moderate asthma attacks
  • Earaches and eye or skin infections*
  • Insect bites or rashes
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sprains, strains, deep bruises
  • Diarrhea*
  • Pregnancy tests and physical exams



If any of these symptoms seem severe, always consider them an emergency room.

Sprained Ankle

A sprained ankle is an injury that occurs when you roll, twist or turn your ankle in an awkward way. This can stretch or tear the tough bands of tissue (ligaments) that help hold your ankle bones together.

Ligaments help stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement. A sprained ankle occurs when the ligaments are forced beyond their normal range of motion. Most sprained ankles involve injuries to the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle.Treatment for a sprained ankle depends on the severity of the injury. Although self-care measures and over-the-counter pain medications may be all you need, a medical evaluation might be necessary to reveal how badly you’ve sprained your ankle and to determine the appropriate treatment.


Signs and symptoms of a sprained ankle vary depending on the severity of the injury. They may include:

  • Pain, especially when you bear weight on the affected foot
  • Tenderness when you touch the ankle
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Instability in the ankle
  • Popping sensation or sound at the time of injury

Call your doctor if you have pain and swelling in your ankle and you suspect a sprain. Self-care measures may be all you need, but talk to your doctor to discuss whether you should have your ankle evaluated. If signs and symptoms are severe, you may have significant damage to a ligament or a broken bone in your ankle or lower leg.


Factors that increase your risk of a sprained ankle include:

  • Sports participation. Ankle sprains are a common sports injury, particularly in sports that require jumping, cutting action, or rolling or twisting of the foot such as basketball, tennis, football, soccer and trail running.
  • Uneven surfaces. Walking or running on uneven surfaces or poor field conditions may increase the risk of an ankle sprain.
  • Prior ankle injury. Once you’ve sprained your ankle or had another type of ankle injury, you’re more likely to sprain it again.
  • Poor physical condition. Poor strength or flexibility in the ankles may increase the risk of a sprain when participating in sports.
  • Improper shoes. Shoes that don’t fit properly or aren’t appropriate for an activity, as well as high-heeled shoes in general, make ankles more vulnerable to injury.


Failing to treat a sprained ankle properly, engaging in activities too soon after spraining your ankle or spraining your ankle repeatedly might lead to the following complications:

  • Chronic ankle pain
  • Chronic ankle joint instability
  • Arthritis in the ankle joint


The following tips can help you prevent a sprained ankle or a recurring sprain:

  • Warm up before you exercise or play sports.
  • Be careful when walking, running or working on an uneven surface.
  • Use an ankle support brace or tape on a weak or previously injured ankle.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and are made for your activity.
  • Minimize wearing high-heeled shoes.
  • Don’t play sports or participate in activities for which you are not conditioned.
  • Maintain good muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Practice stability training, including balance exercises.

Sugar, oh sugar, sugar


Sugar is sweet, but too much might have souring effects on your body. In fact too much sugar intake can lead to illnesses and complications that often lead people to the Emergency Room. To maintain good health, one needs to maintain a healthy diet.


Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that naturally occurs in many foods such as in fruits (fructose) and milk products (lactose).


These sugars provide us with the nutrients and calories our bodies need. When we eat too many added sugars — such as white sugar, honey, corn syrup, and molasses — we may start to see side effects.


Some signs that you are getting too much sugar from empty calories include weight gain, elevated cholesterol, and cavities.


There are many ways to reduce added sugar in your diet:


  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.


  • Drink fewer sugar-sweetened beverages, and keep in check how much 100% fruit juices and alcoholic beverages you drink.


  • Eat fewer and smaller portions of items containing added sugars.


  • Limit using added sugar to improve the flavor of foods.



Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

While it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications

The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body. These signs and symptoms may include:


  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Itching

Some people also experience:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue

Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some, it can be intense. Depending on the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash.

Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of your torso. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor promptly if you suspect shingles, but especially in the following situations:

  • The pain and rash occur near an eye. If left untreated, this infection can lead to permanent eye damage.
  • You’re 60 or older, because age significantly increases your risk of complications.
  • You or someone in your family has a weakened immune system (due to cancer, medications or chronic illness).
  • The rash is widespread and painfu
  • Causes

  • Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who’s had chickenpox may develop shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years.Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin — producing shingles. But, not everyone who’s had chickenpox will develop shingles.The reason for shingles is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older. Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weakened immune systems.Varicella-zoster is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses, which includes the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes. Because of this, shingles is also known as herpes zoster. But the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles is not the same virus responsible for cold sores or genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection
  • Risk factors

    Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can develop shingles. Most adults in the United States had chickenpox when they were children, before the advent of the routine childhood vaccination that now protects against chickenpox.

    Factors that may increase your risk of developing shingles include:

    • Being older than 50. Shingles is most common in people older than 50. The risk increases with age. Some experts estimate that half the people age 80 and older will have shingles.
    • Having certain diseases. Diseases that weaken your immune system, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, can increase your risk of shingles.
    • Undergoing cancer treatments. Radiation or chemotherapy can lower your resistance to diseases and may trigger shingles.
    • Taking certain medications. Drugs designed to prevent rejection of transplanted organs can increase your risk of shingles — as can prolonged use of steroids, such as prednisone.


    Complications from shingles can include:

    • Postherpetic neuralgia. For some people, shingles pain continues long after the blisters have cleared. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia, and it occurs when damaged nerve fibers send confused and exaggerated messages of pain from your skin to your brain.
    • Vision loss. Shingles in or around an eye (ophthalmic shingles) can cause painful eye infections that may result in vision loss.
    • Neurological problems. Depending on which nerves are affected, shingles can cause an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, or hearing or balance problems.
    • Skin infections. If shingles blisters aren’t properly treated, bacterial skin infections may develop.


    Two vaccines may help prevent shingles — the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine and the shingles (varicella-zoster) vaccine.

    Chickenpox vaccine

    The varicella vaccine (Varivax) has become a routine childhood immunization to prevent chickenpox. The vaccine is also recommended for adults who’ve never had chickenpox. Though the vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get chickenpox or shingles, it can reduce your chances of complications and reduce the severity of the disease.

    Shingles vaccine

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the varicella-zoster vaccine (Zostavax) for adults age 50 and older, whether they’ve already had shingles or not. Although the vaccine is approved for people age 50 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t recommending it until you reach age 60 or older, when the risk of shingles and its complications is highest.

    Your doctor may recommend vaccination between ages 50 and 59 if you have a condition or circumstance that may make it more difficult to tolerate a shingles infection, such as chronic pain or if you have received or expect to receive certain medications that suppress the immune system.

    As with the chickenpox vaccine, the shingles vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get shingles. But this vaccine will likely reduce the course and severity of the disease and reduce your risk of postherpetic neuralgia within the first five years after vaccination. Protection beyond five years is uncertain.

    The shingles vaccine is used only as a prevention strategy. It’s not intended to treat people who currently have the disease. The vaccine contains live virus and should not be given to people who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems.

  • Treatments For Shingles

    There is no cure for shingles, so treatment for the condition is primarily focused on reducing the severity of symptoms and, ideally, decreasing the longevity of the outbreak. Individuals are encouraged to seek treatment as early as possible to prevent the infection from becoming worse.For initial outbreaks of shingles, at-home or over-the-counter (OTC) options may be sufficient for reducing symptom severity and preventing the condition from having a detrimental impact on the individual’s daily functioning. Techniques such as taking an oatmeal bath, applying calamine lotion regularly to the rash, or using cool compresses on the area can be effective in decreasing itchiness and soothing irritated skin.

  • Oral analgesics that can be obtained OTC, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may be recommended to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Antiviral or oral steroid medications may also be prescribed by your doctor, depending on the severity of symptoms.

    Alternative techniques may be employed, in conjunction with other techniques, to provide additional relief from symptoms. In particular, participating in yoga or regular relaxation practice is shown to reduce the individual’s overall degree of stress contributing to the shingles infection.

    Since the development of the chickenpox vaccine, there has been some suggestion that it may also help in preventing the development of shingles. This vaccine is not intended to cure the condition; however, it has been shown to reduce an individual’s risk for manifesting shingles in adulthood, even among populations of older adults

Allergic Conjunctivitis

The conjunctiva is a clear layer of tissue lining the eyelids and covering the white of the eye. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the conjunctiva becomes swollen or inflamed due to a reaction to pollen, dander, mold, or other allergy-causing substances.


When your eyes are exposed to allergy-causing substances, a substance called histamine is released by your body. The blood vessels in the conjunctiva become swollen. The eyes can become red, itchy, and teary very quickly.

The pollens that cause symptoms vary from person to person and from area to area. Tiny, hard-to-see pollens that may cause allergic symptoms include grasses, ragweed and trees. These same pollens may also cause hay fever.

Your symptoms may be worse when there is more pollen in the air. Higher levels of pollen are more likely on hot, dry, windy days. On cool, damp, rainy days most pollen is washed to the ground.

Mold, animal dander, or dust may cause this problem also.

Allergies tend to run in families. It is hard to know exactly how many people have allergies. Many conditions are often lumped under the term “allergy” even when they might not truly be an allergy.


Symptoms may be seasonal and can include:

  • Intense itching or burning eyes
  • Puffy eyelids, most often in the morning
  • Red eyes
  • Stringy eye discharge
  • Tearing (watery eyes)
  • Widened blood vessels in the clear tissue covering the white of the eye

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider may look for the following:

  • Certain white blood cells, called eosinophils
  • Small, raised bumps on the inside of the eyelids (papillary conjunctivitis)
  • Positive skin test for suspected allergens on allergy tests

Allergy testing may reveal the pollen or other substances that trigger your symptoms.

  • Skin testing is the most common method of allergy testing.
  • Skin testing is more likely to be done if symptoms do not respond to treatment.


The best treatment is to avoid what causes your allergy symptoms as much as possible. Common triggers to avoid include dust, mold and pollen.

Some things you can do to ease symptoms are:

  • Use lubricating eye drops.
  • Apply cool compresses to the eyes.
  • DO NOT smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Take over-the-counter oral antihistamines. These medicines can offer more relief, but they can sometimes make your eyes dry.

If home-care does not help, you may need to see a provider for treatments such as eye drops that contain antihistamines or eye drops that reduce swelling.

Mild eye steroid drops can be prescribed for more severe reactions. You may also use eye drops that prevent a type of white blood cell called mast cells from causing swelling. These drops are given along with antihistamines. These medicines work best if you take them before you come in contact with the allergen.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Symptoms often go away with treatment. However, they can persist if you continue to be exposed to the allergen.

Long-term swelling of the outer lining of the eyes may occur in those with chronic allergies or asthma. It is called vernal conjunctivitis. It is most common in young males, and most often occurs during the spring and summer.

Possible Complications

There are no serious complications.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

  • You have symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis that do not respond to self-care steps and over-the-counter treatment.
  • Your vision is affected.
  • You develop eye pain that is severe or becoming worse.
  • Your eyelids or the skin around your eyes becomes swollen or red.
  • You have a headache in addition to your other symptoms.

Alternative Names

Conjunctivitis – allergic seasonal/perennial; Atopic keratoconjunctivitis; Pink eye – allergic


9 Healthy Holiday-Eating Strategies


Pharyngitis, or sore throat, is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat. It often makes it painful to swallow.

Pharyngitis is caused by swelling in the back of the throat (pharynx) between the tonsils and the voice box (larynx).

Most sore throats are caused by colds, the flu, coxsackie virus or mono (mononucleosis).

Bacteria that can cause pharyngitis in some cases:

  • Strep throat is caused by group A streptococcus.
  • Less commonly, bacterial diseases such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause sore throat.

Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months. The illness often spreads among family members and close contacts.

 The main symptom is a sore throat.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain and muscle aches
  • Skin rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck

Most sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not help viral sore throats. Using these medicines when they are not needed leads to antibiotics not working as well when they are needed.

Sore throat is treated with antibiotics if:

  • A strep test or culture is positive. Your provider cannot diagnose strep throat by symptoms or a physical exam alone.
  • A culture for chlamydia or gonorrhea is positive.

Sore throat caused by the flu (influenza) may be helped by antiviral medicines.

The following tips may help your sore throat feel better:

  • Drink soothing liquids. You can either drink warm liquids, such as lemon tea with honey, or cold liquids, such as ice water. You could also suck on a fruit-flavored ice pop.
  • Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp or 3 grams of salt in 1 cup or 240 milliliters of water).
  • Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges. Young children should not be given these products because they can choke on them.
  • Use of a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier can moisten the air and soothe a dry and painful throat.
  • Try over-the-counter pain medicines, such as acetaminophen.

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat. This common condition is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat can affect children and adults of all ages. However, it’s especially common in children between the ages of 5 and 15Sneezing and coughing can spread the infection from one person to another.

Symptoms of strep throat

The severity of strep throat can vary from person-to-person. Some people experience mild symptoms like a sore throat, whereas other people have more severe symptoms including fever and difficulty swallowing. The common symptoms of strep throat include:

The symptoms of strep throat typically develop within five days of exposure to the bacteria.

1 2