Copy to clipboard

Measles Update

measles.jpeg

The U.S. is in the midst of the largest measles epidemic in the last 25 years so naturally we are receiving a lot of questions about it. The majority of cases are in unvaccinated children, but some adults who have received 1 vaccine also make up about 10% of the cases.

To keep it in perspective, California has had 40 cases with 8 of them occurring in LA and Orange County in 2019. While not as bad as the situation in New York, it is still around us. Here are the latest CDC recommendations for who needs a booster:

  • If you were born before 1957, you do not need a measles booster because you were naturally exposed as a child, and are considered immune

  • If you were born between 1957-1989 and received 1 dose of the live vaccine, you are likely immune (1 dose is 93% effective, 2 doses are 97% effective). If you are not sure if you received the live vaccine or of your vaccination status, a blood test can be done to check for immunity. Many people vaccinated before 1968 received an inactivated and ineffective measles vaccine.

  • If you were born after 1989 and received 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, you are considered immune and do not need further testing or a booster

  • If you plan to travel internationally, are a health care worker, or a college/graduate student, you are considered higher risk and need 2 doses of the MMR vaccine

Here at Elevated Health we can draw your blood to check for immunity, and we offer the MMR vaccine as well. The cash price for the blood test to check immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella is $45. The price for immunity to measles only is $20. The cash price for the MMR vaccine is $80. These services may be covered by your insurance as well. Please call us if you have any further questions regarding measles or would like to schedule an appointment for testing or vaccination.

Women's Health: Preventative Exams

What’s a pap smear and why do I need to do it? Why do I need to get my breasts pancaked every 1-2 years? As a woman, these are probably questions you have on a yearly basis. Every woman knows they need to get pap smears, breast exams, and mammograms, but do you really know why?

These are known as screenings, and they do just that: screen for cancers.

A pap smear is a screen for cervical cancer, which is in the cervix, the opening to the uterus. Cervical cancer is commonly caused by a virus called HPV. HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, and males do not know they have it. More importantly, some condoms do not protect against the transmission of this virus. The pap smear looks for HPV and if there are any changes to the cells of the cervix. Some people, especially young females, can clear the virus over time.

Pap smear guidelines have changed frequently throughout the years, but the current recommendations have been around for some time now. Every female, including any person who has female body parts, needs to have a pap smear starting at the age of 21, regardless of sexual activity. They are repeated every 3-5 years depending on age and what kind of DNA test was done. If a female has not been sexually active, then a conversation must be started with your doctor regarding when it is best to have a pap. Cervical cancer is a slow growing cancer, and is very preventable, if caught early. That is why it is very important that this exam be done.

A mammogram screens for breast cancer. Starting at age 40, every woman needs to get this exam every 1-2 years. Yes, the breasts are squished between two x-ray panels, which makes this a very uncomfortable exam, but nonetheless a very important one. Some women have dense breasts, which may require more testing to make sure any cancers are properly seen. Dense breasts are normal and do not mean you have a higher risk of getting cancer. What does make you at higher risk? Family history, especially close relatives. Any changes to the breasts, like lumps that you or your partner may feel, can also mean something is wrong. That’s why it is very important to discuss with your doctor about any family history and any changes you notice yourself, and get your mammogram!

Don’t forget, you also need to make sure you get your yearly bloodwork to check your cholesterol, kidneys, liver, and thyroid- everything in your body is connected, and you have to make sure your WHOLE body is healthy and problem free!

Headache Got You Down?

BY: DR. BENJAMIN PUN

Have a headache? You are definitely not alone. Millions of Americans deal with a headache at some point in their lives. There are a variety of headache experiences- dull, throbbing, sharp, pounding, to name a few. It can be felt around the eyes, behind the eyes or even on only one specific part of the head. Some headaches can be debilitating and keep you away from your work and really get in the way of living your life.

Most headaches are tension headaches and migraines caused by poor posture, stress and repetitive activities. Here’s a list of some common causes:

- sitting and working too long on a computer and desk
- long driving times- LA and OC traffic!
- looking down at your cell phone a lot- we all have to check the latest on Instagram or Facebook!
- tummy sleeping
- anxiety or stress
- jaw clenching and teeth grinding- hurts your TMJ
- dehydration
- menstruation

Here are some good ways to ease that headache:
- limit stressful events or situations
- take frequent breaks to stretch during work or long driving
- avoid teeth clenching- mouth guards are useful for this
- Exercise- low impact like walking, swimming or biking a few times per week
- Drink plenty of water! Make up for water losses from your coffee and teas, and keep properly hydrated throughout the day

Crick in your neck? Could be the cause of your headache, called cervicogenic headache. Long word, but definitely treatable. The bones in your neck have all these muscles attached, and during times of stress, those muscles get tight, push on nerves, and slow down blood flow to your head. That lack of blood flow and nerve irritation causes a headache. One of the best treatments for tension headaches is chiropractic. Getting a chiropractic “adjustment” helps take away that pressure from your nerves and arteries and puts your spine in alignment. Just like cars need tire alignments for maintenance, so does your neck and body, to help you get through the day.

Get Some Sleep

Sleep is important to your overall wellbeing. Most adults need 7 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. However, some people need more in order to function at their best. Not only is quantity of sleep important, but so is quality. Substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are sleep disrupters that interfere with your body’s ability to achieve deep sleep.

If you experience consistent poor sleep, you might have insomnia. Many people have short-term sleep concerns when they are faced with a stressful situation or significant loss. However, if for a month or longer, you have 3 or more nights per week of difficulty falling or staying asleep, wake feel unrefreshed and lethargic, and are noticing issues with work or school performance, relationship distress, and an overall decreased quality of life, you might be experiencing chronic insomnia. Visit your healthcare provider to assess the situation.

If you’d like to know more about sleep and get some tips on improving your sleep, check out our course on the subject at Elevated Health University.

Overcoming Loneliness

friends blog.jpeg

A recent report by Cigna found that nearly half of Americans feel lonely on a regular basis. For those over the age of 45, the majority of lonely individuals report feeling that way for 6 or more years. Studies have found that loneliness is associated with a reduced lifespan similar to smoking 15 cigarettes per day, and the absence of or poor social relationships increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 30%.

Humans are social creatures. We were built to be in relationships. When we are alone, we subconsciously become more aware of threats in our environment as a means of self-preservation. This vigilance triggers the stress response and results in increased cortisol levels that then negatively impact physical and psychological health.

When I speak with clients about loneliness, most are geographically far or estranged from family, and they have a difficult time making friends. In our culture of social media and online gaming, many have numerous cyber friends, but those connections lack the intimacy that in-person relationships offer.

Also, it is important to understand that loneliness is part of the human condition. The more that you grow comfortable with yourself and ease into the idea of solitude, the less being alone will hurt.  Developing a meditation practice and creating meaningful rituals can be helpful in deepening your relationship with yourself.

Here are some helpful ideas to reduce your loneliness and connect to others:

  1. Volunteer for a local organization

  2. Join a book, movie, or walking club

  3. Adopt a pet

  4. Go out for dinner or coffee

  5. Attend a yoga or art class

  6. Plan a trip to see family or friends

  7. Invite a neighbor for lunch

For the long-term, focus on developing at least one close friendship. It’s not the quantity of friendships, but the quality that make a significant difference in reducing loneliness.

If you find none of these solutions to be helpful, or you feel that you are blocking possible connections in your life, then consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist to address any underlying concerns that might be keeping you lonely.

If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Steph.

Healthy Traveling

spring.jpeg

Happy Spring! Travel season is among us.

Beautiful spring and summer weather is the perfect time to travel abroad. When you leave the country, it is important to plan ahead and keep in mind some health & safety tips.

  • Vaccines: there are certain vaccines you need before traveling to some countries to make sure you do not contract that disease as well as bring it back to the US. This includes typhoid and yellow fever, which are not common in the U.S., but are prevalent in African and South American countries. Make sure you are also up to date on tetanus, hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

  • Eat and drink safely: avoid any undercooked foods and local water. Make sure your water is bottled, and not tap water, including ice in your drinks. Contaminated water is a source for intestinal bacteria and parasites.

  • Prevent bug bites: Use insect repellent, particularly DEET, which has been shown to be effective against ticks. Ticks and mosquitos transmit disease like Lyme and Malaria. Wear protective clothing and keep in mind the peak hours of exposure and locations that you visit. Grass and vegetated areas may have higher amounts of bugs, and dawn and dusk times are when most insects are active. Bed nets are also helpful. 

  • Stay safe outdoors: make sure you wear loose clothing in the heat and warm clothing in the cold climates. If swimming, make sure you do not swallow contaminated water. Make sure you apply sunscreen if exposed to the sun for long periods of time (SPF 15 or higher with UVA + UVB protection)

  • Avoid animals: if handling animals, make sure you let your physician know. There are certain vaccines and illness only transmitted by contact with animals, like rabies.

  • Avoid germs: Practice good hand hygiene and make sure you cough or sneeze into your sleeve if you are sick to prevent others from getting sick. 

  • Avoid contact with bodily fluids: this includes from sexual activity. Make sure you use condoms with any new sexual partners. Avoid injecting drugs, and limit alcohol use. And definitely avoid getting tattoos or anything that involves needles. This is to avoid getting HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. 

  • How to seek medical care: make sure you have a plan on how to seek medical care should you need it. This includes any supplemental travel health insurance or getting extra prescriptions from your doctor to last throughout your trip.

  • Select safe transportation: According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries

  • Make a travel kit which includes medications, injectables, and supplies to prevent illness or injury. More info on what to pack from the CDC: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/travel-health-kits

The CDC is the best resource for finding out what you need for traveling, other than your doctor. Here is the link: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. As always, consult with your doctor before making any travel plans to make sure you are in perfect health to travel.

Bon Voyage!

5 Things to Know about Direct Primary Care

dr matt 1.png

Dr. Matt was recently featured in an online interview about direct primary care! Here are the five things the article shared about DPC:

  1. DPC docs foster an enduring doctor-patient relationship

    Instead of seeing up to 30 patients a day, DPC providers typically see less than 10. “A lot of medicine can be done electronically,” says Dr. Matt, who has capped his practice at 450 patients. “I know all my patients by name. I have time for them,” he says. “I probably interact with about 20 patients a day when you factor in the electronic communication.”

    The longer appointments in the DPC model allow time for discussions between a physician and patient that encompass lifestyle choices with the aim of long-term health and well-being

  2. DPC is growing and DOs are joining in

    In the past decade, the DPC model has grown from just 21 practices to over 1,000 practices in 49 states that care for an estimated 500,000 patients, according to the Direct Primary Care Coalition (DPCC), an advocacy group.

  3. Efforts are underway to enhance DPC

    The AOA supports the DPC model, and urged Congress at DO Day on Capitol Hill last week to support a Primary Care Enhancement Act (PCEA) that includes a DPC model which would allow physicians to provide health care to the full extent of their scope of practice, including providing diagnostic services and dispensing prescription drugs.

  4. DPC offers upfront pricing

    At Elevated Health in Huntington Beach, California, patients pay an average of $75 monthly. This includes same- and next-day visits, 30-60 minute appointments, and the ability to call, email, text or video chat with a physician 24/7.

    Elevated Health offers patients free diagnostic EKG and spirometry testing, as well as procedures such as laceration repair, skin lesion removal and ear lavage. Labs, medications and imaging are available to patients at contracted wholesale prices.

  5. DPC embraces the ‘quadruple aim of medicine’

    The triple aim of medicine—to enhance the patient experience, improve population health and reduce health care costs—is well-documented, says Dr. Abinante, but he and other DPC providers are focused on “the quadruple aim of medicine,” which acknowledges that improving the work-life balance of physicians is necessary in order for the other three aims to happen.

This blog post was shortened for this website. The full, original article was published here.

Heart Health & Depression

depression heart.jpg

February is Heart Health Month, and that’s a great time to talk about the link between heart disease and depression. According to the American Heart Association, one in 10 adult Americans have depression, and symptoms of depression are three times more common in people who have had a heart attack than those who have not. Interestingly, there’s a reciprocal relationship where having heart disease increases the risk of depression, and depression may increase the chance of developing heart disease. In fact, emotional distress and depression are risk factors for coronary artery disease.

So, what can you do to keep your heart and mind healthy?

• Eat healthy foods (The Mediterranean Diet is recommended for improving heart health and reducing inflammation. New research suggests it may also improve mood.)

• Exercise regularly (Just 30 minutes a day can improve both physical and mental health)

• Reduce alcohol intake (Alcohol increases blood pressure and depresses mood)

• Quit smoking (Smoking is top preventable risk factor for heart disease)

• Do deep breathing exercises

• Use medication and/or visualization to improve mood and relax

• Share your feelings with others or journal to express difficult emotions

As always, seek professional guidance if you are concerned about your heart or your mood. Counseling can be a great way to develop healthy habits to improve both heart and mind health.


February is Heart Health Month!

heart health.jpeg

February is a time for love- but how can you love without a healthy heart? It is heart health month and here are some things you should know about how to keep the old ticker ticking.

Anyone can have a heart attack at any age, but here are some risk factors for having a heart attack:

Smoking- More than 37 million adults smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease. Not only that, but also loss of limbs and lung cancer. Quitting is not easy but there are many ways to try. If you work closely with your doctor, you can become cigarette free!

Obesity- According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 Americans—and nearly 1 in 6 children ages 2 to 19—is obese. Carrying extra weight not only increases risk of heart disease but leads to chronic inflammation in the body making an inflammatory condition worse, like autoimmune disease and arthritis. You can look into some healthy weight loss tips on my previous blog post here.

High Blood Pressure- This affects millions of Americans, and the majority have it uncontrolled. Normal BP is 120/80 and if it goes above 140/90, that’s a red flag. Chronic high blood pressure puts stress on the heart leading it to increase in size (congestive heart failure), which increases your risk of having a heart attack. In addition to the heart damage it causes, high BP can damage the vessels in the brain leading to stroke.

High Cholesterol- Smoking, diabetes, low physical activity and unhealthy eating can all contribute to high cholesterol. Cholesterol sticks to artery walls and narrows the space for blood to flow. When this happens in the heart arteries, the result is a heart attack.

Diabetes- 1 in 10 people have this “sweet” disease. I consider it a silent killer, since symptoms of late complications are not evident until it is further in the disease. Sugar damages the blood vessels of the heart, eyes, kidneys and brain.

Family History of Heart Disease- If you have anyone in the family that has had a heart attack, it is important to let your doctor know. Heart genetics get passed down and the younger your family member is with the problem, the more likely that you will also be at high risk.

Age- Even though young people are at risk for heart issues as well, the older you get the more likely it is for your heart to stop functioning, especially if combined with the other risk factors mentioned above.

It’s never too late to take control of your heart health! Eat foods low in trans-fat, saturated fat, less added sugars and low sodium. Make move not excuses; Stay Active- get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. And as always, get regular check-ups with your doctor and stay up to date on your health!


The Flu Is Here!

The flu virus has arrived! This week we have had several patients calling and texting us with clear flu symptoms. We have even had patients come in and test positive with our nasal swab. Anyone that has had the flu knows that it can be very miserable.

So what do you do when you have the flu? I will breakdown the things that I recommend to my patients that have the flu. Really, the short answer is that there isn’t much we can do except for contain the spread of the vaccine and symptomatic treatment. Please, use these as a guideline. Please consult your doctor!

  1. Sharing is not caring - Please, please, please….do not share your illness! The flu virus specifically is spread through droplets. Meaning, that when someone sneezes, coughs or even talks that has been infected with the flu virus….you are susceptible to contract the virus. Someone that has been in contact with the flu can be contagious up to SEVEN DAYS!

    • Please stay home if you are sick. You don’t have to go to school. You don’t have to go to work. You don’t have to go to the store (Instacart, Prime Now, Etc.).

    • Please cover your cough! Droplets are spread through coughing, sneezing and talking. Please wear a mask (I like this one…looks nice and you can cover the cough for patient zero).

    • Wash your hands! - Sing “Happy Birthday” while you wash to make sure you kill off/wash off any virus that may be on your hands.

  2. Medications - There are some prescription medications now that can help to reduce the duration of the flu. These medications are most effective if started within 48 hours of symptom onset and the sooner the better! You can read more about it here. The medications are not for everyone….but it is an option.

    At our practice, here at Elevated Health, we can run these medications through your pharmacy and use your insurance benefits or these medications are rather inexpensive and dispensed from our office! (Tamiflu around $35, 5 day course. Xofluza is around $80-160, depending on weight, 1 day course)

  3. Elderberry - There have been some studies that this natural OTC supplement may be helpful (and unlikely to hurt) in helping relieve symptoms of the flu. It should be started within 48 hours of symptom onset. My wife recently purchased these gummies for herself and for my kids…and they tasted great!

  4. Rest, fluids, OTC meds - This is the best time to get some R&R. Water has been shown to be one fo the best mucolytics (works to break up the mucous). Your body needs lots of rest during this time! Pick up a good book (can I recommend this one…Not too expensive, quick read, and it explains our wonderful model of revolutionary healthcare)

  5. Vitamin C - There have been mixed studies about Vitamin C and the flu….Again, the way I see it, it may help…and it is unlikely to hurt.

If you have any concerns and something seems “out of the ordinary” (more information here) be sure to text or call your doctor (or find a practice like ours near your home here). With the widespread adoption of telemedicine, a lot of straightforward flu cases can be handled remotely.

Be well! The flu can be really nasty, just look at the flowchart doctors use to diagnose the flu. You may want to consider obtaining the flu vaccine for the following flu season. Most places have this available as early as September/October.