What is deep vein thrombosis?

By Brooke Strickland


Deep vein thrombosis is medical condition that happens when a blood clot forms in a vein, deep in the body.  They can form anywhere in the body, but are more common in the lower legs or thigh.  This is a serious medical condition, because many times clots in the veins can break loose and travel throughout the body and get stuck in your lungs, which can block regular flow of blood to major parts of the body such as the lungs.  When this happens, it’s called a pulmonary embolism. 

Many times, there are not any symptoms when deep vein thrombosis occurs.  It usually happens, however, after the person has been sitting for a long period of time and has been inactive.  In fact, last year, deep vein thrombosis was the cause of death for a young man who had spent hours upon hours playing video games. This is why if you expect to be sedentary for long periods of time, to make regular attempts to get up and move and get blood circulating normally again. There are some symptoms however, that can provide warning that you may have this medical condition.  These include:

-Swelling and pain in the infected legs, even as low as the ankle and feet

-Pain that feels like a cramp or a Charley Horse

-Warmth over the area that is causing pain

-Skin color that is abnormal, such as red, blue, or pale

Many times this condition is an indicator that something bigger is happening, such as a blood-clotting disorder.  In addition, smoking, some medications, and being over the age of 60 can increase your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.   If your doctor suspects you have this condition, you may need to have an ultrasound, CT scan, blood test, or a venography, which uses a dye injection into a large vein in your foot or ankle to look for clots. 

If you develop symptoms of deep vein thrombosis, contact your doctor right away.

What is a mouth ulcer?

By Brooke Strickland


We’ve all had them.  They’re those small, painful sores on the inside of the mouth.  Women are prone to develop mouth sores more often and it is common to have a family history of them. 

The most common mouth ulcer is called a simple ulcer.  These are broken down into three different types. Minor ulcers are the most common type, are small, and do not scar the mouth and usually heal on their own.  Major ulcers are 1 cm or larger and have a raised texture to them.  These can also last longer, sometimes up to several months.  These are slower to heal and often cause difficulty eating.  The other type of mouth ulcers are called herpetiform ulcers, which are tiny sores that form in multiples. These are quite painful and can form together into one large sore.

These ulcers are usually round or oval and can be found on the floor of the mouth, on the inside of the lips or cheeks, or under the tongue. They can be especially painful when eating or drinking. 

What causes them?

It’s common to develop mouth ulcers by accidentally biting your cheek or by brushing your teeth too much or too rough.  In addition, if you have a sharp tooth or a filling that is rubbing or scratching against the cheek, mouth ulcers can form because of this friction. In addition, stress and anxiety can cause mouth ulcers to develop and medical conditions such as iron or vitamin B12 deficiency can cause them.  Further, some conditions such as Crohn’s disease, HIV, or viral infections can also be a trigger for the development of mouth ulcers.

There is usually no need to seek a doctor’s diagnosis for these.  However, if you have an ulcer that has lasted more than a few weeks, if they are getting progressively larger and/or more painful, or if you are developing ulcers on other parts of the body, you should seek a doctor’s advice.  Your doctor will likely check your vitamin and iron level in the body or collect a blood sample to make sure your overall health is ok.

What is endocarditis?

By Brooke Strickland

Endocarditis is when the inner lining of the heart becomes infected.   This type of infection usually happens when germs from another part of your body spread and attach to damaged areas of the heart.  The infection can develop slowly or can come on suddenly and is uncommon in people that have healthy hearts.  It is more commonly seen in people that have heart defects or artificial hearts.  If the infection is not treated, severe damage or in some more serious cases, destruction of the heart valves can occur.  Sometimes, strokes or organ damage can happen.  In addition, if not treated, endocarditis can cause pockets of pus to develop in other parts of the body, spreading to other parts of the body including the brain, kidneys, or other life-giving organs.  This can be a life-threatening condition. 

Endocarditis can impact people differently, but in general there are some signs and symptoms to watch out for.

-Fever & chills
-Night sweats
-Aching joints & muscles
-Persistent cough
-New or changed heart murmur
-Shortness of breath
-Spleen tenderness
-Unexplained weight loss
-Blood in the urine
-Feet or leg swelling

Endocarditis is usually treated with antibiotics and in more serious cases, surgery may be needed. If you develop any of the above symptoms - especially if you have a pre-exising heart complication or defect or a history of endocarditis, contact your doctor as soon as possible. It's important to do early testing, such as blood tests, CT scans, x-ray, or echocardiogram) to diagnose and treat it.


How to ease a tension headache

By Brooke Strickland

Tension headaches: we’ve all had them.  The tension and stress of day to day life can get to us sometimes, and many times this manifests in the form of a headache.  Next time you get a headache, instead of reaching for that bottle of pills to help, try some of these remedies to cure it first.

Rest: resting in a dark, quiet room can help bring calm and alleviate a throbbing head.  Close your eyes, sit and relax, and rest your back, neck, and shoulders.  Deep breathing exercises can also help, while focused relaxation on areas that are feeling especially tight can help ease pain.

Caffeine: Grab a cup of coffee and start sipping.  Caffeine can help take away headache pain faster than pills – that’s why it is often added to migraine medications as part of its active ingredients.

Hot/cold treatments: Treating your neck, shoulders, forehead, or temples with hot and cold packs can help greatly.  Take a hot shower, and then apply a cold pack.  Or, try treating with a hot water bottle or hot compress, then wrap an icepack in a towel and apply it where you’re hurting most.

Massage: Massages can work wonders.  Having a massage can help relieve tight, clenched muscles and in turn, help alleviate the formation of tension headaches.  Don’t worry, if you can’t find someone to massage your neck and shoulders at the last minute, you can do it yourself.  Find a tennis ball and lean up against it in a chair.  Rolling the ball around the middle section of your back can help loosen muscles.  Or sit in a dimly lit room and rub your temples or shoulders yourself while slowly stretching your shoulder and neck muscles.

If these tactics don’t help lessen the pain you’re feeling, over the counter medications can help.  However, if you are experiencing chronic, long-lasting headaches that are frequent and last more than a few days, you need to seek medical attention.  In addition, if you develop sudden, sharp headaches that come with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, fever, or seizures, go to urgent care and seek attention fast, as these may be signs of a more serious problem.

Natural tips to fight acne

By Brooke Strickland

Acne is a condition that affects men and women of all ages and can be hard to live with.  It affects confidence in a lot of people and for many, scarring after acne is gone can be just as bad as still having acne.  So what are some natural ways to keep acne from affecting you?

Keep your hands away from your face:  your hands contain a lot of oils and grease and resting your hands on your face for extended periods of time every day can spread the amount of oil, germs, and dirt that goes into your pores.

Steam:  Boiling mint leaves and chamomile leaves in a pot and putting your face close to the vapor (careful not to burn yourself on the steam!) can help open your pores and keep them from developing new pimples.

Eat well:  Eating lots of fruits and vegetables and reducing your intake of greasy and oily foods is not only healthy for your whole body, but for your face as well.  Incorporating carrot juice and making sure you have enough vitamins in your diet are essential.  Increasing your zinc intake, vitamin A, and vitamin B intake can all help keep your skin clear.  In addition, talk to your doctor about other vitamin or zinc supplements that you can take can help.

Wash your face every night:  It seems like common sense, but it’s important to make sure you clean your face every night before bed, especially if you wear makeup.  Washing your face with a natural cleanser and warm water can help remove your face of dirt and bacteria that can creep into your pores while you rest.

The key to a clear, healthy complexion doesn’t have to be super expensive or involve a lot of overpriced, overrated products.  It can often be prevented and minimized by making minimal lifestyle and dietary changes, which will leave you feeling better about yourself and more confident.