February is American Heart Month. Do You Have a Healthy Heart?

February is American Heart Month, which strives to educate Americans about the dangers of heart disease and the steps that you can take to minimize its risk. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, as about one-out-of-four deaths can be attributed to heart disease each year. 

While the heart naturally ages and weakens, you can significantly slow down this process and improve the wellness of your heart by following the steps below:

Reduce Your Red Meat Consumption

While red meat is undoubtedly delicious, it's not necessarily the most healthy of delicacies. In fact, the consumption of red meat triggers a negative chain reaction in the stomach from the nutrient called carnitine that has been linked to the development of heart disease. Instead of having steak on a weekly basis, save it for special occasions - your bank account will be happy too!

Quit Smoking

Quitting tobacco products is no cake walk. However, this process can be manageable if you work to avoid certain triggers. These "triggers" are activities, hobbies or consumables that may go hand-in-hand with your smoking habit. This may include drinking alcohol or coffee, staying up late, or going out at night. You may also want to temporarily avoid friends or coworkers who smoke while they're smoking. By removing these triggers from your life, it will be easier to quit smoking. Whether you choose to go cold turkey or use anti-smoking products designed to help you quit is your choice!

Limit Your Alcohol Consumption

As many know, a glass of wine each night is not the worst thing in the world, as evidence even illustrates that it may even be good for your health. Yet, consuming too much alcohol can create a world of problems, including negative effects on your heart. In addition to the empty calories, alcohol also increases your blood pressure, which has a direct link to causing heart disease. Hard alcohol and beer are therefore best saved for special (or no) occasions. 

Exercise Daily

Exercising every single day of the week may seem like a daunting task to suddenly implement into your busy schedule. But exercising daily doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to the gym every night after work. There are a number of small and easy steps that you can take to exercise. Walk or bike to work instead of driving or taking public transit. Even skipping the elevator at your work to take the stairs counts. If you have a dog, don't just let them outside, take them for an adventure and go hiking. Your dog will love it and your heart will too!

Visit Your Doctor

The first step in improving your heart's health is simply knowing your heart's current health. Before you begin biking to work every day or starting a radical new diet, visit us at AFC Urgent Care, where we can advise you on what activities you're healthy enough to do. We can additionally measure your blood pressure and cholesterol, and prescribe any necessary medication if you have a heart condition. 

Our primary care team will provide you with a thorough medical exam that will set you on the right path in maximizing your heart's potential. We offer primary care 7 days a week and accept the majority of health insurance plans, which establishes our center as the most convenient, affordable and accessible primary care destination in NE Portland, NW Portland, Beaverton and Lake Oswego, OR!

This Valentine's Day, Share The Love, Not The Germs

This Valentine’s Day, show your loved one you care by sharing your love, not your germs. Date nights are no fun if you both end up getting sick, so here are some tips for keeping you (and your date) healthy this Valentine’s Day.

If You’re Sick, Postpone

It may put a damper on your plans, but if you or your date are sick, do both of you a favor and postpone! Valentine’s Day may be on the 14th, but it can be celebrated any time. Instead of trying to go out while you're sick, stay home, recover and make plans to celebrate your love another night. In fact, hotels, restaurants and popular date locations are typically jam-packed and are more expensive on Valentine’s Day — by postponing you’ll likely dodge the crowds and have a more enjoyable time.

Have a Cold? Keep a Healthy Distance

If you are unable to cancel your plans, try your best to enjoy your evening — just remember to do your best to keep your date from getting sick, too. Give your partner a little bit of space, and keep your germs to yourself. Reduce the spread of germs by coughing into your elbow, washing your hands frequently and avoid sharing food or drinks.

Stay Healthy 

If you are worried about getting sick before your upcoming date night, there are a few things you can do to try to stay healthy. Many sicknesses can be avoided simply by taking a few simple precautionary steps:

  1. Get Your Flu Shot. Getting a flu shot is the number one thing you can do for yourself to prevent the flu.
  2. Avoid people who are sick. Flu and cold germs are easily transmitted between people in close proximity, so avoid the risk whenever possible.
  3. Seek medical advice when you feel sick. Don’t try to “tough it out”! If you are presenting symptoms of a severe cold or the flu, don’t hesitate to head to your nearest urgent care. The doctors there can help you feel better faster by giving you a correct diagnosis for your illness and suggesting the appropriate treatment.

Sometimes despite preventative measure, sickness still sets in. When that happens, don’t ignore the symptoms, get help from the professionals at AFC Urgent Care. To find a location near you, visit AFCUrgentcarePortland.com.

Did You Know That We Provide Occupational Health Services?

With a team of board-certified physicians coming from a diverse set of medical backgrounds, our center has the ability to offer a wide range of occupational health services. AFC Urgent Care Portland serves a number of Portland's biggest employers, helping their businesses operate both safer and more efficiently.

AFC Urgent Care Portland offers the following occupational health services:

Drug & Alcohol Testing

The purpose of drug and alcohol testing isn't to catch employees off-guard. The point is to establish a safe, productive and drug-free culture within the workplace. Our drug testing services can be either pre-employment testing or random testing. Pre-employment drug testing helps filter out potential hires with a pre-existing drug habit, which has proven to help businesses employ a team of more productive, ethical and healthier employees.

Workers’ Compensation

Injuries at the workplace happen. Even with the most precautionary measures in place, accidents are just about impossible to avoid. That’s why it’s important for your business to have a go-to plan for when the next injury occurs at your workplace. Our center offers prompt evaluation and treatment for a variety of workplace injuries, meaning you can skip the ER and receive care faster and at a lower cost.

Flu Vaccination Clinics

Flu season is underway, and here at AFC Urgent Care Portland, we provide on-site flu vaccination clinics at a number of different companies in the Portland Metropolitan area. We also administer several other immunizations at our center.

Physical Examinations

To ensure your employees and potential hires are fit for the job, we provide companies with physical examinations for their employees, ranging from pre-employment physicals, DOT Physicals to annual physicals.

For more information about our occupational health services, visit our Occupational Health services page or call us at (503) 766-5787. We look forward to helping your business and safer and more efficiently!

Signs Your Child Has the Flu

Coughing, sore throat and fever, oh my! Your child is definitely sick, but with what? The cold and flu viruses can often be tricky for parents to tell apart because many of the symptoms are the same, but there are several signs that your child has more than just a cold. Here's what to look for:

Fever

If your child has the flu, it will often be accompanied by a high fever. A child with a cold is more likely to have only a mild fever, or no fever at all. If your child has a fever of 102 F or higher, or if your baby has a fever of 100.4 F or higher, seek medical help immediately.

Chills

Your child will most likely have chills if he or she has a fever. The common cold is much less likely to produce this symptom.

Head and Muscle Aches

One of the most common indicators of the flu is the presence of head and body aches. If your child has the flu, he or she will experience muscle soreness and pain, and likely headaches as well.

Flu Season CheckupFatigue

No one is ever high-energy when they're sick, but the flu comes with very noticeable and severe exhaustion that isn't present with the common cold. Your child will feel too weak to do much more than sleep or watch TV.

If you think your child has the flu, there are certain things you can do to help. First and foremost, assess the situation and determine if medical help is needed. If your child is younger than 5 or has a long-term health condition, you should seek medical help as soon as possible as these groups are at risk for serious complications from the flu. However, a child of any age with severe flu-like symptoms should be seen by a medical professional.

If your child does have the flu or even a severe cold it's important to make sure he or she gets plenty of rest and drinks plenty of fluids. If your child's sore throat is too sensitive for cold water, broth or sports drinks are a good alternative. Your child should be kept home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, without the help of fever-reducing medication, except to receive medical care.

If your child is sick with a severe cold or the flu, AFC Urgent Care Portland can help, no appointment necessary.

AFC Urgent Care Flu Season Update

If you've gotten your flu shot already, great job! You're much better protected against getting the flu this flu season. And if you still haven't gotten your yearly flu shot yet, there's no time to waste! Protecting yourself against the flu is vital to your health, as well as the health of those around you, and as we approach peak flu season you're more likely than before to catch the flu.

In fact, the CDC says this year's flu season will be more severe than last year’s — and only getting worse. More and more states are seeing heavy flu activity, with the Northwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic being the most affected regions so far. Flu season typically peaks sometime between December and February each year, and flu outbreaks can even be seen well into March. This is why it's so important to get your flu shot as soon as possible, if you haven't already. Your body takes about two weeks to become protected from the flu after receiving the flu shot, which means if you got yours today you wouldn't be protected until late January. The longer you wait to get a flu shot, the more likely you are to catch the flu this flu season.

To find out if the flu is affecting your area yet, you can monitor the CDC's weekly influenza map. But no matter where you live, it's important to take certain precautions during flu season:

  • Get your flu shot at soon as possible.

  • Wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid interaction with those who you know to be sick, and urge them to stay home from work or school and seek medical attention if needed.

  • Keep commonly used surfaces such as door handles clean and disinfected, and place hand sanitizer in easily accessible locations.

For more detailed and up-to-date flu information, including flu activity, hospitalizations and mortalities, you can visit the CDC's Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report. If your area is seeing high levels of flu activity, you are more at risk of catching it yourself.

If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, get one today at your local AFC Urgent Care, no appointment necessary. And if you think you have the flu, be sure to visit us for help getting better. AFC Urgent Care gives you the care you need, when you need it this flu season — with none of the hassle of waiting for a lengthy and expensive primary care appointment. 




New Year, New Health Goals

At the start of every new year, we all make resolutions to improve our health and our daily lives. But often, in the hustle and bustle of the new year, we end up forgetting or neglecting our resolutions, and which makes our goals that much harder to accomplish. This year, why not break from that pattern, and choose resolutions that will have a big impact on your life without taking an enormous effort? Choosing high-impact goals that can make big changes quickly can help you stick to your resolutions. Here are five small goals we recommend you start with to improve your health this year!

Limit your sugar intake

Recent research suggests that sugar, more than fat, cholesterol or other food additives or ingredients, has an outsized impact on your health, impacting your weight, your mood, your likelihood of developing diabetes and your risk of heart disease. Lowering the amount of sugar in your diet can have a dramatic effect almost immediately, and it’s a quick way to reduce your calorie intake. At the very least, you should start being more aware of the sources of sugar in your diet, because it can show up in a lot of unexpected places.

Start exercising regularly

It’s time to get serious! As with sugar, much of the recent research on exercise has changed how people see it, and doctors say it’s more important than ever to get enough exercise on a regular basis. Regular exercise can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and a host of other chronic conditions. Even though the recent research has refuted the idea that exercise alone can help you lose weight, the other benefits of exercise, like increased bone strength, better mood and reduced risk of chronic disease, are undeniable.

Know your numbers

Do you know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers? Even if you don’t have a family history of these conditions, if you’re over the age of 30, you should start keeping track of your numbers to help you keep an eye on your health and detect changes as you age. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and prediabetes are easiest to manage when they are caught early, so keep an eye on your health by keeping track of these essential metrics.

Commit to your health

Many people, especially men, avoid doctors as if their lives depended on it. However, the single best way to stay on top of your health is to make regular visits a part of your yearly schedule. You might feel fine, but keeping up with your doctor visits is the best way to ensure that you remain healthy. Additionally, when you don't feel fine, commit to seeing a health care professional that can help you feel better faster, and potentially help you avoid any dangerous situations. If you're injured, sick or in some kind of pain, it's time to head to your local urgent care center. An urgent care physician can also help you stay on top of important health benchmarks, like getting your annual flu shot, conveniently and with no appointment necessary.

Get some sleep

Another major risk factor for developing chronic disease is not getting enough sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development of conditions that run the gamut from depression and other mood disorders to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. People that get enough sleep are better able to regulate their internal environment, including the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that keep the body functioning at an optimal level. For most adults, seven to nine hours of sleep is enough.

A New Year’s resolution is all about making changes to improve your life. Try out one or two of the above to start with, and see how they make your body feel. And if you have questions about how to apply these changes to your daily life, be sure to visit us at AFC Urgent Care Portland to get some advice!

 

Debunking Flu Myths

You’ve probably have heard that you can get the flu from getting the flu shot, or that it’s just a really bad cold.  While getting the flu shot is the best way to protect yourself against influenza, there are some common misconceptions about the flu shot.

You can get the flu from the flu shot.

No, you can’t actually get the flu from getting the flu shot.  The flu vaccination is made with dead viral particles, and since the virus isn’t living, it can’t infect you.

I can’t get the flu if I got the flu shot.

The flu vaccination doesn’t give you 100% immunity like vaccinations like the measles or polio.  However, if you do get the flu, your symptoms will be less severe than if you didn’t get your flu shot.

The flu is just a really bad cold.

You may have a runny nose, a sore throat, a hoarse cough, a high fever, and feel fatigued.  But having the flu is way more than just having a really bad cold.  In the U.S. alone, almost 36,000 people die and 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of flu symptoms.

You don’t need to get the flu shot every year.

New strains of influenza occur every year.  Even if you’re in seemingly good health, the CDC recommends that everyone, especially children, seniors and those with chronic illnesses, should get vaccinated every year to protect themselves against the virus. 

Pregnant women can’t get the flu shot.

Getting the flu shot actually helps women during and after pregnancy.  The mother passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.  This helps protect the baby after birth from getting the flu.

Is the stomach flu really the flu?

No.  A common misconception many people have is that the stomach flu, which is associated with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea is a part of having influenza.  These stomach pains symptoms can be caused by different bacteria or viruses.  While feelings of being nauseous can be related to the flu, it’s a rare symptom.  Influenza is a respiratory disease and not an intestinal or stomach disease.

Chicken soup will help speed up your recovery.

Hot liquids like soups can provide you with much needed fluids and can relieve a sore throat.  The steam from the soup can open up nasal passages.  While soup can alleviate your symptoms, it won’t cure them.

 

Getting the flu isn’t the most pleasant experience.  With bedrest, maintaining a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and practicing good hygiene, your flu symptoms can decrease.

When you come down the flu, it’s important to seek medical attention in the case that your symptoms are more severe than you think.  AFC Urgent Care Portland can treat your flu symptoms and more!  Any of our walk-in urgent care centers you visit will be stocked with medicine to get you feeling better in no time!  

When Should I Get Tested For STDs?

Get Screened For STDs At AFC Urgent Care PortlandBeing sexually active puts you at risk for becoming infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD).  In most cases, young people and gay and bisexual men are the main demographic of those at risk of getting infected.  

Many don’t get tested for STD because regular visits to the doctor don’t occur, they might be embarrassed at the possibility of having an STD, or they are not experiencing symptoms of a specific disease so they don’t know they should get tested. 

It’s important to get tested for STDs to not only protect yourself, but to also protect your partner.  Getting a diagnosis can alert you to an infection or disease you may have not known you contracted. Being infected with an STD is not immediately noticeable, but can be treated early on with regular testing.

An STD left untreated can cause many medical conditions such as pelvic pain, blindness, or the risk of more severe STDS such as HIV and herpes.  Getting an STD also causes issues when it comes to reproduction, such as an inability to have children, stillbirths, or birth deformations.

One of the biggest steps in STD prevention is offering more access to screenings and treatment.  With the growing numbers of individuals with an STD, local and state STD programs are cutting their budgets for STD treatment.  Budget cuts and reducing overall access to treatment makes it difficult to offer preventative services.  While many cases go undiagnosed and untreated, it’s important to put more emphasis on using protection, getting tested regularly, and seeking treatment if the test results are positive.

If you are sexually active, you should consider getting tested at least twice a year, or when you have a new partner.  You should also get tested regularly when your partner is at high risk, or has a chronic long-term infection.

At AFC Urgent Care Portland, we highly recommend individuals who are sexually active to have regular STDs screenings.  We offer testing for STDS such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and HPV.  Our walk-in clinic offers discreet STD screenings, deliver quick results, and can give you treatment and advice on preventative measures.

It's Not Too Late To Get Your Flu Shot!

By December, many people feel like it's too late to get their flu shot. Flu season has started, and if they didn't get their flu shot in the fall, they're certainly not going to find time for it during the busy holiday season. But the truth is, as long as people are still getting sick with the flu, people should still be getting the flu shot. If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, it's not too late! Here's why:

 

You can still get the flu.

Flu season typically occurs between October and March each year. It unofficially begins when influenza activity begins to increase during the colder months, and tends to peak sometime between December and February, depending on the year. If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet, your likelihood of catching the flu this year increases the closer you get to the peak of flu season. Remember, while people are still getting sick with the flu, so can you. December is certainly not too late to get your flu shot, but the sooner you get it, the better.

 

You can still protect yourself from getting the flu.

Even though flu season has already started, you can still protect yourself against the flu. It takes about two weeks from the time you get your flu shot to be fully protected against that year's strains of the flu, so consider this timeline if you haven't yet gotten your flu shot. If you are travelling for the holidays, consider getting your flu shot as soon as possible, as you'll soon be exposed to lots of new germs while visiting with family and friends. Even if you aren't going anywhere, the flu can still come to you! Just because the flu virus isn't circulating your community yet doesn't mean it won't be soon, which is why you should protect yourself ahead of time by getting a flu shot.

 

You can still protect others from getting the flu.

When you get a flu shot, you are taking an important step towards protecting yourself from the flu. But did you know getting the flu shot protects the people around you as well? When you are protected from the flu, that means you can't catch it and pass it on to others, and for those susceptible to serious complications from the flu, this can even mean the difference between life and death. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic diseases rely on others around them to help them stay protected from the flu, which can be a much more serious illness to these vulnerable populations. The sooner you get your flu shot, the sooner you and others around you will be protected from the flu.


Get your flu shot at AFC Urgent Care Portland today! It only takes a few minutes, no appointment necessary, and you can feel protected from the flu all season long.

Keep Your Health In Check This Holiday Season

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and holiday parties, it’s hard not to indulge on your favorite holiday foods.  From turkey smothered in gravy, to macaroni & cheese, to cups of eggnog, eating these fattening foods can potentially increase your cholesterol levels. 

Foods that are heavy in saturated fats and trans fat have a huge impact on your health, but there are ways you can enjoy your favorite holiday meals without risking your health.

  • Eat in moderation. Eat smaller portion sizes and limit the amount of foods you are eating that are high in saturated and trans fats.
  • Drink in moderation.  Not only should you limit the amount of alcohol you consume, but also limit how much eggnog you drink, as most cups of eggnog equate to almost 300 calories.
  • Choose the healthier options.  Go for the leaner cut of meat, load up on the veggies, avoid foods heavy with dairy products, and opt for whole grain foods.
  • Exercise Often.  Start your New Year resolution early by getting a head start of going to the gym at least 3 times a week and engage in exercises that involve cardio.

While you may only get to eat this kind of food once a year, it’s important to keep your health in check.  With simply lifestyle changes, you can lower your cholesterol all while enjoying the best time of year!

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