picnic salads

Don’t Bring Foodborne Illness to Your Next Get-Together

By | Health Basics, Lifestyle | No Comments

If there is one thing Texans are known for, it’s BBQ and summer backyard get-togethers! But what many people don’t know is that the warmer weather can invite a lot of unwanted guests to your next cookout, picnic or outdoor party in the form of bacteria and foodborne illness. Yes, you read that right: foodborne illnesses increase during the summer. The reason why is twofold: (1) bacteria multiply faster in warmer temperatures, and (2) preparing food outdoors makes safe food handling more difficult.

“People think of burns and other grilling mishaps when they think of outdoor food emergencies this time of year, but in reality, emergency rooms see many patients during the summer who get sick from eating salads and other food that has been in the heat too long,” said Marysol Imler, RN, vice president of Five Star ER.

Cooking Outdoors

One challenge of cooking outdoors is the lack of safety controls that an indoor kitchen provides such as a refrigerator and a sink to wash hands and food. Foodborne bacteria grow fastest at temperatures between 90 and 110°F. During the summer months, the warmer temperatures and higher humidity are ideal for bacterial growth. This means that food items that are not properly cleaned, cooked or stored can lead to someone getting sick.

Before your next outdoor party, picnic, BBQ or camping trip, review these four simple steps to keep food safe: clean, separate, cook and chill.

Clean: Make sure your hands are clean and wash them often to prevent the spread of germs!

  • If possible, wash hands under running water for at least 20 seconds using warm water and plenty of soap.
  • If a sink is not available (say you’re camping), bring water for preparation and cleaning or pack clean, wet, disposable washcloths, moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.

Separate: Keep raw and cooked foods away from each other! Improper handling of food, kitchen tools and surfaces can cause microorganisms to transfer from raw to cooked food. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food is a prime cause of foodborne illness.

  • Use separate plates and utensils to keep foods separate.
  • When packing items in a cooler, use bags/wrap to keep raw meats and their juices from coming into contact with other foods.

Cook: Use a thermometer to prevent foodborne illness. Food safety experts agree that food is safely cooked when it is heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood and egg products.

  • Cook all raw meats and poultry to the minimum safe internal temperatures:
    • Poultry (whole, pieces & ground): 165 °F /74 °C
    • Ground meats: 160 °F /71 °C
    • Beef, pork, lamb and veal (steaks, roasts & chops): 145 °F /63 °C

Chill: Foods left out and not stored properly are a breeding ground for bacteria that cause foodborne illness.

  • Cold, refrigerated, perishable foods like luncheon meats, cooked meats, chicken, and potato or pasta salads should be kept in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, ice packs or containers of frozen water.
  • Consider packing canned beverages in one cooler, and perishable food in another cooler, because the beverage cooler may be opened frequently causing the temperature inside of the cooler to fluctuate and become unsafe.
  • While driving, keep the cooler in the coolest part of the car. Once outside, place it in the shade or out of the sun whenever possible.
  • Preserve the cold temperature of the cooler by replenishing the ice as soon as it starts to melt.

 

Friends, family and food: nothing is better and more fun than summer get-togethers! But if things end up a little less than fun, we’re here to help. We’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us! Click to find the Five Star ER location nearest you: http://fivestarer.com/locations

– – – – – – – – – –

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on FacebookInstagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

 

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heat exhaustion

Your Body Isn’t Thrilled About Humid Days Either

By | Environment, Health Basics | No Comments

Texas summers are known to be hot, but when coupled with high humidity, the weather here can be brutal. While hot, humid weather can make anyone uncomfortable, it can also be deadly. Read on to learn how humidity affects the body’s ability to cool down on summer days, as well as warning signs to watch out for.

Why Humidity Matters

One reason humidity makes hot weather more unbearable is that the higher the relative humidity, the higher the temperature feels. For example, an outside temperature of 95° feels like 95° when the relative humidity is 30%. When the humidity is increased to 65%, that same 95° feels like a whopping 117°! A heat index chart factors relative humidity into temperature to provide a more accurate assessment of what the temperature feels like.

When outside temperatures approach the temperature of the human body (about 98°), the body undergoes a series of changes to help keep it cool, even if you are not exercising. The body cools itself by opening pores on the skin and releasing water and salts (sweat). As the water evaporates, it transfers the body’s heat to the air. But humidity prevents sweat from evaporating, so the body’s heat stays put.

The concentration of water in the air, relative to the temperature (relative humidity), determines the rate at which the water can evaporate from the skin. When the air is holding more moisture (relative to the total moisture it could hold at that temperature), it is harder for the air to absorb the sweat from our skin. The result? We sweat and sweat, but instead of feeling any relief, we simply feel hot and sticky.

High Humidity Can Be Dangerous

The problem with high humidity making us feel hotter is not just that we are more uncomfortable, but that our core temperature is actually rising, and our bodies compensate by working harder and harder to cool us down. When sweating doesn’t work to cool us down and we continue to heat up, heat exhaustion results, which causes loss of the water, salt, and chemicals that the body needs.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Thirst
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Muscle and abdominal cramps
  • Mild temperature elevations
  • Weakness

Key ways to avoid overheating are first, to be aware of not only the temperature, but the heat index; to drink plenty of water; and to take it easy, slow down, and cool off when noticing any sign of fatigue, headache, or increased pulse.

“You have to stay hydrated,” says Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director of Five Star ER in Round Rock, TX. “Cover up your skin with loose-fitting clothing as much as possible, stay out of the direct heat as much as possible, obviously sun screen and hats and visors are helpful to protect your skin, and just drink lots of fluids.”

Texas summers wouldn’t be the same without venturing into the great outdoors. But if things end up a little less than fun, we’re here to help. We’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us! Click to find the Five Star ER location nearest you: http://fivestarer.com/locations

– – – – – – – – – –

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on FacebookInstagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

Today we are talking about heat and dehydration

Posted by Five Star ER on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

 

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Don’t Be a Statistic: Drive Safe This July 4th Weekend

By | Lifestyle | No Comments

AmbulancesPlanning on traveling this Fourth of July weekend? You’re not alone! A record 44.2 million people are planning to travel to celebrate America’s independence and 37.5 million of those people plan to drive to their destination. With more cars on the road this time of year it’s no accident that the July 4th weekend is one of the deadliest each year.

In fact, 36 people in Texas died last year during the July 4th weekend, more than any other holiday weekend except for New Year’s. The record-setting number of fatalities this time of year is a combination of increased drunk driving and a large number of motorcycles on the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, alcohol was a factor in 47% of July 4th traffic fatalities. The normal daily average is only 35%. For motorcycle riders, there is an average of 26 deaths on July 4th, compared to the normal daily average of 12.1 the rest of the year.

“With all of the parties and festivities such as Fourth of July, I have seen so many young people die in motor vehicle crashes during the summer months,” says Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director at Five Star ER in Round Rock. “These victims are often recent graduates, new parents, even newly licensed drivers. They had their whole life in front of them only to have it cut short by drunk driving or being killed by a drunk driver.”

Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy Fourth of July festivities without causing an accident! Before you hit the road to celebrate this long holiday weekend, make sure you take steps to avoid an auto accident.

  • Designate a sober driver, call a cab or use a ride-share: If you are planning on drinking, make plans for how you will get home. See whether one of your friends or relatives is willing to be the designated driver. If everyone wants a cocktail or two, plan on using a taxi or calling a ride-sharing service.
  • Provide alcohol-free refreshments: If you are the host, ensure your designated drivers have something refreshing to enjoy. Mix up some alcohol-free cocktails so they can feel like part of the fun without the negative consequences.
  • Plan an overnight celebration: If you and your social group like to party hard, consider an overnight celebration at someone’s home, a hotel, or an Airbnb. That way everyone can enjoy good food, great drinks, a late night, and sleep it all off before heading home the next day.
  • Drive carefully: Even if you are sober and ready to drive, others on the road might not be. Never speed on your way home and keep a watchful eye out for swerving or erratic drivers. If someone is one the road who clearly should not be, immediately call the vehicle and its license number into the police. It could save someone’s life.

Road trips and traveling are part of summer fun. But if things end up a little less than fun, we’re here to help. We’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us! Click to find the Five Star ER location nearest you: http://fivestarer.com/locations

– – – – – – – – – – 

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. Find the location nearest you.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on FacebookInstagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

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Fireworks Safety: Light Up the Night and Stay Safe!

By | Health Basics, Lifestyle | No Comments

Fireworks Danger

The 4th of July wouldn’t be the same without backyard barbecues, parades, and of course, fireworks! While firework displays are a great way to celebrate, make sure you and everyone in your family know about firework safety. Even the smallest fireworks (yes, sparklers included!) can send someone to the ER.

Unfortunately, there are no such things as “safe” fireworks. If not handled properly, fireworks can cause burn and eye injuries in both kids and adults. Over 30 percent of the 5,200 injuries from fireworks each year happen to children—most of which are from sparklers, novelty devices, and aerial devices. These injuries include burns, lacerations, and even partial finger amputations. The best way to protect your family is not to use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend a local public firework displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.

If you do choose to use fireworks at home, here are a few safety guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association to follow:

  1. Always check local laws and regulations. Anything that’s banned is also unregulated, which means it could be dangerous. Also, don’t purchase any professional-grade products to use at home. You’ll know a product isn’t meant for home use, because it won’t have colorful packaging or safety labeling meant for consumers and may instead look generic or be sold in a brown paper bag.
  2. Don’t let kids touch or light fireworks. While some fireworks–like sparklers–may seem harmless, they can cause serious injury. In fact, sparklers burn at 2,000 degrees which is equal to a blow torch and is hot enough to melt some metals.
  3. Plan ahead. Before you light any fireworks at home, make sure to have a bucket of water or garden hose ready. Always light fireworks one at a time and never try to get close or relight a firework that fails to go off.
  4. Be smart! Never throw fireworks or point them toward another person. Also don’t shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  5. Prevent fires. After a firework is finished, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash or grass fire.

If you get burned by fireworks, you may also need the professionals to treat your injuries. Second-degree burns are characterized by blisters, swollen skin, and significant pain, according to Dr. Greg Hadden, medical director at Five Star ER-Dripping Springs. Run the injured area under cool water (not ice water) to relieve pain and reduce heat, then apply antibiotic ointment and loosely bandage with clean gauze. More serious second- and third-degree burns require an ER evaluation and may even warrant referral to a specialist.

Enjoying fireworks and relaxing in the great outdoors are part of summer fun. But if things end up a little less than fun, we’re here to help. We’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us! Click to find the Five Star ER location nearest you: http://fivestarer.com/locations

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. Find the location nearest you.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

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Don’t Let Grilling Injuries Ruin Your Summer Cookout

By | Health Basics, Lifestyle | No Comments

Grill Safety 101Fire? Check. Food? Check. Alcohol? Check. What could possibly go wrong when grilling outdoors? As it turns out, a whole lot! According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 18,000 people are sent to the ER each year because of grilling-related accidents. Summer is in full swing in Central Texas, and there’s no better time than now to freshen up on grilling safety! Take a look at our Grill Safety 101 survival guide that will help you and your family have a safe barbecuing season!

 

Safety Tip #1

Keep anything (or anyone) that can be burned away from the grill. Never leave a lit grill unattended, especially if children or pets are around. Clothing like shirt tails, sleeves or apron strings can also easily catch fire so be sure to wear appropriate clothes and to make sure they don’t come into contact with open flames. Finally, never try to move a lit or hot grill. And remember, the grill will stay hot for at least an hour after use.

Safety Tip #2

Use long-handled utensils such as spatulas, tongs, forks and brushes designed specifically for grilling to avoid getting too close to the flames.

Safety Tip #3

Don’t leave perishables out for more than one hour to prevent bacteria from growing. The temperature “danger zone” is between 70° F and 130° F, where it is estimated that harmful bacteria can rapidly multiply as often as every 10 minutes. It’s scary to think about, but each year more than 400,000 people suffer from foodborne illness after eating contaminated food.

Safety Tip #4

Keep cooked meats away from raw meats. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.

Safety Tip #5

Always use a thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.

 

Grilling and relaxing in the great outdoors is part of summer fun. But if things end up a little less than fun, we’re here to help. We’ll get you in and out and feeling better fast, because your emergency matters to us! Click to find the Five Star ER nearest you: http://fivestarer.com/locations

 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. Find the location nearest you.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

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Five Myths About Freestanding ERs

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Facts vs Myths About Free Standing Emergency Rooms

Everyone hopes they will never have to visit an emergency room. However, accidents and severe illnesses can happen at a moment’s notice, which is why emergency rooms exist. When a sudden injury or illness occurs to you, a friend, or a family member, you may hesitate to go to a freestanding ER because of common myths and misconceptions. For that reason, we’ve debunked these common myths about freestanding emergency rooms.

MYTH #1: “Freestanding Emergency Rooms are not true emergency rooms.”

FACT: The Texas Department of State Health Services enforces very clear licensing rules to ensure that freestanding emergency rooms provide the same level of service and meet the same standards as hospital ERs. Like hospitals, freestanding ERs are required to have an emergency trained physician and registered nurse onsite at all times, must be open 24/7, 365 days a year, and must have the clinical equipment necessary to quickly diagnose and treat emergencies.

MYTH #2: “Freestanding Emergency Rooms purposely saddle patients with surprise medical bills (often referred to as balance billing).”

FACT: Based on patient satisfaction surveys and reviews, the vast majority of freestanding ER patients are well informed about the facility’s billing practices and have no complaints about their bills. However, when patients do get hit with unexpected out-of-pocket expenses, there are two primary causes: predatory underpayment by health insurers and confusion on the part of patients regarding the specifics of their own benefit plans.

Texas law requires insurance companies to reimburse health care providers at the “usual and customary rate” for emergency care. But because there is no definition of the term “usual and customary” nor uniform guidelines for insurance companies to follow, insurers have determined their own arbitrary rates and unilaterally declared them to be “usual and customary.” While some insurers provide adequate reimbursement for services, others are reimbursing at a much lower percentage. This leaves freestanding ERs with few options. They can either accept the low reimbursement rate, appeal to the Texas Department of Insurance, or collect the remaining balance from the patient.

MYTH #3: “Unlike hospital ERs, freestanding emergency rooms are not required to treat all patients.”

FACT: Freestanding ERs provide critical access to care for any patient that walks through their door, regardless of insurance or ability to pay. This includes Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured patients. Just like a hospital-based ER, freestanding ERs are legally required to administer medical screenings and stabilize all patients at their facility. Freestanding ERs provide millions of dollars in uncompensated care annually, serving as an important resource to their local communities.

Dripping-Springs-Emergency-Monument-SignageMYTH #4: “Freestanding emergency rooms price gouge consumers by intentionally misleading them into thinking they are at an urgent care facility.”

FACT: Freestanding ERs provide high quality emergency care for medical emergencies. Furthermore, the Texas Legislature created clear guidelines for freestanding ER operators and comprehensive regulations to ensure freestanding ERs provide the same levels of service as hospital-based ERs. Each freestanding emergency room facility has both external and internal signage prominently displaying the word “Emergency,” postings outlining the available levels of services, and billing disclosures that patients are required to sign acknowledging they are in an emergency room setting. It is also important to note that only licensed emergency care facilities are allowed to use the word “emergency” in their name or marketing material.

MYTH #5: “Freestanding emergency rooms increase the cost of health care.”

FACT: According to a 2010 University of Michigan study, the average cost of an admitted patient is $35,000 per case. Preliminary research suggests that freestanding ERs may help to reduce inpatient admission rates. By treating patients in a freestanding ER setting and transferring only patients in need of inpatient care, freestanding ERs can improve overall efficiency and help save on health care costs. Freestanding ERs have no financial incentive to push patients into hospital admissions, and so can serve as unbiased gateways into the healthcare system.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. Find the location nearest you.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

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Be Prepared to Beat the Heat This Summer!

By | Health Basics | No Comments

We all know how hot Texas summers can get. Preventing heat exhaustion allows everyone to enjoy the summer months without risking heat stress or heat stroke. Do you know what signs and symptoms to watch out for? Keep reading to find out!

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body gets too hot. Normally, your body will cool itself by sweating, but if you are not adequately hydrated the body systems that regulate temperature will become overwhelmed and become too hot.

Prevention is easy and essential.

“You have to stay hydrated,” says Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director of Five Star ER in Round Rock, TX. “Cover up your skin with loose-fitting clothing as much as possible, stay out of the direct heat as much as possible, obviously sun screen and hats and visors are helpful to protect your skin, and just drink lots of fluids.”

Many people think that heat exhaustion only occurs at high temperatures, but that’s not the case. In fact, heat exhaustion can occur when outside temperatures are as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Thirst
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Muscle and abdominal cramps
  • Mild temperature elevations
  • Weakness

It is important to stay hydrated with water, coconut water, or another beverage (without caffeine) that replenishes necessary minerals and nutrients that are lost through sweat. Heat stroke can come on rapidly, but if you stay cool and hydrated it can be easily be prevented.

What Do I Do if I See Someone Suffering from Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention because it can progress to heatstroke, a life-threatening illness.

“Heatstroke is characterized by the body being overwhelmed with its response to try to cool itself,” Aldred says. “Typically, with heat exhaustion, you’re very sweaty. With heatstroke, you actually become dried up. Your body cannot sweat anymore; it doesn’t have the fluids and mechanisms to cool itself down. This is a significant medical emergency characterized by confusion, sometimes seizure, and even just unresponsiveness.”

If you suspect heatstroke, call 911 immediately. While help is on the way, take the following steps to help cool the person down:

  • Put the person in a cool tub of water or a cool shower.
  • Get the person wet with a garden hose.
  • Sponge with cool water.
  • Fan while misting with cool water.
  • Place ice packs or cool wet towels on the neck, armpits and groin.
  • Cover with cool damp sheets.
  • Let the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine, if he or she is able.
  • Begin CPR if the person loses consciousness and shows no signs of circulation, such as breathing, coughing or movement.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

Today we are talking about heat and dehydration

Posted by Five Star ER on Wednesday, August 3, 2016

 

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Breathe Easier: Know the Signs of an Asthma Attack

By | Health Basics | No Comments

We are streaming live from our Dripping Springs location today with Five Star ER Dr. Janna Welch! Today’s #WellnessWednesday topic is allergies and asthma. Have questions? Leave them in the comments!

Posted by Five Star ER on Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects more than 24 million Americans, including 6 million children. Each year, Asthma attacks and complications account for 2 million emergency room visits. Knowing the symptoms of an asthma emergency, and when to seek asthma emergency treatment, could save your life or the life of someone you love.

What Is Asthma?

Asthma is defined as a lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways making it hard to breathe. Asthma sufferers have frequent episodes of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.

“Asthma is a potentially very serious lung disease that, unfortunately, is really, really common,” says Dr. Janna Welch, an emergency medicine physician at Five Star ER in Dripping Springs, TX. “Basically, it’s inflammatory changes in your lung in the small tubes that come down into your lung for oxygen exchange, called bronchioles. In those bronchioles, because of irritants and allergens in the atmosphere, you get swelling of those tubes, so it’s much harder for air to flow through. Also, there’s a spasm component, called bronchospasm, where irritants get into those airways that are already constricted from swelling, and make them clamp down really tight. That’s when you hear wheezing.”

Who Suffers from Asthma?

Asthma is a condition that affects people of all ages. In most cases the first symptoms of asthma manifest during childhood, and continue on as the person ages. In the United States, an estimated 24 million people suffer from asthma.

How Do You Know if You Suffer from Asthma?

Asthma can be difficult to diagnose because often the symptoms come and go. If you are consistently experiencing symptoms like the ones listed above (wheezing, tightness of the chest, coughing) you may be suffering from asthma. If you suspect you may be suffering from asthma, your doctor will evaluate your medical history as well as your family’s. After some lung function tests, your doctor may choose to prescribe medication if they feel you are indeed suffering from asthma.

Is Asthma Hereditary?

“Experts think so,” Welch says. “They think there are two components: a genetic component—they haven’t quite figured out what that is, but asthma certainly runs in families—and then there’s a big environmental component—how much dust is in the area where you live, how much pet dander and how many outdoor allergens you are exposed to.”

What is an “Asthma Attack”?

“Any irritants can cause an asthma attack,” Welch says. Asthma attacks range from mild to severe, and require different levels of care depending on their level of severity. During a mild asthma attack, you may experience wheezing, coughing, and be short of breath. Often times, an inhaler kept on hand can prevent mild asthma attacks from becoming severe.

More severe asthma attacks may require medical attention, as they can become life-threatening. Severe asthma attacks are characterized by an inability to breathe caused by narrowed pathways that become clogged with mucus.

In rare cases, asthma can be fatal. “One of my childhood friends actually died from an asthma attack,” Welch says. “What happens with these patients is, their asthma gets really bad, they take all of their treatments, they are not responding to their treatments very well, and they just simply get tired and their body has less and less ability to compensate for the difficulty breathing. As they get tired, they eventually lose consciousness and stop breathing. It happens in very rare cases, but it’s something that you need to know about.”

What Should I Do if Someone is Having an Asthma Attack?

If you or some else is having an asthma attack it is important not to panic. Panicking can exacerbate some of the more dangerous symptoms of the attack. Call 911 or get emergency help right away if you or someone else is experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling out of breath, even when you’re not moving
  • Trouble walking, talking, or doing normal activities
  • Anxiety
  • Not feeling better after using your rescue inhaler
  • Peak flow readings of less than 50% of your personal best
  • Bluish lips and fingernails
  • Exhaustion or confusion
  • The skin around your ribs looking “sucked in” (especially in children)
  • Unconsciousness

 

About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for more than 28 years. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

Connect with Five Star ER on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ for more information and health tips!

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When Is a Food Allergy a Medical Emergency?

By | Health Basics | No Comments

Food Allergy Action MonthMay Is Food Allergy Action Month!

Food allergies are a serious medical condition affecting an estimated 15 million people in the United States. A food allergy sends someone to the ER every three minutes! Read on to learn more about food allergies and what to do in an emergency.

What Is a Food Allergy?

Food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger signs and symptoms such as digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. Most food allergies first develop in children 6 years old or younger, but food allergies can appear in adults as well.

While any food can trigger a reaction, eight specific foods make up about 90% of all allergic reactions:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts (like walnuts and pecans)
  5. Soy
  6. Wheat
  7. Fish
  8. Shellfish

What Are the Symptoms of a Food Allergy?

An allergic reaction can happen within minutes of eating, or it may happen hours later. Food allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. Just because an initial reaction causes few problems doesn’t mean that all reactions will be similar; a food that triggered only mild symptoms on one occasion may cause more severe symptoms at another time.

“Many people think they only have a food intolerance to certain foods,” says Dr. Brian Aldred, medical director of Five Star ER in Round Rock, TX. “If you experience mild abdominal pain, bloating, or nausea after eating, it is most likely a case of food intolerance. If you develop a rash, itching of the skin/tongue/throat, or any sensation of tongue or throat swelling, you likely are having a food allergy. Mild food allergies may become more severe, and even life-threatening, with a subsequent exposure to the food.”

Mild symptoms of a food allergy include:

Severe symptoms of a food allergy include:

Mild to moderate symptoms (e.g., itching, sneezing, hives or rashes) are often treated with antihistamines and oral or topical steroids. Severe food allergy reactions should be treated as an emergency and medical help should be sought immediately.

“Simple rashes can often be treated with topical benadryl or oral benadryl,” says Dr. Mike Zimmerman, medical director of Five Star ER in Pflugerville, TX.

When Is a Food Allergy a Medical Emergency?

Severe symptoms of a food allergy alone or in combination with mild symptoms may be signs of anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. During an anaphylactic reaction, the body releases chemical substances, including histamine, into the blood stream which causes blood vessels in multiple parts of the body to swell. Within minutes of an anaphylactic reaction, a person’s airways could become so restricted that they are unable to breathe.

“If you are having any swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, or any feeling like you can’t breathe, you need to go to the ER ASAP,” Zimmerman says.

Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including a prompt injection of epinephrine and a trip to a hospital emergency room. If it isn’t treated properly, anaphylaxis can be fatal.

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About Five Star ER

Five Star ER is locally owned and operated by the physicians of Emergency Service Partners, L.P., a respected provider of emergency physician services to hospitals and health systems across Texas for nearly 30. Our experienced physicians bring their excellent tradition of emergency care to a first-class, patient-centered freestanding ER.

Our patient-centered care means you will come first. Our freestanding ER provides the capabilities of a hospital emergency department, without the hassles and long waits that can be part of a hospital ER. From the comfortable lounge area and private exam rooms, to our top-notch medical team and latest technology, patients can be door-to-doctor in less than 15 minutes. To find the location nearest you, click here.

This content was created to be purely educational in nature. This post is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical treatment or personal consultation regarding a medical condition. As always, if you or a loved one is suffering a life-threatening medical emergency or injury, call 911.

 

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The Truth About Bats & Rabies

By | Environment, Health Basics | No Comments

On Wednesday, April 19, Five Star ER Medical Director Dr. Brian Aldred sat down with Dianne Odegard, Education & Outreach Manager at Bat Conservation International, to discuss rabies and bats. This topic has been in the news lately with bats testing positive for rabies at various locations in the Austin area.

Medical Director Dr. Brian Aldred is live for #WellnessWednesday on the topic of bats and rabies with special guest Dianne Odegard of Bat Conservation International.

Posted by Five Star ER on Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Statistics from Texas Health and Human Services show that about 95% of the animals that tested positive for rabies are bats. But that information can be somewhat misleading. More bats are tested than any other animal, and it is important to remember that a very small percentage of bats are actually “carriers” of rabies. This means that the vast majority of bats who have rabies have contracted the virus and will die from it. Rabies is a serious virus that certainly can be fatal in humans, however, annually only about 1 – 2 people die from rabies in the United States.

Prevention is Key

If you encounter a wild animal that could have rabies, such as a bat, raccoon, fox, skunk or coyote, keep a safe distance. Never attempt to catch or kill such an animal. Call 311 if you have an animal in your home and need help removing it.

What to Do if You are Bit

Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually with a bite. If you think you have been bit, or have come into contact with the saliva of an animal that could have rabies, seek medical attention immediately.

Why Bats are Important

Odegard tells us in the video about the different varieties of bats and their function in our ecosystem. According to Bat Conservation International, 78 bat species are endangered worldwide. Bats pollinate more than 500 species of plants, spread seeds in deforested regions, and eat insects; in fact, little brown bats have been observed eating more than 600 mosquitoes in an hour.

Bats are not naturally aggressive. Since we live in a city with a large bat population, it is important to be educated on how to coexist with bats in a safe way.

To learn more, watch the video, and visit www.batcon.org.

Download this notice for what to do if you find a bat in your school:
English  |  Español

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