Wellness & Integrative Health

How to Stay Safe with Rising Heat and COVID-19 Cases

Posted on Jun 26, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

Temperatures are rising in Northern California, and so are confirmed cases of COVID-19. How do you keep safe from both? Stay home, says an emergency medicine physician with Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento.

“Our recommendation for the heat is stay inside and exercise intelligently; that’s kind of what we would say about COVID-19. They overlap,” said Arthur Jey, M.D. “Because it’s so hot, we’re not going to want to go out anyway, so it’s a good excuse to stay home with your family.”

With communities opening up and more area residents wanting to take advantage of the great outdoors and other opportunities, Dr. Jey pleads for folks to keep their masks on … or at least handy. Popular activities in the region include walking and hiking, which are great ways to get some fresh air and exercise at the same time. Won’t wearing a mask make you even hotter?

“When you’re outside, walking and hiking, and there’s no one around, you don’t need to wear the mask,” he said. “But you don’t know when you’re going to come close to someone, so keep your mask close by. I am always wearing a mask around my neck or it’s in my pocket. As soon as someone approaches, I put it on. … When there are people around, my mask is on all the time.”

During an interview with the media, Dr. Jey gave some other tips on how to avoid heat-related illnesses, from heat rashes and sunburns to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Those most susceptible to the heat illnesses include toddlers who can’t communicate that they’re suffering, the very old, and those who have to work in the sun, including farm and construction workers.

What and How Much to Drink

If you are out in the sun, Dr. Jey says the best thing to do is drink a lot of fluids. He recommends good, ol’ plain H2O. Not ice-cold water that can cause cramps, but cooled water. He also recommends sugar-free electrolyte drinks, which are good ways to replenish those essential minerals when working out. Avoid alcoholic beverages along with sodas and sports drinks that contain sugar.

“Make sure you’re smart about what you drink,’ he said. “Alcohol is going to dehydrate you. Really heavy sugared water, like Gatorade, is going to dehydrate you. Electrolyte waters with low or no sugar, fantastic. Water, fantastic.”

He also says it’s not important to count how much fluids to take in, but rather to sip consistently and continually, not a lot at one time. “Everyone asks me how much to drink. Many medical professionals say drink eight to 10 glasses a day. But really, just try to drink well.” He said to take sips at least every half an hour while out in the sun. His counsel: “Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to take a drink.”

He also recommends that those going outside wear light, loose clothing and a hat. “I tend to wear baseball caps a lot, but they aren’t the best choice. The ones that you really want are the wide-brimmed ones, like the fishing hats, that cover the back of your neck. We’ve all been sunburned there before.”

What to Do When You’re Feeling the Heat

“There’s a whole continuum of heat-related diseases,” Dr. Jey says, and they progressively worsen as you’re exposed longer to the hot weather.

1.       Heat rashes, which is a reddening of the skin.

2.       Sunburns, which can be very painful.

3.       Heat exhaustion, when you’re still sweating, but you’re feeling a little woozy or nauseous. Your urine at that point is a darker yellow.

4.       Heat stroke.

“This is when it gets scary,” Dr. Jey says. “You stop sweating and your thinking slows down, and you feel horrible. You look like you’re having a stroke; that’s why it’s called heat stroke. I’ve seen people come in completely confused, acting like they’re almost drunk, that’s when you really get scared. The way you prevent that is that you don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water.”

He says when heat stroke is happening, the first step is to get out of the heat and let someone know you’re not feeling good. That’s why toddlers who aren’t talking yet are very susceptible to heat illness, because they can’t verbalize how they’re feeling.

Next step: “Get some water in you. Don’t chug it, don’t drink a whole gallon of it. Just sit down in the shade or some air conditioning and sip some water. And, if you don’t get better, then come see us at Sutter.”

Dr. Jey said, even during this pandemic, don’t be afraid to go to the emergency room when you are in a medical emergency, whether it’s heat stroke, a real stroke, or any other kind.

“We get concerned that you push things off too far,” he said. “Our nurses and physicians here work really hard to make sure that we keep you safe. … So if you start feeling problems with temperature, problems with the heat, or for that matter, trouble breathing, come see us. Don’t be scared. We have a separate area for those who we think might have COVID-19. Especially now when we’re starting to have another uprising of it. We’re very cautious of it. But I don’t want that to stop people from coming in when they have other illnesses.”

The Sacramento Bee posted one of Dr. Jey’s interviews on heat illnesses. Click here to watch it, and notice his mask is around his neck for when someone comes close!

Even as Communities Open Up, Keep Your Distance

Posted on May 27, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

It may have felt re-energizing to see and hear many Americans gathering at beaches, pools, parks and other public places this past Memorial Day weekend, but health experts caution others to not let their guard down.

“As communities across Northern California start to reopen, we need to remember that COVID-19 hasn’t stopped being infectious,” said Conrad Vial, M.D., chief clinical officer for Sutter Health. “We can’t undermine the physical distancing measures that have been implemented and the impact they have had on slowing the spread of the virus.”

Protecting Yourself, Loved Ones and Friends

Now more than ever, Northern Californians need to remain vigilant about their safety and their health. Bill Isenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Sutter Health’s chief quality and safety officer, shares these important reminders:

• Limit gatherings of any kind. Now is still not the time for parties or potlucks, but virtual gatherings continue to be a viable option.

• Be mindful of your physical space. Always practice physical distancing and stay at least six feet away from others.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Wear a face covering or mask when inside public buildings and businesses.

Sheltering in Place May Not Keep You Safe from Falls: Tips to Protect Yourself at Home

Posted on May 11, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

CASTRO VALLEY, CALIF. –According to the National Council on Aging, more than 75 percent of falls happen inside or near the home where people often feel safer and roam without thought to the safety hazards around them. With the current shelter in place orders keeping people home, focusing on fall prevention is even more necessary.

Kimberly Windsor, R.N., who is the trauma program manager for Sutter’s Eden Medical Center says, “Falls are the majority of traumas seen at Eden and a few minor changes can help you avoid a fall.”

Home Safety
Look around your home, paying attention to walkways, bathrooms, kitchen, and bedrooms.

For general use areas: keep the floor clear of clutter that can be a tripping hazard. Keep a phone within reach should you need to call for help (especially near the bed at night). Secure floor rugs with double sided tape or slip resistant backing.

Bathrooms: remember that towel racks are not grab bars. Grab bars should be properly installed near the tub/shower and toilet. Use nonslip strips or mats in and outside the shower. Avoid the water being too hot, which can cause dizziness or burns. Keep a towel close to avoid losing your balance when reaching.

Kitchen: place frequently used items within reach. Putting things within reach will help you avoid relying on a step stool or chair that you can easily lose your balance on. If you use a step stool, make sure it has a handle for safe usage. Remove any rugs or floor mats that are not secured to the floor with nonskid tape or rubber backing. Clean up spills immediately—kitchen floors can be slippery and dangerous when wet.

Bedroom: make sure there is a nightlight to light the walkway or a light within reach of the bed should you need to get up at night.

Minor changes in your home environment will help you avoid falls. Other adjustments can also help: make sure you eat properly, limit alcohol consumption, take prescribed medications only as directed, and get enough exercise.

Remember that exercise is important to keep your body strong and prevent falls. If you feel comfortable walking around outdoor in your neighborhood, make sure to watch for cars and follow all traffic signals while crossing streets. If you prefer to stay home, you can find ways to exercise like marching/walking in place, following along with an exercise show on television, or putting on music and dancing around your newly clutter-free floors!

During these times of shelter in place, safety is on everyone’s mind. With a few simple changes and care you can take the steps to be safe in your home to prevent falls.

Dispelling COVID-19 Myths and Rumors

Posted on Apr 23, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, so do the fears associated with contracting it. We are all looking for ways to stay safe in these uncertain times, which is why now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to listen to medical experts.

“There are a lot of things that are still unknown about this coronavirus. What is known at this time is that COVID-19 illnesses have ranged from mild (with no reported symptoms in some cases) to severe, including illness resulting in death,” says Alexander Lam, M.D., director of emergency services at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco, part of Sutter’s not-for-profit integrated network of care.

“We do not have a vaccine and certain things about the virus (i.e. asymptomatic carriers, transmissible before symptoms develop, surviving on different surfaces) make the virus particularly adept at passing from person to person,” says Dr. Lam.

Here are some of the seemingly innocent myths that have recently taken root in the rumor mill. Please be aware that they are all untrue.

  • Drinking lots of water will kill COVID-19.
    • Stay hydrated, of course, but hydration alone offers no protection against viruses.
  • Taking antibiotics will kill COVID-19.
    • This is an important distinction that confuses many people: antibiotics kill bacteria and are not effective against viruses. COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is a virus.
  • A daily vitamin C supplement, essential oils, colloidal silver soap, sesame oil, garlic, and/or fish tank cleaner will all protect you from the virus.
    • None of these has shown to be effective against COVID-19.
  • Vacationing in a warm climate helps avoid infection.
    • COVID-19 can live and thrive in both cold and warm climates, as witnessed by the many locations across the globe experiencing a breakout.
  • Holding one’s breath for 10 seconds without coughing will prove you don’t have COVID-19.
    • This inaccurate statement was initially attributed to a hospital tweet (!). There is no medical evidence that this is true.
  • Consuming alcohol will kill the coronavirus.
    • Drinking alcohol excessively in any situation is never a good idea. Overconsumption also weakens the immune system.

“The greatest weapons we have at this time for keeping people safe are social distancing, hand washing, not touching your face, and following recommendations to stay at home.”

Now is the time to educate yourself on COVID-19. Here are several online resources for accurate information.

California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

World Health Organization (WHO)

“We understand how difficult a time this is for everyone but hang in there. The choices you make today will affect our ability to care for the community in the future. Together we will beat coronavirus,” exclaims Dr. Lam.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms, a good place to start is by scheduling a video visit via Sutter’s My Health Online or calling 1-866-978-8837.

Remember to Breathe: Doctor’s Mindful Breathing Practice Helps Foster Calm

Posted on Apr 14, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

Leif Hass, M.D.

OAKLAND, Calif. — The world-wide pandemic is causing worry and uncertainty for many. Leif Hass, M.D., a family practitioner with Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation and a hospitalist at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, is working to reduce his stress one breath at a time, through his mindful breathing practice.

In a new “Science of Happiness” podcast, Dr. Hass shares his mindful breathing tips and describes how the practice helps him stay calm, focus his attention and be present for his patients. The podcast is fittingly called, “Remembering to Breathe. How a doctor stays calm and centered during times of uncertainty, one breath at a time.”

Listen to the podcast.

Says Dr. Hass, “Mindful breathing prompts us to follow our breath, getting into a nice deep rhythm of breathing. And we know that mindful breathing can reduce anxiety and depression and help people handle pain.”

A Message For Millennials On COVID-19

Posted on Apr 6, 2020 in Scroll Images, Wellness & Integrative Health

My fellow millennials:

Like many of you, I like a good Sunday brunch and avocado toast, I can’t live without Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I scroll through Yelp and Eater much too often in search of that perfect new restaurant. Like many of you, I am a millennial. And yes, my last name is really Bae.

I’m also a doctor and I’ve witnessed multiple epidemics. In 2006, I was in Southern Africa when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the continent; in 2014, I was in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic

Dr. Jason Bae, Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Dr. Jason Bae

1. We millennials are NOT immune to dying from COVID-19. You’ve probably heard that COVID-19 is much more deadly for the elderly than for millennials. That’s absolutely true. Those who are older than 80 have a >10% chance of dying if they were to get COVID-19. That number goes way below to 0.1-0.2%, or approximately 1 in 700, for folks in their 20s and 30s.

I know many of you may be thinking, “That’s such a low chance, so why should I care?”

Although a 1 in 700 chance may seem small, compare that tothe chances of dying from base jumping, one of THE most dangerous sportactivities in the world. It has a 1 in 2,300 chance of dying – which is threetimes less than from COVID-19.

A six-car Caltrain holds about 750 passengers when full. If someone told you, “One person on that train will be chosen to die at random,” would you ride that train?

Here’s more data: nearly 40 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. are between the ages of 20-54.

2. There are likely millions — if not tens of millions — of people infected in this country today. I recently talked about how the current number of confirmed cases in the U.S. drastically underestimates how many actual infections are out there. Not only does there continue to be delays in testing and reporting across the country, but a very small fraction of people with symptoms have been tested nationally because of the shortage of testing supplies.

3. This pandemic will be over sooner if we all do our part. According to an article in The New York Times, experts predict more than 200,000 Americans may die from COVID-19 within a year. Most will be elderly, which means many of our children will grow up without their Nanas and Dadas.

Group of millennials

We know that young people contribute significantly to this ongoing spread of this pandemic. We are the most common transmitters of the disease, and many are infectious without experiencing any symptoms.

The longer we wait to be serious about this epidemic, the longerit will be before we can get back to normal life. In the meantime, more peoplewill have died, more businesses will have closed, more employees will be out ofa job, and more damage will be done to our economy. Our very own economicfuture will be uncertain.

I come home from work every day and go straight to a roomwhere I lock myself up. I haven’t hugged my child or wife in days for fear oftransmitting the disease. I go to work knowing there is a significant chance ofcatching COVID-19 and there’s a real chance of dying from it. Despite it all, Igo to work willingly because I didn’t go through all this training to simply siton the sidelines while people are dying.

My fellow millennials, you can help by simply staying home. Practice social distancing. Talk to your parents about the importance of staying home. Talk to your friends who don’t care about why they should.

And remember that this pandemic, like all other pandemics that have come and gone, will end. That day will be here sooner — and with fewer deaths of our loved ones — if we take this pandemic seriously and practice social distancing now.

Thank you,
Dr. Bae

Dr. Jason Bae is as an urgent care physician affiliated with Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) and Sutter Health’s not-for-profit integrated network of care in Northern California.