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Helpful Resources

Chronic Kidney Disease

You have two kidneys, each about the size of your fist. Their main job is to filter your blood. They remove wastes and extra water, which become urine. They also keep the body's chemicals balanced, help control blood pressure, and make hormones.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) means that your kidneys are damaged and can't filter blood as they should. This damage can cause wastes to build up in your body. It can also cause other problems that can harm your health. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of CKD.

The kidney damage occurs slowly over many years. Many people don't have any symptoms until their kidney disease is very advanced. Blood and urine tests are the only way to know if you have kidney disease.

Treatments cannot cure kidney disease, but they may slow kidney disease. They include medicines to lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, and lower cholesterol. CKD may still get worse over time. Sometimes it can lead to kidney failure. If your kidneys fail, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplantation.

You can take steps to keep your kidneys healthier longer:

  • Choose foods with less salt (sodium)
  • Control your blood pressure; your health care provider can tell you what your blood pressure should be
  • Keep your blood sugar in the target range, if you have diabetes
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods
  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Be physically active
  • Don't smoke

NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

College Health

College life involves excitement, along with new challenges, risks, and responsibilities. You are meeting new people, learning new things, and making your own decisions. It can sometimes be stressful. You have to deal with pressures related to food, drink, appearance, drugs, and sexual activity.

There are steps you can take to stay healthy and safe while you're in college:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Maintain your health with checkups and vaccinations
  • If you decide to have sex, practice safe sex
  • Make smart choices about alcohol and drugs
  • Get help if you are stressed or depressed

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Concussion

A concussion is a type of brain injury. It involves a short loss of normal brain function. It happens when a hit to the head or body causes your head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in your brain. Sometimes it can also stretch and damage your brain cells.

Sometimes people call a concussion a "mild" brain injury. It is important to understand that while concussions may not be life-threatening, they can still be serious.

Concussions are a common type of sports injury. Other causes of concussions include blows to the head, bumping your head when you fall, being violently shaken, and car accidents.

Symptoms of a concussion may not start right away; they may start days or weeks after the injury. Symptoms may include a headache or neck pain. You may also have nausea, ringing in your ears, dizziness, or tiredness. You may feel dazed or not your normal self for several days or weeks after the injury. Consult your health care professional if any of your symptoms get worse, or if you have more serious symptoms such as:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Drowsiness or inability to wake up
  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness

To diagnose a concussion, your health care provider will do a physical exam and will ask about your injury. You will most likely have a neurological exam, which checks your vision, balance, coordination, and reflexes. Your health care provider may also evaluate your memory and thinking. In some cases, you may also have a scan of the brain, such as a CT scan or an MRI. A scan can check for bleeding or inflammation in the brain, as well as a skull fracture (break in the skull).

Most people recover fully after a concussion, but it can take some time. Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. In the very beginning, you may need to limit physical activities or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or playing video games. Doing these may cause concussion symptoms (such as headache or tiredness) to come back or get worse. Then when your health care provider says that it is ok, you can start to return to your normal activities slowly.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Critical Care

What is critical care?

Critical care is medical care for people who have life-threatening injuries and illnesses. It usually takes place in an intensive care unit (ICU). A team of specially-trained health care providers gives you 24-hour care. This includes using machines to constantly monitor your vital signs. It also usually involves giving you specialized treatments.

Who needs critical care?

You need critical care if you have a life-threatening illness or injury, such as:

  • Severe burns
  • COVID-19
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney failure
  • People recovering from certain major surgeries
  • Respiratory failure
  • Sepsis
  • Severe bleeding
  • Serious infections
  • Serious injuries, such as from car crashes, falls, and shootings
  • Shock
  • Stroke
What happens in a critical care unit?

In a critical care unit, health care providers use lots of different equipment, including:

  • Catheters, flexible tubes used to get fluids into the body or to drain fluids from the body
  • Dialysis machines ("artificial kidneys") for people with kidney failure
  • Feeding tubes, which give you nutritional support
  • Intravenous (IV) tubes to give you fluids and medicines
  • Machines which check your vital signs and display them on monitors
  • Oxygen therapy to give you extra oxygen to breathe in
  • Tracheostomy tubes, which are breathing tubes. The tube is placed in a surgically made hole that goes through the front of the neck and into the windpipe.
  • Ventilators (breathing machines), which move air in and out of your lungs. This is for people who have respiratory failure.

These machines can help keep you alive, but many of them can also raise your risk of infection.

Sometimes people in a critical care unit are not able to communicate. It's important that you have an advance directive in place. This can help your health care providers and family members make important decisions, including end-of-life decisions, if you are not able to make them.

Croup

Croup is an inflammation of the vocal cords (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). It causes difficulty breathing, a barking cough, and a hoarse voice. The cause is usually a virus, often parainfluenza virus. Other causes include allergies and reflux.

Croup often starts out like a cold. But then the vocal cords and windpipe become swollen, causing the hoarseness and the cough. There may also be a fever and high-pitched noisy sounds when breathing. The symptoms are usually worse at night, and last for about three to five days. Children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years have the highest risk of getting croup. They may also have more severe symptoms. Croup is more common in the fall and winter.

Most cases of viral croup are mild and can be treated at home. Rarely, croup can become serious and interfere with your child's breathing. If you are worried about your child's breathing, call your health care provider right away.