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How Does Weather Affect Your Health?

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What an amazing January day here in northeast Ohio! It was around 60F, and I actually thought about getting on my bicycle today. In less than 48 hours, the forecast low temperature will be below zero. How do extreme temperature changes affect the body? This was the subject a story I was interviewed for. Thanks to WKBN-TV and reporter Brittany Bissell for interviewing me for the story "Why extreme weather swings have you feeling under the weather."

Winter Health Tips: What You Need To Know

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Now that winter has officially begun, many of my patients are asking me strategies to maintain your physical and mental health. Here are six easy tips that not only can you use during the winter months, but all year around as well!

Winter Tip #1: Get Your Flu Shot

Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Health raised the activity of influenza (the flu) to "Widespread," which is the highest level. This is one month earlier than last flu season. it's not too late to get your flu shot. Even though initial estimates state that this year's flu shot may not be that effective, "some" effectiveness is better than zero effectiveness if you skip the shot.

Winter Tip #2: Don't Spread Germs

These are things that we tell our children, but adults also need reminded to do things like wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, cover coughs properly (like in your elbow instead of coughing/sneezing into your hand), sometimes use the fist bump instead of the handshake, and know when to stay home when your sick.

Winter Tip #3: Clean Often-Touched Surfaces

In the workplace, regularly wipe down shared work spaces and equipment like copy machines, computers, and phones. At home, focus on surfaces like doorknobs, television remotes, and faucets - because bacteria can last here the longest.

Winter Tip #4: Say No To SAD

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs only during the winter months and is helped with exposure to bright light. There are many consumer lights available on the market, and sometimes this helps better than medication treatment.

Winter Tip #5: Meditation Relaxation

"Winter blues" can also come from increased stress during the holidays and winter time. Trying to clear your thoughts and focusing on your breathing can really fire up your relaxation response. And, for those phone oriented, there are lots of apps out there to help discover your medication fascination

Winter Tip #6: Visit With Friends And Family

The cold and darkness of the winter months really can take a toll on our mental health. So, even though holiday time is the perfect time to spend time with friends and family, continue this as the new year begins. It could be the best thing for your mental health waiting for spring to get here.

Addendum: Thanks to WKBN-TV in Youngstown, Ohio for posting the accompanying story: "How To Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy This Winter." 

Smoke Exposure Dangers: What You Need To Know

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On the afternoon of November 28, 2017, a fire broke out in Salem, Ohio (where I live) at the former Salem China Company building. As of this evening, the fire was still going. (Check out this link from WKBN Youngstown for the latest information. Photo above courtesy of WKBN). Via social media, I've been receiving a lot of questions about all the smoke in the air around town. 

 Photo courtesy of  The Salem News

Photo courtesy of The Salem News

Here are Four Things To Keep In Mind About Smoke Exposure

  • What are symptoms of smoke exposure: Symptoms to look out for include Cough, Shortness of Breath, Hoarseness, Noisy Breathing, Eye Irritation, Abnormal Skin Color, Headache, Confusion
  • Beware if you have past or current lung problems: For those already with lung disease like asthma, COPD, emphysema, or others, you are at a higher risk of breathing problems when exposed to any kind of smoke - like those from fires. Take your prescription lung medication as scheduled and make sure you have your rescue medication if needed.
  • Check on young children and the elderly: Especially those young and old are prone to lung symptoms when exposed to smoke. If they start to report any symptoms above, don't ignore them.
  • See your doctor sooner rather than later: Even though you are halfway across town, your lungs could still be affected by the smoke in the air. Even though it may be the day after the fire as you read this, your lungs could still be affected by the smoke in the air around town. If you think you're having difficulty with breathing or anything else, I encourage you to check with your doctor, you'll be glad you did....

American Cancer Society: Great American Smokeout

I'm always looking for fun opportunities to encourage my patients to stop smoking - other than my nagging of them during office appointments. Every year, one week before Thanksgiving is that opportunity called "The Great American Smokeout" that is promoted by the American Cancer Society. 

There is great information on The American Cancer Society website like Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco, Health Risks of Secondhand Smoke, Keeping Your Kids Tobacco Free, and other resources. This blog post will take you to the next step in preparing you for your quit day, maybe The Great American Smokeout day. (also, tweet about it using #GASO hashtag)

Prepare For Your Quit Day: Here are some steps to help you get ready for your quit day

  • Pick the date and mark it on your calendar
  • Tell friends and family about your quit day
  • Get rid of all your cigarettes
  • Practice saying, "No thank you, I don't smoke"
  • Set up a support system to help you

On Your Quit Day: Some steps on your Quit Day checklist

  • Avoid situations and people associated with smoking
  • Stay Busy - Try walking or other activities and hobbies
  • Change your routine: Take a different route to work, etc
  • Drink lots of water, and no alcohol
  • Do Not Smoke - Not even one puff

In addition to reaching out to friends and family for support, I also encourage you to contact your Family Physician for further assistance, especially when it comes to options for possible nicotine substitutes. Thanks to WKBN-TV for posting the story, "The Great American Smokeout: National Intervention encourages smokers to quit." I also wanted to share with you similar TV interviews back from 2010 and 2011 below. Dr. Mike Sevilla works at the Family Practice Center of Salem in Salem, Ohio.

#FMRevolution Weekend Update

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On Saturday, October 21, 2017, I had a fun Facebook Live with our friends Dr. Kim Yu and Dr. Alex McDonald. Alex gave us a live report following his day's activities at the California Medical Association meeting. Kim gave us an update on her Family Medicine relief effort for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Kim and I also talk about supporting children with allergies during Halloween and Trick-or-Treat, We also talk about some upcoming events for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

There are many ways to check out the show. Above in the blog post, you can listen to the audio podcast from our Facebook Live. You can also download the audio file at this link. In addition, I encourage you to subscribe to my audio podcast on iTunes at this link.

To check out the videos associated with the FB live show, check out the videos below. I've broken down some of the segments in the video below. In addition, I encourage you to check out my youtube channel for more of my videos.

Safe Halloween Tips

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It's hard to believe that Halloween is right around the corner. In my office this week. there's been a lot of excitement with my pediatric patients, and their parents, in what their costumes will be for Halloween. Now, before you start planning those Fall and Halloween parties and Trick-Or-Treat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines thirteen tips to make your festivities fun and healthy. The full list is on the CDC website, but I'll outline just a few below.

Halloween Health and Safety Tips

  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone: Walk in groups or with trusted adult
  • Reflective Tape: Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you
  • Beware of Choking Hazards: Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating
  • Flashlight: Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you
  • Look Both Ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks whenever possible
  • Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats: Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers
  • Tobacco Free Events: Make your Halloween activities Smoke Free and tobacco free events

Family Medicine Helping Puerto Rico

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The plight of Puerto Rico has been broadcast daily since Category 4 Hurricane Maria slammed into the island less than 2 weeks ago. The Family Medicine community has been proactive in the relief effort, even before Maria hit Puerto Rico.

Our friend and colleague Dr. Kim Yu has been in contact with the Puerto Rico Academy of Family (PRAFP)  Physicians and has helped organize an effort and a campaign to raise money for electric generators for the people there, especially since it's been reported that 95% of people in Puerto Rico are still without power. The goal is 60 generators, since this year marks the 60th anniversary of the PRAFP. As of this posting, we have already reached 20 generators!

On Saturday, September 30, 2017, we broadcast a Facebook Live with Kim Yu, Alex McDonald, and myself to raise awareness for this fundraising campaign, and for Kim to share some of the stories that are happening in Puerto Rico right now. Please contribute to this link right now, and thanks to our colleagues at the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians for setting this up: https://www.in-afp.org/give

Included in the video segments below include a statement from Dr. Carlos Cestero who is the President of the Puerto Rico Academy of Family Physicians read by Kim Yu. How did Kim get started in this effort? She answers that question in a video below. In addition to raising funds for generators, Kim talks about other things that you can do to help Puerto Rico, including volunteering your physician skills on site in Puerto Rico. If you'd like more information on any of this, please reach out to Kim Yu on twitter at @DrKKYu

Also in the program, we talked about National Primary Care Week which is taking place now from October 1-7, 2017. In addition, we talked about lighter topics like the origins of Alex McDonald's twitter name, and how much fun we had at the recent AAFP Family Medicine Experience conference. Below, I broke down last night's video into shorter segments for your review and enjoyment. Please share this post with friends and colleagues to continue to raise awareness and to continue to raise funds for the people of Puerto Rico!

Raising Breast Cancer Awareness

Just this week, actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, best known for her roles in the TV shows "Veep" and "Seinfeld," announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She wrote on twitter, "1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Today, I am the one."

The month of October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and I'll be doing my part to remind my patients and to remind my community about the importance of talking about this illness. Here are some facts about breast cancer and here are some risk factors to keep in mind from the American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Breast Cancer Facts

  • 1 in 8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer
  • Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in women
  • Over 250,000 new cases of breast cancer in women in 2017
  • About 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2017
  • More than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in USA

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • About 60-70% patients have no risk factors
  • Genetic Risk
  • Lack of Physical Activity
  • Poor Diet
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Drinking Alcohol

There are so many other topics to mention, especially about testing, diagnosis, and treatment. But, the most important things at this point are to know the facts, and to know your risks. In addition to reviewing the information above, I encourage you to visit your Family Physician and/or your personal medical provider.

Addendum: Thanks to WKBN-TV for posting the article on the interview: "Importance of Recognition during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

One Hurricane Irma Story

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As I write this, Hurricane Irma has not quite made landfall yet. However, the winds in Southern Florida and the Florida keys have already started to ramp up in speed and intensity. I wanted to try to get a sense of how it was going down there, so I reached out to a Family Physician friend of mine.

Dr. Ajoy Kumar practices Family Medicine in the Tampa, Florida area. And, as we recorded this interview at around 10:45am Eastern time on Saturday, September 9, 2017 - Hurricane Irma has not made landfall yet, and was forecast to arrive in the Tampa area in around 24-48 hours.

In our conversation, Dr. Kumar talked about the emotion that he is going through, and the sense of emotion going on both in the hospital and in the community. He also talked about how his experience working in developing countries have prepared him for this urgent situation. Finally, he speaks on how Family Medicine and Family Physicians are uniquely qualified to perform in these leadership positions.

There is an audio podcast above that you can both listen to and also download. For those who have access to iTunes podcasts, I encourage you to download the podcast from iTunes at this link. Finally, check out our youtube conversation both below and at this link. Stay safe, Dr. Kumar and all of our friends in Florida!

One Hurricane Harvey Story

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Not only is Dr. Troy Fiesinger a Family Physician, but he is also a long time resident of the Houston, Texas area. Something interesting I saw on my Facebook feed was Dr. Troy posting news and updates from the Houston area. So, I reached out to him to see if he would be interested and available to share his story. I was honored that he shared his story exclusively with me, and we conducted a Facebook Live interview less than a week following landfall of the storm.

In the links below, I have made available an audio file for you to listen to you from my The Dr. Mike Sevilla Podcast. In addition, I tried to edit our 60 minute interview into smaller portions which make things easier to you to digest. 

Finally, I encourage you to donate to whatever charity you choose. For me, I recommend the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation. I look forward to talking with Dr. Troy more at the upcoming AAFP Family Medicine Experience conference (#AAFPFMX on twitter).