Get Help for COPD With a Pulmonologist In Nashville

More than three million people in the U.S. have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This group of progressive lung diseases, which includes emphysema, refractory asthma and chronic bronchitis, causes breathlessness and other symptoms. While serious, COPD can often be managed with the right diagnosis and treatment. That’s where the pulmonologists at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville come in.

What Are the Symptoms of COPD?

COPD symptoms don’t typically occur until damage has already been done to the lungs. Classic signs and symptoms include:

  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath (especially when exercising)
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Chronic cough
  • Having the need to clear your throat upon waking in the morning

Some individuals may experience additional symptoms, such as swelling in the ankles, cyanosis (blue discoloration of the lips or fingernail beds) and unintended weight loss.

How Do I Know If I Have COPD?

If you have difficulty breathing or experience any of the above symptoms, see a doctor for an evaluation. Only a physician can diagnose COPD. This disease is frequently misdiagnosed, which is why it’s important to see a pulmonologist familiar with COPD and other respiratory disorders.

In diagnosing COPD, your pulmonologist may order one or more of these tests: chest x-ray, lung function test or CT scan. (This list is not comprehensive.)

COPD Treatments | Pulmonologists in Nashville

If you currently smoke, quitting will be one of the first recommendations your provider will make for treating COPD. Continuing to smoke will worsen your chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Other treatments include…

  • Medication
  • Lung Therapies
  • Surgery

Medication for COPD

There is a wide range of medications available for COPD. Some medications, such as bronchodilators or steroids, may be inhaled. Others are taken orally; these include oral steroids, theophylline, and antibiotics (for use in treating respiratory infections).

Lung Therapies

If you have moderate or severe COPD, your pulmonologist may recommend oxygen therapy for raising the oxygen levels in your blood; many of these devices are lightweight and portable, while others are only used while sleeping.

Surgery for COPD

If more conservative therapies are not delivering the results needed, then your pulmonary specialist may recommend surgery as a last resort. Lung volume reduction surgery (just one example) can make more room in your chest cavity for healthy lung tissue to expand. Additional surgical therapies may be available, depending on the specifics of your COPD.

See a Pulmonologist In Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group

Schedule an appointment with a pulmonologist at St. Thomas Medical Group, conveniently located at the intersection of Green Hills, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade. Call +1 (615) 964-5864.

The 5 Best Free Exercises Classes In Nashville

When it comes to exercise, the best option is simply the one that’s most likely to engage you. If you absolutely hate running, don’t try to make running a part of your life… you have other options, after all, that are more likely to keep you active and motivated.

One of the best parts about living in Tennessee’s fastest growing city is that there are always more forms of exercise to discover every month. Many of these options are free! Check out a few of our favorite free exercise classes in Nashville…

#1 Stroller Strong Moms

Go SLAM (Sweat Like a Mother) with other mamas and their kids in this full-body workout, which meets throughout the week at Mana Sports Club and Gordon JCC. Participants build muscle while increasing endurance and flexibility. Stroller Strong Moms is a great option for moms who would like to have their kids with them. Keep the kids moving in the stroller or, if they’re big enough, have them join in the workout with you. First class is free.

Get the details!

#2 East Nasty Running Club

We’ve mentioned the East Nasty Running Club before on the blog, but they get a repeat mention for making “East Nashville a great place to live and run, and [for making] running accessible to everyone in our community.” Join them on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m., or join one of their race training programs. This organization is free and completely run by volunteers. However, they do suggest a $10 donation per runner per year to help cover insurance costs.

Get the details!

#3 F3 Nashville

From 5:30 a.m. to 6:15 a.m., men all over Middle Tennessee, from Sylvan Park to Murfreesboro, gather for free participant-led bootcamps. In the words of F3, “All you have to do is show up. It really is free. You don’t have to be in shape.” What do you have to lose? Find a group in your neighborhood. (There are currently more than 1,400 groups meeting around the U.S.)

Get the details!

#4 Orangetheory Fitness

If you want to get your heart rate up, there are few classes more suited for the job than an Orangetheory Fitness class. A national brand, Orangetheory offers curious locals one free class at any of its three Nashville locations (Midtown, Green Hills, West Nashville).

Get the details!

#5 Kickboxing Classes

Hotbox and TITLE Boxing are two excellent options for getting a high intensity workout. Fire away at a punching bag under your instructor’s guidance… then, keep your heart rate high in between those rapid punches with additional cardio. First class is free.

Get the details! (Hotbox)
Get the details! (TITLE Boxing)

Exercise Questions? See a Doctor in Nashville Here!

Need help developing an exercise plan that serves your health and wellness goals? Our Nashville doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group can work with you to develop healthy diet and exercise habits that can serve you for years to come. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment online.

Should You See a Rheumatologist for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For many, the chronic joint pain significantly inhibits daily quality of life. Unlike osteoarthritis, which typically affects some joints but not others, rheumatoid arthritis affects the entire body.

Individuals with RA may experience joints that are red, hot and swollen. Needless to say, this condition can be quite painful. Other common symptoms include fever, fatigue, and energy loss.

The fact that we don’t know what causes RA is one reason why this autoimmune disease is so complex. Furthermore, there isn’t a standard test for diagnosing RA. Specially trained physicians, known as rheumatologists, must evaluate patients and recommend appropriate tests in order to make a diagnosis.

Why See a Rheumatologist for RA?

RA can be a complex disease, and the symptoms of RA can oftentimes be mistaken for something else. For this reason, it’s recommended that patients who have been diagnosed with RA – or exhibit RA-like symptoms – see a rheumatologist for care.

A rheumatologist may be able to offer an accurate diagnosis while avoiding unnecessary tests and procedures, which may be costly or uncomfortable. Also, a board-certified rheumatologist can recommend appropriate therapies based on extensive knowledge of this autoimmune disease. Many rheumatology providers even specialize in ultrasound-guided injections and other therapies commonly used in treating RA.

Ultrasound-Guided Injections for RA

There are several medications that can be injected directly into joints damaged by RA. Corticosteroids are one commonly injected medication. These injections can be helpful for lubricating the joint and providing relief from inflammation.

The Good News About RA

While rheumatoid arthritis is a serious diagnosis, the good news is that the earlier it’s diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated. And earlier treatment may lead to better outcomes in many cases.

Ready to See a Rheumatologist In Nashville?

Are you ready to see a rheumatologist for the specialized care you deserve? Schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 964-5823. Not quite ready to schedule? Have questions about insurance, billing, or other aspects of care? Please feel free to contact us!

5 Tips for Handling Spring Allergies in Nashville

We hate to say it. We really do. But you know it’s coming… Nashville’s spring allergy season is right around the corner. We’ve discussed the causes behind Nashville’s allergens, as well as testing and treatment methods. But is there anything you can do now to reduce the severity of symptoms? The ENT specialists and allergists at St. Thomas Medical Group say, yes!

#1 Mold Removal in the Home

Pollen’s not the only culprit that could be lurking behind your allergy symptoms. Mold is a common offender… and it could be hiding out in your home. Especially common in Middle Tennessee, where we often have high humidity and warm temperatures, mold may grow under leaky kitchen or bathroom sinks, in dehumidifiers, and in poorly sealed windows. Remove mold by scrubbing with a mixture of bleach and water. If mold is caused by a leak or some other moisture source, address the root of the problem, too! Get those pipes sealed.

#2 HEPA Filters on Vacuums

While most any new vacuum will have a decent air filter, there’s nothing quite like a HEPA filter (high efficiency particulate air filter), which can filter out 99.7% of particles that are within a diameter of 0.3 microns or more (source). HEPA filters can remove much of the pollen and dander in your home that causes allergies.

#3 Rethink Your Decor

While regular cleaning and vacuuming can go a long way in reducing allergens, you may also want to rethink the decor in your home.

Hard floor surfaces are easier to clean and less likely to trap allergens than rugs and carpets.
Roll-up shades will hold fewer allergens than drapes and curtains.
Plastic covers over mattresses and pillows can prevent dander from settling in.

#4 Change Air Filters

Change your HVAC’s air filter every 90 days or so. Change it more frequently if you have pets, a high number of occupants, or asthma or allergies. A high efficiency filter can help keep your home’s air more pure. If using an air purifier, check to see that it offers enough coverage for the room it’s operating in; update to a HEPA filter, if available.

#5 See a Doctor Before Symptoms Start

If your Nashville allergies haven’t kicked into gear, but you know it’s just a matter of time, schedule an appointment with a local allergist now. New treatments or combinations of treatments may be available since you saw your doctor last allergy season. Get a head start on allergies by being proactive and seeing your physician.

Find an ENT/Allergist at St. Thomas Medical Group (Nashville)

Struggling with allergy symptoms? Call on the Nashville ENT & Allergy Clinic. Contact St. Thomas Medical Group at +1 (615) 386-9089 to learn more.

Living With IBS: 5 Ways to Manage Your Symptoms

Approximately 10 to 15% of people suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). That equates to about 70,000–100,000 people in the Nashville area alone. According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, many patients with this disorder suffer for more than six years before their condition is diagnosed.

As anyone with IBS can attest, the abdominal pain and symptoms can be unpredictable and completely disruptive to daily life. If you suffer from IBS, please know that gastroenterology providers at St. Thomas Medical Group in Nashville are here to come alongside you and work with you to develop a comprehensive management plan that supports your overall health and wellbeing.

For those who are new to IBS and would like to know more about managing symptoms, view some of the following recommendations from our gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group…

5 Ways to Manage IBS Symptoms

While there is no cure or guaranteed “fix” for IBS, many patients find symptoms improve through the use of some of these strategies…

  1. Identify and eliminate trigger foods. Many patients find that their IBS symptoms flare up when certain trigger foods are introduced into their diet. At St. Thomas Medical Group, your gastroenterologist will work with you to identify those trigger foods so that you can eliminate them from your diet. Common triggers include caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and raw fruit.
  2. Exercise routinely. Exercise has a number of health benefits, including the ability to help regulate stress, promote contractions in the intestines, and improve overall mood.
  3. Slowly increase fiber. Individuals with IBS who suffer from constipation may find their symptoms improve with a moderate increase of fiber. However, too much fiber can cause gas and cramping, so increase fiber intake slowly.
  4. Eat regularly. Regular meals at routine intervals can help reduce IBS symptoms. If constipated, eating larger fiber-based meals may improve regularity. For those experiencing diarrhea, eating smaller meals more frequently may help manage IBS symptoms.
  5. Develop good eating habits. It’s not just when and what you eat that matters. How you eat can also affect IBS. Drinking through a straw, for example, can cause you to swallow air, which may worsen IBS. Eating food on-the-go, overeating, chewing gum, and eating quickly can also worsen symptoms. Instead, eat slowly, regularly, and mindfully.

Gastroenterology in Nashville, TN | Schedule Now

Struggling with IBS or other issues of the digestive system? Find a gastroenterologist at St. Thomas Medical Group. Don’t delay in getting the care you need. Call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule your appointment online.

What Is the Keto Diet? Should I Try Keto?

So long, Atkins, there’s a new diet in town. And if it looks a little familiar, well… it is.

  1. Low in carbs.
  2. High in fat.
  3. Promotes weight loss.

The ketogenic diet (“keto” for short) has captured the country’s attention, and Nashville is no exception. Check out the following graph, which shows Google search interest in Nashville in keto (blue) compared to Atkins (red) since November 2016.

No doubt, you’ve heard of keto. But what exactly is it? And should you try it? Today on the St. Thomas Medical Group Blog, we’re going to take a closer look at that question. As always, please remember that this blog does not constitute medical or diet advice and is not a substitute for the specific recommendations provided by your doctor. As always, do not begin a new diet without first discussing risks and benefits with your physician.

About the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet emphasizes a high fat and low carbohydrate intake. The standard ketogenic diet, for example, typically follows these proportions:

  • 75% fat
  • 20% protein
  • 5% carbs

A popular and well-researched variant is the high-protein ketogenic diet, which looks something like this:

  • 60% fat
  • 35% protein
  • 5% carbs

Other variations exist, yet they lack the the same degree of evidence-based research that these two diets have supporting them.

So, what’s the science behind the keto diet? In a typical diet, people consume carbohydrates for energy. These foods include bread, pasta, some fruits (like bananas), and starchy vegetables. The keto diet drastically limits carbohydrate intake, prioritizing fats instead. This puts the body in a state of ketosis, forcing it to burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. Additionally, fats turn into ketones in the liver, and ketones then supply energy to the brain.

Many people experience weight loss with the keto diet without having to count calories and limit portions to the same degree required by other diets. This is due, in part, to the fact that foods in the keto diet are often quite filling and satisfying. Of course, this is also one of the reasons why this diet has grown quickly in popularity!

Should I Try the Keto Diet?

If you’re interested in the keto diet, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to learn more about how diet and lifestyle changes can best serve your health goals. The keto diet can be a drastic change for many people, and patients are not advised to begin this diet without first discussing it with their healthcare provider. With that being said, some studies have shown that the keto diet may be effective in improving the following conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • …and others

Generally speaking, the keto diet is not recommended for high-performance athletes or those wishing to gain significant weight or muscle mass. Also, it’s worth stating that the keto diet, like many diets, does require a serious long-term commitment in order for results to be seen.

Keto Diet Questions? Talk to a Doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group.

Have more questions about the keto diet and whether it’s right for you? Schedule an appointment with a physician at St. Thomas Medical Group Department of Children and Adults, conveniently located at the intersection of Green Hills, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade. Meet our providers online, or call +1 (615) 297-2700 to schedule.

How to Make the Most of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Let’s be honest… few people relish in taking a trip to the doctor. It’s okay, we don’t take it personally. But since you’re coming… why not make the most of it? Whether you’re coming in for your first wellness exam in a few years or returning for a follow-up appointment just a week since your last visit, these tips will help you make the most of your visit. After all, your time is valuable, and you deserve the best care you can get. Plus, who knows… your next visit to the doctor’s office might be just a little bit more enjoyable if you maximize your time by using these recommendations from St. Thomas Medical Group doctors!

  • Prepare questions in advance. Do you ever sit in the waiting room with that burning question about your health… and then as soon as you get in the examination room it just slips your mind? Happens all the time! Make your appointment the most effective it can be by writing down your questions in advance. Use a sheet of paper, a notes app on your phone, or whatever it takes. Numerous studies have found that patients who prepare and take an active participation role in their healthcare are more satisfied, less anxious, and enjoy a higher quality of life.
  • Bring something to write on. Of course, asking the question doesn’t guarantee you’ll remember the answer, so be sure to bring something to write on. Again, your phone or a pad of paper can work. The best tool is the one that’s easiest for you to use.
  • Bring a friend or family member. Having a friend or family member with you is another great way to absorb the information your doctor shares during your appointment. Sometimes we hear information about our own health through our own subjective lens. A third-party might bring clearer perspective to the information received.
  • Be open about symptoms. As doctors, we’ve heard it all. There’s never any reason to be embarrassed about symptoms. If it hurts, tell us. If it seems kind of weird, tell us. If you’re just not sure… tell us! By sharing the whole picture, you provide us with a better opportunity to more fully serve you.
  • Have a list of medications. Speaking of total picture, we need to know what medications you’re currently using. Be sure to bring this full list with you to your next appointment at St. Thomas Medical Group!

Schedule With a Doctor in Nashville Today

Need a local doctor who will listen to you and advocate for your health and well-being? Find a Nashville doctor in one of the following specialties at St. Thomas Medical Group:

  • Audiologists
  • Aviation Medical Examiner
  • Children and Adult
  • ENT and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Pulmonary
  • Rheumatology

To schedule an appointment, call +1 (615) 297-2700 or schedule online.

The Opioid Crisis in Tennessee: Safety Guidelines & Resources

The opioid crisis has reached a point that is impossible to ignore. Opioid abuse has skyrocketed in Tennessee, destroying lives and posing a serious health threat to communities in Nashville and surrounding areas. In October 2017, the White House declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Fast Facts About Opioid Abuse In Tennessee

While numbers can never tell the full story, these statistics shine an unforgiving light on the tragedy that has begun to unfold in Tennessee over the last decade…

  • Tennessee had the 2nd highest prescription rate for opioids in 2016 (source).
  • That same year, there were 1,186 opioid-related overdose deaths in Tennessee – 18.1 deaths per 100,000 persons. For comparison, the national rate for 2016 was 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons (source).
  • Deaths from heroin overdose in Tennessee have increased since 2010 from 17 to 260 (source).

Our Commitment at St. Thomas Medical Group

Doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group are committed to safe opioid prescription practices. This includes:

  • Showing preference to nonpharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy prior to prescribing opioids.
  • Establishing clear treatment goals prior to prescribing opioids. Prescriptions should only continue if the improvements in pain and function outweigh the risks to the patient’s safety.
  • Clearly discussing with patients the risks and benefits of opioid therapy v. non-opioid therapy.

Learn more about safe guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain with this resource from the CDC.

Get Help for Opioid Abuse

If you or someone you know struggles with opioid abuse, help is available. At least three Tennesseans die each day from an opioid-related overdose, reports the Tennessee Hospital Association. Even more visit their local hospital emergency room for care. If you need help, call the Tennessee REDLINE at +1 (800) 889-9789. This resource operates “a 24/7 addiction treatment and recovery hotline that connects Tennessee residents with state funded, addiction treatment and recovery services.”

If you need help, we also encourage you to talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group to find out what resources may be available to you. If nothing else, remember the following (via Tennessee Department of Health):

  • Opioids are highly addictive.
  • Abuse, addiction and overdose can happen to anyone.
  • There are pain management alternatives.
  • Just because a doctor prescribed you opioids, it does not mean that they are 100% safe.
  • Opioids are not ideal for long-term pain relief.
  • Never take prescription drugs that were not prescribed for you by a doctor.

Additional Department of Health resources available here.

Need Help? Find a Nashville Doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group.
For additional help, call St. Thomas Medical Group at +1 (615) 297-2700
or schedule your appointment online.

What’s Your Heart Health IQ?

Nelson Mandela once said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Today, let’s test your head knowledge about your heart! Take the knowledge you learn in this post and apply it to better heart health for the rest of the year to come…

#1 – Fast Facts About Tennessee Heart Health

Heart disease is a national health problem, and Tennessee is no exception. According to the Tennessee Department of Health:

  • “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Tennessee, accounting for approximately 27% of deaths…”
  • “Stroke is the third leading cause of death…”
  • “Together, heart disease and stroke account for 1 out of 3 deaths in Tennessee each year.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Tennessee had the sixth highest heart disease death rate among all states in 2017. The good news is, many cases of heart disease can be prevented. It starts by knowing your risk factors.

#2 – Heart Disease Risk Factors

While some risk factors may be hereditary, others are within your control. Let’s look at a few heart disease risk factors that your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group may help you manage:

  • Hypertension: High blood pressure can increase risk for heart disease and stroke by putting excessive pressure on the walls of the arteries. High blood pressure may be managed through diet and exercise. Medication may also be an option.
  • Smoking: Once inhaled, the chemicals in cigarette smoke can cause clots to form in the blood, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • High LDL Cholesterol: High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries, blocking healthy blood flow. Reducing saturated fats, eliminating trans fats, and increasing fiber intake can help lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: Excess sugar in the bloodstream can damage blood vessels and nerves. By preventing or managing diabetes, you may be able to lower your risk for heart disease.

#3 – Action Items: Own Your Heart Health!

What can you do to improve your overall heart health?

  • Stay active. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week – that’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, talk to your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about quitting.
  • Lose weight. One recent study found that overweight or obese adults between the ages of 40 and 59 were at a 21 to 85 percent higher risk for developing heart disease than adults of the same age in a normal weight range.
  • Eat healthy. Sodium, trans fats, saturated fats, and sugar all increase risk for heart disease. Cut these unhealthy ingredients and replace them with whole foods, such as heart healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • See your doctor. Your doctor can make specific recommendations based on your personal health history. Your doctor would be thrilled to hear you say, “I want to make changes to reduce my risk for heart disease. Where do I start?” In many cases, patients are reactive to new developments in their health. Be proactive and start making positive heart health changes today – before any warning signs appear.

Find a Doctor Near You In Nashville

Need a doctor who will partner with you in your health? Find a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700. Both new and returning patients can also schedule online.

When Should Babies Start to…

Whether you’re a new parent or raising your third or fourth child, every little milestone in your baby’s life can be exciting… especially that first “sleep through the night” milestone! While infants reach these big milestones on their own time, this post may help set some expectations for when you might experience some breakthroughs…

Smile

Surprise… your baby was most likely smiling before you even met her! Of course, in utero smiles probably aren’t what you’re asking about. Baby’s first “real” smile may show anywhere from six to twelve weeks. You may be able to tell that it’s not just a reflex by looking for emotion in the eyes. And laughing? Expect those full-blown belly laughs somewhere around five months.

Eye Contact

Eye contact may occur as early as six to eight weeks of age. However, some babies may not make definitive eye contact until three months of age.

Roll Over

Rolling over may happen as early as three months, but it’s more common to take place somewhere around the four to six-month mark. Of course, infants have a way of rolling over for the first time when you’re not totally prepared! That being the case, never leave your baby unattended on a changing table or other elevated surface where he could roll over and fall.

Sleep Through the Night

Mark this milestone as the most exciting one that you won’t even notice until it’s over! Many babies will sleep six to eight hours uninterrupted after about four months of age. (But just because they do it once doesn’t mean it’s the new status quo!) By about six months of age, baby may even make it to ten blissful uninterrupted hours of sleep!

Talk

Around six months of age, babbling may turn into actual words. (Though meaning may not be associated with those words until around 12 months.) At approximately 18-24 months, very short, simple sentences may appear.

Crawl

If you haven’t done so already, it’s officially time to baby-proof the home at about six months of age. Crawling often occurs between seven and 10 months. Lots of tummy time and play may encourage crawling in your baby!

Walk

Once your baby begins to pull himself up, walking is just around the corner. Babies often begin to pull themselves up to a standing position around nine to 10 months, and are walking around 12-15 months.

See a Pediatrician in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group

Again, it’s worth repeating that these milestones are general in nature. If your baby hasn’t reached a milestone during the age range described here, don’t panic. Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you have any concerns!

Looking for a pediatrician who can partner with you in caring for your child? St. Thomas Medical Group Department of Children and Adults is conveniently located at the intersection of Green Hills, Sylvan Park and Belle Meade. Meet our providers. Call +1 (615) 301-7040 or schedule an appointment online.