The 8 Warning Signs of Diabetes: Should You Get Tested?

With more than 30 million adults living with diabetes in the U.S., we all know someone who’s developed this illness. In fact, diabetes has become increasingly common over the last 20 years. During this time period, diagnoses have tripled in the U.S.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 15% of the adult population in Tennessee has diabetes, while 35.8% has prediabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

But what exactly is diabetes? In short, it’s a chronic disease that compromises your body’s ability to process food into energy. There are three types: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, which can occur among pregnant women.

In this post, we’re going to focus on type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95% of cases in the U.S. In patients with type 2 diabetes, the insulin hormone, which plays a critical role in turning blood sugar into energy, can’t keep up. In most cases, the pancreas will not produce enough insulin to meet the demand of the glucose level. This can lead to other major health problems, such as kidney disease and heart disease.

The 8 Warning Signs of Diabetes

Approximately one in four people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. This is just one reason why it’s so important to recognize the early warning signs that type 2 diabetes presents. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over a third of all adults in the U.S. have prediabetes (and 90% don’t know it).

So, what are the warning signs?

  1. Increased thirst
  2. Fatigue
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Increased hunger
  5. Headaches
  6. Blurred vision
  7. Unexplained weight loss (despite eating as usual)
  8. Frequent urination (or urinary tract infections)

Should You Get Tested for Diabetes?

If you experience any of the symptoms discussed above, see your primary care physician or an internal medicine doctor in Nashville for an evaluation. These symptoms, on their own, do not necessarily indicate the presence of diabetes. However, it is important to get checked out if you’re experiencing symptoms such as fatigue and blurred vision.

If your provider deems it necessary, you may get tested with a simple blood sugar test. There are several blood tests that are easily performed in office; results are often available quickly.

See an Internal Medicine Doctor In Nashville

Need help managing your diabetes? Looking for a physician who will partner with you for better health? Meet the internal medicine providers at St. Thomas Medical Group. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call +1 (615) 297-2700
. You can also request an appointment online.

men's wellness exam

What’s Covered In a Men’s Wellness Exam?

Only sixty percent of men go to the doctor for annual physical.

And just over forty percent of men will go to the doctor only if they think they have a serious medical condition.

These findings from a recent Cleveland Clinic survey raise a few questions, namely, why aren’t men visiting their doctors?

Annual Wellness Exam for Men

Guys, the truth is, your health insurance plan covers you for one free wellness exam every year. If you have Medicare or a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can receive an annual wellness exam from a doctor or provider in your plan’s network.

You don’t have to wait until you’re sick to see a physician. When you develop a relationship with a Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group, you help us establish what we call “baseline wellness.” Then, if you do become sick, we have some information we can use for comparison.

Additionally, when you develop a relationship with a physician, we can establish records of your personal medical history and family history, which help us provide better informed and potentially more effective care later on, should you become sick.

What Does a Marketplace Health Plan Cover?

According to HealthCare.gov, plans must offer the following preventive services without charging you a copayment or coinsurance (even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible):

  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening (men ages 50-75)
  • Depression screening
  • Type 2 diabetes screening (men ages 40-70 who are overweight or obese)
  • HIV screening
  • Immunization vaccines
  • Tobacco and alcohol use screening
  • …and much more

Your annual wellness exam can be an opportunity to get checked out for a number of health conditions. (See the rest of the list here.)

Why Get an Annual Wellness Exam?

Men’s wellness exams offer many benefits. These are just a few great reasons why you should schedule with a doctor in Nashville today…

  1. Wellness exams may lead to early detection of an illness; early detection could result in better outcomes.
  2. Wellness exams could lead to the detection of risk factors for chronic disease, creating an opportunity to change lifestyle habits and prevent the development of disease.
  3. Wellness exams provide an opportunity for your doctor to update your clinical data, creating a more accurate picture of your overall health, which may be critical in an emergency.

See a Doctor in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group

Has it been a while since your last men’s wellness exam? Schedule an appointment with a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700. You can also request an appointment online at your convenience.

Building a Campfire or Bonfire? Read This First!

The temperature has dropped and that crisp autumn breeze has blown into Nashville. As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, many Nashvillians will light up the fire pit! Whether you’re going camping at Fall Creek Falls or just enjoying a warm fire in your own backyard, be sure to follow these guidelines for your own health and safety!

Health & Safety Guide for Campfires & Bonfires

  • Check the county’s policy on fires and burn bans before making a fire.
  • Never use gasoline or any flammable that is not exclusively intended for fire-starting purposes.
  • Build your fire away from fences, trees, and overhead items (string lights, telephone wires, etc.).
  • Only burn dry material, as damp wood causes excess smoke.
  • As a general rule, a fire should be distanced at least 5x its height from the nearest structure. For example, a fire burning four-feet tall should be at least 20 feet away from your home.
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case the flames get out of control.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Closely supervise children around a fire.
  • Anything that goes into the fire stays in the fire.
  • Store extra wood upwind of the fire.

First Aid for Burns

Accidents happen. If a burn does occur, follow this first aid guide.

Option #1 – At-Home Care. Many first-degree burns can be treated at home with basic first aid practices. Follow these steps.

  1. Stop the burning.
  2. Remove any clothing or jewelry in the area.
  3. Cool the burn by running cool (not cold) water over the skin until pain diminishes.
  4. Protect the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive cloth or bandage.
  5. Use over-the-counter pain relievers.

See your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group if pain and redness lasts several hours or more, if the burn produces a large burn blister, or if you notice any signs of infection (such as swelling, oozing, fever, worsening pain).

Option #2 – Call 911. Certain types of burns require emergency care. This includes burns that…

  • Sear through multiple layers of skin.
  • Are on the hands, feet, face or genitals.
  • Cause leathery, charred, white, black, or brown marks on the skin.

Always call 911 if the burn victim is an infant or senior.

St. Thomas Medical Group: Partners In Your Health

At St. Thomas Medical Group, primary care physicians partner with patients throughout Nashville with a common goal: better health. To learn more about how you can better care for yourself and your family, schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group. You can schedule online or by calling +1 (615) 297-2700.

Who Should Get Screened for Breast Cancer?

From the supermarket shelves to the TV commercials, you’re probably well aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While funding research and learning more about this cancer is important for both men and women, perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself by getting screened!

This month, doctors at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group are encouraging women ages 40 and older to get their annual screening mammograms. (See below for details. Talk to your doctor to learn more about screening recommendations based on your personal and family history).

Breast Cancer Facts

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)…

  • “Breast cancer accounts for 30% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in women.”
  • “In the United States, a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 12% (one in eight).”
  • “It is estimated that 252,710 new cases of breast cancer, resulting in 40,610 deaths, will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2017.”

While these are sobering facts, there is good news. Breast cancer mortality rates have plummeted significantly in the last half-century. For example, while women had a five-year survival rate of 75% in 1975, the current five-year survival rate is 90%.

Why?

This major step forward can largely be attributed to earlier detection and better treatments. Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer, which is why physicians at St. Thomas Medical Group encourage the following breast cancer screening recommendations.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

The American Cancer Society offers the following breast cancer screening recommendations:

  • Women age 40-44: Consider beginning annual breast cancer screening with mammogram.
  • Women age 45-54: Annual mammograms recommended.
  • Women 55+: Continue annual screening or switch to every other year. This practice should continue for as long as a woman is in good health and expects to live 10 years or more.
  • All women: Talk to your doctor to learn more about the benefits, limitations and potential harms associated with routine screening mammography.

Get Screened at St. Thomas Medical Group

To schedule your next screening mammogram, contact St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700.

warning signs child health

Warning Signs to Look for In Your Child’s Health

We all want the best for our kids, right? But between soccer practice, homework, extracurriculars, and everything else that fills up the calendar, it can be difficult to monitor our children’s health. With busy family schedules and a variety of commitments, many kids are eating out on-the-go and fending for themselves in many areas of health.

This fall, St. Thomas Medical Group’s Children & Adult providers are encouraging parents to take notice of warning signs in their children’s health. From eating right to getting a good night’s sleep, let’s look at some common health warning signs among children…

Warning Signs of Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep is critically important for young, developing bodies and minds. Eight to 10 hours of sleep per night is a standard recommendation for healthy children and adolescents. Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising. Warning signs that your child may not be getting enough quality sleep:

  • Use of phones, tablets, TV or other screen devices during the hour leading up to bedtime.
  • Engaging in risky behavior may be correlated with sleep deprivation. For example, one study found, “Teens with sleep problems were 55 percent more likely to have used alcohol in the past month in comparison to teens who didn’t report any sleep problems.”
  • Mood swings, irritability, and difficulty in concentrating can be signs of poor sleep quality.

Social Warning Signs

It can be impossibly frustrating to figure out, at times, what’s really going on at school. Is your child being bullied? Depressed? Struggling with a learning disorder that hasn’t been recognized by her teachers or doctors? Some common behavioral health warning sings include:

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities

Nutrition Warning Signs

In the U.S., nearly one in five children between the ages of six and 19 are obese. “Empty calories” like added sugars and fats account for nearly 40% of the calories consumed by two- to 18-year-olds, reports the National Institutes of Health. Warning signs your child may not be getting a balanced, healthy diet include:

  • Lack of family meal time.
  • Reliance on fast food and highly processed foods.
  • Irregular meal times (or lack of regular meals altogether).

See a Doctor in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group

If you’re concerned about your child’s health, you can always schedule an appointment with a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 301-7040. You can also make your child’s appointment online (new and returning patients) at your convenience. We look forward to partnering with you and your child in better health!

6 Ways to Get Rid of Acid Reflux

Heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable. Worse, chronic heartburn could even put you at risk of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. If you suffer from heartburn, the gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group are here for you. Learn more about acid reflux management techniques below…

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition that occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to close properly after you swallow food or liquid. When the LES relaxes abnormally or becomes weak, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. Chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Symptoms of acid reflux and GERD include:

  • Burning sensation in the chest (sometimes accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth)
  • Chest pain
  • Lumpy feeling in the throat
  • Regurgitation
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing

Learn more about acid reflux and GERD.

Techniques for Managing Acid Reflux

There are several things you can do to reduce acid reflux symptoms. Following these guidelines may even help eliminate symptoms entirely. Talk to your Nashville gastrointestinal specialist at St. Thomas Medical Group to learn more about the lifestyle changes that may be most appropriate for managing your acid reflux.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. One study found that women who gained 10-20 pounds had a 3x increase in heartburn symptoms. Losing even just a few pounds (if overweight) may help reduce your symptoms.
  2. Avoid food/drink triggers. Fatty and fried foods, garlic, onion, mint, tomato sauce, alcohol and caffeine can trigger acid reflux.
  3. Eat smaller portions. Large meals fill the stomach, causing more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter.
  4. Don’t lie down after eating. Eat dinner earlier or purchase a wedge-shaped pillow to prop yourself up if you must lie down after eating.
  5. Don’t smoke. Smoking can contribute to acid reflux symptoms. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about quitting.
  6. Monitor symptoms with a journal. Keep a journal that records what you eat and drink, as well as when you experience heartburn symptoms. By keeping records, you and your physician may be able to identify avoidable triggers.

Upper Endoscopy for GERD Treatment

In some cases, your gastroenterologist may recommend an upper endoscopy for diagnosing and treating GERD. During this procedure, frequently performed at our Gastroenterology Endoscopy Center, a small flexible endoscope is inserted through the mouth to explore and gather images of the upper digestive tract. Patients are sedated during this procedure, which can take five to twenty minutes to complete.

Learn more about upper endoscopy, pricing, and outcomes.

See a Gastrointestinal Specialist In Nashville

Meet our gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group. For scheduling information, please call +1 (615) 297-2700. You can also request an appointment online.

Get Moving, Nashville! 4 Hikes You Need to Take this Fall

Fall weather is on its way! As the leaves begin to change and the summer heat rolls off the Cumberland Plateau, now is the best time of the year to strike out in search of local trailheads! Whether you’re a native or a newcomer, make sure you check off these four parks before the leaves drop…

Did you know? The American Heart Association recommends “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.” That’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

#1 Radnor Lake State Park (SOUTH)

Serene, quiet, an oasis in the city. You’re guaranteed to find Radnor Lake’s East and West parking lots at max capacity on a nice weekend day, any time of the year! The best time to visit this 1,368-acre park and its 6+ miles of trails is just before sunrise. Take your dog and enjoy a brisk run around the lake. Or, get your muscles burning with an ascent of Ganier Ridge Trail (where pets and running/jogging is strictly forbidden). Just a 20-minute drive from downtown Nashville, you’ll feel like you’ve driven hours away as soon as you take the first step onto one of Radnor’s rugged ridge trails. Get info.

#2 Percy & Edwin Warner Parks (WEST)

Just a 16-minute drive southwest of St. Thomas Medical Group, you’ll find Edwin and Percy Warner Parks, which offer a diverse network of hiking trails, green spaces, mountain bike trails, horse trails, and cross country running courses. From marathon trainees to evening amblers, the Warner Parks attract all types. Grab a map and allow yourself to wander freely, discovering the many creeks and overlooks these parks have to offer. Get info.

#3 Shelby Bottoms Greenway (EAST)

With five miles of paved trails, beautiful wetlands, sweeping river views, and some less-trafficked primitive trails, there’s a lot to love about Shelby Bottoms. If hiking isn’t up your alley, take to Shelby Bottoms Greenway with a bike. Much of the greenway is level, paralleling the Cumberland river, which makes for an easy and pleasant ride in the fall weather. Get info.

#4 Beaman Park (NORTH)

While Shelby Bottoms Greenway is busy, developed, and largely flat, Beaman Park offers a rugged alternative on the northwest side of town. Take the Ridge Top Trail for incredible views and some steep climbs. Marvel at the changing leaves and take in the views as you hike this Nashville gem! Get info.

Find a Partner In Your Health: Nashville Doctors Near You

At St. Thomas Medical Group, primary care physicians partner with patients from all areas of Nashville with a common goal: better health. Hiking and other forms of moderate and vigorous cardiovascular exercise can become a part of your routine health habits. To learn more about how you can better care for your heart – and yourself! – schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group. You can schedule online or by calling +1 (615) 297-2700.

World Alzheimer’s Month: 10 Signs Every Adult Should Know

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, every three seconds someone in the world develops dementia, “a collective name for progressive degenerative brain syndromes which affect memory, thinking, behavior and emotion.”

Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia account for nine out of ten cases of dementia. Symptoms may include:

  • Memory loss
  • Personality and mood changes
  • Difficulty in performing daily, routine tasks
  • Difficulty in using words or comprehending others

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, we may be able to improve outcomes by making earlier diagnosis and providing patients and their families with better support and information.

Recognize Alzheimer’s Warning Signs

This September, in recognition of World Alzheimer’s Month, internal medicine doctors at St. Thomas Medical Group are encouraging Nashvillians to learn the ten warning signs of Alzheimer’s (via Alzheimer’s Association).

  1. Memory loss disrupting daily life. It’s not uncommon to forget names or appointments as you age, but routinely forgetting information or asking for the same information on a repeat basis could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
  2. Difficulty in planning or problem-solving. Occasional errors are normal at any age, of course. But individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may exhibit greater difficulty concentrating on problems. Working through challenges could take longer than in the past.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks. Driving, budgeting, or remember rules to a game could be challenging for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
  4. Time/place confusion. Not understanding where you are or how you got there could be a sign of dementia.
  5. Difficulty judging distance or color/contrast. Difficulty judging spatial relationships can make tasks like driving risky and difficult.
  6. Losing words (speaking or writing). Stopping mid-sentence or using odd word choice can be a sign of Alzheimer’s.
  7. Misplacing items. It’s not uncommon for individuals with Alzheimer’s to place items in unusual spots. In some cases, this can lead to the individual accusing others of stealing.
  8. Poor judgement. Affected individuals may lose their ability to exercise good judgement or make sound decisions.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social life. From time to time, we all need a break from the demands of work, family, and friends. But for individuals with Alzheimer’s, the step back may be more pronounced and longer lasting.
  10. Mood and personality changes. Many patients with Alzheimer’s may exhibit confusion, suspicion, depression or other new behaviors.

Find an Internal Medicine Doctor in Nashville

For more information about Alzheimer’s diagnosis and care, contact St. Thomas Medical Group. Call +1 (615) 297-2700.

Should I Get My Thyroid Checked Out?

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a tiny gland at the base of the neck that has an incredible amount of control over many of the body’s functions. The thyroid is critical in regulating hormones that affect everything from metabolism to body temperature to heart rate. When the thyroid is functioning as normal, we give it very little thought. In people with under- or overactive thyroids, however, symptoms can be quite uncomfortable.

What are the symptoms produced by hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces too much thyroxine (the “thyroid hormone”). This can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Tremor in the hands and fingers
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increased heat sensitivity
  • Sweating
  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety, irritability, nervousness
  • Swelling at the base of the neck
  • …and others

If you experience any of these symptoms – especially rapid heartbeat and/or unexplained weight loss – be sure to see your primary care provider in Nashville for an evaluation. While these signs and symptoms are certainly not exclusive to hyperthyroidism, they can be indicators of a serious thyroid condition.

What are the symptoms produced by hypothyroidism?

While some people struggle with an overactive thyroid, others are troubled by a thyroid gland that doesn’t produce enough thyroxine. Women over the age of 60 are most likely to experience hypothyroidism, though anyone can develop this condition. The good news is, once diagnosed, hypothyroidism can oftentimes be managed easily through the prescription of a synthetic thyroid hormone.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include:

  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in the joints
  • Achy, tender or stiff muscles
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Increased cold sensitivity
  • Hoarseness

How can I get care for thyroid issues?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described here, see your primary care doctor for an evaluation. If you don’t have a primary care doctor in Nashville, contact St. Thomas Medical Group to schedule an appointment. Your physician may be able to provide a diagnosis and treatment through oral medication.

When is thyroid surgery recommended?

Thyroid surgery may be recommended for patients with nodules on the thyroid. (Note that there is not necessarily a correlation between the presence of nodules and hormone levels or thyroid function.) At St. Thomas Medical Group, surgical treatment is performed by surgeons at Nashville ENT and Allergy Clinic; all physicians are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery.

During the procedure, which is typically done using a minimally invasive approach, a small incision is made for removing the nodules. Patients typically go home that day. Downtime from the surgery is as little as a few days.

For more information about thyroid care, contact Nashville ENT and Allergy Clinic at St. Thomas Medical Group. Call +1 (615) 386-9089.

3 Ways to Get Care for Chronic Fatigue

We all experience seasons of our lives that are marked by fatigue and exhaustion. But for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), sleep deprivation and difficulty with thinking and concentrating isn’t just a phase that lasts a couple weeks or months. Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness that can have serious effects on many of the body’s systems for six months or more.

In patients with CFS, there is no primary illness or condition causing the fatigue. The fatigue is a force of its own, requiring, in some cases, a battery of medical tests as providers rule out other potential illnesses.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Many patients describe their experience as being akin to the flu. Symptoms of CFS may include:

  • Joint/muscle pain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Chills
  • Night sweats

CFS can affect patients mentally, as well. Mood swings, anxiety, depression, and panic attacks are not uncommon among individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.

If faced with CFS, what can you do? While there is no “cure” for CFS, there are some strategies you can discuss with your doctor about implementing into your daily routine.

#1 Improve Quality of Sleep

Avoiding caffeine and alcohol altogether can be a good first step toward improving your chances of getting quality sleep. Try to establish a regular nighttime routine that lets your body know it’s time to go to bed. Avoid screens for at least 90 minutes prior to bedtime.

#2 Get Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread, affecting patients with CFS, as well as the general population. This deficiency makes it difficult for your body to absorb calcium. The deficiency can be responsible for bone pain, muscle pain, fatigue, and difficulty thinking. While you can get vitamin D through sun exposure, talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin D supplement, which allows you to know the actual amount of Vitamin D that’s getting into your system.

#3 Graded Exercise Therapy

Graded exercise therapy has patients start exercising with slow stretching and gentle movements. Intensity and duration of exercise is increased gradually over time as the body becomes accustomed to the movements. Graded exercise therapy has been shown to reduce fatigue in patients with CFS.

See an Internal Medicine Doctor In Nashville

Meet our internal medicine providers at St. Thomas Medical Group. For scheduling information, please call +1 (615) 297-2700. You can also request an appointment online.