Good Samaritan Hospital
Through leadership in research and adopting the latest technological and clinical practices, Good Samaritan Hospital offers excellent medical care for the people of Silicon Valley.

Assess your risk for pneumonia

Each time you take a breath, the air is carried through your trachea, to your lungs, and down “branches” called bronchioles. Air sacs, called alveoli, are found at the end of the bronchioles. The alveoli allow oxygen to enter the bloodstream. These air sacs look like very tiny bunches of grapes, and your lungs have millions of them. If an emergency care physician at Good Samaritan Hospital diagnoses you with pneumonia, it means that an infection has inflamed these air sacs, causing them to fill with fluid or pus. Some people may only have mild symptoms of pneumonia, but for others, this infection may become life-threatening.

Your age
Your age can influence your risk of contracting pneumonia and suffering severe symptoms. Individuals who are age 65 or older are at a higher risk due to changes of the immune system associated with the aging process.

If your household includes a child age two or younger, that child is also at an increased risk of serious illness. At this young age, a child’s immune system is still immature.

Your environment
Your environment can refer to your home, workplace and the community as a whole. You may be at a higher risk of pneumonia if you’re often exposed to toxic fumes, pollutants and chemicals.

Living in a dormitory, retirement home or long-term care community exposes you to all sorts of germs from many people. Similarly, people who work in hospitals, libraries, schools and daycare centers are exposed to plenty of germs that might cause pneumonia.

Your lifestyle habits
Some risk factors for contracting pneumonia are manageable with lifestyle modifications. To reduce your risk of pneumonia, your physician may recommend:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting or abstaining from alcohol
  • Improving your nutrition

Lifestyle changes aren’t always easy to make, but your doctor can provide the personalized guidance you need.

Your medical conditions
People with certain underlying medical conditions are at an elevated risk of pneumonia. Managing these medical issues with your doctor’s help may help reduce your risk. These health problems include:

  • Suppressed immune system
  • History of lung disease
  • Problems swallowing or coughing
  • Mobility impairment
  • Diabetes
  • Heart failure
  • Sickle cell disease

The emergency care team at Good Samaritan Hospital is here around the clock, every day of the year to take care of your family. Our highly trained healthcare providers in San Jose understand that a visit to the ER is stressful, which is why we go the extra mile to make your time with us as pleasant and hassle-free as possible. Our nurse referral line is available at (888) 724-2362.

How the holidays can affect problems with addiction

For people who have never experienced chemical dependency, addiction can be difficult to understand. Addiction is recognized as a disease. It involves changes of the brain, which means that willpower alone isn’t enough to overcome it. Addiction is difficult for families to deal with at any time of the year, but the holiday season presents unique challenges. In the accompanying video, a psychiatrist at Good Samaritan Hospital recommends that families of addicts and recovering addicts seek help for themselves in order to better help their loved ones.

Understanding holiday-related stressors
The holidays are supposed to be a merry time of year, when families can relax and enjoy each other’s company. For recovering addicts, however, the holidays may only bring more pressure to stay sober. Try to put yourself in your loved one’s shoes to understand what he or she is dealing with.

The holiday season can induce worsening stress, anxiety and depression in some individuals, which can trigger a chemical dependency relapse. Holiday gift-giving can highlight financial problems—another possible trigger for relapse.

Additionally, there are societal pressures to enjoy alcoholic beverages at holiday parties. Get-togethers may put recovering addicts in contact with family members and friends, with whom they previously drank or did drugs.

Providing opportunities for substance abuse
Families often travel for the holiday season, which can expose the recovering addict to substances of abuse. Even if the host of the gathering is forewarned to not serve alcohol, it’s possible that the recovering addict will find prescription medications in the bathroom cabinet. Relapse is very common, but families can help prevent it by controlling the environment.

Before traveling with a loved one with addiction, call the host and ask that all alcohol and medications be kept under lock and key. If your family will be staying at a hotel, call the front desk ahead of time to request that all alcohol be removed from the mini bar before your loved one checks in.

Having a backup plan
Since relapse is common, families should have a backup plan that they can use to help their loved one get through an urge to drink or take drugs. Designate someone whom the recovering addict trusts to stay close to your loved one during holiday get-togethers. The buddy system gives the recovering addict someone to talk to if problems occur, and the designated buddy can get your loved one out of challenging environments if the need arises.

Behavioral Health Services are available at Good Samaritan Hospital throughout the year. Our compassionate providers are committed to improving quality of life for families throughout our San Jose community. Talk to a trusted, friendly member of our nursing staff by calling (888) 724-2362.

Why is hand washing so much more important during flu season?

Flu viruses cause many of the same symptoms as colds, but influenza can be much more serious. Some patients are more susceptible to severe symptoms and potentially life-threatening complications. At Good Samaritan Hospital, we emphasize the value of preventive care for our neighbors in San Jose, and that includes reducing the spread of disease-causing germs with thorough hand washing.

The flu vaccine is effective, but not foolproof

To get ready for every flu season, virus experts identify the strains of flu virus that are most likely to be widespread in the U.S. Seasonal flu shots are developed and manufactured to protect families from these flu viruses.

Doctors recommend an annual flu shot because it’s the most effective way to avoid this serious illness. However, because the shot can’t protect patients from every possible strain of flu virus, it isn’t 100 percent foolproof. This is why emergency care doctors encourage families to continue to protect themselves in other ways, such as by washing their hands frequently.

Viruses can live outside the human body

If a person sneezes into his or her hand, you probably wouldn’t shake that hand. This is a smart way to protect yourself, but it’s still possible to contract the flu even if you avoid direct contact with sick individuals.

Flu viruses can remain active and infectious on surfaces for up to 24 hours. If an infected person opens a door and you touch the doorknob afterward, you could get these germs on your hand. In addition to washing your hands regularly, consider routinely disinfecting commonly touched surfaces in your home and workstation, such as the following:

  • Phones
  • Doorknobs
  • Refrigerator handles
  • TV remotes
  • Light switches
  • Computer devices

Hand washing protects yourself and others

When you choose to wash your hands frequently during flu season, you’re protecting your family and the community as a whole, as well as yourself. This is significant because some people are unable to safely get the flu shot, such as infants under six months of age and individuals with life-threatening egg allergies. Doing your part to reduce germ transmission is one way you can keep your neighbors safe.

Good Samaritan Hospital delivers patient-centered emergency care around the clock, every day of the year. Our compassionate doctors and nurses are committed to maintaining the highest standards of infection control in our hospital in San Jose. For information about our healthcare services, you can speak with a registered nurse at (888) 724-2362.

Are non-smokers still at risk for lung disease?

Although lung disease is often thought of as being a smoker’s problem, non-smokers can and do suffer from a variety of different conditions. Smokers still have much higher risks of being diagnosed with lung conditions, but being a non-smoker doesn’t mean you can ignore your lung health. Here is a look at some of the conditions non-smokers can still develop.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It encompasses both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The vast majority of people with COPD are smokers, but as the video explains, non-smokers are still vulnerable.

There are many factors that increase the risk of COPD in non-smokers, such as:

  • Occupational hazards, such as being routinely exposed to chemical fumes and dust
  • Secondhand smoke exposure
  • Genetic predisposition
  • GERD—Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Air pollution

Lung cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, about 20% of people who die from lung cancer are non-smokers. Based on the number of non-smokers who lose their lives to the disease, lung cancer would still be among the deadliest cancers if only non-smoker statistics were considered.

Many of the same risk factors that increase the odds of COPD also increase the risk of lung cancer, especially secondhand smoke. Some other factors that have been associated with lung cancer in non-smokers include:

  • Radon Gas
  • Asbestos
  • Gene Mutations

Pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis is an interstitial lung disease that causes scarring in the lungs and the thickening of pulmonary passageways. These changes make it difficult for oxygen to get the blood stream, which causes chronic shortness of breath.

Risk factors for non-smokers for pulmonary fibrosis are similar to COPD and lung cancer. People with these autoimmune conditions also have a greater chance of developing pulmonary fibrosis:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Scleroderma
  • Progressive systemic sclerosis
  • Polymyositis/dermatomyositis

With all forms of lung disease, early diagnosis leads to better outcomes. If you believe you could have a lung condition, contact Good Samaritan Hospital for a referral to a specialist. Our hospital in San Jose offers comprehensive care, including lung cancer screenings and cancer care. Dial (888) 724-2362 for a referral.

The least healthy Thanksgiving dishes on your table

Thanksgiving Day is packed with delicious foods, and if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet or watch your waistline, that can make sitting around the table tricky. Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice all the things you love if you’re aware of which dishes carry the most calories, fats, and sugar so you can fill up your plate wisely. These dishes are some of the worst options that traditionally get served on Thanksgiving, so think twice before reaching for them or take a smaller portion if you can’t give them up.

Fried turkey

Fried turkey is not only bad for your health—it can also leave you celebrating Thanksgiving in the ER. Frying the turkey is unnecessary, since roasted turkey is already a beloved dish. Frying mishaps are also notorious for causing house fires and severe burns that need emergency care.

If you decide to skip frying your turkey, choose your roasted turkey meat wisely. You can save a significant amount of calories by eating white meat and removing the skin.

Candied sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, so the addition of brown sugar and marshmallows isn’t really required to get the taste. Add to that the fact that many candied sweet potato recipes also have pecans and lots of butter, and you can see how the calories and fats skyrocket.

You can bring out the sweetness of roasted sweet potatoes by drizzling them with balsamic vinegar or maple syrup before roasting or adding a touch of honey and cinnamon before serving.

Pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin pie is usually considered to be the healthiest of the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but changing it into a cheesecake changes that. Adding cream cheese significantly increases the fat and calories.

For a better option, go for plain pumpkin pie or a fruit-based pie. Fruit crisps using seasonal fruits can also be a healthier choice.

Good Samaritan Hospital is here around the clock throughout the holiday season to ensure that your celebrations stay as healthy as possible. Visit us if you need emergency care in San Jose or contact us for a referral to one of our specialists if your health takes hit during the holidays. To contact our hospital, please call (888) 724-2362.

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