• How to tell when a mole is cancerous

    Most moles are harmless, but it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on them. If the appearance of a mole changes or if you develop any other suspicious-looking growths on the skin, your doctor can perform a thorough skin exam to check for melanoma. In the event that you are diagnosed with skin cancer, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Comprehensive Cancer Program offers superior, patient-focused care.

    Know how to spot skin abnormalities

    There’s an easy way to know if a mole is abnormal or not. Compare it to the ABCDEs of skin cancer.

    Asymmetry: If you compare the two halves of a potentially cancerous mole, they might not match.

    Border: The borders of a harmless mole are even and smooth. Melanomas often have uneven borders that might look notched or scalloped.

    Color: Harmless moles are typically a uniform color. Moles that have multiple colors or shades should be examined by a doctor.

    Diameter: Potentially cancerous moles might be small initially, but they may later grow larger than the diameter of a pencil eraser.

    Evolving: Harmless moles stay the same over time. If a mole begins to evolve in appearance, it’s time to see a doctor.

    Perform a skin self-exam

    Doctors generally recommend performing a skin self-exam once per month and having a skin cancer screening during your annual exam . After bathing, stand in front of a large wall mirror and have a handheld mirror handy. Keep the ABCDEs of skin cancer in mind while you examine the following areas:

    • Fronts and backs of the legs and arms

    • Tops and undersides of the hands and feet

    • Between your toes and fingers

    • Face, shoulders, neck and scalp

    • Behind the ears

    • Front and sides of your torso

    • Back and buttocks

    You may need to have a partner or family member help you check areas that are hard to see. Make a note of any moles you see and keep track of their appearance over time.

    Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose provides unique cancer care services, including our Survivorship Program. Our highly trained physicians and nurses choose to work at our hospital because of our unparalleled reputation for putting our patients first. Call us today at (888) 724-2362 and let us know how we can help you live life well.

  • What to do if you’re bitten by a snake

    More than two dozen species of snakes make their home in California. Several of the snakes you might see in the San Jose area are venomous, including the Western diamondback rattlesnake and Mojave Desert sidewinder. A bite from a snake that might be venomous is a serious problem that requires emergency care. In San Jose, the emergency care team at Good Samaritan Hospital is fully equipped to handle all medical emergencies, including snake bites .

    Remain calm

    As frightening as a snake bite can be, it’s important to stay calm. After getting away from the snake, remain as still as possible. Excessive movement can encourage the spread of venom through your body .

    Take a picture of the snake

    When you watch this featured video, you’ll hear from an emergency care physician at Good Samaritan Hospital. He explains that it’s a good idea to take a picture of the snake, but warns against putting yourself in further danger. If you can’t safely take a picture, skip this step and instead try to remember what the snake looks like.

    Seek emergency care

    If you aren’t sure whether the snake is venomous, it’s best to err on the side of caution and seek emergency care. Call 911 instead of trying to drive to the hospital. Snake venom can compromise your ability to drive safely, such as by causing the following symptoms:

    • Dizziness

    • Vision disturbances

    • Numbness

    • Vomiting

    • Breathing problems

    Initiate first aid for the snake bite

    While you’re waiting for the ambulance, you can sit or lie down. However, it’s important to keep the bitten body part below the level of your heart. If you have a clean, dry cloth or bandage, you can cover the bite.

    Know what not to do after a snake bite

    Knowing what not to do for a snake bite is just as important as knowing what to do. Do not do any of the following:

    • Don’t apply a tourniquet

    • Don’t suck out the venom

    • Don’t apply ice

    • Don’t soak the wound in water

    • Don’t consume alcohol or caffeinated beverages

    If you have any doubts about what you should or shouldn’t do, the 911 dispatcher can help you.

  • What does stress do to your health?

    Juggling work responsibilities, family obligations, financial matters and social commitments can become overwhelming. Chronic stress can negatively affect your mental and physical health, including your cardiac health. For many people, stress seems to be an inevitable part of life—but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can regain control with the resources available at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. The specialists at our hospital offer superior care for those in need of behavioral health services and cardiac care.

    Behavioral health

    Chronic stress is closely linked to some mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety disorders. Although stress is separate from these disorders, experiencing chronic stress may increase your risk of developing them. Stress can affect your behavioral health in other ways, such as by increasing the risk of substance abuse. Some people self-medicate with alcohol or drugs, but this only worsens the problem and may even lead to an emergency visit to the hospital.

    Heart health

    The cardiovascular system is comprised of the heart and blood vessels. It is highly susceptible to the effects of stress. Short-term stress causes the heart rate and blood pressure levels to rise. When the stressful situation is over, the cardiovascular system returns to normal. Unfortunately, chronic stress can take a heavy toll on the heart and blood vessels. Long-term stress can contribute to the following problems:

    • High blood pressure
    • Heart attack
    • Stroke
    • Artery wall damage

    A person’s heart health can suffer even more when stress causes the following behaviors:

    • Smoking cigarettes
    • Consuming alcohol to excess
    • Neglecting to exercise
    • Neglecting to eat well

    Gastrointestinal system

    You may have noticed that when you’re especially stressed out, your stomach responds in an unpleasant way. Stress can contribute to the following gastrointestinal problems:

    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Stomach pain

    If you respond to stress by overeating or by consuming alcohol, you may be more susceptible to severe heartburn pain.

    At Good Samaritan Hospital, it’s our mission to help our neighbors in San Jose live life well. We’re proud to offer community resources to support your health, including our mindfulness-based stress reduction program, which has helped hundreds of people in our community. Call a registered nurse at our hospital at (888) 724-2362 to request general information about our medical specialties.

  • What Are Some Common Causes of Skin Allergies?

    There are a number of different triggers for skin allergies , and these vary from person-to-person. In some cases, these reactions can be easily managed at home, while in other cases, emergency care may be necessary. Here is a closer look at some common skin allergies triggers and what you should do if you experience symptoms.

    Poison ivy is the plant most people think of when they think of skin rashes, but a number of plants contain oils that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Plants can cause raised and flat rashes, sores that weep, itching, and blisters. These types of rashes are often made worse when people touch them and then touch another part of the body, spreading the irritating oils. These kinds of skin rashes are often manageable at home, but if the face is affected, the rash is painful or has bumps that appear infected, or covers a large portion of the body, seek emergency care. As Dr. David Feldman of Good Samaritan Hospital explains in this video , you should get emergency care any time you are concerned about the symptoms of an allergic reaction, even if you aren’t sure how serious it is.

    If you have a food allergy, exposure to the allergen could cause skin symptoms. Hives and skin rashes are most common with food allergies, and they are generally in response to eggs, milk, nuts, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy. Food allergies can be especially serious, as they can lead to anaphylaxis, so seek emergency care if you experience a reaction.

    Sometimes, a medication can cause a skin allergy. Topical medications are common culprits, but oral medications can also be to blame. These kinds of skin allergies can include rashes and hives. As with food allergies, the reactions can be serious and may require medical care.

    Don’t suffer in silence with a skin allergy or other allergic reactions. Visit the ER at Good Samaritan Hospital for acute care or call our hospital in San Jose to get a referral to an allergy specialist for chronic conditions. You can reach out hospital by calling (888) 724-2362.