Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center
Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. We strive to deliver high quality, cost effective healthcare in the communities we serve.
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Ways that loneliness endangers your health

Humans are social creatures. Even the most introverted person needs to feel a connection to other people. It’s often thought that loneliness is predominantly a psychological issue. But increasingly, researchers are discovering that chronic loneliness can be associated with numerous physical health risks. Additionally, loneliness and depression often go together. If you’re experiencing these mental health challenges, you should know that life doesn’t have to be this way. Reach out for help. At Los Robles Regional Medical Center, our compassionate healthcare providers genuinely care about your quality of life, and we’ll do everything possible to support you.

Type 2 diabetes
Chronic loneliness and type 2 diabetes are linked. People who are chronically lonely and depressed may be more likely to make poor lifestyle choices, which can contribute to an increased risk of diabetes. These poor lifestyle choices may include:

  • Choosing sugary, fatty foods
  • Getting takeout or convenience food instead of preparing meals
  • Avoiding exercise
  • Having difficulty staying motivated to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight

Additionally, it’s possible that loneliness can make diabetes worse in people who already have this disease. People with depression and chronic loneliness may be less likely to monitor their blood glucose levels carefully and take their medications as directed.

Cognitive decline in the elderly
Chronic loneliness and depression are associated with changes in hormone levels and changes in gene expression. These changes may contribute to cognitive problems, especially among the elderly. Seniors who are lonely may have:

  • An increased risk of developing dementia
  • An accelerated cognitive decline
  • An increased risk of confusion and forgetfulness

More research is needed in this area, but it’s also thought that chronic loneliness may trigger systemic inflammation, which is harmful for brain health.

Increased alcohol consumption
People who are chronically lonely and depressed are more likely to self-medicate with excessive amounts of alcohol. This can lead to short-term risks, such as the potential for accidents, falls and alcohol poisoning. It may also lead to long-term health risks, such as the following:

  • Anemia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • High blood pressure
Los Robles Regional Medical Center attracts top physicians and nurses, thanks to our reputation as a patients-first hospital. We provide specialized medical services, while always maintaining our commitment to compassionate, family-centered care. Call our hospital in Thousand Oaks at (877) 888-5746.

When do you need to see a doctor for a sunburn?

There’s no such thing as a healthy tan, and the same applies to sunburn. Even a few bad sunburns can dramatically raise your lifetime risk of developing melanoma—the deadliest type of skin cancer. At Los Robles Regional Medical Center, we encourage our neighbors throughout Thousand Oaks to prioritize their health and stock up on sunscreen this summer.

When to go to a doctor for sunburn
Most cases of sunburn can be treated at home. However, you’ll need to see a doctor promptly if your sunburn covers a large area of skin or it doesn’t start getting better within two days. A doctor should also evaluate your sunburn if you experience any of the following symptoms.

  • High fever
  • Extreme pain
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Headache

Monitor the sunburn for signs of an infection, and see a doctor if you notice any of them. Signs of an infection can include:

  • Worsening pain
  • Drainage or pus
  • Red streaks on the skin
  • Worsening tenderness and swelling

What to do after developing sunburn
Once you notice that you’re developing sunburn, go inside immediately to prevent further damage. Take a cool shower or bath to cool off your skin.

Apply cool compresses to your injured skin. Take a clean cloth, dip it in cold water and wring out the excess water. Drape the cloth over your sunburned skin.

After removing the compresses, moisturize your skin while it’s still damp. Use a gentle, creamy lotion and apply liberal amounts of it to the damaged skin. Avoid using oil-based or petroleum lotions.

Unless you have medical contraindications, you could also take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to manage the discomfort and inflammation. Follow the product directions carefully.

How to help your skin recover
During the coming days, continue to monitor the sunburned skin for signs of an infection or other indicators that you need to see a doctor. Otherwise, you can continue to treat the sunburn at home by keeping your skin moisturized and staying out of the sun.

You may also find relief by applying aloe vera gel or an over-the-counter cortisone cream. Remember to drink plenty of fluids while your skin heals.

From acute injuries to chronic diseases, we can handle it all here at Los Robles Regional Medical Center. Our hospital in Thousand Oaks is a state-of-the-art medical facility that offers numerous specialty services, all delivered with an emphasis on personalized, superior care. If you’d like a referral to a doctor or specialist, call one of our friendly registered nurses at (877) 888-5746.

Is mental illness like any other illness?

The social stigma surrounding mental illnesses is nothing new. In some cultures, mental illness was perceived to be the result of demonic possession. And in decades past in America, the mentally ill were kept isolated and were subjected to ineffective or dangerous “treatments.” In recent years, there has been a shift toward the public perception that a mental illness is just like any other illness—like diabetes or heart disease. But is this a fair or even accurate representation of an incredibly broad and complex range of conditions? The concept remains controversial, but at Los Robles Regional, one thing is for certain—each of our patients always receives the compassionate, evidence-based treatments they need to live life well.

The biological basis of mental illnesses
Researchers have made amazing strides toward better understanding mental illnesses, but there’s quite a lot that’s still unknown. It’s still unknown exactly what causes depression, for instance, although there are a lot of contributing factors that can play a role. One of those factors may be low serotonin levels.

Research in this area seems to support the idea that mental illnesses can have a biological basis. But the question of what causes depression can’t be answered by low serotonin levels alone, as this provides an incomplete picture. If a biological basis alone can’t explain mental illnesses, would it be accurate to call them just like any other illness?

The risks of grouping together mental and physical illnesses
There are a few reasons why some experts have balked at the idea of classifying mental illnesses just like any other disease. One is that it implies that an individual patient’s experience with mental illness can be downplayed, but the same mental illness won’t necessarily affect two people in the same way. As an example, not everyone with depression has suicidal thoughts or would even appear to be depressed to the casual observer.

Another potential risk of this concept is that it could lead to overdependence on the medical treatments of mental illnesses, namely, medications. Some patients might be led to assume that, if their condition has a biological basis, they can exclusively use medical treatments and skip more involved, long-term interventions like psychotherapy. In fact, most providers would likely agree that a multidisciplinary approach tends to be most effective.

You’ll find highly trained and genuinely caring healthcare providers at Los Robles Regional Medical Center . Our modern medical facility in Thousand Oaks combines cutting-edge technology with a friendly, patient-focused approach. You can get in touch with a registered nurse any time of the day or night by calling (877) 888-5746.

When will your doctor recommend surgery for lower back pain?

Lower back pain can be a minor, temporary inconvenience, or it can be intensely painful and debilitating. It can also keep you from doing the things you love and enjoying your life. You deserve to live a pain-free life, so talk to your doctor about the treatment options that may help you. Depending on factors unique to you, you might be referred to an orthopedic surgeon at The Spine Program at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.

When you’ve already tried other back pain treatments
Usually, back surgery isn’t recommended as the first course of treatment. The surgeon will consider whether you’ve already tried nonsurgical treatments, like taking prescribed medications, staying active and working with a physical therapist. Patients who are overweight may also find that losing weight lessens back pain.

Discuss the other treatments you’ve tried. Ask the surgeon whether there are any other nonsurgical options still left available to you. If not, then it may be time to consider surgery.

When your doctor determines that surgery can help
Back surgery can only help you if it’s able to correct or minimize the underlying cause of your pain. For example, if your back pain is caused by a problem with an intervertebral disc, then it’s possible that disc replacement surgery may help. You can hear more about this surgery when you watch the accompanying video, which features an orthopedic surgeon who treats patients at Los Robles Regional.

When you’re healthy enough to tolerate surgery
Given that surgery is intended to improve one’s health, it seems counterintuitive that good overall health would be a requirement for having surgery. But not everyone is healthy enough to withstand the stress of surgery. Your doctor can make this decision after reviewing your full medical history and evaluating your overall lifestyle.

You may be asked to make some changes before having surgery. If you smoke, you’ll likely be asked to quit. This is because smoking increases the risk of complications both during and after surgical procedures.

You’ll receive personalized, compassionate care as a patient at The Spine Program at Los Robles Regional Medical Center . Our team of surgical specialists genuinely care about your quality of life, and will work to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. You can request a referral by speaking with a registered nurse in Thousand Oaks at (877) 888-5746.

How depression can influence stroke recovery

One of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. is stroke. Stroke care goes well beyond the Emergency Room. In fact, stroke recovery can last for years, and some stroke survivors may never fully recover from their disabilities. Many factors can influence a patient’s recovery from stroke, including how quickly the patient arrived at the Emergency Room at Los Robles Regional Medical Center—a Comprehensive Stroke Center. Mental health is another factor that can affect a patient’s recovery.

The prevalence of post-stroke depression
Stroke rehabilitation programs are comprehensive, involving treatment modalities like physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and nutritional guidance. And in many cases, it should also include behavioral healthcare.

Post-stroke depression is quite common, and it may be underdiagnosed. According to the National Stroke Association, over one-third of all stroke survivors may develop post-stroke depression. Every patient’s experience with depression is a little different, but many report these associated emotions:

  • Hopelessness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety

The consequences of post-stroke depression
Stroke survivors are at an increased risk of suffering a recurrent stroke. To combat this problem, specialists can incorporate preventive medical interventions and lifestyle modifications into the stroke rehabilitation program. These often include:

  • Doctor-approved exercise
  • Dietician-designed meal plan
  • Smoking cessation
  • Alcohol abstinence or moderation

The problem with post-stroke depression, other than the fact that it lowers quality of life, is that patients with depression often have trouble following through on healthy lifestyle changes. It’s challenging to find the motivation to exercise or prepare a healthy meal when feelings of hopelessness and sadness persist.

Post-stroke depression can even exacerbate other problems that linger after a stroke, such as:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Incontinence

The coping strategies for post-stroke depression
It’s important for family members of stroke survivors to be aware of the potential signs of post-stroke depression, and to encourage the survivor to talk to the doctor or a counselor. Depression isn’t easy to cope with, especially with the combined challenges of stroke rehabilitation, but there are many talented healthcare providers who are ready and eager to help stroke survivors. Some coping strategies include:

  • Support groups
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Social engagement
  • Realistic goal-setting
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Medications, including antidepressants, may also be appropriate for some stroke survivors.

Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks is Ventura County’s first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center . If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911 immediately—don’t try to drive yourself to the Emergency Room. General questions about our superior, patient-centered medical services can be directed to a registered nurse at (877) 888-5746.

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