• Are breast self-exams necessary?

    You may already know about the importance of screening mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. But there’s another important step you can take to protect your health, and it doesn’t require an appointment. A breast self-exam is your own examination of your breasts to check for potential abnormalities. However, the recommendation in favor of monthly breast self-exams is debatable. If you aren’t sure whether it’s a good idea for you, a doctor at Los Robles Regional Medical Center can offer personalized medical guidance.

    Potential value of breast self-exams
    It’s thought that breast self-exams may support the earlier detection of abnormalities like lumps. Some breast cancers are found through detection by the patients themselves, rather than screening tests conducted at the hospital. That’s why some doctors still recommend breast self-exams when done in combination with screening mammograms.

    Possible downsides of breast self-exams
    There is evidence to suggest that breast self-exams don’t actually increase early detection rates or reduce breast cancer mortality rates. And in some cases, it’s possible for them to do more harm than good when patients undergo unnecessary biopsies.

    Instead, some health providers recommend breast self-awareness. This refers to having a good understanding of how your breasts generally look and feel in order to detect unusual changes.

    Best practices in breast self-exams
    If you are thinking of doing a breast self-exam, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. He or she can show you the proper method for performing a self-exam.

    Know that it’s natural for the breasts to change over time. Before and during your menstrual period, your breasts may naturally feel lumpy, swollen, tender and painful. They may also feel lumpy during pregnancy.

    If you decide to do a breast self-exam every month, you can write down your findings. Make a note of where your breasts feel lumpier, for example. This can help you keep track of changes.

    Breast Center at Los Robles Regional Medical Center is focused on saving lives through preventive medicine, early detection, advanced treatment and healthy survivorship. Our state-of-the-art hospital in Thousand Oaks puts our patients first because healthy patients mean stronger communities. Call a registered nurse at (877) 888-5746 for general information about our breast care services.

  • 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.

  • Understanding what nurses do in the hospital

    Nurses are the backbone of the hospital. They are rigorously educated and trained professionals who work in every department—from the Emergency Room to the surgical suites. Nurses provide a full spectrum of services for patients, ranging from patient assessments to education to discharge coordination. Los Robles Regional Medical Center would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our dedicated nursing staff.

    Patient assessments
    Nurses are some of the busiest people in the hospital. They’re always on their feet, moving from patient to patient. But while they’re with any given patient, nurses put their full focus on that individual.

    Nurses are often responsible for assessing patients. They can do physical exams, take health histories and communicate with patients to get detailed information about the nature of their medical complaint.

    Patients who are hospitalized require periodic, ongoing assessments. Nurses who work with the inpatient population will make scheduled rounds. During each patient visit, the nurse will chart the patient’s vital signs, make a note of any abnormalities and perhaps adjust medications if necessary.

    Patient care
    A great deal of the care patients receive in the hospital is provided by the nursing staff.

    During a typical day, a hospitalized patient might need assistance getting out of bed or repositioned in bed. He or she may need toileting assistance, feeding assistance and linen changes. Nurses also provide wound care, administer medications and follow through on any doctor-ordered changes to the patient’s treatment plan.

    Patient counseling and education
    Nursing is arguably as much of an art as it is a science. The profession draws genuinely caring individuals who know how to connect with people. Part of a nurse’s typical day is devoted to counseling and educating patients about the following issues:

    • What the diagnosis means
    • What the treatment options are
    • The benefits and risks of the treatment options
    • What the medications do and how they are taken
    • How to provide self-care at home

    Nurses also routinely update family members about patients who are critically ill or recovering from surgery. They offer a shoulder to lean on when families are dealing with very difficult situations.

    Each nurse at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks is a highly compassionate individual who works tirelessly to support our patients’ health. We invite you to explore our Nursing Recognition Program , which allows patients to nominate an extraordinary nurse who went above and beyond the call of duty. If you’d like to speak with a friendly member of our nursing staff, you can call (877) 888-5746.

  • How autism can influence your child’s health

    Autism is a difficult developmental disorder to manage. And sometimes, children with autism also have co-existing health problems. You can count on the caring physicians and nurses at Los Robles Regional Medical Center to direct your family to the resources you need. Your child may also be referred to a specialist at our hospital.

    Sleep disorders
    One problem many parents encounter is the difficulty convincing a child with autism to stay in bed and go to sleep. Some parents have to bring their child back to bed multiple times each night. Some children with autism experience frequent nighttime awakenings, or they awaken far too early in the morning.

    A child’s sleep disorder can affect the entire family’s health. For both the child and the other family members, sleep deprivation can result in:

    • Poor concentration
    • Daytime sleepiness
    • Decline in immune function
    • Poor judgment

    Additionally, children with autism who are sleep deprived are more likely to display hyperactivity, aggressive behaviors and inattentiveness.

    Gastrointestinal disorders
    A diagnosis of gastrointestinal problems often goes hand-in-hand with an autism diagnosis. Children with autism are more likely to suffer from the following:

    • Chronic constipation
    • Chronic diarrhea
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • Food sensitivities

    In addition, many children with autism are extremely selective eaters. Some of them will only consume a very limited list of foods.

    Picky eating can result in nutritional deficiencies, which may worsen gastrointestinal symptoms. A deficiency of fiber in a child’s diet , for example, can exacerbate chronic constipation.

    Anxiety disorders
    Every child deserves to have a happy and healthy childhood. But many children with autism suffer from anxiety. Some common anxiety problems include:

    • Social phobia
    • Excessive worry
    • Separation anxiety
    • Extreme phobias
    • Obsessive compulsive disorder

    Behavioral interventions can help children with anxiety disorders learn how to manage their symptoms.

    At every stage of life, Los Robles Regional Medical Center is your family’s partner in health. From our Emergency Room to our pediatrics services, we focus on providing superior, family-centered care that improves quality of life. Call a registered nurse in Thousand Oaks at (877) 888-5746 to request a physician referral.

  • Should you be worried about a UTI?

    Urinary tract infections are most common in women. In fact, over half of all women will get UTI symptoms at least once during their lifetime. This type of infection may affect any part of the urinary system, including the bladder, kidneys, ureter and urethra. Occasionally, a UTI can lead to serious complications. You’ll find the effective treatment you need at Los Robles Regional and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.

    Symptoms of UTIs
    Watch the accompanying video to hear a urologist at Los Robles Regional explain some of the symptoms of urinary tract infections. Patients with UTIs may experience any of the following:

    • Increased urination frequency
    • Urgent urination
    • Urinating small amounts at a time
    • Bloody or cloudy urination
    • Itching in the genital region
    • Painful or burning urination
    • Urinary incontinence
    • Foul-smelling urine

    In addition, some patients with UTIs may experience pain in the back, side or lower abdomen. Older patients may experience symptoms that seem to be unrelated to the urinary system, such as confusion, fatigue, problems walking or loss of appetite. If you think you have a UTI, your doctor may confirm the diagnosis and treat it.

    Complications of UTIs
    Complications of urinary tract infections aren’t common, but they are serious when they occur. The bacteria that cause UTIs may enter the kidneys, causing symptoms like:

    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Severe lower back pain

    Seek medical care promptly if you think you might have a kidney infection.

    Treatment for UTIs
    Most UTIs are easily treated with a course of antibiotics. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, always finish the full course of treatment, even after you start feeling better.

    If you have a kidney infection, an ER physician may need to admit you to the hospital for IV antibiotics and fluids.

    Women choose Los Robles Regional Medical Center because of our commitment to patient-centered, compassionate care. Our women’s health specialists in Thousand Oaks provide a full range of pelvic health and gynecologic urology services to help you live life to the fullest. If you’d like to learn more about our urology services, a registered nurse is available to help you at (877) 888-5746.

  • Why you should choose to walk more often

    If cardiologists could prescribe exercise, they definitely would. Walking works muscles all over your body, including your heart muscle. By choosing to lead an active lifestyle, you may lower your risk of high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels and heart disease. If you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart health problem, you can talk to a cardiologist at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center before starting a new exercise routine.

    Benefits of walking routines
    If you enjoy running and can do it safely, then by all means continue to run. But many people at risk of heart disease shy away from exercise because running just isn’t right for them. If you belong to the latter group, you may be happy to know that the American Heart Association wholeheartedly endorses moderate-intensity walking routines to protect heart health .

    The American Heart Association took a look at a research study that analyzed data from over 33,000 runners and over 15,000 walkers. The results indicated that both walkers and runners had a comparable reduction in the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and possibly coronary heart disease. The improvements in health applied to moderate-intensity walking and vigorous-intensity running.

    Tips for starting a walking routine
    Walking is safe exercise for most people, but you can always check with your doctor if you’re concerned about a pre-existing health condition. Wear a pair of comfortable, supportive athletic shoes. Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water, especially during the hot summer months.

    If you’re having trouble getting motivated, it might help to avoid timing yourself. Just take a stroll around a park or head for a nature trail. Deliberately not timing yourself can help you see walking as an enjoyable activity, rather than a chore.

    As your endurance builds, start timing yourself. Try to walk faster for longer periods, and choose routes with hills for a greater challenge.

    Los Robles Cardiac and Cardiovascular Center has provided high-quality heart health services for more than four decades. Our heart hospital is nationally recognized for leading the way in cutting-edge cardiology interventions, but we also pride ourselves on our compassionate, individualized approach. Thousand Oaks residents can call (877) 888-5746 for general information about cardiology services at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center.

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