West Hills Hospital & Medical Center
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is your community resource for better health. We have the capability and expertise to perform emergency open heart procedures, perform brain and spine surgery.

Can you treat IBS at home?

Irritable bowel syndrome is painful and uncomfortable, but fortunately, it doesn’t result in any permanent damage. When you speak with your doctor, let him or her know how long you’ve had symptoms and how severe they are. IBS typically causes abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. The gastroenterology team at West Hills Hospital can develop an IBS management plan that you can follow at home.

Making changes to your diet
Certain foods can make your symptoms worse. Your gastroenterologist may ask you to keep a food diary and a symptom log to determine which foods are your triggers. If you need to follow dietary restrictions, consider speaking with a registered dietician to ensure your meal plan still has all the necessary nutrients.

Some of the most common IBS triggers include:

  • Fatty foods
  • Spicy foods
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Legumes
  • Dairy products
  • Sweetening agents
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

Managing diarrhea
Chronic diarrhea causes dehydration, so it’s important to sip water throughout the day. Eating the following foods may help:

  • Bananas
  • White rice
  • Peeled, mashed potatoes
  • Baked or broiled chicken
  • Chicken broth

Vegetables are an essential part of your diet. To reduce the possibility of vegetables triggering your symptoms, you should peel them, remove the seeds and cook them.

Managing constipation
Your gastroenterologist may recommend that you take a fiber supplement or stool softener. You can also include the following foods in your diet to help stimulate bowel movement.

  • Prune juice
  • Dried fruit (like dried apricots)
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Whole grain cereals and breads

Drink plenty of water to help ease constipation.

Reducing gas and bloating
Your food diary can help you identify foods that trigger gas and bloating. These commonly include:

  • Beans
  • Dairy products
  • Beverages with fructose or sorbitol

Your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter gas remedy. If the problem is caused by dairy products, you can switch to dairy-free alternatives or take a lactase enzyme product when eating dairy.

Gastroenterological disorders like IBS are one of our specialties here at West Hills Hospital . We provide the compassionate, individualized care you need to support your health. Call our hospital in West Hills at (818) 676-4321 for general information.

What happens in the lab? Common medical tests

A diagnosis can’t always be made solely by reviewing symptoms and doing a physical exam. Emergency care doctors may request certain lab tests to check for problems like infections. Primary care doctors may also request lab tests or medical images, either for screening or diagnostic purposes. Watch the accompanying video to hear the Director of Women’s Diagnostics at West Hills Hospital talk about one common screening and diagnostic exam used to check for breast abnormalities.

Complete blood count
A CBC is a comprehensive blood test that may be requested in the Emergency Room or in a primary care setting. This test measures many aspects of a patient’s blood, including the following:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hematocrit

A CBC can be used to diagnose many different problems, including:

  • Anemia
  • Immune system diseases
  • Blood cancers
  • Infections

Metabolic panel
A metabolic panel refers to a group of tests that let doctors evaluate the body’s metabolism and chemical balance. A basic metabolic panel checks a patient’s calcium, blood glucose, kidney function and electrolytes. A complete metabolic panel tests everything that the BMP does, in addition to the patient’s protein levels, liver function and cholesterol.

Influenza test
If you visit the Emergency Room because of flu-like symptoms, your healthcare provider may ask you to have an influenza test. Usually, the test is performed by swabbing the throat or nose with a sterile swab. The sample of cells is sent to the lab for analysis.

Bacteria cultures
Bacteria culture tests allow doctors to identify whether a patient has a certain infection. This group of tests may require a sample of blood, urine or skin to test in the lab.

A throat culture, for example, checks for strep throat. A sputum culture evaluates mucus from the lungs for signs of respiratory infections like bacterial pneumonia or bronchitis.

West Hills Hospital is a modern, state-of-the-art healthcare facility that offers a complete range of diagnostic services. Delivering exceptional, patient-focused care matters to us because our doctors and nurses live and work in the same West Hills community as your family. Call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321 to request a physician referral.

What you need to understand about your blood pressure

Each time you visit the hospital, the doctor or nurse will check your blood pressure. Recording your blood pressure at each medical appointment allows your doctor to evaluate the changes in your blood pressure over time. It’s normal for blood pressure to fluctuate slightly throughout the day, but substantial changes can be cause for concern. If you have any questions about your cardiovascular health, the providers at West Hills Hospital are here to help.

Blood pressure basics

Your blood pressure is the force exerted against the blood vessel walls as blood flows through them. Be a proactive patient, and ask your healthcare provider if your blood pressure readings are within the normal range.

  • Normal: Less than 120 over 80
  • Elevated: 120 to 129 over less than 80
  • Stage one hypertension: 130 to 139 over 80 to 89
  • Stage two hypertension: 140 or higher over 90 or higher

If your blood pressure isn’t ideal, your doctor can help you learn how to manage it.

Blood pressure fluctuations

When you watch the accompanying video, you’ll hear an internal medicine specialist at West Hills Hospital discuss the risks of significant fluctuations in blood pressure. Irregular blood pressure can be difficult to diagnose, since you may have periods of normal blood pressure, followed by wild fluctuations.

Unfortunately, irregular blood pressure can cause damage to the blood vessels. When the blood pressure drops, blood clots are more likely to form. This increases the risk of stroke.

Chronic high blood pressure

Chronic high blood pressure, without major fluctuations, is also dangerous for your health. When it’s left untreated, it can cause damage to your blood vessels and heart. Since hypertension doesn’t have symptoms, you won’t know that you have it unless you see your doctor.

Over time, chronic high blood pressure can increase the risk of:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Aneurysm
  • Heart failure
  • Vision loss
  • Kidney problems

The good news is that you can successfully manage your blood pressure with help from your doctor.

West Hills Regional Heart & Vascular Institute is among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the U.S. regarding response times for heart attack patients. Please call 911 right away if you need emergency care for a possible cardiovascular event. Or, to request a physician referral, you can call West Hills Hospital at (818) 676-4321.

Do you know your diabetes risk?

An estimated 7.2 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, but unaware that they have it. Tens of millions more are living with prediabetes, which can progress to diabetes. If you’ve never had a diabetes screening before, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with your blood glucose level. The American Diabetes Association has designated each fourth Tuesday in March as Diabetes Alert Day. It’s intended to be a wake-up call that encourages individuals to visit their local hospital to get screened. At West Hills Hospital, you’ll receive the superior medical care you need and the compassionate guidance you deserve.

Family history
Let your doctor know if you have any biological relatives with diabetes. Your risk could be elevated if the disease tends to run in your family.

Personal history
If you’re a woman of reproductive age, you should be aware of the possibility of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes typically resolves after childbirth, provided it’s managed properly. However, having a prior history of this disease can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.

You may also be at a higher risk if you gave birth to a baby weighing nine or more pounds.

Type 2 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed among individuals age 45 and older. As you grow older, your pancreatic islet function starts to decline.

This means your pancreas can’t produce as much insulin as before. Additionally, insulin resistance can worsen with age, particularly with unhealthy lifestyle decisions.

Medical conditions
Your doctor should know about all of your previously diagnosed medical conditions. Some of them might increase your risk of diabetes, even if they seem unrelated. For example, you could be at a higher risk if you have any of the following:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High triglyceride level
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Prior stroke
  • Depression
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Depression

Lifestyle choices
Although some of the risk factors of diabetes aren’t modifiable, many of them are. You can improve your management of pre-existing medical conditions with help from your physician.

Your doctor can also help you improve your lifestyle choices. Poor diet and lack of exercise are risk factors, but making small changes over time can make a big difference in your health.

At every stage of life, West Hills Hospital is your partner in health. Your doctor will work closely with you to help you manage your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes. Call (818) 676-4321 to request a physician referral from a registered nurse at our hospital in West Hills.

Guidelines for living with MS

Multiple sclerosis is a devastating diagnosis to cope with. This disease, which can be disabling, affects the central nervous system. MS occurs when the immune system damages the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers. As the nerves themselves become damaged, functional impairments develop. Living with MS isn’t easy, but at West Hills Hospital, you can receive compassionate and supportive care from healthcare providers who are genuinely concerned about your quality of life. Whatever challenges you face with MS, we’re here to help.

Making physical health decisions
Multiple sclerosis isn’t yet curable. Your doctor can help you manage your symptoms. You’ll also learn about the effects of healthy lifestyle decisions on the progression of your disease.

You can work toward optimum health despite MS by:

  • Eating nutritionally balanced meals
  • Exercising with the guidance of your doctor
  • Quitting smoking or not starting
  • Avoiding secondhand smoke
  • Limiting alcohol use

Developing emotional resiliency
Emotional resiliency is particularly important for patients with chronic diseases. When you take care of your emotional health, you are:

  • More likely to make healthy lifestyle decisions
  • Better able to manage chronic stress
  • Better able to maintain healthy relationships
  • More likely to enjoy higher quality of life

Be mindful of your mood, and talk to your doctor if you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing persistent or severe mental health issues. You could consider speaking with a counselor. Reach out to your loved ones for support, and don’t be shy about speaking up when you need help.

Supporting your cognitive health
Many patients with MS will experience some degree of decline in cognitive functioning. Over time, you may start to notice some issues with your memory and attention.

Fortunately, enhancing your cognitive health is as easy as playing fun games, like crossword puzzles, brain teasers and Sudoku puzzles. Other ways of stimulating your brain include:

  • Reading
  • Creative writing
  • Card games
  • Social activities
At any time of the day or night, you can connect with a registered nurse at West Hills Hospital. Call (818) 676-4321, or browse the helpful health information available in our online library. Although there is no cure for MS, our team of highly trained doctors and nurses is committed to helping you live life well.

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