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.

How to Get Rid of Expired or Unused Medications

Whether you have leftover pain medications from spine surgery or unused antibiotics from your trip to the hospital for emergency care, how you get rid of those medications matters. Safe medication disposal prevents the drugs from being accidentally consumed by children and pets and keeps them out of the hands of people who may abuse them. If you have unused medications, here are some tips for disposing of them properly.

Medicine Take-Back Programs
The safest way to get rid of medicines is to turn them in to a medicine take-back program. To find a program in your area, ask your pharmacist or call your city’s trash and recycling service. You can also look for a take-back program near you online or call a poison control center. These services can take your medications off your hands and ensure they are disposed of in the right way, so you don’t have to worry about them being in your house any longer.

Household Trash
Most people think of tossing unused medicine in their trashcans, but doing so does carry some risk. Pets and children may be able to get into your trash and take the medicines. To reduce the risk of poisoning to your children and pets, mix your unused medicine to something that is not likely to get eaten, such as used coffee grounds, and then put the mixture in a sealed bag or container in your trashcan. If you are throwing away a pill bottle, be sure to scratch all of your personal information off of the label.

Flushing Down the Sink or Toilet
Some medicines are too dangerous to risk putting in the trash, such as pain patches and pills. For these medications, flushing them down the sink or toilet will get them out of our house right away and ensure that no one can take them accidentally or abuse them.

If you are unsure what to do with unused medications, ask your West Hills Hospital & Medical Center doctor for advice. Get answers to all of your questions about our hospital in West Hills and our comprehensive services, including cancer care and our burn center, by calling (818) 676-4321.

Preventing Sinus Infections During Flu Season

When you have a cold or the flu, a sinus infection is a common complication. Although a sinus infection may not be as severe as other flu complications that require emergency care, like chest pain or shortness of breath, it can be extremely uncomfortable and prolong the amount of time you miss from work or school. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of a sinus infection. Try these tips to keep sinus infections at bay.

Stay Hydrated
Hydration is critical to overcoming most illnesses you contract. When it comes to sinus infections, proper hydration may help you avoid the infection completely. Drinking plenty of fluids every day helps to keep the fluid in your nasal passages thin, so that it doesn’t thicken and trap bacteria that can lead to an infection. If you already have a cold or the flu, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to speed your recovery and reduce the chances that you’ll get a sinus infection.

Treat Nasal Congestion
If you experience nasal congestion, treat it as soon as possible to prevent a sinus infection from developing. The longer your nasal passages stay congested, the more likely it is for bacteria to become trapped. Try treating your stuffy nose with an over-the-counter decongestant, and remember to drink extra fluids when taking a decongestant, as these medications can make you dehydrated. If the decongestant isn’t effective, see your doctor.

Try Nasal Irrigation
In this video, Dr. Alen Cohen, an ENT at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, recommends that patients try nasal irrigation to prevent sinus infections. Using a neti pot or other natural irrigation system cleans dust, bacteria, and other irritants from the sinuses so that they can’t cause prolonged inflammation and infections.

If you do experience a sinus infection, the physicians at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center are here to help. From emergency care in West Hills in our ER to cold and flu treatments from our physicians, we are ready to provide the care your entire family needs. Request a referral to one of our providers by calling (818) 676-4321.

Helping Older Adults Prevent Fall-Related Injuries

Seniors are susceptible to disabling and life-threatening falls for several reasons. Age is often accompanied by a reduction in coordination, balance, flexibility, and vision. Seniors are also at an increased risk of falls caused by dizziness from medications or complications from chronic medical conditions. Falls can cause serious injuries that might not be apparent right away, which means that some seniors might not seek emergency care. Here at West Hills Hospital, our emergency care team encourages seniors in our community to take steps to prevent falls and to seek medical attention when needed.

Conduct a Home Safety Assessment
Many falls occur because the home environment has not been modified to accommodate a senior’s changing needs. Ask your aging relative for permission to walk through the home and look for areas that require safety upgrades. The home should have adequate lighting inside and outside. Sturdy handrails should accompany all steps and the flooring should not be uneven. Help your loved one fix these problems if you notice them. Install grab bars in the bathroom next to the toilet and inside the bathtub.

Assist with Medication Management
A wide range of medications can contribute to dizziness and seniors often take multiple medications. Ask your loved one to review his or her medications with a family physician and find out if any of them might contribute to a fall. The doctor should also know about non-prescription drugs that may contain sleep aids. Help your loved one avoid an accidental overdose by providing an automatic medication dispenser.

Offer Transportation to Appointments
Some seniors might avoid getting needed check-ups because they no longer drive. Offer to take your loved one to the eye doctor for a vision exam or to a physical therapist to work on balance and strength.

Research Remote Aid Options
Despite taking these steps to prevent a fall, it’s also important to make sure your loved one can get emergency care in the event an accident does occur. Help your loved one research options for a personal safety alert system. If your loved one does fall, he or she can simply press the alarm button to summon emergency responders.

If you or your loved one has fallen, please seek emergency care promptly to check for internal damage. In addition to our emergency care services, West Hills Hospital is a leading provider of joint replacement surgery. You can speak with a registered nurse in West Hills by calling (818) 676-4321.

Staying Safe Every Way You Travel This Holiday Season

Countless Americans plan to hit the roads, board a train, or take off in a plane to visit with loved ones this holiday season. If you’re one of them, taking a few simple precautions can help you stay healthy while you travel. In the event that you do require emergency care in the West Hills area, you can count on West Hills Hospital to provide high-quality, 24/7 emergency care.

Consider Talking to Your Doctor
Certain patients may wish to consult their family physicians before embarking on a trip, especially when traveling by air. Individuals with heart disease and women who are pregnant, for example, would be well advised to seek medical clearance before flying. New parents may also wish to speak with their doctors about bringing infants on a plane, particularly if a child has a respiratory condition.

Prevent the Spread of Germs
Infectious diseases are always a concern regardless of the method of travel. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, and make sure your children follow suit. If you’ll be traveling via train or plane, bring some hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. As soon as you get settled in, wipe the armrests, tray, and similar items around your seat. If you have a compromised immune system, it’s advisable to only consume bottled water. The water filtration systems in airplanes have been improved, but germs are still a concern. Similarly, use bottled water to brush your teeth on a plane and, after washing your hands following your use of the facilities, rub on some hand sanitizer.

Reduce the Risk of Blood Clots
Blood clots are a risk when a person is immobile for prolonged periods of time. Families traveling by car should plan frequent rest stops to walk around and stretch. Switching drivers if possible is also a good choice. While on a plane or train, get up frequently to walk in the aisles. While seated, squeezing your calf muscles can help get your blood moving. If you have poor circulation or a history of blood clots, consider speaking with your doctor about wearing compression stockings or socks during your travels.

Exceptional emergency care is just part of what we do here at West Hills Hospital. For years, families throughout the West Hills area have turned to us for compassionate cancer care, maternity health services, and orthopedics. You can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321.

How Stress Can Make You Sick

It’s perfectly normal to experience stress now and then, such as when a major medical problem arises or when one’s schedule gets hectic. But stress isn’t always benign. Chronic stress, often referred to as toxic stress, can exact a heavy toll on one’s overall health. If you have concerns about your health and you live in the West Hills area, consider speaking with one of the dedicated providers at West Hills Hospital.

Understanding the Stress Response
When a person encounters a stressor or perceived threat, the body rapidly goes through a series of physiological responses and hormonal changes that are intended to facilitate survival by enabling the person to fight or flee. This is known as the “fight or flight” response or stress response. The stress response is beneficial when people do face dire situations. Unfortunately, individuals experience the stress response to everyday stressors such as traffic jams, family tension, and workplace problems. The repeated activation of the stress response can contribute to ill health effects.

Assessing the Problems of Long-Term Stress
The activation of the stress response triggers the release of nerve chemicals and hormones that increase respiration, heart rate, and pulse. The brain begins to use more oxygen and the muscles tense up. These physiological changes are problematic on a long-term basis because certain bodily functions are suppressed, including the immune, digestive, reproductive, and excretory systems. The elevation of the hormones cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline also cause harmful changes. Adrenaline increases blood pressure. Cortisol encourages undesirable blood vessel changes increases appetite, and triggers the body to store more belly fat.

Identifying Specific Health Consequences
All of these alterations in proper bodily function can have a range of health consequences. Not everyone will experience the same consequences to the same degree, but in general, chronic stress is thought to contribute to overweight and obesity, frequent infections, heart disease, stroke, anxiety disorders, and clinical depression.

West Hills Hospital is your family’s partner in wellness this holiday season. Our fully equipped hospital in West Hills is a leading provider of emergency care, cancer care, maternity health services, and many other specialties. For general information about our lines of service, you can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (818) 676-4321 or browse our website.

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