• 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.

  • What to Do If Winter Brings on Sinusitis

    The human skull contains hollow cavities known as sinuses. Sometimes, the tissue lining these hollow spaces can become inflamed. This condition is called sinusitis and it is often associated with infections. Occasionally developing sinusitis is not generally a cause for concern. However, if you experience severe symptoms, prolonged symptoms, or frequently recurring symptoms, you might consider speaking with a physician at West Hills Hospital. Watch this video, which features one of our sinus surgeons, to learn the importance of treating chronic sinusitis to prevent serious complications.

    Supportive Care
    Many cases of sinusitis are acute, rather than chronic, and most of these patients can successfully recover with supportive care. If you have mild, acute sinusitis, you can help your body fight the infection by getting plenty of rest and staying well hydrated. You can improve your comfort by using a sterile saline nasal rinse, applying warm compresses, and taking over-the-counter decongestants if need be.

    If your symptoms are severe and they are caused by a bacterial infection, your doctor might consider prescribing an antibiotic. If you do take an antibiotic, it’s crucial to finish taking the entire course of the prescribed medicine, even if you start feeling better sooner than this. Doctors may sometimes prescribe powerful anti-inflammatory drugs on a short-term basis or an antifungal medication if the infection is fungal in nature.

    For some people, chronic sinusitis is triggered by allergens. You might be referred to an allergy specialist to learn how to reduce your exposure to allergens and discuss immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, which consists of injections, can help reduce the body’s sensitivity to allergens.

    Sinusitis surgery might be recommended if your symptoms are severe, recurrent, or might place you at risk of complications. If conservative treatments haven’t worked, a sinus surgeon may perform endoscopic surgery to clear away nasal polyps or other obstructive tissues, and perhaps to enlarge a sinus opening to support better drainage.

    Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgery is one of our specialties here at West Hills Hospital . Our hospital brings together talented surgeons and state-of-the-art operating platforms to provide exceptional care for our patients in West Hills. If you would like a referral to a specialist at our hospital, you can call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321.