• What Causes Leg Cramps?

    A leg cramp is an involuntary and sudden contraction of one or more leg muscles, particularly the calf. Nicknamed “charley horses,” leg cramps are generally harmless, but they can be debilitating and painful until they pass. Learn what causes leg cramps so you can take steps to avoid them. Then, determine when it’s necessary to see a doctor.

    Causes of Leg Cramps

    • Physical exertion: Prolonged periods of exercise or physical labor, especially in hot weather, can lead to muscle cramps. It’s not uncommon for tight, painful leg cramps to stop runners in their tracks. Stretch your legs and drink plenty of water before and after exercise to help prevent this.
    • Poor circulation and nerve compression: These problems can cause muscle cramps to wake you up in the middle of the night. Stretching and doing a little light exercise, such as riding a stationary bike, right before bed can help prevent cramps while you’re sleeping.
    • Mineral depletion: Lack of potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet may contribute to muscle cramps. Eat foods high in these minerals and take a multivitamin with your doctor’s permission.
    • Dehydration: Failure to drink enough water can make your muscles spasm and cramp up, especially during physical exertion. Keep a water bottle with you and sip from it regularly throughout the day. Remember to stay hydrated during and after exercise as well.
    • Medications: Certain drugs cause muscle cramps as a side effect. The most common of these include diuretics prescribed for high blood pressure and statins taken to treat high cholesterol. Talk to your doctor about altering your prescription if muscle cramps or other side effects are unbearable.
    • Age and medical conditions: As you get older, you lose existing muscle mass, making your remaining muscles prone to tiring. This can increase the frequency of leg You’re also at a higher risk if you have diabetes, nerve disorders, or liver or thyroid disease.

    When to See Your Doctor About Leg Cramps

    Charley horses and other muscle cramps usually go away on their own and rarely require medical attention. However, you should consider talking to your doctor if your cramps:

    • Happen frequently and cause severe discomfort
    • Are accompanied by muscle weakness, swelling, redness or changes to the skin
    • Don’t improve with at-home care
    • Seem to be caused by prescription medication, which you can request to have altered
    • Have no apparent cause

    Perimeter Clinic offers primary care services to residents of the Atlanta area. If you don’t have a primary care physician, we are the place to come with concerns about ongoing leg cramps. We strive to provide affordable, easily accessible primary and urgent care to patients of all ages here in Georgia. To learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified physicians, please contact us at 678-999-8263.

  • Why You Should Get a Flu Shot

    Based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of American adults receive a flu vaccine each year. If you’ve skipped your flu shot in the past, here are five reasons to make it a priority this season.

    The flu is much more serious than the common cold.

    The 2017-2018 high-severity flu season caused record-breaking illnesses and hospitalization rates. On average, over 200,000 flu-infected people are hospitalized in the US each year, states the CDC, and annual fatalities range from 3,000 to 49,000. Some people have a higher risk of developing severe complications from the flu. Be sure to get a vaccination this year if you:

    • Have asthma, COPD, kidney or liver disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or cancer.
    • Have heart disease or have experienced a stroke.
    • Are 65 years or older.
    • Are pregnant.

    Last year’s flu shot won’t help this year.

    Some vaccinations last for years before they need a booster, but flu shots are different. Influenza viruses come in many different strains and change from year to year. This is why doctors recommend getting a flu shot each fall to protect against infection in the coming flu season.

    A flu shot is the most effective way to avoid getting sick.

    While you can take other preventative measures – such as washing your hands often, disinfecting surfaces in your home, avoiding contact with sick people and not touching your face with your hands – getting a flu shot is the single best way to avoid getting sick. The CDC estimates that you’re 60 percent less likely to contract the flu if you get vaccinated. Just remember, this varies depending on the effectiveness of the vaccine against that season’s flu strain.

    You can’t get the flu from a flu vaccine.

    There’s a misconception that receiving a flu shot can make you sick, but this is impossible because the vaccination delivers inactivated viruses incapable of infecting a person. However, the process of producing protective antibodies may make you experience muscle aches and a fever for a day or two, which is highly preferred over actually getting the flu.

    Also, be aware that it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect. If you’re exposed to the virus before then, you may still catch the flu. It’s also possible for a vaccine to mismatch the viruses circulating that season, reducing its effectiveness.

    Most insurance plans cover the cost of flu shots.

    Preventative care, including vaccinations, are covered by most health insurance plans.

    To qualify for coverage, some require you to receive the shot from an in-network provider. As long as you meet the requirements of your plan, you can expect flu shots for your family to be very affordable.

    Flu shots for the upcoming season become available in October. Get yours as early as possible to maximize your protection against the influenza virus. Contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 to schedule flu shots for your whole family.

  • STD Stigma

    Some diseases carry a social stigma, causing society to judge or condemn people with certain conditions, perhaps none more strongly than sexually transmitted diseases. Sometimes, the shame is aimed directly at the infected individual through name-calling, shunning, or intimate partner violence. Other times, STD stigma is more general, such as when someone makes a joke about Chlamydia or equates having herpes to being immoral.

    Regardless of how it’s enacted, STD stigma can be very hurtful. And the truth is there’s no logical reason to shame someone with this disease. It’s counterproductive and serves no helpful purpose. Here’s why everyone should work together to de-stigmatize STDs.

    STDs are Surprisingly Common

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 20 million new Americans are diagnosed with an STD every year. Keep in mind that these are the tested and documented cases, excluding HPV/genital warts and herpes, which are not required to be reported to the CDC.

    According to the American Sexual Health Association, half of sexually active Americans contract an STD by age 25. Then, more than half of all sexually active people will contract HPV in their lifetime – and most will never know it. Because of this, many undocumented cases exist, putting the estimate of Americans with STDs somewhere between 56 and 65 million.

    STDs and Promiscuity Aren’t Synonymous

    It only takes one sexual partner to contract an STD – and sometimes it takes none at all! STDs are transmitted through more than just direct genital contact – you can also get infected from blood and sometimes saliva. Sharing towels or underwear, using someone else’s needle or razor, or having a blood transfusion can spread some STIs and STDs. Then, simply kissing or sharing the same straw can spread genital and oral herpes.

    STD Testing is Important

    Despite the high probability of contracting an STD, only about 12 percent of people age 15 to 25 are tested each year. Fear of the stigma associated with a positive result is the primary reason many people decide they would rather not know their status.

    However, if left untreated, some STDs can cause infertility, ectopic pregnancies, stillbirth and increased risk for HIV. With STDs at record-level highs, it’s more important than ever for sexually active people to know their STD status so they can receive treatment and help prevent spreading the disease.

    Do Your Part to Help Eradicate STD Stigma

    Pay attention to the way you talk about STDs, and think of people with this condition as a group facing discrimination. Don’t use metaphors like “dirty” or “damaged goods” to describe people with STDs. Become more educated about sex and the risks that come with it. And if you think you might have an STD, get tested!

    Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia offers discrete, anonymous STD testing so you can find out your status while maintaining your privacy. After all, it’s your decision who you tell about your diagnosis. To learn more about our testing process, or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 678-999-8263.

  • Signs You Should Get STD Testing

    You started dating someone recently, and he or she told you that the latest STD test gave the all clear, so you slept together. You trusted this person, but now you think you notice signs of a sexually transmitted disease. The problem is some symptoms associated with STDs could also be something totally benign. So how do you know when you should get STD testing? Just watch for these signs.

    Painful Urination

    Many conditions can make it hurt to pee, including a relatively harmless urinary tract infection. However, STDs such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis can also cause this symptom. If you’re experiencing painful urination, start by talking to your doctor, and pursue STD testing if necessary.

    Pain During or Immediately After Sex

    The same STDs that make urination painful can also make sex uncomfortable. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can also cause this symptom. Of course, so can non-STD conditions that affect women, such as endometriosis and vulvodynia.

    Unusual Vaginal or Penile Discharge

    Chlamydia and HPV may cause increased genital discharge, while gonorrhea and trichomoniasis can make the discharge look, feel or smell abnormal. Yellow, grayish-green, frothy, foamy or smelly discharge is definitely a cause for concern, as is bleeding from the vagina other than during a menstrual cycle.

    Itchy Genitals

    Itchiness or irritation in the genital region is a sign that something’s wrong. There are many possible causes, and sexually transmitted diseases are among them, so if the itching doesn’t subside within a few days, you may want to get STD testing.

    Sores, Blisters, Warts or Rashes

    Syphilis and herpes cause sores or blisters. HPV causes genital warts. Scabies causes a rash. Some of these abnormalities are painful while others may go unnoticed for some time. Either way, sores, blisters, warts and rashes are signs of STDs that demand your attention.

    Aches, Pains, Chills and Fever

    These flu-like symptoms could indicate your body is fighting off a new sexually transmitted infection, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C or pubic lice. If you feel like you’re getting the flu a couple weeks after a sexual encounter, STD testing could be worthwhile.

    You and/or Your Partner are Sexually Active

    According to the American Sexual Health Association, about half of sexually active people contract an STD by age 25, yet only about 12 percent of people between ages 15 and 25 report being tested each year. One reason is that some people are asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms of STDs. Therefore, if you and/or your partner are sexually active, it’s wise to be tested once a year just in case.

    STD Testing in Atlanta, GA

    If you’re concerned about STDs, visit Perimeter Clinic to set your mind at ease. We offer a wide variety of STD testing options in a clean, confidential setting. We may administer tests individually or within a panel to best meet your specific situation.

    To make an appointment and protect your health, please contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia by calling 678-999-8263 today.

  • Mission Trip Vaccinations Guide

    You’ve taken a big step by deciding to go on a mission trip to another part of the world. Your purpose is probably to provide help to residents of a developing country and spread a spiritual message. What you don’t want is for communicable diseases to spread to you.

    To protect yourself, start looking into which mission trip vaccinations you’ll need several weeks before you leave. The exact ones you should get depend on where you’re going. Fortunately, your doctor can make knowledgeable recommendations based on where your mission trip is located and in what season you’re traveling.

    NOTE: Some vaccines require multiple shots a few weeks apart to maximize their effectiveness.  Begin the process as soon as possible to ensure they have plenty of time to start working. Most vaccines last for several years, so there’s no need to worry about them wearing off before your trip.

    Recommended Mission Trip Vaccines

    • Routine vaccinations: You probably already have all the routine vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as polio, measles, tetanus and Double check your immunization records, and schedule a flu shot and tetanus booster if needed.
    • Hepatitis A: This vaccine is recommended no matter where you’re traveling. It protects you from months of sickness and nausea that could result from ingesting contaminated food and water on your mission trip.
    • Hepatitis B: Since this disease spreads through contact with infected blood, working at a medical clinic or performing manual labor on your mission trip could put you at risk. A vaccine provides the protection you need.
    • Typhoid: Plan to get this vaccination for travels anywhere outside the US, unless you’re headed to Australia. It prevents a potentially life-threatening fever that can occur if you eat contaminated food and water.
    • Yellow fever: If your mission trip is located in South America or Africa, plan to get a yellow fever vaccine to protect you from infected mosquitoes.
    • Malaria: This disease is a risk everywhere besides Australia and Europe. However, there is no vaccine for malaria. Instead, your doctor can prescribe medication, which you’ll need to take before, during and after your mission trip for optimal protection.
    • Meningitis: While this disease is found throughout the world, you probably only need a vaccination for meningitis if your mission trip takes place in sub-Saharan Africa, known as the “meningitis belt,” between December and June when the disease is most common.
    • Japanese encephalitis: Mission trips to Australia and Asia present an increased risk for this rare disease spread by mosquitoes. Your doctor may recommend a vaccine to ensure your protection.

    Check the CDC

    The CDC website has useful travel information for your mission trip. Check the Travelers’ Health page for the latest health notices and updates you should know to safeguard your health before your leave.

    Make sure you return home safely from your mission trip this summer – contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 to schedule your mission trip vaccinations.

  • STD Myths

    There’s a frightening amount of misinformation floating around regarding sexually transmitted diseases. Are you in the know, or do you fall for some of the most common misconceptions? Clear the air by learning the truth about STD myths.

    STD Myth: HIV is Fatal

    While the human immunodeficiency virus reduces your body’s ability to fight disease, this diagnosis is certainly not a death sentence. Proper treatment using today’s advanced technology can help you live a long and fulfilling life. It’s even possible for HIV patients to have children who are HIV-negative.

    STD Myth: Public Toilet Seats Pass on STDs

    No scientific study has ever concluded that sitting on a public toilet can give you a sexually transmitted disease. This is because bacteria and viruses that cause STDs don’t live outside the body very long, and remnants of urine and fecal matter on toilet seats don’t cause STDs.

    STD Myth: It’s Easy to Tell if Someone Has an STD

    While a lot of sexually transmitted diseases cause visible lesions, sores, swelling and other symptoms, many individuals with herpes, Chlamydia and human papillomavirus (HPV) are asymptomatic for long periods of time. You can still, in fact, contract these diseases from an infected individual who has no visible outbreak at the time. Therefore, it’s best to rely on test results and not assume someone is STD-free based on how clean or attractive they look.

    STD Myth: The Only Way to Contract an STD is by Having Sex

    STDs are transmitted through semen, blood, genital contact and sometimes saliva. This means activities such as sharing razors, getting a blood transfusion, having oral or anal sex, using unwashed sex toys and pulling out before ejaculation can all result in spreading STDs. Genital and oral herpes can even transmit just by kissing or sharing the same straw.

    STD Myth: Birth Control Pills Prevent STDs

    The pill is designed to prevent pregnancy. It does not protect against STDs. However, condoms are another form of contraception that significantly reduces the risk of pregnancy and STDs. Just don’t fall for the myth that two condoms are better than one. The friction between them increases the risk of breaking or leaking, so just stick with one condom every time.

    STD Testing in Atlanta, GA

    According to the American Sexual Health Association, about half of sexually active people contract an STD by age 25, yet only about 12 percent of people from age 15 to 25 report being tested each year. If you or your partner is concerned about STDs, Perimeter Clinic is here to help. We offer same-day STD testing in a clean, confidential setting. The entire process takes just 15 to 20 minutes, and our dedicated counselors will guide you each step of the way.

    Contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 to make an appointment and help protect your health today.

  • The Importance of Regular Physicals

    You take your car in as recommended for routine oil changes and inspections because you want the engine and other parts to last. Why wouldn’t you give your body the same preventative care with annual physicals?

    Several major medical organizations suggest making regular doctor visits a priority, including the American College of Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Here’s why.

    Assess Your Overall Health

    A physical exam begins by taking your vital signs, including your temperature, pulse, respiration rate and blood pressure. These simple measurements indicate the state of your essential body functions.

    Your doctor also measures your height and weight, tests your reflexes, and checks inside your mouth and ears for anything abnormal. Comparing your results with the normal range for your age and gender can help the doctor assess your overall health.

    Receive Personalized Lifestyle Recommendations

    Are you interested in starting a new exercise program, but you’re not sure how it will affect your arthritis? Perhaps you want to start a vegetarian diet, but you don’t want to miss out on important nutrients. Or maybe a prescription you’re on is causing side effects, and you want to request an adjustment.

    Your annual physical is the perfect time to ask your doctor about any health and lifestyle questions you have. He or she will steer you in the right direction based on your current fitness level, age and other factors, which may help you adopt lifestyle behaviors that will help keep you healthy.

    Catch Dangerous Health Conditions Early

    Many chronic, potentially life-threatening conditions start out slowly and may go unnoticed for years. That’s why adult physicals include cancer screenings and blood tests to check your cholesterol, blood glucose levels and other critical numbers.

    You may have no idea that the mole on your chest is melanoma – or that you’re at risk for heart disease – or that you have pre-diabetes – until you get the results back from your annual physical. With this information, you can make lifestyle changes or begin treatment to curb the disease and possibly even cure it.

    Connect With Your Doctor

    If you only visit a general practitioner when you’re sick, you never have a chance to get to know your healthcare provider outside the stress of a crisis. Doctors and patients both benefit when they create a connection during annual physicals, which can help ensure the very best care if an injury or illness occurs.

    Enjoy Affordable Healthcare

    Most health insurance covers the cost of preventative care for nothing but an affordable copay. This means the cost to see your doctor once a year for an adult physical is practically free, yet the chance to assess your health, catch dangerous health conditions, receive advice and connect with your doctor is worth its weight in gold.

    If you’re overdue for your annual adult physical, please contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 to make an appointment and help protect your health.

  • Common Travel Vaccinations

    Do you have plans to travel overseas this summer? You’re undoubtedly excited to study abroad, visit friends or family, or aid in disaster recovery. In addition to securing a passport and making travel arrangements, you must also get vaccinated. Most life-threatening communicable diseases have effective vaccines that can protect your health during your travels. Consider the most common travel vaccinations that American tourists should receive.

    Routine Vaccines

    All travelers should be up-to-date with routine vaccines before traveling. Diseases such as polio, measles, tetanus and rubella are all but extinct in the United States, but they are still common in other countries. For your safety, make sure anyone traveling abroad in your family has received all the routine vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Common Travel Vaccines

    The specific vaccinations you seek will depend on where you’re headed. In addition to routine vaccines, be sure to protect yourself against the following diseases, especially if you’re traveling to Africa, Latin America or Asia:

    • Hepatitis A: Contaminated food or water can carry hepatitis A, so this vaccine is recommended for travelers headed to rural communities or unsanitary places.
    • Typhoid: This disease affects over 12 million people per year. It’s also transmitted through contaminated food or water, so protect yourself with a typhoid vaccine.
    • Yellow fever: South America and Africa are the most likely places to contract yellow fever, which is spread through mosquito bites. Fortunately, vaccines are available, which provide up to 10 years of protection.
    • Malaria: This disease is also transmitted through mosquito bites. While there’s no malaria vaccine, you can ask your doctor for prescription medication to protect you during your trip.

    Less Common Travel Vaccines

    While not recommended for all travelers or destinations, you should ask your doctor if you need any additional travel vaccines to protect you on your trip. These may include:

    • Cholera: The CDC recommends a cholera vaccine for adults traveling to places with active cholera transmission, including India, Bangladesh, Yemen, Haiti and several African countries.
    • Hepatitis B: You may need a hepatitis B vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a piercing or tattoo, or have medical procedures performed during your travels.
    • Rabies: Get a rabies vaccine if you expect to have an elevated risk for animal bites on your trip. Such groups include campers and people working with animals.
    • Meningitis: A meningitis vaccination is recommended if you’re planning to visit sub-Saharan Africa (known as the “meningitis belt”) between December and June when the disease is most common.

    Check the CDC

    The CDC keeps travelers up-to-date with current travel health notices, as well as travel vaccination recommendations by region. Check these resources before going on your trip to ensure you get the right travel vaccinations to safeguard your health.

    If you’re planning to travel abroad in the next few weeks, please contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 to protect your health with travel vaccinations.

     

  • STDs and Swimsuits

    The weather is warming up, and that means it’s time to lounge on the beach or by the pool! Before you do, you might want to snag a great deal on a new swimsuit that accentuates your body in all the right ways. This means trying on new swimwear to find the perfect look.

    Swimsuit shopping might have you wondering – “Can I get an STD from trying on swimsuits?” Not all sexually transmitted diseases can be spread to a new host this way – after all, the bacteria and viruses that cause many types of STDs don’t survive for long outside the human body and require direct contact to transfer from person to person.

    However, some STDs and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are caused by protozoa, lice, bacteria and viruses that can survive on new swimsuits. This allows infections to transmit passively from one host to another.

    It’s a scary thought, but you can protect yourself by learning more about STDs and swimsuits.

    Examples of STIs Sometimes Found on Swimsuits

    The following STIs can spread passively by infecting swimsuit bottoms:

    • Trichomoniasis , or trich, is caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis protozoan parasite, which can live outside the body for several hours.
    • Pubic lice , or crabs, can spread if an infected person shares towels, bed sheets or swimsuits.
    • Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that spreads through direct contact and indirect contact with clothing an infected person has worn.
    • Bacterial vaginosis , or BV, is an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina. BV loves synthetic swimsuit fibers and can be difficult to wash out.
    • Urinary tract infections are caused when E. coli or other bacteria from the anal region enter the urethra.

    While uncommon, it’s also possible to transmit more serious STDs, including Hepatitis A, B and C, Chlamydia, HPV and even HIV in extremely rare cases.

    Prevent STD Infection While Trying on Swimsuits

    Protect yourself in the dressing room and once you get home by following these tips:

    • Don’t trust the hygienic liner – keep your underwear on while trying new swimsuits!
    • Wash your hands after trying on swimsuits.
    • After making your purchase, wash the swimsuit before wearing it to the pool.
    • Keep whatever you’ve got to yourself – don’t return used swimwear.

    STD Testing in Atlanta, GA

    The truth is there’s a slight chance of contracting an STD while trying on swimsuits, but only if you fail to follow the appropriate precautions. Just remember, this is merely one example of how STDs can be transmitted without having sex.

    If you or your partner is concerned you may have an STD, visit Perimeter Clinic for help. We offer STD testing in a clean, confidential setting. The entire process takes just 15 to 20 minutes, and most results are available within one to two days. To make an appointment and protect your health, please contact Perimeter Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia at 678-999-8263 today.

  • Why Are Cervical Cancer Screenings Important?

    Has your family physician in Atlanta advised you to schedule a cervical cancer screening? If so, then you may have questions about the need for this procedure. Cervical cancer is already invasive by the time a woman experiences any symptoms, such as heavy or prolonged periods, pain during sex, and abnormal bleeding between periods, during menopause, or after sex. It’s for this reason that it’s sometimes referred to as a “silent killer” and why regular screenings are so important.

    The 2 primary methods of screening for cervical cancer include liquid-based cytology (LBC) and the Papanicolaou (Pap) test, also known as a cervical smear or Pap smear. During an LBC screening, the doctor scrapes the cervix with a small brush, and the collected cells are then analyzed for abnormalities in a lab. Pap smears involve scraping the outer opening of the cervix to collect cells which are analyzed for abnormalities under a microscope. Most women between ages 21 and 65 are advised to undergo a cervical cancer screening once every 3 years. If you are overdue for a cervical cancer screening, then consider contacting your local clinic to make an appointment and help protect your health.

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