Why It Is Important to Have a Family Doctor

A family doctor can provide consistent care for your comprehensive medical and health needs, as well as those of your family.Accidents are inevitable, so there will always be a need for emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. For regular medical needs and maintenance, however, having a consistent medical practitioner can be helpful and necessary for better care options. A family doctor can facilitate those needs and provide trusted and complete healthcare.

The Role of a Family Doctor

What is a family doctor? He or she is a primary care physician who serves as the first point of contact for everyday medical needs. If a family member appears feverish, develops a rash or gets the flu, the family doctor is the anchor for handling diagnoses and treatments. Family doctors treat a variety of medical issues, and they are trained to meet the needs of children, teens, adults and elderly family members.

“It is important to have a trusted primary care provider to work as your partner in maintaining your health and well-being. Most importantly, your primary care provider establishes ‘continuity of care’ with you, understanding you as an individual and seeing the big picture of your health. They also serve as your advocate to refer to specialists when needed and help you to prevent future illness.”

Chapel Hill Primary Care Physician Allison Valentine

Consistent, Trusted Care

Wellness is a lifelong journey, and a family doctor clinic can be the link that unifies effective healthcare treatments over years of medical visits. By using one primary physician and facility, medical records, prescriptions and treatments will be housed in one place. This will allow more consistent care for family members over the course of their lives.

Trust is a key element in any medical relationship, and that trust can be solidified with a primary family doctor. He or she will understand the lifestyle, habits, health goals and values that all contribute to your family’s personal makeup. Those elements cannot necessarily be pinpointed by exams, but they are vital to your overall health and wellness. They should be managed only by a medical professional with whom you have a great rapport.

Chapel Hill Primary Care Physician Allison Valentine says, “It is important to have a trusted primary care provider to work as your partner in maintaining your health and well-being. Most importantly, your primary care provider establishes ‘continuity of care’ with you, understanding you as an individual and seeing the big picture of your health. They also serve as your advocate to refer to specialists when needed and help you to prevent future illness.”

Regular Health Exams and Checkups

Good health is always best when handled proactively. Routine checkups are excellent tools for discovering and solving acute health issues, but they are even better when used preemptively. You should visit your healthcare professional for periodic visits even when you feel healthy.

Your family doctor will conduct regular health exams to ensure all medical milestones are being met and general health numbers and levels are optimal. These visits also provide an opportunity for you to talk to your doctor about any concerns you might have regarding variations in your health. Regular checkups can result in early detection or even prevention of an illness or positive changes in simple everyday activities to maintain good health.

Family History and Documentation

Families rely on primary physicians for much more than occasional sick visits. Their doctor plays a crucial part in documenting familial health history. Families share genes, and those genes determine several factors that directly affect the health patterns within the family.

Parents are often oblivious to the ways a relative’s ailments could potentially relate to their child’s issues. Family doctors gather all the facts regarding your family’s medical history and use it to more effectively make diagnoses and suggest treatment options. Knowledge of past illnesses and predispositions may give your family doctor an advantage in helping you prevent future sickness.

Back-to-School Needs

The beginning of the school year brings with it new tasks to be accomplished. A fresh start can be both rewarding and overwhelming, but your family doctor can help cross a few medical “to-do” items off the list. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that all children have a family-centered doctor’s office so the medical care is continuous and seamless. A primary physician can help with:

  • Sports physicals. Back-to-school means selecting a sport to play, which typically requires a two-part preparticipation physical examination administered by a doctor.
  • Vaccinations. For the younger family members, vaccinations must be considered, as nearly all schools and childcare centers require up-to-date immunization records. The National Institutes of Health agrees that vaccines have been proven effective for ensuring protection against infectious diseases.
  • Screenings. Your family doctor can oversee vision, hearing and scoliosis testing that will ensure your child can function and succeed in the classroom without physical challenges.

Your family doctor can be more than a medical resource; he or she can also become a vital component of generational wellness. If you are looking for a dedicated family doctor who can oversee your family’s healthcare, contact us to schedule an appointment. At Chapel Hill Doctors, we have four providers ready to care for you: Physician Allison Valentine, Physician Julie McGregor, and Nurse Practitioner Paul Dunn. Our medical teams are trained and ready to meet your family’s various health and wellness needs for years to come.

Why You Should Visit an Allergy Clinic

Come to our clinic for seasonal allergy testing.You’ve been invited for a day of hiking on the Occoneechee Mountain Loop Trail. How exciting! Yet you’re hesitating. The last time you wandered into nature, you broke out in hives and you’re still not sure why. Was it the dog that ran past you on the trail? The granola bar that a friend tossed your way? Or the hickory bush you tumbled into? Perhaps undergoing seasonal allergy testing would be wise, or even better – how about visiting an allergy clinic?

What Are Allergies?

If you have allergies, your immune system classifies certain types of allergens as foreigners that need to be eradicated. Your body releases immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to fight off the invaders with an outflow of chemicals such as histamine and leukotrienes. These trigger a series of unpleasant symptoms.

It may not be apparent to you, but your body actually means well underneath all that inflammation, puffing and redness. It’s just trying to do its job: expel or trap the allergen by swelling certain body parts, such as your nasal passages, sinuses, eyelids, pores and digestive system.

Types of Allergies 

This might sound obvious, but different types of allergens will generate distinct symptoms. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis, otherwise known as hay fever, may include:

  • Conjunctivitis (red, swollen eyes)
  • Stuffy and runny nose
  • Itching of the eyes, nose and/or roof of the mouth
  • Sneezing

Pet allergies are also considered a part of the allergic rhinitis family. The fluffy orange kitty you just adopted might be adorable, but if you’re experiencing chest tightness or wheezing whenever it jumps on your lap, you might have a pet allergy. In this case, allergens are commonly found in a pet’s dander, saliva, urine and skin flakes. Don’t forget that outdoor pets often collect allergens such as mold spores and pollen, which could also put your immune system on high alert – especially if past medical testing has resulted in a seasonal allergy diagnosis.

If you haven’t yet undergone seasonal allergy testing but still feel like an itchy, swelling troll on occasion, other common allergies include food allergies, insect sting allergies and drug allergies.

It might be tempting to perform a self-diagnosis, especially if your symptoms seem to be tightly correlated with specific activities. If heading to AMC Theatres on Renaissance Parkway and indulging in a bar of Toblerone chocolate never fails to cause you discomfort, then isn’t it obvious that you have some type of food allergy?

Symptoms of food allergies can include:

  • Tingling of the mouth
  • Swelling of the throat, lips, face and tongue
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis, a serious life-threatening condition in which your body goes into shock

The answer to the above question is more complicated than you think. In some cases, certain allergies may be present in conjunction with others. A seasonal allergy diagnosis, for instance, may cause you to develop symptoms like itching and sneezing more quickly if you have a pet allergy. Cross allergies between pollen and types of food are also known to exist. So you might still be able to devour your Swiss chocolate depending on what time of the year it is.

Getting Diagnosed

The results of allergy testing aren’t always clear-cut. For example, seasonal allergy testing may not take into account all types of pollen that contribute to your symptoms. This is why visiting an allergy clinic, such as Chapel Hill Doctors Healthcare Center’s Allergy Clinic, is always recommended. A team of expert professionals will consider your medical history, weigh all the factors and symptoms, and diagnose you correctly.

Medical professionals at an allergy clinic will most likely perform either a skin prick test or a blood test. In the case of seasonal allergies, a skin prick test involves placing a suspected allergen on the skin, such as the back or forearm. The skin is then pricked so the allergen can enter below the surface. Swelling and redness at the testing site might indicate a seasonal allergy diagnosis. Other types of allergens are used depending on the kind of allergy you might have.

A secondary test measures levels of IgE antibodies present in your blood after you’ve been exposed to a culprit allergen.

Treatment Plans

No two individuals are the same. Once you’ve been correctly diagnosed, your team will design a custom-tailored treatment plan for you based on your diagnosis. A treatment plan at the Allergy Clinic in Chapel Hill can include:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications to prevent or relieve your allergy symptoms
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lifestyle changes and guidance to optimize your quality of life

The Allergy Clinic in Chapel Hill also incorporates holistic medicine into your treatment plan. Taking into account your emotional well-being and your lifestyle is just as important as minimizing your exposure to allergens. Integrating a holistic lifestyle into a treatment plan sometimes allows symptoms to disappear with time. Furthermore, many individuals with allergies report that acupuncture often provides relief.

So take control of your allergies and call (919) 929-7990 to schedule an appointment with the Allergy Clinic in Chapel Hill. An expert team is waiting to provide you with a unique treatment plan that will allow you to live a healthier, better life – and yes, also keep that adorable orange kitty.


Sources

http://www.foodallergens.info/Facts/Pollen&Food/Which_Foods.html
http://www.uptodate.com/contents/allergic-rhinitis-seasonal-allergies-beyond-the-basics?view=print
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/basics/definition/con-20034030
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/basics/definition/con-20020827
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928141550.htm
http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/pet-allergy
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003519.htm
http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/allergy-testing
http://www.foodintolerances.org/non-food-allergies.aspx
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24881629

Acupuncture: A Promising Treatment for Allergies

By Helen Wang, PhD, LAc

acupuncture for allergiesSpring is well underway in North Carolina…are you happy about it, or does the idea of oncoming seasonal allergies make you shudder with dread?

If you suffer from seasonal or chronic allergies, you are in good company. Hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is the most prevalent chronic allergic disease in the US.

Studies suggest that up to 10% of adults and 40% of children in the US are affected by an allergic reaction to pollen, making allergic rhinitis one of the most common reasons for visits to primary care practitioners.

Acupuncture Helps Allergies

Here’s a best-kept secret … instead of relying on drugs, surgery or steroids, you can send allergy symptoms packing with acupuncture! Spring should be a time for fun and celebration, not sniffling, sneezing and watery eyes!

If you struggle with seasonal or chronic allergies, you may get significant relief from targeted, consistent, and evidence-based acupuncture sessions designed to relieve allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion and allergic rhinitis.

Recent randomized controlled trials have found that acupuncture used as an adjunct to routine care for allergic rhinitis has clinically relevant and persistent benefits and is cost effective. Such trials have found that acupuncture is effective in the symptomatic treatment of perennial (throughout the year) rhinitis. They have also found that active acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture in decreasing the symptom scores for persistent allergic rhinitis and increasing the symptom-free days.

No Silver Bullet

For the unfortunate millions who get allergic rhinitis and other seasonal and perennial allergies, there is no silver bullet that can treat each and every symptom. As a result of limited treatment options, many people resort to using an array of antihistamines, decongestants, and other treatments simultaneously, which can lead to a snowballing of undesirable side effects.

Acupuncture is another tool in an allergy sufferer’s toolbox. The treatment appears to be able to provide a large percentage of allergy sufferers with significant relief from uncomfortable symptoms. This has led the medical community to begin acknowledging that it is very promising for the treatment of seasonal and chronic allergy symptoms.

Acupuncture for Allergies Can Replace Medication

Even better, in some cases it appears that acupuncture treatment of allergies can replace—or reduce—the need for medication. This makes it a safe, viable option for patients looking for alternatives to traditional allergy treatment. And when acupuncture is used in conjunction with herbal formulas, the impact can profoundly improve the allergy sufferer’s quality of life.

At Acupuncture Balanced Health, we have first-hand experience with acupuncture treatment for seasonal allergies. Patients who receive treatment early in the allergy season do very well in our experience, and as spring turns to fall we generally recommend two to three acupuncture sessions. At the same time, we usually prescribe patients an herbal formula to help alleviate their symptoms.

Dietary Changes

Depending on our patient’s symptoms and health history, we also recommend supplements for patients to decrease allergy symptoms, support gut health and strengthen immunity. In some circumstances, we recommend slight dietary changes as well. Taken together, these treatments are often very effective in alleviating seasonal allergy symptoms.

In addition to providing ongoing allergy treatment and prevention, acupuncture sessions can result in immediate relief from existing allergy symptoms. We often see first-time allergy treatment patients leave our office feeling less stuffy, sniffly, and itchy.

Cumulative Effects

One of the amazing things about acupuncture is that the effects of treatment are cumulative, so a patient with seasonal allergies can go for several weeks without needing acupuncture. Combined with an herbal formula that can be taken at home, our patients have a full-spectrum solution to seasonal allergies and many of them make it through allergy season with little to no symptoms.

4 Ways Integrative Medicine Benefits Patients

integrative medicineIntegrative medicine combines both traditional Western medicine and alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine, acupuncture and nutritional wellness.

While Western medicine was once all about an evidence-based practice, the medical community has been embracing alternative medicine more and more over the past couple of decades.

The practice of integrative medicine is the result of that mix — one that can bring many benefits to the patients taking advantage of it.

Benefit #1: Addresses the Root of the Illness

The medical community that uses integrative medicine understands the importance of shifting from a “treat the symptoms” to a “treat the whole person” approach. Rather than just addressing the current problem, integrative medicine looks at the root of the problem — and works towards changing the habits or issues that generated the problem in the first place.

This approach is always more effective in the long term because it teaches patients healthier habits that not only heal but also improve quality of life.

Benefit #2: Takes a “Partnership” Approach

Integrative medicine is about becoming a partner in healing, rather than just dispensing medication or recommending tests. With this approach, the patient becomes a partner in the healing process, learning to make lifestyle choices that will impact his future. While an evidence-based practice would look only at studies and drugs that have helped others, an integrative medicine approach takes into consideration other aspects, such as the patient’s views about treatment, past experiences with healing therapies and more.

Integrative therapy is also very much focused on taking things slowly. Rather than overwhelming the body — and the mind — of the patient with lots of changes, the information and treatment moves one step at a time. This gives the body time to adjust and also gives the doctors a chance to see what’s working and what additional changes need to be introduced.

#3: Addresses Chronic Issues

Integrative medicine is an excellent tool for people with chronic issues. Patients with chronic health issues, pain or conditions often suffer from those because traditional medicine hasn’t been able to figure out the underlying problem. Integrative medicine attempts to to bring the entire body into balance — and this often results in a clearing of symptoms much more effectively.

#4: Ensures Personal Attention

Because integrative medicine looks at “the whole picture” rather than just the symptoms, doctors need to spend more time with a patient to fully understand what’s going on with his body. In a time where a lot of medical appointments are quick 20-minute visits, this personalized attention can be a very effective approach. Plus, it’s no surprise that patients who spend more time with their doctors feel better about the treatment they receive and might health faster.

In the end, remember that the goal of integrative medicine is not to help you get rid of your symptoms, but to address the true cause behind those symptoms. By combining a number of therapies, you will not only see results faster, but you will also find more lasting results.

Integrative Medicine: Your Partner in Health

integrative medicine, evidence-based practice, medical communityChapel Hill Doctors medical center was created to stand as a partnership of a number of medical disciplines. By doing so, the center is able to offer an exceptional, integrative medicine approach that focuses on treating a broader range of conditions.

We know that medicine has come a long way from the days of traditional treatment and quick prescription approach. Many hospitals and clinics are now moving to a more all-encompassing method, looking at different diagnosis and treatment options.

Incorporating Functional Medicine
Functional medicine is an approach that looks at the entire body and the relationship between different systems  — such as the immune, endocrine and gastrointestinal systems — and organs to determine what’s causing an illness.

This is different from the approach of standard medicine, which focuses on addressing a specific set of symptoms or one organ to treat a problem. Functional medicine is often referred to as “patient-centered medicine” because it focuses on the person, rather than on the symptoms.

More and more doctors are also shifting to a “treat the patient, not the disease” modality. Functional medicine is a Western concept and the treatments offered to patients after diagnosis are also based on Western medicine. For example, a typical functional medicine approach might include medication, dietary changes and stress-reduction techniques.

The functional approach is all about helping patients who are frustrated by the limited options offered by traditional medicine. In fact, functional medicine is especially helpful for people with chronic diseases and problems that don’t seem to respond to standard treatment. Plus, by looking at the different systems in the body and their interaction, a doctor might be able to determine the cause of a problem more easily than by just looking at the symptoms.

Understanding the Integrative Medicine Approach

Simply put, integrative medicine is a discipline that combines traditional Western medicine with alternative medicine treatment. The goal of integrative medicine is to treat not only the body, but also the mind and spirit at the same time. Integrative medicine always treats “the whole person” rather than an individual problem. There isn’t a standard combination that defines integrative medicine, which means some doctors might adopt a practice such as acupuncture, while others may prefer naturopathy.

Some of the most common alternative practices that are frequently combined with Western medicine include:

  • Osteopathic medicine: the use of manual therapies, such as spinal manipulation
  • Biofeedback: a technique that’s used to control the body’s response to pain, functions (such as heart rate or muscle tension) and more
  • Acupuncture
  • Naturopathic medicine: the use of natural therapies such as dietary changes, reflexology, meditation and Chinese medicine to address health issues
  • Herbal medicine: the use of plants, seeds and roots to treat ailments

Finding the Right Fit

While it might be possible to find a doctor who is both a traditional physician and an alternative medicine provider, integrative medicine is often done in a setting that includes several health professionals. So, for example, a medical doctor will handle the traditional medicine diagnosis treatment, while an acupuncturist or an herbalist might provide complementary treatment to address additional issues.

Whether you choose to go with functional or integrative medicine, keep in mind that both approaches can be equally effective, as long as you choose the right professional. With medical providers across 15 different disciplines, Chapel Hill Doctors aims to offer you the right combination of treatments for your condition.