9 Most Popular Health and Safety Blogs of the Year

We know it’s a full-time job taking care of your family’s health and safety, so we’re committed to doing all we can to help. That’s why we’ve presented this roundup of our top 9 health and safety blogs of 2017. Whether you’re concerned about snakebites, the opioid crisis, burns, texting on the toilet or other hot topics, we’ve got the expert advice you’re looking for — including ways to keep your family out of the ER.

Health and Safety Blog No. 1: Do You Know What to Do in a Snakebite Emergency?

Snakes have been in the news for the last few years, flushed out of their natural habitats by several consecutive wet seasons in North Texas. 2018 could very well follow that trend, so brush up on your snakebite emergency skills. You might also want to add these blogs to your list of serpent-themed surfing:

Snakes in the Grass: Know How to Avoid and Treat Snakebites

Pokémon Go: Know How to Avoid Injuries and Ekans Bites

Multigen-family-running-FB.jpgHealth and Safety Blog No. 2: First Aid for Burns: 5 Things You Should Never Do

We all learned “stop, drop and roll” in school but not how to treat burn injuries. Some of the most common burn treatment myths, such as using butter, are just that — incorrect information that can cause more harm than good. This blog will teach you how to recognize the severity of a burn and how to avoid the most common mistakes people make when treating burns. If you’re looking for an advanced degree in burns, add these to your reading list:

Learn About Burns: Get Schooled in Burn Awareness

How to be Fire-Safe and What to Do if You Get Burned

Don’t Get Burned: Know the Top Rules of Fire Safety

Jason West, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, discusses when to go the ER for a burn and how to tell what percentage of a person’s body is burned.

Health and Safety Blog No. 3: Bathroom Blues: Are You Taking Your Tech to the Toilet?

The No. 3 spot goes to constipation and hemorrhoids. As well it should, since our expert says it takes just 20 minutes a day lounging in the loo to bum out your bum.

Health and Safety Blog No. 4: 10 Signs You Need to Go to the ER

From chest and abdominal pain to persistent vomiting, diarrhea and depression, this blog is packed with tips for how to recognize when your symptoms need emergency medical attention.

Manisha Gupta, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, explains when your stomach pain warrants a trip to the ER.

Health and Safety Blog No 5: Five Opportunities and Insights from “13 Reasons Why”  

“13 Reasons Why” became the most-watched Netflix show when season one debuted last March. Based on a novel, the story centers on teen suicide and got parents, teachers and kids talking about this previously taboo subject. In this blog, our Medical City Green Oaks Hospital expert offers insight into how to use the show as an opportunity to talk to your own kids about depression, bullying, sexual assault and more.

In the follow-up blog, How “13 Reasons Why” Can Be a Lessons for All Ages, our expert discusses the growing rates of suicide in middle-aged adults and seniors.

Health and Safety Blog No 6: What You Need to Know About RSV

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is the virus responsible for a whole host of respiratory conditions, including colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and croup. Most children will have had an RSV infection by the age of two. In kids younger than 3, RSV can cause a dangerous illness called bronchiolitis — the most common cause of hospitalization in infants 12 months old and younger.

Health and Safety Blog No 7: The Growing Opioid Crisis: What You Need to Know

Labeled an epidemic by the CDC, the opioid crisis continues to take the lives of Americans of every age, race and socioeconomic level. In fact, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among those under 50. Read what our expert has to say about this growing concern, learn how to spot opioid abuse, discover common drugs you may not have known were opioids and find out what type of drugs you should never mix with opioids.

Health and Safety Blog No 8: How Much Water Do You Need to Drink Every Day?

The human body is made up of mostly water and yet almost 70% of us don’t drink enough to keep our bodies functioning properly. Symptoms of dehydration begin when we’ve lost just 1% of our water. At 2-3%, things start to crash. Could your fatigue, irritability, headache, dry skin or fuzzy brain be “cured” just by drinking more water? Read this and find out.


Health and Safety Blog No 9: Heartburn or Heart Attack? How to Save Your Own Life.

The symptoms of heartburn and heart attack can be surprisingly similar. In fact, heartburn is often a sign of heart attack, especially in women. Our experts discuss how to tell the difference between the two and when to call 911 or head to the nearest ER.

Steven Kaster, MD, a gastroenterologist at Medical City McKinney, shares the signs and symptoms of heart attack and heartburn and how to tell the difference.

Matt Bush, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Dallas, shares how to save a life with hands-only CPR.

For expert emergency care whenever you’re concerned about your family’s health and safety, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or call our free, 24/7 Ask a Nurse hotline.

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How to Eat Healthy at the State Fair of Texas

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that autumn means the State Fair of Texas® is right around the corner (September 29 through October 22). But it does take some pretty fancy science-y stuff to create the Big Tex® Choice Award food and drink finalists. Who else but a bunch of culinary geniuses would pair bacon cheeseburgers and funnel cakes, blue alcoholic punch with Nerds® and Swedish Fish® or cover Froot Loops® with whipped marshmallow and deep fry them in creamy batter?

These are some of the new tastes you’ll find at the fair this year, which makes it a dangerous place to be if you’re watching your waistline or counting sugar grams.

There are also other concerns when planning a trip to the fair, but we’ve got the inside scoop that’ll help you navigate this North Texas fall favorite safely. To get started, try Whitney Novak’s sugar detox. Whitney is a patient advocate at Medical City Las Colinas and the host of Whitney’s Wellness Wednesday videos.

Face it … the State Fair of Texas is about the food … and the rides … but mostly the food.

We’ve already established that the food is the thing. But there are options to breaking your weekly calorie bank in one meal and maybe paying for it later.

Steven Kaster, MD, a gastroenterologist at Medical City McKinney, says that the combination of fatty fair food and alcohol can cause stomach distress. He encourages fairgoers to eat more fruits and vegetables and to minimize fried foods and adult beverages.

How to eat healthy at the State Fair of Texas.

Here are more tips to help make sure a trip to the fair doesn’t end in the ER

  • Do what one family did and choose just one specialty fried food item to share. They also incorporated a step challenge to make sure everyone got a healthy workout.
  • Eat before you go or better yet — bring your own food and water to the fair! It’s true, you can bring food and non-alcoholic beverages and even a cooler. Just be sure not to bring metal knives or glass containers. Find out more at the fair’s FAQs page.
  • So that you don’t feel too deprived, forget the same-ol’ PB&J sammies (unless that’s all your kids will eat). Instead, try some of our fair food swap-outs from last year or choose one of the recipes below

Kids teaching kids to eat healthy at the State Fair of Texas.

Once again, Amy Haynes, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Medical City Dallas and Medical City Children’s Hospital, helped us choose a couple of kids teaching kids recipes your kids can make for themselves.

Hot bananas

Hot Bananas
Chef Maria Guevera
Dallas ISD

What a creative and delicious snack packaged in a hot dog bun with only 4g of fat per serving! Could our good ol’ State Fair of Texas food vendors resist the temptation to deep-fry it? One taste and they would surely agree it’s perfect as is.

Ingredients (makes 1 serving)

  • ½ banana
  • ½ hot dog bun
  • 1 Tbs. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. strawberry jelly
  • ¼ kiwi, skin removed


  1. Cut hot dog bun in half
  2. Cut banana in half
  3. Cut kiwi into small cubes
  4. Spread peanut butter on one side of bun
  5. Place banana on bun
  6. Drizzle/spread strawberry jelly on top of banana
  7. Sprinkle kiwi on top of jelly

Nutrition Information   
168 calories/4g fat/1g sat. fat/2g fiber/14g sugar 

Apple pops

Apple Pops  (follow link for recipe)
Chefs Taelor Rankin, Hailey Watters, Riley Cole
Allen ISD

This traditional fall favorite gets a healthy makeover while maintaining deliciousness! Fat grams are slashed in half at 4.5g per serving compared to the traditional recipe at 9g per serving and sugar grams are significantly lower at 15g in the ktk recipe verses 40g in the traditional recipe. Calories are cut from 300 in a typical caramel apple to just 130 in our version.

Fair safety tips.

For fast, emergency care when you need it most, look to one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or call our free 24-hour Ask-A-Nurse hotline.

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Summer Safety Digest: 14 Things You Need to Know for a Safe, Sane Season

LifeSigns-FB-2Yo, summer! You think you’re pretty hot here in North Texas, don’t you? Well, okay, you are … but we’ve got tips for how to chill and enjoy all you have to offer without ending up in the ER. Here’s a roundup of our best summer safety advice.

Top 3 Summer Safety Tips from an Emergency Medicine Physician.

Manisha Gupta, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Denton, gives her 3 top tips for sailing through summer safely and injury-free:

10 More Tips for Summer Safety.

There’s nothing quite like a top 10 list. In this case, we’re actually giving you 14, but who’s counting? All that really matters is that your family stays safe so you can stay sane.

Your comprehensive guide to mosquito-borne illnesses.


Alison Wortman, MD, a maternal and fetal medicine physician with Medical City Alliance, discusses the signs and symptoms of Zika virus.

HCA Medical City Ask a Nurse Infographic_RevisedIf your summer plans get derailed by breaks, aches, bug bites or snakes, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

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Summer Camp Safety: What You Need to Know Before They Go

Summer-CampFBEvery year in the U.S., more than 14 million children and adults attend camp. The American Camp Association (ACA) counts 8,400 resident (overnight) camps and 5,600 day camps from which to choose. In addition to staples such as horseback riding, archery, swimming, hiking and crafting, camps are adding new programs to appeal to a wider audience. Some of these include gardening, college planning, health and wellness, community service and cooking.

From the most adventurous to the tamest, there’s one thing all camps have in common: illness and injuries. Nothing ruins a camp experience faster than a trip to the ER, so we’ll tell you how to keep your kids safe from the most common camp injuries and what they should do in a lightning storm.

Something in the food, water or my cabin mate made me sick.

Kids at camp (and the camp staff) are more than twice as likely to get sick than injured. Possible problems and helpful tips to avoid them include:

  • Gastroenteritis, food poisoning and other stomach pains from contaminated food or water
    • Have a discussion with kids about food safety, including washing hands before meals; eating raw or uncooked foods; sharing food; and eating from potentially contaminated sources such as salad bars
    • Teach kids not to swallow pool or lake water
  • Asthma and allergies
    • Make sure kids pack adequate amounts of medication, including epi-pens if needed
  • Infectious illnesses, such as colds, flu and even mumps and measles, which are making a comeback
    • Make sure kids are up to date on their vaccinations, including tetanus; get yours (and a physical for camp, if necessary) at one of 29 DFW CareNow locations
    • Teach kids to cough and sneeze properly and the correct way to wash their hands


Camp — it’s a trip.

According to the ACA, trips, slips and falls are the injuries most commonly reported at camp. In fact, sprains and strains make up nearly 30% of all camp injuries and are often related to rough terrain and improper footwear. Here’s how to protect your kids from fall and collision injuries, including broken bones and concussion:


Make sure your kids can swim like a fish.

If the camp you’ve selected offers recreational swimming — and 86% of them do — it’s imperative that children know how to swim and have a good grasp on water safety rules. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause for ages 5-14.

In addition to the obvious safety implications, most camps require kids to pass a swim test on the first day. Those who don’t pass must stay in designated areas designed for younger kids, which can be awkward and embarrassing for older children.

Packing over-the-counter ear drops and insisting that kids use them before and after swimming and showers can help keep moisture out of the ear canal and prevent swimmer’s ear.

When thunder roars, go indoors.

According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there are an average of 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes during some 100,000 thunderstorms each year in the U.S. Lightning storms can happen anytime but are more frequent — and cause more deaths and injuries — in spring and summer. In fact, the Fourth of July is historically one of the most deadly times of year for lightning.

Here are some tips for weathering a lightning storm:

  • Teach your kids this rhyme: When thunder roars, go indoors. Even if they can’t see lightning, it can strike as far as 10 miles away from the storm
  • If your hair stands up, get inside quick: This could be a (very bad) sign that positive charges are rising through you, reaching toward the negatively charged storm — seek shelter immediately
  • Choose shelter wisely: The safest place is a building with plumbing and electricity because those provide a path for lightning to travel down to the ground. Stay away from windows and anything that conducts electricity, including landline telephones, which are the No. 1 way people get struck by lightning indoors. A car with a metal roof is also a safer place to be than outside (but don’t touch anything metal), near water, under a tree (No. 2 cause of lightning casualties) or in a building without plumbing or electricity
  • If you’re unavoidably caught outside: Don’t be, be near, or be under the tallest object — and ditch the umbrella!
  • When it’s safe, you can help someone who’s been struck by lightning: Unlike someone in contact with a telephone line or other live wire, a lightning victim is not electrified and may need immediate emergency medical treatment for cardiac arrest, burns or other injuries

HCA Medical City Ask a Nurse Infographic_Revised

If your child gets injured at camp, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you.

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How “13 Reasons Why” Can Be a Lesson for All Ages

The controversial Netflix series about a teenage girl’s suicide, “13 Reasons Why,” has kids and parents everywhere talking. In our previous blog, Five Opportunities and Insights from “13 Reasons Why,” a Medical City Green Oaks Hospital adolescent psychiatrist discussed the show’s potential impact on teenagers. But there are other populations that are at even higher risk for suicide: older adults. Medical experts at the Geriatric Behavioral Unit at Medical City North Hills are hoping the Selena Gomez-produced series, which has just been renewed for season two, will also bring attention to the disturbing rates of senior suicide.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that from 1999 to 2011, suicide rates among adults 45 to 64 years of age jumped 40 percent. Statistics show that this trend is continuing.

Suicide rates by age (per 100,000 individuals) from 2000 through 2015

  • 19.6 (45-64)
  • 19.4 (85 and older)
  • 17.1 (35-44)
  • 16.1 (65-84)
  • 15.5 (20-34)
  • 3 (Under 20)

The sense of loss of control over one’s life, from financial circumstances or the pain and physical disability associated with chronic health problems, can contribute to depression, a key factor for suicidal thoughts in older adults, a counselor with Medical City North Hills’ Geriatric Behavior Unit said.

Texas ranks near the bottom — No. 41 — in number of deaths by suicide but even so, on average, one person dies by suicide every three hours in the state.

Other factors that influence senior suicide rates include:

  • Gender and age: Middle-aged white males have the highest suicide rate and accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2015 (men of all ages die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women)
  • A previous diagnosis of mental illness: This accounts for more than 90% of suicide deaths, regardless of age
  • Social isolation: Including from death of a spouse or divorce
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor sleep quality and having trouble falling asleep: These factors increased seniors’ risk of suicide by 1.2 times, according to a JAMA Psychiatry study

It’s vitally important for family members to take note of changes in sleeping or eating habits in elderly loved ones. You should consider all verbal remarks about ending a life as a sign for intervention or assistance. Those types of comments should be taken seriously and professional mental health help should be sought immediately.

The good news is, depression is not a normal part of aging, but a true and treatable medical condition. According to the CDC, the majority of older adults aren’t depressed and most who are can get relief from their symptoms with treatment.

Warning signs of senior suicide.

If you see any of these warning signs in a spouse or loved one, seek immediate medical help.

  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities previously enjoyed
  • Decreased social interaction, self-care and grooming
  • Breaking medical regimens, including going off diets, refusing medications
  • Significant personal loss, such as the death or impending death of a loved one
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Putting affairs in order, giving away possessions, making changes to a will
  • Stockpiling medications or obtaining other lethal means (remove access to firearms; about half of all suicides are attributed to the use of firearms, according to the CDC)
  • Preoccupation with death or loss of regard for personal safety
  • Comments indicating finality, including “This is the last time you’ll see me,” or “I won’t be needing any more appointments”
  • Talking about or attempting suicide

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) provides free and confidential resources and support for people of all ages in distress or crisis.

Call Medical City Green Oaks Hospital’s crisis line 24/7/365 at (972) 770-0818.

For fast, emergency help in a crisis, look to one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or call our free 24/7 Ask-A-Nurse hotline.

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Revised 1/25/2018

When Insects Sting: How to Avoid Allergic Reactions

If you think Texas has it all, you’re right — including all five insects whose stings are known to cause allergic reactions: fire ants, honeybees, hornets, wasps and yellow jackets. Yay us.

It’s estimated that roughly 2 million Americans are allergic to the venom of stinging insects. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), it’s not uncommon to have a “normal” reaction the first few times and then experience increasingly severe reactions with each subsequent sting.

Types of reactions that can occur with insect stings.

  • A normal local reaction, which includes pain, swelling and redness at the sting site.
  • A large local reaction, which results in swelling that extends well beyond the sting site — such as a sting on your hand that causes your whole arm to swell. Swelling usually peaks several days after the sting and can last up to a week or more.
  • A systemic allergic reaction is a severe allergic reaction and requires immediate medical attention, such as calling 911 or going to the closest ER. Symptoms can include:
    • Hives
    • Itchy skin
    • Flushing
    • Swelling beyond the sting site
    • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure
    • Hoarseness, swelling of the tongue or difficulty swallowing
    • Abdominal pain, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
    • Fainting or cardiac arrest
  • Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs when the body releases an overdose of allergen-fighting chemicals, sending the body into shock. It’s life-threatening and can worsen quickly. Additional symptoms can include:
    • Breathing problems
    • Constricted throat
    • Rapid heart beat
    • Feeling of doom

People who have a known or suspected allergy to insect stings should carry at least one self-injectable epinephrine pen at all times; the ACAAI recommends two for those who have had a possible systemic reaction.

Gan Su, DO, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City Arlington, discusses signs that an allergic reaction should send you to the ER.

When the bee stings.

Texas Parks and Wildlife offers these tips for treating normal (mild) sting reactions:

  • Remove the stinger
  • Wash sting site with soap and water
  • Cover and keep clean
  • Apply cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling
  • Administer over-the-counter pain relievers and cortisone/anti-itch cream
  • Mild allergic reactions can be treated with antihistamines (Benadryl)

It’s important to act fast if someone who may be allergic has been stung.

“Allergic reactions can come on suddenly and without much warning,” said Scott Corcoran, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Medical City McKinney. “Whether it’s from a bee sting, an ant bite, a peanut or even a strawberry, various things can cause allergic reactions that can be quite serious. Symptoms can include a rash, such as hives, nausea and vomiting, swelling of the eyes, mouth and throat and eventually, the airway closes off. If any of those symptoms are present, patients need to come to the ER right away.”

How to avoid stinging pests and their nests.

Follow the ACAAI’s helpful tips for avoiding insect stings:

  • An open soda can is like bait to a flying stinger — keep sugary drinks covered or better yet, drink water!


  • Same goes for food — keep it covered
  • DO wear
    • Close-toed shoes when walking in grass or brush; this is where stinging insects forage
    • Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, socks and gloves for working outside
  • DO NOT wear
    • Sweet-smelling perfumes, hair products, deodorants, etc.
    • Bright-colored clothing or flowery patterns
  • Be extra cautious near bushes, eaves, trash cans, picnic areas and in attics
  • Call a professional exterminator to inspect for and remove pests and their nests

If someone in your family has an allergic reaction, one of our many Medical City ER locations across North Texas has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.

Find a fast Medical City ER near you or call our free 24/7 Ask-A-Nurse hotline.

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Revised 9/12/2017