Good Dog!

Owning a dog may be good for your health.

If you’re a dog person, you are familiar with the warmth a pup can bring into a home. Dogs are always happy to see “their person” and provide endless affection and joy. It tuns out, they do all that and more – owning a dog may actually be good for your health. According to the CDC, some of the health benefits of pet ownership include: decreased blood pressure, decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduced depression, and improved physical health. Owning a dog is not the sole answer to reducing heart disease or high blood pressure, but it may be a practical part of your overall strategy. So, how do those puppy dog eyes positively impact a person’s health? Read on for four ways a four-legged friend may improve your overall wellbeing.

Get and stay active. There are few things to motivate someone to get off the couch and take a walk like a whining dog. Dog owners are more likely to meet fitness recommendations each week than a person that does not own a dog. Whether taking the pup for a walk, or stepping outside to toss a tennis ball, dogs motivate their owners to get active.

Reduce stress. Dog are trained to be therapy or service animals for a reason. They have been found to reduce anxiety and blood pressure and increase serotonin and dopamine (neurochemicals that boost your mood and overall wellbeing).  

Improve your mood. Dogs may even help keep depression at bay. In addition to increasing serotonin and dopamine, they provide structure and meaning to their owner’s life (as an owner, you must get up in the morning to walk or let your dog out), encourage socialization and prevent isolation and loneliness. For some, having the structure and companionship of a pooch can help protect against cognitive decline and depression.  

Benefits for kids. There is evidence that exposure to a pet at a young age may lower the risk of becoming allergic to animals later in life. Little ones may even develop a stronger immune system. Dogs also present an opportunity for children to learn about responsibility, empathy and independence.


While dogs provide several health benefits, there are also risks associated with having a dog in your home. Dogs and other pets cause a number of falls each year, especially for older adults or people with mobility issues. If you’re considering adopting a dog, chat with your doctor first.

Cold Versus Flu

You know when it’s coming – that foggy feeling, muscle aches, sneezing. You’re getting sick. You start to consider your plan of attack, but first you need to know what you’re dealing with. Is this a cold or something more severe? Read on to learn difference between cold and flu symptoms.

What is the difference between a cold and flu?

Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Are you suffering from flu or cold symptoms? Still need to get the flu shot this season? Save your spot in line at an IHA Urgent Care near you.  

Forming a Healthy Habit

The key to making and keeping new healthy habits

With the new year comes a fresh start and for many people an opportunity to make some positive changes in their lives. With great intentions, they head off into the new year determined to make a go of this year’s resolutions. Too often, busy lives take over and resolutions are abandoned after just a few weeks.  Forming new, positive daily habits is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Read on for some advice on how to incorporate a new habit into your daily routine and make your 2020 resolutions stick!

Pick one goal.

Don’t spread your willpower too thin. Focusing on one goal at a time will increase your chances of actually achieving it.

Look at the small picture.

Rather than setting a resolution for the whole year, start with one month or even one week. Your goal should feel attainable with as little pressure as possible.

Make a sub-habit.

There are things you do every single day without even thinking about it: brushing your teeth, feeding the dog, walking into the house after work, you get the idea. Try setting your goal as a sub-habit of one of your already established daily habits. For example, “after I feed the dog, I will take him for a ten-minute walk” or “when I walk in the door after work, I will put my workout clothes on and run one mile”.

Take it one (baby) step at a time.

When forming a new habit, a low-level commitment is much easier to work into your day. Start with simple tasks that make it almost impossible to fail. Once you get started, you may find yourself doing more. Here are some suggestions for daily micro-commitments:

  • Take a 5-minute walk
  • Write one paragraph in your journal
  • Eat one serving of vegetables

Plan for obstacles.

Weather, time, cost or illness will no doubt present a challenge in achieving your goal of forming a new healthy habit. Plan ahead for challenges and be ready to work through them. Come up with “if-then” statements to help make it over predictable stumbling blocks;

  • If I am not able to sustain the cost of a gym membership, I will walk in my neighborhood or local mall
  • If I am not able to walk outside due to weather, I will do floor exercises in the basement for 20 minutes
  • If I’m not feeling well enough to walk or do a full work out, I will lift weights for 10 minutes

Hold yourself accountable.

We all have the friend that checks in at the gym every day on social media. Well, maybe they have the right idea. When your progress is monitored or witnessed by others, you are more likely to follow-through with your commitment. Consider creating or joining a group with similar goals, and post or text each other when you complete your daily goal. You may also want to tell your primary care physician about your goals and expect to follow-up next year or at your next exam.

Reward yourself!

Take time to celebrate your success! Having something to look forward to will motivate you along the way. Choose rewards that support your new healthy habit – avoid rewarding yourself with sugary treats or days off from your new habit. Instead, download new music for your workout routine, see a movie, or grab lunch with a friend.


Have you scheduled your 2020 wellness exam? Make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss some health goals that may benefit your physical and psychological well-being.

Healthy Holidays

6 Tips for a healthy holiday season

There’s nothing like the holidays. For many people, the holidays mean reuniting with family and friends, lots of hugs, handshakes and – So. Many. Germs. (Of course, the holidays are in the heart of flu season!) We’ve pulled together some tips for staying healthy during the holiday season, so your New Year is merry too.

  1. Wash your hands every chance you get. This is great advice for adults and children alike. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Especially after greeting family or friends. You may want to bring along a couple travel size bottles of hand lotion. All that washing can dry your skin.
  2. Bundle up! Depending on where you are celebrating, wear weather appropriate clothing and outerwear. Doing your best to stay dry and warm will help keep you well.
  3. Don’t stress. Well, manage your stress. The most wonderful time of the year is often the busiest. Take time out for yourself and your family if you are feeling overwhelmed. Seek support from family and friends and get your sleep.
  4. Keep your eyes on children. When you’re hosting or part of a large gathering, it’s easy to lose track of kids. Keep potentially dangerous decorations, candles, drinks and food away from children. Work with the other adults in attendance to ensure someone always has an eye on the children in the group.
  5. Prepare and consume food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly. If you aren’t sure about the hygiene of the kitchen or the length of time the food has been sitting out, don’t eat anything that can potentially get you sick.
  6. Take care of yourself. Get your annual exams checked off for the year or catch up on your vaccines over the holidays.

In spite of your best efforts, if you catch something other than the holiday spirit this season, don’t stress. IHA Urgent Care locations have holiday hours. Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you, and wait at home.

Ho-ho-home Safety

12 Safety Tips for a Merry & Bright Holiday Season

The holiday season is downright magical. The lights! The cherished family ornaments! The candles, plants and tree! After the first holiday season with an active child, we quickly realize all decorations aren’t made to be kid-friendly. It takes some effort from the grown-ups to ensure little ones are safe while celebrating the magic of the season. Luckily, The American Academy of Pediatrics created a list of tips to keep everyone in your home safe, and the holidays merry.

  1. When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. The needles should be hard to pull off, and should not easily break when you bend them. When you tap the tree on the ground, only a few needles should fall off. Cut a few inches off the bottom of the trunk before putting it in the stand, and be sure to keep the stand filled with water.
  2. If you have an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “Fire Resistant.”
  3. When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  4. Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree.
  5. Check all lights before hanging them on a tree or in your home, even if you have just purchased them. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  6. Be cautious about trimmings that may contain lead. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded materials. Light strands may contain lead in the bulb sockets and wire coating, sometimes in high amounts. Make sure your lights are out of reach of young children who might try to put lights in their mouths, and wash your hands after handling them. 
  7. Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them. Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks. And, watch your step if using a ladder to deck your halls.
  8. When lighting candles, remove flammable materials from the area, and place the candles where they will not be knocked over. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Do not use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  9. In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  10. Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
  11. Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child, or can cause a fire if near flame.
  12. Keep potentially poisonous holiday plant decorations, including mistletoe berries, Jerusalem cherry, and holly berry, away from children, and pets too.

Don’t forget: When you leave your home or head to bed for the night, take a look around to be sure all decorations are turned off, candles are blown out and nothing is stirring (not even a mouse).


IHA Urgent Care is open on holidays! If your little sugarplumb experiences an injury or illness this holiday season, we’re here to help, and are open on holidays. Save your spot in line at an IHA Urgent Care location near you.

Toy Buying Tips

Pediatrician-approved gifts for every child

The official kickoff to holiday shopping is just days away. Before you check-off your child’s wish list, check-out some pediatrician-approved gifts that every kid will love!

Pretend.

When a child is given the freedom to play without rules or guidelines, their imagination will take over. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said it best: “Pretending through toy characters (such as dolls, animals, and action figures) and toy objects (like food, utensils, cars, planes, and buildings) help children learn to use words and stories to imitate, describe, and cope with real life events and feelings. Imagination is the key here! Imaginary play is a large part of a child’s social and emotional development.”

Pretend Shopping List:

  • Play kitchen with accessories (food, utensils, plates, etc.)
  • Vehicles (diggers, cars, emergency vehicles, planes, etc.)
  • Dress-up clothing and accessories
  • Microphone
  • Chalk board

Assembly required.

A simple puzzle holds so many benefits for a young mind – problem-solving, fine motor, language and cognitive skills. Looks for age and developmentally appropriate building blocks, puzzles, train tracks.

Assembly Required Shopping List

  • Building Blocks
  • Puzzles
  • Train tracks
  • Magnet tiles

Art

It’s amazing to see what kids are capable of without restrictions. Consider give an art basket to build their creativity and fine motor skills.

Art Shopping List:

  • Crayons/Markers/Color Pencils
  • Age appropriate paints
  • For older children, encourage them to try new media like oil pastels, chalk pastels, ink, etc.
  • Blank sketch books (try different sizes, large and small)
  • Glue
  • Kid-friendly scissors
  • Clay
  • Art accessories: pipe cleaners, pom poms, tissue paper, stickers and anything else you can think of!

Skip the video games.

There are educational apps and video games that work to teach the ABCs, but what they are missing – creative thinking, emotional development and impulse control – are much more important factors in the healthy development of your child. According to the AMA, Research suggests tablet-based toys may actually delay social development for infants and young children, because they don’t include real life facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations.

Skip the Video Games Shopping List:

  • Match games
  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Age and interest appropriate Books
  • Magazine subscription
  • Busy board with a variety of locks and latches

Play!

Especially in the winter months, getting physical activity is so important – for kids and grown-ups alike! Not only does it help to develop good habits for later in life, but being physically active also holds benefits for emotional health.

Play! Shopping List:

  • Hula hoop
  • Sports gear (football, baseball, basketball – choose based on what interests your child)
  • Twister
  • Indoor bowling set
  • Yoga mat paired with child appropriate exercise classes or DVDs
  • Roller blades (don’t forget the helmet and pads)
  • Gym shoes
  • Push and riding toys for little ones just walking

IHA Urgent Care locations are open on holidays! Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you, and wait at home.

Give Thanks

Create grateful hearts with a Family Thankful Jar

When we are consumed by the everyday hustle, it’s hard to stop and express gratitude to and for those around us. Thanksgiving presents the perfect opportunity to do just that. As the holiday approaches, consider making a family thankful jar to give everyone a chance to express what they are thankful for every day.

Here’s how you can make your own Family Thankful Jar:  

  1. Grab a jar, plastic container or old Easter basket. If they are up for it, have the kids decorate the jar.
  2. Cut up strips of paper & place near the jar with a pen
  3. Encourage the family to jot down a daily gratitude. If you have guests coming to dinner, have them add a note to the jar too!

Once Thanksgiving dinner is done, sit down together, open the jar and read through the notes of gratitude. Taking the time to appreciate each other can have an amazing impact on family dynamics. Thanksgiving is a reason to get started but continue to model and encourage gratitude all year long. Make opening your gratitude jar a monthly event, or have everyone express one gratitude at the end of each day.


IHA Urgent Care locations are open on Thanksgiving! Don’t spend your holiday waiting in a waiting room. Save your spot in line at an Urgent Care location near you, and wait at home.

Winterize Your Skin

Cracking down on dry hands.

Winter is just around the corner, and with it come fun winter sports, cozy sweaters, and a great excuse to stay inside and watch a movie. The not-so-fun side of winter includes dry and cracked skin on your hands.  The skin on your hands is thinner and has few oil glands than the rest of your body, so we’ve got some tips to help you be extra kind to your hands during the winter months.

  1. Dust off the humidifier. When the heat comes on, the skin dries out. To help replace some of the moisture in the air, pull the humidifier out of the closet and fill ‘er up!
  2. A lot of moisturizer. We wash our hands more in the winter months to avoid illnesses, and that coupled with the cold weather is hard on your skin. To avoid cracked skin on your hands, keep bottle of moisturizer on your sink, and apply lotion every time you wash your hands. Keep another tube of moisturizer in your car or with you in a work bag or purse and apply several times a day.
  3. Bundle up! Whether you prefer gloves or mittens, get a pair that you will wear, and protect the  skin on your hands from harsh temperatures and cold surfaces.
  4. Avoid super hot water. There are few things more comforting than a hot shower after being out in the cold, but super hot water actually dehydrates your skin. Keep your shower temperature on the warm side and buy a fancy pair of rubber gloves for doing the dishes.
  5. Know when to seek help. If you are diligent about skincare, but you can’t seem to stop the peeling or cracking, it may be time to see a professional. Persistent dryness could be a sign of a health condition like eczema, psoriasis or even an allergic reaction. Sometimes store-bought moisturizers won’t do the trick, so you may need to take a different approach to treating your dry skin.

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

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Fall Back (without falling apart)

Helping your child adjust to the time change

Even though we gain an hour in the fall time change, it can have an impact on sleep schedules for parents and children alike.  The sleep periods don’t move, but the time does. So, a child that normally sleeps from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am, will now come bouncing out of their room at 5:00 am. Ouch. What can you do to help your child (and yourself) adjust to daylight savings time? Start with these 4 steps:

  1. Adjust schedules.

Put your child to bed a half hour later than usual, to prepare for falling back an hour. For a teenager, time changes can be especially difficult. Encourage them to stick to their original schedule and get to be an hour earlier than the clock reads (at their original time). Also, clear your schedule the day after a time change to make the transition a little easier on everyone in your house.

2. Get ready to get up!

You know your little ones are going to be ready to roll an hour earlier than usual. Do yourself a favor, and get to sleep at your normal bedtime, so you are ready to roll when they are (or as ready as possible).

3. Be patient.

Gaining an hour is much easier than losing one, but we still feel a stress on our minds and bodies. Be patient with yourself and your kids.

4. Routines rule!

Kids do well with routines, especially when things are changing around them. Keep consistent and stick with your typical routine to help them adjust mentally and physically to their new schedule.

If you have concerns about your child’s sleep schedule, don’t lose sleep! Reach out to your pediatrician or pediatric provider for some help.

It’s easy to schedule an appointment with your pediatric provider – simply visit our online appointment tool, scroll to find your pediatric provider, and click to schedule an appointment at a time that works for your family!

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Halloween Safety

Starting November 1st every year, most children begin their countdown to the next Halloween. And why wouldn’t they? Costumes! Candy! Late bedtimes! While there’s so much fun to be had, there are also safety concerns. Read on for safety reminders to ensure your Halloween night is delightful, not frightful.

  • Trick-or-treat in groups or individually with a trusted adult.
  • Be sure drivers can see you walking or crossing the street, Wear glow sticks or add some reflective tape to the costume.
  • Bring a flashlight along, so you can see where you’re going and avoid falling.
  • Walk. Don’t run.
  • Look both ways when crossing the street and use crosswalks when possible.
  • If you’re driving, go slow and keep your eyes open for trick-or-treaters.
  • An adult should look over the candy haul before anyone digs in. Factory wrapped treats are the safest. Homemade treats from strangers are not safe. Pay close attention to any ingredients that may trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Approach well-lit homes only, and never enter a stranger’s home.
  • Do not accept a ride from stranger. Ever.
  • If heading out in a group, plan the route ahead of time, and share it with a trusted adult.
  • Pumpkins are hard to carve, even for adults. Use a knife with a rounded tip and be sure a grown-up does the carving or oversees the activity.  
  • Use caution if candles are part of your décor. Look for fire-resistant costumes and place open flames in a safe spot (away from little hands, claws, paws…) Battery operated, or LED candles are the safest choice.
  • Accessories can make or break the costume. Be sure they are short, soft and flexible.
  • If makeup or face paint is part of you or your child’s costume, test it on a small part of your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin, before applying it on Halloween night.

If you’re faced with a Halloween boo boo or illness, don’t go batty. IHA Urgent Care locations are open late and are ready to treat you and your pumpkins.

Wait in line at home, click below to save your spot in an IHA Urgent Care close to you.

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