Health Education

Flu Symptoms? Stay Home or Seek Medical Attention?

The flu has a peculiar feeling. Some combination of your skin feeling weird, your head feeling like a balloon and your body aching. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it.

So what can you do about it?

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CPR in 3 Simple Steps


Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating and the victim loses consciousness and collapses. It isn’t always caused by a heart attack. Nationally, if a victim of sudden cardiac arrest collapses outside of a hospital, his/her chances of survival if a bystander does not start CPR immediately is less than 8%. You can double or triple a loved one’s chances of survival by starting CPR.

These are 3 simple steps to save a life if you see a teen or adult who has collapsed:

  1. Check to see if they are responsive and breathing normally. The best way to determine if someone is unresponsive and may need CPR is to tap the victim and shout “Are you OK?” while checking to see if they are breathing normally. Breathing normally does NOT include snoring, gurgling, or gasping.A victim must be on his/her back on a hard flat surface, preferably on the floor, for CPR to be effective.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Compress hard and fast on the center of the chest.Interlock fingers and place palm of one hand over the center of the victim’s chest.Keeping arms straight and elbows locked, push straight down hard – at least 2 inches. It is better to push too deep than not deep enough.The hands should not come off the chest or “bounce” between each compression, but downward pressure should be completely released to allow the heart to refill with blood.Push hard and fast in the center of the chest (about 100 times per minute) when doing compressions on an unresponsive victim who is not breathing, or not breathing normally once 911 has been called. Do not stop until help arrives, unless the victim begins moving or speaking.

Stop by our booth at the North Carolina State Fair October 12- 22, 2017, and we can teach you how to save a life!

NC State Fair 2017NC State Fair

Education Building (near Gate 12)
1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27607

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Why Seasonal Allergies in the Triangle Are Worse This Year: A Q&A

allergy sufferer

Allergist-immunologist Maya Jerath, MD, PhD, is Medical Director of the UNC Allergy and Immunology Clinic and Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at UNC, and a member of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

Why does pollen make you sneeze?

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Gift Yourself a Sprint Distance Triathlon (GROUP LEARNING SESSIONS)

Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the REX Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher with the Wake County Public School system.

REX Triathlon Raleigh

Eight years ago, I started my own triathlon journey, struggling because I knew nothing about preparing for the sport. Thanks to friends in the triathlon community, I eventually found my way and learned how to properly train. Since then, I have completed 3 Iron Distance Triathlons. It is now my goal to make sure Rex members do not follow the same arduous path I took.

There is a correct way to prepare and I can show you how. Read more…

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10 Silent Symptoms of Diabetes

112316_briers_bioAlexa Briers is currently a Dietetic Intern with REX Nutrition Services and REX Diabetes Education Center. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech.

Do you have undiagnosed diabetes? The American Diabetes Association reported 29.1 million Americans had diabetes, with 8.1 million being undiagnosed in 2012. Additionally, 1.4 million Americans are newly diagnosed each year.

In recognition of National Diabetes Awareness Month, we want you to monitor for these 10 subtle signs of diabetes. If you have questions or concerns about diabetes, talk with your doctor and ask about getting your blood glucose checked.

  1. Frequent urination: Your kidneys are working overtime to flush out excess sugar in the blood. Extra sugar not absorbed by the kidneys are filtered out through urine. High sugar equals more bathroom breaks.
    1. How do you know? People urinate 4-7 times in a day; are you making more trips to the bathroom?
    2. RED FLAG: Waking at night to use the bathroom.
  2. captureExcessive thirst: With frequent urination comes replacing the fluid lost. Your body feels parched and dried out!
    1. How do you know? 4 or more liters, over a gallon per day, is excessive. The average person needs approximately 2 liters a day.
    2. RED FLAG: Feeling thirsty just after drinking water.
  3. Extreme hunger: When blood sugar isn’t properly regulated it leads to fluctuations throughout the day. Low levels tell the brain to eat more calories and sugary food.
    1. How do you know? You find yourself eating more times a day than usual.
    2. RED FLAG: Extreme hunger even after a meal.
  4. Weakness/fatigue: Sugar is unable to get into your cells to energize them. The kidneys are also working overtime with sugar highs and lows. Add in interrupted sleep from night time urination and you are exhausted!
    1. How do you know? Your body and mind feel an ongoing exhaustion, lethargy or weakness.
    2. RED FLAG: You find yourself too weak to do everyday activities you were able to do with ease before.
  5. Pins and Needles: Extra sugar in the blood is damaging the nerve and nerve-endings. Due to poor circulation, the nerves located farthest from the heart, typically the hands and feet, have difficulty being repaired.
    1. How do you know? Feeling numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
    2. RED FLAG: The tingling or numbness feels like burning upon waking up.
  6. Blurry vision: The sugar lingering in the blood takes fluid from the cells and tissue of the eyes. This leads to swelling, making focusing difficult for your eyes.
    1. How do you know? Road signs, menus, books or computer screens are not as clear.
    2. RED FLAG: Floaters in the field of vision.
  7. captureItchy skin: Poor circulation paired with the extensive loss of fluids causes the skin to dry out. Dry skin leads to itchy skin.
    1. How do you know? You notice yourself itching more than usual, coupled with noticeable dry skin.
    2. RED FLAG: Constant need for lotion and cracking skin.
  8. Slow healing wounds: Again, lingering sugar in the blood wreaks havoc on veins and arteries disrupting circulation. Without proper blood flow, cuts and bruises heal more slowly.
    1. How do you know? Paper cuts, bumps and bruises are taking more than a few days to go away.
    2. RED FLAG: Cuts that scab over again and again or wounds lasting weeks to months.
  9. Moody: Riding the roller-coaster of unstable blood sugar may cause a short-temper. High blood sugar may even disguise as depression symptoms.
    1. How do I know? You are noticeably more grumpy or irritable. Family or friends may comment on your unusual demeanor.
    2. RED FLAG: Depression-mimicking symptoms such as low energy drive and feelings of staying in bed.
  10. UTIs & yeast infections: High sugar levels within the urine are a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast near the genitalia.
    1. How do I know? Urinary tract infections come with a burning sensation during urination and cloudy, dark, or off-smelling urine. Yeast infections come with itching, burning and discharge.
    2. RED FLAG: Regularly occurring UTIs or yeast infections. Diabetics are 2 times as likely to suffer from these.

Only your healthcare provider can diagnose diabetes. Once diagnosed, our REX Diabetes Education Center can help you manage your  diabetes through individual and group support. To learn if you are at risk for diabetes, take our free online health assessment today.


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Breast Cancer Myths vs. Facts

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to dispel some common myths about breast cancer that you often hear.

Myth: All lumps are cancerous.

Fact: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer.  But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam. He or she may possibly order breast imaging studies to determine if this lump is of concern or not.

Myth: Only women get breast cancer.

Fact: Each year it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer. While this number is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower and reporting any changes to their physicians.

Myth: If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer, too.

Fact: While a family history of breast cancer can place you in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

Here are the familial risks of breast cancer according to degree of family relation:

  • If you have a first degree relative with breast cancer: If you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
  • If you have a second degree relative with breast cancer: If you have had a grandmother or aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk increases slightly, but it is not in the same risk category as those who have a first degree relative with breast cancer.
  • If you have multiple generations diagnosed with breast cancer on the same side of the family or if there are several individuals who are first degree relatives to one another, or several family members diagnosed under age 50, the probability increases that there is a breast cancer gene contributing to the cause of this familial history.

Fact: Early Detection is Key

When it comes to breast cancer awareness, the most important thing to remember is that early detection is key. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 98%.  Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.

Learn more about the REX Comprehensive Breast Care Program and how to make an appointment for a mammogram at



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Improving Care for Patients with PAD through Research


Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects an estimated 8 million people in the U.S. However, severity of symptoms can vary widely.

Patients with relatively mild PAD may experience cramping in their limbs during exercise—known as claudication. Patients with the most severe PAD are afflicted with ischemic ulcers and gangrene as cells and tissues that are deprived of oxygen-rich blood begin to die.

Several devices, like stents or balloons, are available to help relieve the blockages that cause PAD. But because most of the data on their use comes from clinical trials aimed at regulatory approval, and because such trials utilize patients with a relatively standardized severity of symptoms, there is often little guidance for clinicians whose patients have milder or more severe PAD.

One UNC REX Healthcare doctor is leading the effort to change that.

George L. Adams, MD, MHS, FACC

George L. Adams, MD, MHS, FACC

George Adams, MD, MHS, Director of Cardiovascular and Peripheral Vascular Research at UNC REX Hospital, is leading a prospective, observational, multicenter study called LIBERTY 360. In February 2016, the study completed enrollment 1,204 patients at 51 sites across the U.S. The enrolled patients had symptoms that ranged from mild to severe (physicians use the Rutherford scale to rate severity) requiring endovascular treatment for an arterial blockage located within the target area beginning slightly above the knee, through the foot.

“In the guidelines currently, you are supposed to manage the symptoms of patients with mild PAD and amputate in the most severe cases,” said Adams. “So the question we’re trying to answer is if we accept all classes of patients, what can we do for them and what is the outcome?”

The study hopes to gather data on the clinical and economic impact of endovascular device interventions – like stents or balloons – by following patients for up to five years. During that time, patient risk scores will be developed as a clinical predictor of outcomes to provide guidance for future interventions.

Initial 30-day results, which Adams recently presented in a late-breaking presentation at the Amputation Prevention Symposium in Chicago, have already suggested a new way of looking at treatment.

The results saw quality of life improvements in patients from across the Rutherford scale. “The take home message is maybe we should be intervening earlier and trying to intervene in more severe cases,” said Adams.

Ideally, intervening with endovascular devices among a wider range of patients will improve outcomes all around, including reducing the number of amputations required in patients with the most severe PAD. But for now more data need to be gathered.

To find out if you are at risk for PAD, please take our free online health risk assessment. To learn more visit

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Napping: Is it good for everyone?

woman napping hammock

Everyone knows long hours of sleep are essential for small children to grow up strong and healthy. But what about adults? A brief nap during the day can be the perfect solution for some. Dr. Adnan Pervez, a sleep medicine physician at REX Pulmonary Specialists answers four key questions about the health benefits and risks for taking a quick daytime snooze.

1. What are the benefits of napping?
Taking a short nap can offer health benefits such as:

  • Improved mood
  • Increased relaxation
  • Increased alertness
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved performance
  • Improved memory

“Memory consolidation is one of the major benefits of a good long night of sleep,” Dr. Pervez says.

2. Who should consider taking a nap and why should they?
Depending on your daily schedule, napping can be beneficial under certain circumstances.
Habitual napping
occurs when you take a brief snooze at the same time each day. “People who are consistently unable to get enough sleep at night would benefit from a habitual nap, taken at the right time and for the right duration,” says Dr. Pervez.

Planned napping is particularly useful for night shift workers. “For many people a nap before they depart for their night shift, or during a break in the early part of the shift, in combination with strategic exposure to light and use of caffeine at the right time can help them cope with an unusual schedule,” Dr. Pervez says.

drowsy drivingEmergency napping is advised when you’re too sleepy to continue a crucial activity, like if you feel drowsy while driving. “If drivers are feeling sleepy, they are typically advised not to rely upon extraneous measures like rolling down the window or turning up the music. Instead, we advise people to park at a rest stop and take a short nap before continuing,” says Dr. Pervez.

3. When and how long should you nap for?
For people who would benefit from napping, Dr. Pervez recommends a 10 to 20 minute nap in the early afternoon. At the most, try limiting your naps to no more than 30 minutes. “The longer or later we nap, the greater the chances that it may prevent us from going to sleep at a decent hour at night,” Dr. Pervez says.  Napping for longer periods can also cause sleep inertia (a state of feeling groggy and disoriented when awakening from a deep sleep) which may interfere with functioning in the period immediately following the nap.

woman_nappingIt is also important to remember that while short naps may be beneficial for some individuals, excessive napping may be a sign of serious medical conditions like sleep apnea or narcolepsy. Establishing consistency in your sleep habits is key to a healthy lifestyle. Both sleep deprivation and excessive sleepiness can have serious health consequences.

The recommended amount of sleep at night depends on a person’s age.  For example, adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night. View the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended sleep times chart for more details.

4. What kind of environment should we nap in?
Protect your time and environment; sleep in a dark and quiet area. Resting in a tranquil and dark room will increase your chances of falling asleep faster. Powerful sources of light in a room can have an impact on the quality of your sleep.

Light and darkness are strong signals that let your body know it’s time to rest. Your brain continues to process sounds while you’re sleeping. Noise can interrupt your dozing, leading you to wake up and shift between stages of sleep.

Learn more about our sleep services offered at the REX Sleep Disorders Center. Plus, find out if you’re at risk of a sleep disorder by taking our Sleep Aware health assessment.

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5 Reasons Teens Should Limit Caffeine

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teenagers consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. (See a chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that shows how much caffeine is in popular drinks.) Why? Consuming high amounts of caffeine can cause irritability, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and anxiety.


Here are five more good reasons to help teens limit their daily caffeine intake.

  1. Empty calories — many caffeinated drinks also have lots of sugar and fat. Drinking too much soda may rob teens of valuable nutrients like calcium.
  2. Dental problems — drinking coffee or tea can stain teeth. The sugar in many caffeinated beverages can lead to cavities.
  3. Trouble sleeping — caffeine can make it hard to fall asleep at night, which could lead to insomnia and daytime sleepiness.
  4. Heart and head — large amounts of caffeine can raise blood pressure in some people. It can also cause headaches.
  5. The cost — caffeinated beverages can be expensive, especially when you buy coffee drinks from popular coffee chains. Think about how much money you could save if you didn’t spend so much on caffeine!
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Summertime Sunshine: Good vs. Bad

Sun Protection

Summertime is here! Now that the warm weather’s arrived, you’re probably ready to head to the beach, go to the pool and have some fun in the sun. But it’s important to prevent overexposure to harmful sunlight while also maximizing the beneficial aspects that can enhance mood, energy and sleep. Dr. Charles Eisenbeis, an oncologist with UNC REX Cancer Care, shares the pros and cons of sun exposure.

Health Benefits of Sunshine

sunblock_sunglassesWhile too much sun can be harmful to your skin, a moderate amount of sun exposure can provide numerous mental and physical health benefits. Sunlight is a good source of vitamin D, which is also known as the “sunshine vitamin.”

“In general, vitamins are compounds that are not produced in the body and need to be obtained mostly from food sources,” says Dr. Eisenbeis. “Vitamin D is different in that the body is able produce vitamin D on its own after skin is exposed to sunlight,” Dr. Eisenbeis continues.

Vitamin D enhances the absorption of other key minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. These minerals promote healthy functions of the body including:

  • Bone health – Vitamin D regulates calcium in the body, which helps maintain and grow strong, healthy bones.
  • Sleep and mood – Vitamin D helps with the production of melatonin, a hormone that’s known for regulating the sleep cycle. Melatonin can lead to more energy during the day and better sleep at night. Melatonin also helps to decrease inflammation and improve your immune system.
  • Immune function – Vitamin D works at the level of the cellular lining of the intestines to help with the absorption of minerals when we eat food. When vitamin D is absorbed, it helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

“In the past ten years we’ve received a lot of information from research on how deficiencies of vitamins are related to higher risks of some diseases such as prostate cancer and breast cancer,” said Dr. Eisenbeis.

Health Risks of Sunlight

Sunburn and Skin Aging
The amount of exposure to the sun over a lifetime can cause damage to the skin and to the DNA, which can lead to dangerous forms of skin cancer. Sun damage can also occur within the collagen of the skin, which can lead to premature aging such as sun spots and wrinkles.

Skin Cancer
Skin cancers are linked to sun exposure and are caused by damaged DNA within the skin itself. Many skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are troublesome in terms of causing cosmetic issues for patients. People who’ve been out in the sun their entire lives tend to have many of reoccurring skin cancers that need to be treated surgically. Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are three types of skin cancer that are largely attributed to excess sun exposure (UV radiation).

Best Practices Under the Sun

Most sun damage stems from our childhood and adolescent years. The best way to avoiding sunburns and excess sun exposure in our children and teens is to encourage best practices for skin protection.

  • Pay attention to time of day and length of sun exposure – Some people may need to have a small amount of sun exposure in order to receive the health benefits of vitamin D. You can obtain enough benefits of vitamin D with about 10 to 20 minutes of sun exposure, two to three times a week and between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Apply and re-apply – Dr. Eisenbeis recommends using sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 to 50 and reapplying sunscreen every two hours.
  • Cover key areas – Wearing sunglasses will help protect your eyes from harmful effects of radiation. Skin cancers tend to form behind the neck and ears. Be sure to apply sunscreen in those key areas and wear a hat to provide extra shielding from the sun.


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