4 Reasons You Should Be Getting Tested for STDs Regularly

std testing centersNobody likes to think about STDs. Whether it’s transmitting them, having them, or getting tested for them, it seems to be a subject that many people try their hardest to avoid. The reality is that STDs are out there whether you talk about them or not, and it’s important to get tested for them.

STD testing centers make these examinations quick and easy and even offer anonymous STD testing. It might be uncomfortable to talk about, but the possibility of having an STD and not knowing is even worse. Here are four important reasons why you need to invest in regular STD testing.

  1. To Protect Your Health
    Just like regular visits to your primary care physician can help prevent common health issues, regular STD testing can prevent sexual health issues. Your sexual organs are important parts of your body! If you don’t practice the same preventative care there that you do on the rest of your body, you’re putting your health at risk.
  2. STDs Are Treatable
    And in some cases, curable. The sooner you visit STD testing centers and have the procedures done, the sooner you can receive treatment if your results are positive. And remember: not all medical visits include STD testing, so make sure you ask your doctor to perform the tests.
  3. STDs Often Don’t Have Visible Symptoms
    More often than not, you can’t tell if you have an STD just by looking into the mirror. In fact, 75-90% of women who have chlamydia have zero symptoms. The only way you can be certain you don’t have an STD is to be tested regularly.
  4. STD Testing Procedures Are Quick and Simple
    It’s not a huge production to get tested for STDs. Some exams require a small amount of blood and others require a simple urine sample or oral swab. Wait times at the ER have increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes, but some at home STD testing kits can yield results in as little as 20 minutes.

Getting tested for an STD might seem scary, but the truth is that it’s one of the best ways to keep your sexual health in check. Don’t underestimate the importance of STD testing!

Winter 2017: What’s Going Around?

urgent care facilities

Everyone knows that winter is peak time for contagious illnesses. While many believe it’s because of the harsh winter weather, that really isn’t the case.

In the colder months, people are more and more likely to stay indoors where they are exposed to more people, instead of germs diluting through the fresh air, they are contained in schools, daycares, and work offices.

So what exactly is going around this time of year? In addition to cold and flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV, is making the rounds, causing severe head colds in adults and even more tiring symptoms in young children. Another is the stomach bug, likely caused by norovirus. Often called the stomach flu, this illness is often unexplainable and comes on very suddenly. Vomiting and diarrhea can last as little as 24 hours, but can persist for a few days.

While some common winter illnesses may be unpleasant and uncomfortable, they are often tolerable. However, in some cases, illnesses can be painfully symptomatic, and may require medical attention.

If you find yourself with any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical attention from your community health clinic as soon as possible:

  • High-grade fever, typically defined as over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Persistent nausea and vomiting for over three days
  • Difficulties breathing, beyond a simple stuffy nose
  • Any skin reaction (rash, hives, etc.)
  • Chest pains
  • Any symptoms regularly interrupting with your daily life

While cold, flu, and norovirus symptoms can affect anyone, there are certain people who are more susceptible to these illnesses, including:

  • Children under five years of age, but especially under age two
  • Senior citizens (over 65 years of age)
  • Pregnant women, or those who have given birth within the past two weeks
  • Those with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, blood disease, various cancers, or other conditions that require you to be under regular supervision of a specialist.
  • Those who have weakened immune systems due to medication or illness, such as HIV
  • Those who have a BMI (body mass index) greater than 40 or less than 19.
  • Anyone in a long term care facility, or is being treated at home for dementia

Primary care physician searching is very difficult these days, especially with such a shortage of medical professionals. To keep up with regular healthcare needs, data shows that we need 52,000 more primary care doctors by 2025 to meet our needs. However, most urgent care facilities allow walk in services which can help anyone receive care whenever the time strikes.

After hours urgent care facilities are able to provide necessary care on the patient’s schedule. If you’re looking for a walk in health clinic near you, search for any of the nearest AFC/Doctors Express Urgent Care Facilities.

A Few of the Services that After Hours Urgent Care Provides to Patients

after hours urgent careBetween 2003 and 2009, waiting time spent in emergency rooms increased from 46.5 minutes to 58.1 minutes. While there are some instances that require the care of an emergency room, it is often preferable to visit an after hours urgent care center for minor injuries and illnesses.

Despite how easy it is to visit an urgent care center, it can sometimes be a challenge knowing when it is required. To help you determine when to visit urgent care facilities, here are a few of the services that are provided.

Common Illness and Injury Treatment
If you experience a minor cut, burn, scrape, or sprain, a low-cost health clinic is a viable option for you. These maladies are often treated in emergency rooms when they could easily be brought to urgent care centers for treatment at a lower cost and shorter waiting time.

Lab Services
If you need testing done, after hours urgent care can complete lab work for you. This is especially important for those seeking confidential STD testing. Contrary to popular belief, fast STD testing is available through urgent care. Not only is it less expensive and fast, urgent care offers anonymous STD testing.

Preventative Health Care
Routine services are always offered at urgent care clinics. These include vaccinations, school, yearly, and sports physicals, OBGYN exams, and even drug screenings. If you can’t make it to your primary care physician for a simple test or checkup, it’s a good idea to get checked out at urgent care to be safe.

Symptoms of Illness
If you’re experiencing symptoms of an illness and are unsure how to go about treating it, you can go to urgent care. Cold and flu symptoms are always good reasons to see a doctor, but illness doesn’t always strike during your physician’s operating hours. Symptoms such as swollen glands, rashes, sore throats, and headaches can all be examined at an urgent care facility.

It can be tough to know when to visit the doctor, but if you’re sick and need treatment, these are all issues that can be treated at an urgent care clinic. Don’t wait to seek treatment!

CDC Reports Record High STD Rates in the U.S.

std testing centers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releases an annual report disclosing the status of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. The 2015 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report showed that the U.S. currently has a record number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Most of these cases were among young adults and teenagers. Over half of all gonorrhea and chlamydia cases were found in those under 25 years of age.

As the health industry’s ability to combat STDs is highly dependent on funding from the state level, as well as state and local legislation, the availability of confidential STD testing centers has been cut. A number of STD testing clinics have been shut down due to budget cuts. More than 20 health departments have reported a need to close their STD testing centers since 2012.

While there still are walk in health clinics that perform STD testing, their hours have been significantly decreased as well, often discouraging many from seeking testing and treatment services.

Untreated STDs have serious long-term consequences, including infertility, chronic pain, decreased immune strength, other infections, and even death in some circumstances.

While the CDC and the federal government are able to collaborate and help fund state and local treatment and testing centers, the last time the budget for these neighborhood health clinics was increased was 2003.

Awareness and education has been proven as the most effective method of STD prevention. However, public schools are not required to teach sex education or provide the necessary information regarding sexual health.

Emphasis on safe sex, condom usage, as well as the benefits of mutual monogamy are vital for school health education in order to provide adolescents with necessary information regarding their own bodies and sexual health.

As the population increases, it becomes increasingly harder to offer reactive services instead of proactive services. Health clinics are experiencing a shortage of health professionals, and sexual health often takes a back seat. In order to have a sufficient number of physicians to treat U.S. healthcare needs, there will need to be an additional 52,000 primary care physicians by 2025.

Luckily, your local urgent care can provide the same services as STD testing centers.

If you are sexually active, are overdue for a pelvic exam, are seeking STD testing, or simply want more information regarding sexual health, AFC/Doctors Express – Denver can help you receive the care you need. Contact our office today.

Autumn Chores Can Be Dangerous Without Proper Preparation

emergency walk in clinicCool and comfortable autumn weather has many people prepping their homes for the winter. Cleaning gutters, chopping wood, covering delicate plants, and raking up leaves are annual chores for many. And while we often don’t give these chores much thought beforehand, it’s best that we do.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that 333,000 people went to the emergency room for injuries related to garden equipment in 2014. That same year, they estimated that 240,000 injuries were caused by falling from ladders or stools.

These injuries can cost a small fortune if you wind up in the ER. The average ER patient pays $1,318, according to the Medical Expenditure Panel survey. However, these astronomic costs and injuries can be prevented by taking the proper precautions.

Be dressed for the job

Layer up when you work outside in the cold. When you’re active and moving, your muscles need to keep warm to keep working properly. Wear gloves in the cold and also when handling heavy equipment, especially materials that are older and may be corroded.

Slips and falls are extremely common too, so wear shoes with proper treads and stability. These shoes should offer good ankle and arch support, especially if you plan on standing for long periods of time.

Eye injuries are also common when performing household chores, so invest in a pair of goggles. Sometimes fragments of rocks can fly back at you, so goggles will protect your eyes from flying debris.

Face masks are also recommended when cleaning out gutters or sheds. Breathing in any mold or dirt from leaves can cause serious illnesses.

Finally, don’t forget to protect your ears when using any sort of power equipment. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and many others operate at high volumes, and the sounds can disrupt your hearing.

On the ladder

Ladders can be very dangerous. As said before, always make sure that you’re wearing proper shoes and avoid loose clothing that could be caught on the rungs. Always have a partner to spot you. They should steady the base of the ladder and be able to help you if you need it. In case of emergency, they can also call for help.

When cleaning the gutters, never set the base of a ladder too close to the home. Follow the four-to-one rule, meaning that for every four feet of height the ladder has, the base should be positioned one foot from the home. This will prevent skidding or tipping.

In case of an accident, emergency walk in clinics offer after hours urgent care services, which are especially useful for weekend or after-work chores.

Primary and family care physicians staff the majority of these neighborhood health clinics, and will more than likely see you within 15 minutes of your arrival.

Our emergency walk in clinics in Denver take insurance and offer many of the same treatments as hospital emergency rooms. For the best emergency walk in clinic Denver has to offer, go to AFC Urgent Care in Cherry Creek or East Denver.

Skin Cancer Risks Still At-Large After Summer’s End

emergency walk in clinic

Summer is nearly over, and it’s likely that you’ve spent some time in the sun. As tans start to fade, however, many people find themselves going to tanning salons to keep up on their summer glows. While having tan skin may make you feel great, tanning can have long-term effects on your health.

Since 1975, skin cancer rates have more than tripled. This is partly due to the thinning of the earth’s ozone layer, as well as tanning’s increased popularity. Many people believe that indoor tanning is a safer alternative, but, in fact, both practices are dangerous.

Those who begin tanning at a younger age are more susceptible to melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Increased exposure for extended periods of time increases the risk of burns, as well as premature signs of aging.

Many people who tan are unaware of the consequences of their actions. Even what may look like a mild burn can be very severe. UV rays emitted by tanning beds and booths operate at a much closer range than those of the sun. While they are not as strong as the sun’s rays, they are still dangerous.

If you find yourself with a mysterious sun spot after returning from a long time outside or a trip to the tanning salon, it’s important to take immediate action. Emergency walk in clinics like urgent care facilities can offer the same services as your primary care physician, and many of the same as a hospital emergency department.

Emergency walk in clinics offer after hours urgent care treatments that are necessary for some who don’t realize that they may be ill until after their primary doctor’s office is closed.

These walk in health clinics are often staffed by a mix of doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners, who are qualified to provide immediate care for your illness, as well as advice for further medical treatment before your condition becomes a problem or spreads further.

Many medical walk in clinics an perform on-site lab testing to determine the extent of your burn or abnormal skin mark that may be the precursor to skin cancer or another severe skin condition.

In the meantime, refrain from indoor tanning, but continue to soak up as much of the sun before winter comes. Just be sure to wear sunscreen!

Don’t Want to Leave the House? Get Your STD Testing Kit Delivered to You

online STD testing

Is your primary care available when you are? Are you apprehensive about visiting a family health clinic to get tested for an STD? Look no further, as there are more options for STD testing than you might have thought possible. While the U.S. does need more primary care physicians — about 52,000 more by the year 2025 — online STD testing is available in the meantime.

Skeptical? Here’s what you should know!

How does it work?
If you are pressed for time or simply do not want to travel to one of the STD testing clinics near you, online STD testing is also an option. To order a home STD testing kit, you can simply go online, enter some basic information, and receive your kit in the mail. The STD testing kits come with detailed instructions for use. In a few days, you will receive the lab results in the mail or by secure text message, if so chosen.

Depending on your state and the company you choose for online testing, the process can differ slightly. For example, in states like Idaho, Washington, and Minnesota, you may have the option to start a video visit with a health care provider in real time.

How accurate is a home STD testing?
Whether you are getting tested at a walk in clinic or using a kit at home, there is no difference in the accuracy of the test. Simply read the instructions carefully, provide the proper sample amount as indicated, and send the kit back. Medical professionals recommend getting tested at least two weeks after having sex.

How much does online STD testing cost?
The price for this particular STD testing service can vary, but is typically no more than $129 altogether. However, if you have health insurance, your care could be covered. Telecommuting is also an option sometimes, and usually only costs about $25. If you find that you need medication as a result of your testing, it will involve a separate charge.

Considering that just 29% of primary care doctors are available to patients after hours, you may be looking into other ways to get tested for STDs. Luckily, due to advancements in technology, you do not have to spend the average of 58.1 minutes in an emergency department to get tested. Get the results you need from the convenience of your own home by getting a testing kit delivered to you.

Fall Into Health With AFC Urgent Care

fall-leavesSummer might be fun, and spring is lovely, but the best season has got to be fall. The changing leaves, the brisk winds and the warm fires bring everyone closer, and the leisure activities can’t be beat. Over a third of Americans list fall as their favorite season, blowing all of the other seasons out of the water. However, fall requires a change of habits to stay healthy, especially as the days grow shorter and the weather grows colder. Follow these tips to feel your best during the best season!

  1. Eat with the season. Some people use fall as an excuse to eat less produce, since many of the most popular items, like strawberries, peaches and peppers are out of season. But there are so many fruits and vegetables that reach their prime just as the weather begins to turn, so you should take advantage and get some variety in your diet. Apples, pumpkin, squash and broccoli are at peak freshness during the fall. Fill up your baskets with a new mix of fresh produce and get creative with mealtimes!
  2. Keep moving. Once the weather turns cold, it can be hard to maintain the exercise routines you might have built in the summer, but exercise does more than just keep you trim. Getting enough activity in your day is linked to a stronger immune system, better sleep and a happier mood. You might have to adjust what you do or where, but try to keep the same level of activity that you had in the summer to make the seasonal transition seamless.
  3. Get your vitamin D. Don’t let the cold weather chase you inside! Since the days are getting shorter, it might be harder for you to get out in the sunshine. But 15 minutes a day is really all you need to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D, so use a bit of time to go for short walks outside or do some yard work.
  4. Wear sunscreen. Many people think that when the weather gets cold, they no longer need sunscreen to protect their skin. This is a dangerous misconception! You should continue wearing sunscreen throughout the fall and winter, because the sun doesn’t stop giving off ultraviolet radiation when it’s cold out. Wearing sunscreen will protect your skin from premature aging caused by sun damage, and it can also help keep your skin from getting too dry in the cold air.
  5. Strengthen your immune system. Fall typically signals the return of illnesses like colds and the flu, so it’s important to give yourself the best chance of fighting off infection. We already mentioned that getting enough exercise can boost your immune system, but there are several other things you can do. Adequate sleep and a healthy diet are both crucial to healthy immune function. High levels of stress can harm your immune system, so having stress reduction methods in place can make a difference in your ability to stay healthy.

This fall should be all about enjoying the weather and the many activities that come with the season, not about fighting off the flu and losing your good habits. Keep using your sunscreen and working produce into your diet, and enjoy all that fall has to offer. If you have any questions about how to build new fall habits to keep you and your family healthy, visit your local AFC Urgent Care today!

Keeping Your Child Active and Healthy During the School Year

kid-kick-the-ballFor many kids, the summer is a three-month-long outdoor adventure, and they celebrate the warm weather and free time by riding bikes, hiking and playing sports. But as the school year begins, it can become harder for families to carve out the time to be active and stay healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, kids are getting less physical activity and more junk food than ever, which can lead to a greater risk of weight gain and poor health. We at AFC Urgent Care have some tips on how to keep your kids active and healthy when classwork, afterschool schedules and other to-do list items begin to compete for your time.

Keep Them Learning Without Homework – And Let Them Relax!

Educational activities don’t have to be boring and sedentary. One of the biggest misconceptions about education is that children have to be seated and silent to be learning. Kids are actually better able to focus and retain information when they are able to move, vocalize and manipulate things. Try building something or do a messy science experiment to get them off the couch and moving. Encourage them to find fun ways to learn without making everything about a grade or a milestone.

Make Time to Play with Your Kids

Kids love to play — with their friends, by themselves and even with their parents! Having a parent there can make an activity even more special, as you both have time to bond over something your child enjoys. Take as much time as you can to play with your kids, even if it isn’t long. There are several ways to do this, including doing fitness classes or videos together, hand-making toys to play with or having a game of tag out in the yard.

Work Activity into Your Day

During a hectic weekday, it can be nearly impossible to set aside the hour a day kids need to play, so why not try splitting activity up into bite-sized chunks? Start by making the morning routine into an active game or race to help them wake up energized, and encourage your kids to play for a short while before sitting down for homework after school. When you get busy, play must be worked into your schedule deliberately in order to ensure that it happens. Play might not seem worthwhile to us busy adults, but experts have found that kids who get enough play tend to do better in school and be more emotionally well-adjusted.

Meal Prep Together

Making a healthy, balanced meal at the end of a long day is a big challenge, especially when your picky kids are begging for their favorite fast food. Help your kids learn to love home-prepared meals by preparing them together as a family. According to a review of food preparation classes and camps by Derek Hersch and colleagues, kids who prepare their own food and learn what makes a healthy meal are much more likely to have a healthy diet than children who are not involved in food preparation. Preparing food at home with your kids can make it much easier to juggle all of the evening tasks your home and family need done, which takes stress off your shoulders.

Make Chores Fun

It can be hard to justify letting your kids play when the dishes are piling up in the sink and the living room hasn’t been vacuumed in weeks. Instead of stressing about whether the chores will ever get done, make completing them a game for the kids. You can have the family race to complete a chore the fastest, compete to see who can find the coolest or weirdest item during a room clean-up, or compete to clean a windowpane the best. This teaches responsibility and associates cleanliness with good memories, instead of making it a dreaded obligation. Chores have to be done, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun!

Kids who don’t exercise enough when they’re young can have a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease when they grow older, so it’s important for kids to establish good habits now. Help your child make active living a habit and you’ll go a long way to helping them learn how to relieve stress, build muscle and focus in class. Give these ideas a try the next time you have a chance, and if you need any more tips on how to keep your kids active and healthy, visit the physicians at your local AFC Urgent Care!

September Is Healthy Aging Month

autumn photoSeptember is Healthy Aging Month, and AFC Urgent Care is dedicated to helping our patients maintain healthy and happy lives as they age. As you age, your healthcare needs become more unique. Situations might arise that are scarier as a senior adult than they would have been if you were 20 years younger. At AFC Urgent Care, we understand the special nature of senior adult health concerns, and we are equipped to provide a positive, comfortable and relaxing healthcare experience for seniors at all of our urgent care locations, potentially saving worried seniors a trip to the emergency room for routine health concerns. Read on to find out why we’re a better alternative to the emergency room for non-life threatening healthcare needs.

Urgent Care Is Cheaper Than the ER

Urgent care centers can do more than you might think, and for a much better price than the average emergency room. Emergency rooms typically have higher costs than urgent care centers to maintain the equipment needed to deal with hundreds or thousands of complex health events every day. This drives up the cost of emergency room care to an average of three times more than an urgent care center. Most urgent care centers have the equipment to deal with common senior ailments and health concerns – as long as your trauma is not life-threatening, an urgent care center can take care of you. From cuts and fractures to open wounds and acute illnesses, a physician at an urgent care clinic can treat you without a massive bill at the end.

Urgent Care Is More Comfortable

According to a survey that appeared in the 2011 Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, many seniors report that their time in an emergency room ranges from unpleasant to harmful. Seniors often report becoming “cold, hungry, thirsty” in emergency rooms, and many are concerned about the lack of privacy and disorienting environment. With fewer patients, physicians in urgent care centers are able to take better care of all patients, so your needs are more likely to be addressed in a timely manner.

Fewer People and Faster Treatments

The emergency room is the first stop for many patients who are experiencing urgent health problems, because many people still believe that the emergency room is the best way to receive good treatment quickly. However, at urgent care centers, wait times tend to be much shorter, and the licensed physicians on staff can deliver the same level of care or better. The environment tends to be calmer, and by visiting an urgent care center instead of an emergency room, you free up the ER’s time to help patients who are facing life-threatening injuries or health events. An urgent care center is designed to get you the help you need, and quickly. The only times an ER is a better option are during the hours your urgent care center is closed and when you feel you might be facing a life-threatening condition.

AFC Urgent Care knows that it can be frightening to suffer an adverse health event as a senior adult, and our physicians take care to deliver calm and detailed diagnoses and medical advice to put your mind at ease. Managing your health can be easy, with the help of care from a dedicated urgent care center. Find your local AFC Urgent Care today!

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