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  • January 14, 2022

    By Allison Larson, MD

    Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or spend the season curled up by the fireplace, the low humidity, bitter winds, and dry indoor heat that accompany cold weather can deplete your skin’s natural moisture. Dry skin is not only painful, uncomfortable, and irritating; it also can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which results in itchy, red, bumpy skin patches. 


    Follow these six tips to prevent and treat skin damage caused by winter dryness.


    1. Do: Wear sunscreen all year long.

    UV rays can easily penetrate cloudy skies to dry out exposed skin. And when the sun is shining, snow and ice reflect its rays, increasing UV exposure. 


    Getting a sunburn can cause severe dryness, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Snow or shine, apply sunscreen before participating in any outdoor activity during the winter—especially if you take a tropical vacation to escape the cold; your skin is less accustomed to sunlight and more likely to burn quickly.


    The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.


    That being said, if you are considering laser skin treatments to reduce wrinkles, hair, blemishes, or acne scars, winter is a better time to receive these procedures. Sun exposure shortly after a treatment increases the risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), and people are less likely to spend time outside during the winter.


    Related reading: 7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Sun

    2. Do: Skip products with drying ingredients.

    Soaps or facial products you use in warm weather with no issues may irritate your skin during colder seasons. This is because they contain ingredients that can cause dryness, but the effects aren’t noticeable until they’re worsened by the dry winter climate.

    You may need to take a break from:

    • Anti-acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
    • Antibacterial and detergent-based soap
    • Anything containing fragrance, from soap to hand sanitizer

    Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, which contains a high level of skin-drying alcohol, cannot be avoided; we need to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs. If your job or lifestyle requires frequent hand washing or sanitizing, routinely apply hand cream throughout the day as well.


    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen a lot of people develop hand dermatitis—a condition with itchy, burning skin that can swell and blister—due to constant hand washing. Sometimes the fix is as simple as changing the soap they're using. Sensitive-skin soap is the best product for dry skin; it typically foams up less but still cleans the skin efficiently.


    3. Do: Pay closer attention to thick skin.

    Areas of thin skin, such as the face and backs of your hands, are usually exposed to the wind and sun the most. It’s easy to tell when they start drying out. But the thick skin on your palms and bottoms of your feet is also prone to dryness—and tends to receive less attention.


    When thick skin gets dry, fissures form. You’ll see the surface turn white and scaly; then deep, linear cracks will appear. It isn’t as pliable as thin skin. When you’re constantly on your feet or using your hands to work, cook, and everything in between, dry thick skin cracks instead of flexing with your movements. 


    To soften cracked skin, gently massage a heavy-duty moisturizer—such as Vaseline—into the affected area once or twice a day. You can also talk with your doctor about using a skin-safe adhesive to close the fissures and help them heal faster.


    Related reading:  Follow these 5 Tips for Healthy Skin

    4. Don’t believe the myth that drinking more water will fix dry skin.

    Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water or fluids you drink does not play a major role in skin hydration—unless you’re severely dehydrated. In the winter, especially, dry skin is caused by external elements; it should be treated from the outside as well. 


    The best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment—not lotion—to damp skin after a shower or bath.
    Some people need additional moisturizers for their hands, legs, or other areas prone to dryness.

    While some lotions are made better than others, most are a combination of water and powder that evaporates quickly. Creams and ointments work better because they contain ingredients that can help rebuild your skin barrier. 

    Look for products with ceramide, a fatty acid that helps rebuild the fat and protein barrier that holds your skin cells together. The AAD also recommends moisturizing ingredients such as:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Jojoba oil
    • Lanolin
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter

    For severely dry skin, you can try a “wet wrap” technique:

    1. Rinse a pair of tight-fitting pajamas in warm water and wring them out so they’re damp, not wet.
    2. Apply cream or ointment to your skin.
    3. Put on the damp pajamas, followed by a pair of dry pajamas, and wear the ensemble for several hours.

    Dampness makes your skin more permeable and better able to absorb hydrating products. If the wet wrap or over-the-counter products aren’t working for you, talk with a dermatologist about prescription skin hydration options. 

    Drinking more water isn’t the answer to dry winter skin. The best solution is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment directly to damp skin. Get more cold weather #SkinCareTips from a dermatologist in this blog: https://bit.ly/3KbVUA1.
    Click to Tweet

     

    5. Don’t confuse skin conditions with dryness.

    Skin conditions are often mistaken for dry skin because peeling or flaking are common symptoms. Redness of the skin or itching in addition to dryness and flaking indicates a skin condition that may need more than an over-the-counter moisturizer.


    Skin cells are anchored together by a lipid and protein layer (like a brick and mortar wall). With very dry skin, the seal on this wall or barrier is not fully intact and water evaporates out of the skin’s surface. The skin will become itchy and red in addition to scaly or flaky. If you experience these symptoms, visit with a dermatologist.

    6. Don’t wait for symptoms to take care of dry skin.

    Be proactive—the best way to maintain moisture is to apply hydrating creams and ointments directly to your skin on a regular basis. Start by applying them as part of your morning routine. Once you get used to that, add a nighttime application. And carry a container of it when you’re on the go or keep it in an easily accessible location at work.

     

    You can’t avoid dry air, but you can take precautions to reduce its harsh effects on your skin. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to help, our dermatologists can provide an individualized treatment plan. Hydrated skin is healthy skin!


    Does your skin get drier as the air gets colder?

    Our dermatologists can help.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

All Blogs

  • September 03, 2021

    By MedStar Team

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in August 2021. The selected articles and link to PubMed provided below represent the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates and published in peer-reviewed journals last month. The list is compiled from PubMed for any author using “MedStar” in the author affiliation. Congratulations to this month’s authors. We look forward to seeing your future research.


    View the full list of publications on PubMed.gov here.

    1. Delayed Digit Replantation: What is the Evidence?
      The Journal of Hand Surgery, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2021.07.007
      Harbour PW, Malphrus E, Zimmerman RM, Giladi AM.

    2. Circulating Syndecan-1 and Tissue Factor Pathway Inhibitor, Biomarkers of Endothelial Dysfunction, Predict Mortality in Burn Patients.
      Shock, 2021. DOI: 10.1097/SHK.0000000000001709
      Keyloun JW, Le TD, Pusateri AE, Ball RL, Carney BC, Orfeo T, Brummel-Ziedins KE, Bravo MC, McLawhorn MM, Moffatt LT, Shupp JW

    3. Single-Center Experience With the LOTUS Edge Transcatheter Heart Valve.
      Cardiovascular Revascularization Medicine, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.carrev.2021.04.024
      Medranda GA, Rogers T, Case BC, Shults CC, Cohen JE, Satler LF, Ben-Dor I, Waksman R.

    4. Defining a Minimum Hospital Volume Threshold for Minimally Invasive Colon Cancer Resections.
      Surgery, 2021. DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2021.06.031
      Bader NA, Sweeney M, Zeymo A, Villano AM, Houlihan B, Bayasi M, Al-Refaie WB, Chan KS.
  • September 03, 2021

    By MedStar Health

    What’s in store this fall? Below is a list continuing education meetings taking place virtually starting September 2021. Each conference gives you access to earning continuing education credit and expanding your knowledge and skills in these different areas. In addition to learning state-of-the-art advances and treatments, you have the opportunity to network with fellow attendees and enjoy interactive panel discussions.

    Register now to add us to your calendar!

    Click here for the most up-to-date information.



    Conference Highlight

    3rd Annual MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute Symposium
    September 18 | A Virtual Conference
    Conference Chair: Thomas M. Fishbein, MD
    Course Directors: Matthew Cooper, MD; Alexander J. Gilbert, MD;
    Stuart S. Kaufman, MD; Rohit S. Satoskar, MD

    MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute is proud to be hosting the 3rd Annual MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute Symposium (MGTI 2021). The educational program will consist of three parallel tracks navigating the diagnosis and treatment options for kidney, pancreas, liver, and intestinal disorders including those requiring a transplant. These tracks include: Advances in Liver Diseases and Transplantation, Current Issues in the Care of Dialysis and Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Patients, and Update on Liver Diseases, Intestinal Failure, and Transplantation for Children.

    Advances in Liver Diseases and Transplantation track will address the gap between best and current practices in order to provide the best care to patients, reduce morbidity and mortality, and reduce the burden of liver disease in the Mid-Atlantic region. Up to date information on liver disease and transplant topics relevant to community practitioners will be highlighted. We will focus special attention on tumors multidisciplinary management of tumors of the hepatobiliary tract as well.

    Through the Current Issues in the Care of Dialysis and Kidney/Pancreas Transplant Patients track the content will examine kidney and pancreas transplantation with a special emphasis on the multidisciplinary approach in pre and post-transplant care of patients with renal dysfunction and post-transplantation.

    The third track, Update on Liver Diseases, Intestinal Failure, and Transplantation for Children will focus on topics that will be of interest to pediatric gastroenterology, primary care and allied health providers in the course of their interactions with infants and children with small bowel disease, parenteral nutrition, and chronic liver diseases including those likely to lead to transplantation.

    The 8th Annual Gastric and Soft Tissue Neoplasms
    September 25 | A Virtual Conference
    Course Directors: Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS; Nadim Haddad, MD;
    Dennis A. Priebat, MD, FACP; Mark A. Steves, MD, FACS
    MedStar Associates: Use promotion code GSMG for
    complimentary registration!

    The 4th Annual MedStar Heart Failure Summit
    October 23 | A Virtual Conference
    Course Directors: Samer S. Najjar, MD; Mark R. Hofmeyer, MD

    13th Biennial Thyroid Update: New Concepts in the Diagnosis and
    Treatment of Thyroid Disease

    December 3 | A Virtual Meeting
    Course Directors: Kenneth D. Burman, MD; Jason A. Wexler, MD

    Save the Date!

    Scary Cases in Endocrine Surgery
    October 28 | A Virtual Conference
    Course Director: Jennifer E. Rosen, MD, FACS

    Breast Cancer Coordinated Care (BC3): An Interdisciplinary Conference
    February 24 to 26, 2022 | JW Marriott | Washington, D.C.,
    Course Directors: David H. Song, MD, MBA, FACS; Kenneth Fan, MD;
    Ian T. Greenwalt, MD

    Diabetic Limb Salvage (DLS) 2022
    April 7 to 9, 2022 | JW Marriott | Washington, D.C.,
    Course Chairmen: Christopher E. Attinger, MD; John S. Steinberg, DPM
    Course Directors: Cameron M. Akbari, MD, MBA; Karen Kim Evans, MD;
    J.P. Hong, MD, PhD, MBA

    Mastering Clinical Challenges in IBD
    May 7, 2022 | The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner | McLean, VA
    Course Directors: Mark C. Mattar, MD; David T. Rubin, MD

    Abdominal Wall Reconstruction (AWR) 2022
    June 2022 | A Dynamic Virtual Conference with Expert Faculty
    Conference Chairman: Parag Bhanot, MD
    Course Directors: Karen Kim Evans, MD; William W. Hope, MD; Jeffrey E. Janis, MD

    Please visit medstar.cloud-cme.com for more information and to register.


  • September 03, 2021

    By MedStar Health

    Researchers at MedStar Health led an international team that used artificial intelligence to evaluate cardiac images from patients across the globe who had COVID-19. Artificial intelligence derived heart measurements on echocardiograms were able to predict COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) mortality in an international cardiac ultrasound study of COVID-19 patients. The "Echocardiographic Correlates of in-hospital Death in Patients with Acute COVID-19 Infection: The World Alliance Societies of Echocardiography (WASE-COVID)" Study was presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2021 virtual Scientific Session.

    This is an international, multi-center study conducted by the World Societies of Echocardiography to determine the clinical and echocardiographic phenotype of acute cardiac disease in COVID-19 patients, to explore phenotypic differences in different geographic regions across the world, and to identify parameters associated with in-hospital mortality. New research has revealed key insights into the varying international use of cardiac ultrasound on COVID-19 patients, and how artificial intelligence derived heart measurements were able to predict COVID-19 mortality. Federico Asch, M.D., director of the cardiovascular and echo core labs at MedStar Health Research Institute is the lead principal investigator.

    This study looked at the crossover between COVID-19 and cardiac measurements among 870 patients from 13 medical centers in nine countries throughout Asia, Europe, United States, Latin America. Clinical and laboratory data were collected along with patient outcomes. The echocardiograms were analyzed with automated, machine learning-derived algorithms to calculate various data points.

    The results showed significant regional differences in terms of patient co-morbidities, severity of illness, clinical biomarkers, and left ventricular and right ventricular echocardiographic metrics. In-hospital mortality rates varied by region, 11% in Asia, 19% in Europe, 27% in Latin America, and 26% in U.S.. Parameters associated with mortality were age, previous lung disease, left ventricular longitudinal strain, lactic dehydrogenase, and right ventricular free wall strain. The regional differences in cardiac phenotype highlight the significant differences in patient acuity as well as echocardiographic utilization in different parts of the world.

    "Our original WASE Study first set out to see the state of healthy normal hearts across the world. It took us a few years to manually review all of that data," said Dr. Federico Asch, Director of the Cardiovascular and Echo Core Labs at MedStar Health Research Institute. "When the pandemic began, we knew that the clinical urgency to learn as much as possible about the cardiovascular connection to COVID-19 was incredibly high, and that we had to find a better way of securely and consistently reviewing all of this information in a timely manner."

    Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography, DOI: 10.1016/j.echo.2021.05.010
  • August 27, 2021

    By Nora Tabori, MD

    Most women have uterine fibroids—non-cancerous, hormone-driven growths that form on the uterine walls. In fact, more than 70% of white women and 80% of black women will develop fibroids by age 49.

    Fibroids can range in size from very small to very large and result in a variety of symptoms based on their size and location. Women often start developing fibroids in their 30s or 40s, and growth can continue through menopause.

    More than half of patients with fibroids experience uncomfortable or painful symptoms such as:

    • Abdominal bloating
    • Constipation
    • Dyspareunia (inability to orgasm)
    • Pain during sex
    • Pelvic pain and pressure
    • Urinary frequency
    • Very heavy periods

    These changes aren’t a “fact of life” that women should have to deal with as we age. Effective treatments such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) help by stopping fibroid discomfort at the source. Through a small incision in your wrist, an interventional radiologist is able to stop blood flow to the fibroid and reduce symptoms as the fibroid shrinks and fades away.

    Over the past few decades, advances in minimally invasive artery embolization have transformed UFE into a safer, more effective outpatient procedure with a quick recovery—most patients are fully recovered within two weeks.

    Uterine #fibroids aren’t a ‘fact of life.’ Even small #uterinefibroids can cause heavy periods, bloating, and pain during sex. – Nora Tabori, MD: https://bit.ly/37ZpAyK.

    Click to Tweet


    What to expect from the UFE procedure.

    When you get UFE at the Fibroid Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, you benefit from the expertise of both a gynecologist and an interventional radiologist – at most centers, you’ll see just one or the other. Our team meets regularly to find the best treatment option for complex cases, such as patients with multiple health issues or very big fibroids.

    You will be placed under twilight anesthesia, which makes you relaxed but still able to respond to the doctor. We will sterilize the skin on either your left wrist or your groin at the hip joint and cover you with a drape. You’ll feel a small prick, which will be an injection medication to numb the skin.

    The interventional radiologist will then make a small needle puncture in your wrist or groin to access the artery. Through the puncture, the doctor will insert a catheter, which is a thin tube. Using live image guidance, we will direct the catheter through the blood vessels of your arm or leg, down to the arteries that supply blood to the uterus.

    From there, we will use the catheter to place small, body-safe beads into the arteries supplying the fibroids, which blocks the blood flow. Over the next few days, the fibroid tissue will start to shrink and wither away.

    The last step is to place a small dressing at the artery puncture on your groin or your wrist. The entire procedure usually takes an hour or less, even when treating one large or many small fibroids.

    You can get up and walk as soon as you fully come out of the twilight sedation, which takes about 30-60 minutes. As you wait, you’ll get a light snack and some pain medication, then you’ll be ready to go home. Even if you feel fully awake, we require all patients to have a ride home from the hospital.

    FAQs about uterine artery embolization.

    Do I have to get my fibroids removed?

    No. If your fibroids don’t impact your quality of life, you don’t have to do anything about them. Leaving fibroids alone is generally safe until they grow large or numerous enough to cause disruptive symptoms.

    Will the fibroid get infected if you don’t remove it?

    No. This myth came about because of the old way of embolizing fibroids, which went out of practice decades ago. We used to try to kill the actual fibroid cells; cell death results in prolonged healing and increased susceptibility infection.

    Modern UFE starves and shrinks fibroid tissue, which turns to dormant scar tissue. There is less risk of infection because far less, if any, as the scar tissue is sterile and retains the function of the body’s immune system. In our practice, we perform more than 100 UFE surgeries a year, and none of our patients have had an infection caused by fibroid scar tissue.

    Will I be able to become pregnant after UFE?

    Yes. We recommend waiting at least 12 months to make sure normal blood flow to the uterus is restored because UFE slightly alters the blood supply to the uterus. Over the next year, your body will rebuild those blood vessels to feed the remaining healthy uterine tissue.

    We’ve had patients who became pregnant a few months after UFE and had healthy babies. However, waiting is the safest choice. Having UFE does not limit your birth control choices. You can use whatever contraceptive you’d like, including an intrauterine device (IUD).

    Is recovery from UFE painful?

    Pain in recovery is typically mild. For the first two days after the procedure, you may experience cramps that feel a little stronger than period cramping. Most patients can manage this side effect with over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication. You may also have these symptoms, which typically go away within a week:

    • Slight pelvic pain
    • Pelvic fullness
    • Low-grade fever
    • Slight loss of appetite
    • Mild fatigue

    By seven days post-procedure, most women are back to their regular activities: Working, resuming intercourse, running a marathon, doing CrossFit, you name it! After UFE treatment, countless patients have told me, “I wish I’d done this years ago.”

    Uterine fibroids rarely grow back after embolization. However, new fibroids may grow over time. If you want a more permanent treatment, options are available.

    Other treatment options besides UFE.

    Your MedStar Health gynecologist and interventional radiologist will discuss all your fibroid treatment options so you can make an informed decision. You know your body and future plans better than anyone, and our specialists want you to be happy with your choice.

    Surgical options.

    • Myomectomy: Removing the fibroids from your uterus. Myomectomy may be done through open or minimally invasive surgery and spares fertility.
    • Endometrial ablation: Applying targeted heat to the uterine lining to reduce heavy bleeding during your period. This outpatient option does not remove or shrink fibroids. Endometrial ablation greatly reduces your ability to become pregnant.
    • Hysterectomy: Removing your uterus through open or minimally invasive surgery. After a hysterectomy, you will not have periods anymore and you will not be able to become pregnant.

    Non-surgical options to manage symptoms.

    Pregnancy is possible after these treatments:

    • Sonata Treatment: This ultrasound treatment locates and targets individual fibroids. Using radiofrequency energy, we shrink the fibroids from inside the uterus with no incisions.
    • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication can help you manage cramping or pain.
    • Hormone therapy: Estrogen and progestin medications such as birth control pills or an IUD may help shrink fibroids. Ulipristal acetate, which is used in the “morning-after pill” may also help shrink fibroids.
    • Exercise and eating well: While neither of these will change the size of your fibroids, moving more and eating a healthy diet can help you feel more energetic, maintain a healthy weight and hormone levels, and improve your mood—all important factors in managing a painful condition such as fibroids.
    • Complementary medicine: Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing are known to reduce pain. Doing yoga or tai chi may help alleviate fibroid pain that affects the lower back.

    Uterine fibroid symptoms range from annoying to nearly debilitating. You have options to improve your quality of life—the treatment you choose is based on the severity of your symptoms and your desire for future pregnancies.

    Whether you need a diagnosis or you already know which treatment you want, MedStar Health can provide you with the option that best meets your needs.


    Are you ready to live fibroid-free?

    Say goodbye to pelvic pain, bloating, and doubling up on pads. Request a visit with a MedStar Health uterine fibroid expert today.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

  • August 25, 2021

    By Naheed Ahmed, PhD

    Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, local schools are inviting teachers and students back to the classroom for the upcoming school year. While many families and kids anxiously await the return to normalcy, the highly-contagious Delta variant reminds us that the pandemic is still not over. With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, it’s important to remain vigilant in keeping kids healthy as they go back to school.

    Vaccination is the best way to protect kids from COVID-19 at school.

    If your child is headed back to the classroom, you may be worried about your child contracting the virus. As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, vaccination is as important as ever, especially for kids who will be in close contact with their peers at school in the fall. With 93 percent of all new COVID-19 cases in the United States caused by the Delta variant, coronavirus is still permeating our communities, vaccinated or not. While pediatric hospitalizations remain low, the Delta variant seems to affect children more than the COVID-19 virus we battled last summer.

    You may not have control over whether or not the virus spreads to your child. But, if your child is vaccinated, they’re far less likely to become severely ill or hospitalized. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for everyone above the age of 12. Unvaccinated kids are at a greater risk of developing serious symptoms if they become infected with COVID-19. This is especially true for kids with a chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia.

    If your child is over the age of 12 and still unvaccinated, it’s not too late. To be considered fully vaccinated, your child will need two doses of the Pfizer vaccine over a period of 21 days. While eligible children should ideally get vaccinated before the school year begins, getting the first dose of the vaccine as soon as possible will ensure some protection as they await the second dose.

    The COVID-19 vaccine can be given alongside other childhood vaccines.

    Schools have always had health prerequisites for childhood vaccines to keep everyone safe, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no different. While initial vaccine recommendations suggested that people wait two weeks after getting other vaccines before getting vaccinated for COVID-19, you no longer need to wait. As your child is getting other required vaccines in anticipation of school, they can also receive the COVID-19 vaccine, if they’re 12 or older.

    Most MedStar Health primary care and pediatric offices offer the COVID-19 vaccine. If your doctor’s office isn’t offering the vaccine, they can direct you to a vaccination site nearby.

    Addressing vaccine hesitancy.

    As a parent or caregiver of a school-aged child, it’s common to overthink decisions related to your kids. We want the best for our children, and the misinformation around COVID-19 circulating the Internet can cause us to doubt ourselves.

    If you’re hesitant to vaccinate your child or if you come across someone who is, the following tips can encourage an informed decision.

    Review the data.

    While the COVID-19 vaccines have been labeled for emergency use, they’re not “experimental”, as some might think. Researchers have been studying and investing in mRNA technology for years. And, the COVID-19 vaccines have been rigorously tested and evaluated for safety and efficacy. You can read Pfizer’s published reports on their clinical trials and the CDC continues to provide the most up-to-date information on their website.

    Get the facts on side effects.

    Experts agree that the risk of illness is more severe than any side effect of vaccination for both adults and kids. Children have robust immune systems and side effects after vaccination indicate that the vaccine is working. Just like the flu shot and other vaccines, children may experience injection site soreness, fatigue, or headaches after getting vaccinated for COVID-19. Tylenol or Motrin can help alleviate discomfort.

    Although extremely rare, there are instances where the vaccine results in short-term inflammation of the heart, called myocarditis. In these cases, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or chest pain may appear within seven days after the second dose. Symptoms typically self-resolve and there are no long-term effects. Talk to your child’s doctor if they experience any side effects that seem abnormal.

    Discuss any concerns your child has.

    From videos circulating on Tik Tok to classroom rumors, your child may be susceptible to believing myths or false narratives spreading across their peers. Invite an open dialogue where they can be honest about what they’re hearing so you can dispel any false information with the truth.

    Talk to your child’s doctor.

    If you’re concerned about getting your child vaccinated, talk to their pediatrician. They’ll also be happy to address any questions or hesitancies that your child may have about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

    MedStar Health associate Shreejana Pokharel decided to get her 13-year old daughter vaccinated, but it wasn’t an easy decision. “It was challenging to decide,” she notes. “But the study data published by Pfizer was convincing, as the vaccine was 100% effective among children.” She also had a heart-to-heart conversation with her daughter who had concerns because of her peers’ experiences. Shreejana was able to explain the benefits of the vaccine while addressing false rumors her daughter had heard. At the end of the discussion, her daughter said, “Mommy, I hate needles, but I’m excited for this one so I can go back to school safely”.

    How can I keep my child safe at school if they’re ineligible for vaccination?

    Nearly half of Americans remain unvaccinated against the novel coronavirus, including 48 million children under the age of 12 who are ineligible for vaccination. Yet returning to face-to-face education is important for the social wellbeing of our children. MedStar Health Pediatrician Tia Medley, MD witnessed firsthand the negative social impact on kids who didn’t attend school in person last year. She encourages the parents of her patients to attend school in person this year, regardless of vaccination status, provided that the school is actively ensuring safety through other means.

    48 million children are currently ineligible to get the #COVID19Vaccine. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, learn how you can protect them as they head #BackToSchool: https://bit.ly/3zhlzl9.

    Click to Tweet


    Even if your child is ineligible for vaccination, it’s still possible to return to school safely. As an adult, getting vaccinated yourself can reduce the likelihood that you contract the virus and spread it to your children. And, with the proper protocols in place, schools can mitigate the risk of a major outbreak. Ensure your child’s school and teacher is:

    • Encouraging mask-wearing inside the building
    • Facilitating social distancing when possible
    • Providing frequent opportunities for hand-washing and sanitizing
    • Actively screening and monitoring kids with symptoms
    • Sending kids with symptoms home and ensuring health before they return to school

    If your child has the sniffles or is showing any sign of illness, keep them home. While it may just be the common cold, it’s important to be abundantly cautious to minimize the spread of the virus in the classroom.

    To learn more, watch our Facebook Live video below:

    Consider participating in a local clinical trial.

    Currently, Pfizer and Moderna are both conducting clinical trials for kids under the age of 12 across three age groups, including:

    • Six months to two years
    • Two to five years
    • Five to twelve years

    Pfizer and Moderna expect to have results for the older cohort later this fall. And, both offer clinical trials within the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., region. If you have a child between the ages of six months and 12 years, you may consider participating in a trial. Doing so would offer a 50 percent chance of your child getting vaccinated.

    Stay healthy and have a terrific school year.

    Widespread vaccination is the best way to keep kids safe from COVID-19, if they’re eligible. But if your child is under 12, it’s still possible for them to stay safe and healthy this school year, as long as their school establishes and enforces good screening and prevention protocols that minimize the spread of COVID-19.

    As your kids head back to school during a worldwide pandemic, remind them that their class is a community. Wearing a mask and getting vaccinated can protect both themselves and the other members in their community from COVID-19.


    Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Click below to learn more.

    COVID-19 Vaccine Information

  • August 18, 2021

    By MedStar Health

    As we age, most of us would prefer to remain independent in the comfort of our familiar home, if given the option. But, aging adults are more vulnerable to injury and illness. This is why loved ones need to help them find ways to reduce risks in and around the home.

    Why aging loved ones are more susceptible to injury at home.

    Growing older may pose more mental and physical challenges as we experience changes in memory, vision, hearing, overall strength, balance, and mobility. It can be hard to identify—or accept—changes in our abilities. So it’s important to have a support system that can help us find ways to age safely.

    Falls are the seventh leading cause of senior deaths in the U.S.

    Most commonly, the elderly are at a much higher risk of severe falls. In fact, falls are the seventh leading cause of senior deaths in the U.S. And, almost all fall-related deaths happen to those who would be considered geriatric. Even falls that don’t result in death can be serious. 30 to 50 percent of falls end in a major injury. That’s why it’s critical to improve home safety for older adults earlier rather than later.

    Our aging loved ones are at a higher risk of serious falls, burns, infections, and other injuries at home. On the #LiveWellHealthy blog, geriatrician Dr. Khalil shares 5 ways you can ensure your elderly loved ones are safe as they age in place: https://bit.ly/3xWubw8.

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    Aging adults are also more susceptible to burns as a result of forgetting to turn off the stove, leaving food cooking for too long, or heating the wrong burner. And, not wanting to confess to minor injuries, our elderly loved ones may be more vulnerable to infections that develop as a result of a small bump that’s left untreated.

    How to improve home safety for older adults.

    1. Create a safer environment.

    The most effective way to prevent serious injury or fall-related accidents is to remove tripping hazards from the home. You can do this by:

    • Removing loose items. Throw rugs can easily curl on the corners or move when you walk on them, especially if they lack a rubber backing that sticks to the floor. Other items may also create fall hazards, like extension or electric cords and objects that could cause tripping. Taking them out of the home can help to make the home fall-safe.
    • Decluttering. Picking up loose piles of newspapers, mementos, clothing, and other items lying around the house helps to eliminate things to trip over. It may be a good idea to collect items for storage if there are belongings that your elderly loved ones would like to hold on to.
    • Improve lighting. As we age, many of us begin to experience changes to our vision and hearing. By adding or improving the lighting in our aging loved ones’ homes, we can ensure adequate lighting that helps them to see more clearly. This could include using brighter light bulbs, installing nightlights into halls and bathrooms for nighttime use, or perhaps installing motion detection lighting.

    2. Establish healthy routines.

    In addition to making accommodations within their physical environment, you can help improve home safety for loved ones by helping them to create habits that keep them at their best, both mentally and physically. Whether you’re 65 or 85, we all benefit from healthy lifestyle choices that include:

    • Good sleep
    • Well-balanced nutrition
    • Physical activity in any form
    • Social interaction
    • Mindfulness or meditation

    3. Help them manage medications safely.

    Sometimes, too many medications can impair our cognitive or physical abilities as we age. That’s why it’s important that your aging loved one receives medical care from a trusted primary care provider who is mindful about how a particular prescription or dosage may impact their quality of life.

    In addition, you can help improve home safety for older adults by helping them manage the medications they do take, by:

    • Throwing away old or expired medications.
    • Keeping medications in their original containers so they don’t get mixed up.
    • Helping elderly loved ones organize their medications in a weekly pillbox to minimize the risk of double-dosing.
    • Asking their pharmacists to use large-print labels to make medication directions easier to read.
    • Encouraging them to take medications in a well-lit room.

    4. Empower them to be independent while supporting them.

    We all have a right to the best possible quality of life. As the loved one of an elderly adult, you can help to keep them feeling supported and confident by remaining involved in their day-to-day activities. Check-in on them frequently, both to supervise that they’re living within a safe environment and also to demonstrate how much you care for them.

    If you notice areas where they may be struggling, consider enlisting help for specific tasks, such as cooking or laundry. It can be hard for our elderly loved ones to relinquish some independence, such as driving. But by supporting and encouraging them in the ways they can remain independent, you can help them understand that you’re on their side while helping them prevent medical emergencies at home.

    5. Find a compassionate care team to use as a resource.

    Finally, the right care team is critical to improving home safety for the older adults in your life. A trusting relationship with a care provider ensures they have access to the medical resources they need, as well as support services that can help them age in place, including home inspections and tips for adaptations in their house.


    Visit the Center for Successful Aging at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center.

    At MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, we’ve been proudly caring for the community for over 100 years. And at our Center for Successful Aging, we’re honored to address the unique needs of our elderly neighbors through comprehensive services that range from diagnosis and treatment to education and support services. Here, our fellowship-trained physicians, geriatric experts, social workers, and skilled nurses are dedicated to helping elderly patients, their family members, and caregivers work together to ensure the best possible quality of life and health as they age at home—where they want to be.


    Want to learn more about the Center for Successful Aging at MedStar Montgomery?
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