Treat Me Right (STD Awareness Month)

doctor consulting manWith shame and embarrassment being one of the main reasons many avoid getting tested, the number of STD cases are rising.  According to the CDC, every year there an estimated 20 million new STD infections in the United States alone.

Education is one of the primary ways of reducing risks of infections, so with April being STD Awareness Month, we’re here to provide you with a few tips on how to keep yourself healthy in and out of the bedroom.

The CDC’s theme for this year is Treat Me Right, encouraging patients to develop a trusting relationship with their provider as well as knowing they have access to the help and care they deserve.

When you have a visit with your provider, the conversation about your sexual health should be as transparent as possible.  A few questions you should expect during your visit include:

  • Have you been sexually active in the last year?
  • How many partners have you had?
  • What are you doing to protect yourself from STDs?
  • Do you have anal, oral, or vaginal sex?
  • Do you have sex with men, women, or both?
  • Have you or any of your partners been exposed to an STD?

How you answer some of these questions can determine if you are at risk for an STD.  

The good news is: STDS are preventable.  By having a transparent conversation between you, your partner, and your healthcare provider, there are a few ways you can reduce your risks for infections.

Practice Abstinence/Celibacy: The best way to avoid STDs is to not have sex in the first place.

Use Condoms: While birth control pills are effective at preventing pregnancies, they will not protect you against STDs.  Use of condoms lessens the risk of infection.

Practice Monogamy: Agree to have sex with one person who agrees to have sex with you and that the two of you will get tested before having sex.

Get Vaccinated: Some vaccinations like the HPV vaccine are effective at preventing HPV-related health conditions like genital warts and some cancers.

Get Tested: Some STDs don’t show symptoms, and can cause other chronic health conditions, so the only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested regularly.

Speaking with a medical professional for guidance on the proper steps is vital for your health.  At Synergy Immediate Care, we provide testing options and can provide you with a treatment plan that’s right for you.

For more information about our STD tests or lab services we offer, please call 703-942-5331 to set up an appointment with one of our medical professionals.

When should I have my first visit with a gynecologist?

ultrasoundFor many teen girls and women, the question of when you should start seeing a gynecologist raises uncertainty.

There comes a time in every young woman’s life when she must start visiting an OB/GYN.  The question is: When should I start?

Gynecology is healthcare for the female body, primarily focusing on sexual and reproductive organs.  

With information readily available about the best time to make your first appointment, it can be difficult to decide if your first visit should be after your first menstruation cycle or when you need your first Pap smear.  Here’s how you can decide when it’s best for you to make your first appointment.

When you should visit a gynecologist

Most women have their first visit with a gynecologist when they receive their first Pap smear at age 21.  But health issues can arise long before then.

Having regular visits with your primary care physician can help determine the most appropriate age to start seeing a gynecologist.  Depending upon health issues that arise after your first menstruation, and during development stages, your primary care physician might refer you to a gynecologist.  

A visit with a gynecologist is an opportunity for you to discuss your development and establish a relationship.  Friendship is a two-way street, and your friends can’t help you if they don’t know what’s up. Talking about what’s going on with your body is not always an easy conversation to tackle, but it’s your OB/GYN’s job to make you feel comfortable about the uncomfortable.

The visit should be a transparent conversation about overall health, habits, and sexual history.  Now is the time to go over concerns such as if your menstruation cycle is interfering with day-to-day activities, if you’re considering having sex with one or more partners, or if you should be screened for breast cancer.

You should visit a gynecologist at least once a year if:

  • You’re 18 or older
  • You’re sexually active
  • You have plans to become pregnant
  • You have a sexually transmitted disease (STD), or your partner has an STD
  • You have a family history of breast cancer
  • You have a history of abnormal Pap test results

You should also have regular visits with a gynecologist for symptoms such as:

  • Pain or discomfort before and during menstruation
  • Abnormal bleeding or discharge
  • Breast soreness, lumps, or tenderness

Just as you would seek out a cardiologist for a heart condition, it is recommended to seek out a gynecologist if you’re experiencing recurring issues or if you have concerns about your development.

Gynecology at Synergy Immediate Care

Regardless of age, marital status, sexuality, or sexual activity, it’s important to listen to your body and visit a doctor for concerns.  Synergy Immediate Care’s gynecologist specializes in the evaluation, treatment, and management of women’s health conditions such as female infertility, perimenopause, PCOS, and more.  Some procedures and services we provide include cancer screenings, abnormal Pap smear evaluation, detailed gynecologic ultrasound, and more.

For more information about the services we provide, please call to speak with one of our staff or schedule an appointment at 703-942-5331.


Things That Can Make Seasonal Allergies Worse

seasonal allergy treatment in Tysons, VAAfter the snow clears, pollen is your worst enemy next to Old Man Winter.  

Spring time is notorious for being the next season that leaves many with a runny nose and itchy eyes due to seasonal allergies.  

Nip your seasonal allergies in the bud this season by knowing and avoiding the culprits of your flareups.

The Weather

Dry, windy days are ideal conditions for trees to thrive and release pollen, forcing you to stay indoors for yet another season.  

Before stepping outside for the day, be sure to check the pollen count for the day to see if you’re better off staying indoors.

Contact lenses

Soft contact lenses are prone to absorbing airborne irritants like pollen, and wearing them can be the source of your allergen-caused eye pain and irritation.

Allergy season calls for special tactics to keep your eyes happy such as:

  • Opting for your glasses
  • Keeping your lenses moisturized with artificial tears
  • Keeping your lenses clean with using a preservative-free contact solution
  • Switching disposable contacts that you can throw out daily to prevent pollen build up

Your clothes

That sweater that you wore three times before laundry day?  You might want to throw it in the washer if you found yourself sneezing all day each time you wore it.

Dust and pollen cling onto fabrics like wool, making it essential to do laundry after every wear during allergy season.  If you have the tendency to forgo laundry day for weeks at a time, use this time of year to revamp and add onto your wardrobe!

Not bathing at the end of the day

Nothing is more refreshing than ending the day with a nice shower, but cleansing your skin and hair during allergy season is necessary to avoid the onset of an allergy flareup.

Pollen not only sticks to your clothes, but it also sticks to your hair and skin, and hopping into bed without showering means that your bed is also harboring pollen (another laundry day).  

After spending time outdoors, washing your skin and hair is the best way to cleanse yourself of pollen that might be lingering.

Produce with pollen

Any health expert would encourage you to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, but if you’re sneezing and sniffling during this time of year, produce might be to blame.

A protein found on the surfaces of raw produce such as apples, tomatoes, and cantaloupe can trigger flareups, as your body can confuse eating produce with swallowing pollen.  This can lead to bothersome symptoms such as an itchy throat and mouth.

Thoroughly washing and even cooking the produce can reduce your chances of a reaction.

Taking the wrong medicine

When you have an aisle full of medicine that promises to get your symptoms under control, it can be difficult to know what product will best treat your symptoms.  

Most over-the-counter products can be antihistamines, which relieves sneezing and itchiness while decongestants work to combat swollen nasal passages.  Be sure to consult with an expert about which medicine will work best to treat your symptoms.

Seasonal Allergy Treatment at Synergy Immediate Care

When you’re unsure of what will work best to treat your seasonal allergies, a visit to Synergy Immediate Care will give you the relief you need to get your seasonal allergies under control. We treat seasonal allergy symptoms such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny Nose
  • Puffy/Itchy Eyes
  • Congestion
  • Post-nasal Drip

For more information about our treatment for seasonal allergies or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 703-942-5331.

Does my child have seasonal allergies?

seasonal allergy treatment for childrenIf your child comes down with a “cold” at the same time every year, it may not be just a cold.

As the weather changes and your little one gets the sniffles, you might think they are coming down with a regular cold.  But when it comes to combating post-nasal drip during the spring season, your child might be suffering from seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies can cause many eyes, ear, nose, and throat symptoms in children, and often times can be difficult to separate from other causes.

When to Suspect an Allergy

Some allergies are easy to identify by the pattern of symptoms that follow the exposure to the particular allergen.  Your child might have seasonal allergies if they experience chronic cold-like symptoms that develop at the same time every year:

  • Watery, Itchy, or Puffy Eyes
  • Post-nasal Drip
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Nose Rubbing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore Throat

What Might Be Triggering the Symptoms

Children who’ve never had seasonal allergies in the past can develop them at any age, mostly peaking during adolescent years, and can subside or disappear in adulthood.

Many things can trigger allergies, the most common being pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, and insect stings.

You may think you know what the problem is – your household cat or the dust bunnies in the broom closet – so you do your best to keep triggers at bay.  But it also helps to keep notes on your child’s symptoms such as when they start, how long they last, and what causes them.

When to Seek Medical Attention

There are many ways to treat seasonal allergies, depending upon the severity of the symptoms.  The best way to combat the onset of a flareup is to:

  • Stay indoors when pollen counts are high
  • Wash hands, shower, and change clothing after being outside
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning if possible
  • Start allergy treatment at least two weeks prior to the start of the season

If your child’s symptoms have become too difficult for you to manage, you may want to see a physician for guidance and treatment.  At Synergy Immediate Care, we can provide your child with the treatment plan they need to get their seasonal allergy symptoms under control.

For more information about our treatment or other urgent care services we provide, please call us at 703-942-5331.

Should I Get My Thyroid Hormone Levels Checked?

thyroidWhat is a thyroid disorder?

A thyroid disorder is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck.

The thyroid gland controls many aspects of your body, and when your hormone levels are not functioning properly, you can experience changes in your metabolism, heart palpitations, and even mood swings.

Some thyroid disorders include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Goiter
  • Thyroid nodules
  • Thyroid cancer

How is a thyroid disorder diagnosed?

A diagnosis is reached after a thorough medical review of symptoms, risk factors, medical history, family history, a physical examination, blood tests, and maybe an ultrasound.

Having a simple blood test done can evaluate your hormone levels and detect if you are at risk for other health concerns.

Physicians measure a pituitary hormone known as the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which can indicate an overactive or underactive thyroid.  When the circulating thyroid hormone levels are low, which is called hypothyroidism, your body is not producing enough thyroid hormones. This can cause you to feel sluggish due to hormone depletion.  

Should I get tested for thyroid disorders?

You can determine if you need to be evaluated for thyroid disorders by performing an at-home “thyroid neck check,” where all you need is a mirror and a glass or water.  

The steps of this simple test include:

  • Hold a mirror to your neck
  • Tilt your head back and keep an eye on your neck area
  • Take a sip of water

If you notice any bulges in your neck while swallowing, you should consider visiting an endocrinologist for a full evaluation.

It’s important to note that an at-home thyroid neck check does not rule out the possibility that you could have a thyroid condition. A visit with an endocrinologist can provide you with a full diagnosis and steps for further treatment.

Endocrinology at Synergy Immediate Care

At Synergy Immediate Care, we specialize in the evaluation, treatment, and management symptoms of thyroid disorders such as:

  • Menstrual changes
  • Feeling bloated or feeling sluggish
  • Heart palpitations or increased heart rate
  • Feelings of depression
  • Unintended weight gain or weight loss
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Heat or cold intolerance

For more information about our endocrinology services, or to book an appointment with our endocrinologist, please call us at 703-942-5331!

Pump Up Your Immune System With These Tips

healthy mealWe all know how it feels when a cold is coming on: you start to feel a tickle in your throat, your sinuses feel congested, and a sudden heaviness comes over your body.  

You probably don’t think of your immune system until you find yourself bed-ridden after being around your coughing coworkers and your sniffling little ones.  But your immune system works every day to ward off infections and illnesses.

Here is how to build up your defenses so you can fight off health threats!

Eat a well-balanced diet

Your first line of defense when it comes to fighting illnesses and infections comes from what you put into your stomach.  Consuming a diet of pizza and fries may sound delicious in the moment, but it won’t aid your immune system in the long run.

The best way to keep your immune system intact is by eating a nutrient-packed, well-rounded diet that includes protein and fiber, such as lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Stay Active

Working out does more than keep your waist trim.  Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living, from improving your cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, controlling your body weight, and fighting infections and illnesses.

Frequently Wash Your Hands

You use your hands to open doors, greet business partners, prepare tonight’s dinner, and phone your closest friends, so with touching germy surfaces all day, you should wash your hands more often.  

Get Enough Sleep

Ever noticed how the nights you don’t get enough sleep turn into the mornings you’re not only fighting to keep your eyes open, but also struggling to complete sentences without coughing?  

When your body is well-rested, you’re able to function throughout the day with ease, so turn off the TV and close your laptop and catch up on your Zzz’s.

Find ways to relax

When you’re stressed out, your body is in fight or flight mode, which can make you feel depleted, and in turn, make you feel sick.  Find ways to relax your mind, whether that’s reading the book that’s been sitting on your shelf, practicing yoga, or listening to your favorite music!

When your immune system and body work together, you’re optimizing your health to ward off infections and promote longevity.  At Synergy Immediate Care, we offer a number of health services to make sure your health is in check.

We offer:

  • Primary Care – Physicals, weight loss, vaccinations, and management of blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other common medical conditions
  • Urgent Care – Colds and flu treatment, treatment of lacerations, wound care
  • Endocrinology – Evaluation, treatment, and management of adult endocrine disorders such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, and reproductive system disorders
  • Psychiatry – Evaluation, treatment and management of anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and others
  • Dermatology – Treatment of hyperhidrosis, rashes, acne, eczema, and other common skin issues
  • OB/GYN – Infertility treatment, abnormal uterine bleeding, IUD placement, and abnormal Pap smear management

For more information on the services we provide, or to book an appointment with us, please call us at 703-942-5331!

What No One Tells You To Do After a Cold

Sick womanYou finally kicked that nasty cough to the curb that laid you out for a week, but the germs in your home will linger around for a few more days if you don’t act quickly and prevent another cold from coming on.

Here are a few things you should to avoid being out of commission for another week.

Wash your hands often

Whether it’s before and after you eat, after you shake someone’s hand, after you sneeze or cough, or after riding public transit, you should keep your hands as germ-free as possible.  These are the same germs that can make you sick all over again.

Sanitize hard surfaces

Your hands are responsible for spreading cold and flu germs, and hard surfaces in your home are the main victims.  Sanitizing your home is a household task you should perform regularly, especially after a cold.

Be sure to take disinfecting wipes to regularly contacted but rarely cleaned household areas and items such as:

  • TV remote controls
  • Doorknobs
  • Kitchen counters
  • Light-switches and light-switch plates
  • Phones (landlines and cell phones)

Change your toothbrush

After having any contagious illness, you should toss your toothbrush and replace it with a new one.  Your toothbrush is a necessity to remove plaque and bacteria for healthy gums and teeth, but failing to replace your toothbrush after a cold can harvest a breeding ground for bacteria that can get you sick again.

Change your pillowcase

Changing your sheets and pillow cases are a must, for the obvious reason that you’ve probably spent a lot of time bedridden, with your sheets and pillowcases bearing the brunt of your runny nose and sweaty chest.  Throw your sheets in the washer to kill the bacteria that’s been living on your bedding while you were sick, or use this time to buy some new sheets!

Take it easy

It may be tempting to get right back to work after being out for a week, but your body is still in recovery mode, and doing too much too quickly can land you right back in your bed.  

And when you’re stressed out from sorting through your emails, your body releases hormones that can weaken your immune system.  With your immune system already vulnerable after a cold, you don’t want to make yourself susceptible to a relapse.

Walk into your workday after being out on the mend with ease, and if you’re really not feeling up to par, call in sick if you need to.  Your coworkers will thank you.

Cold and Flu Treatment at Synergy Immediate Care

At Synergy Immediate Care, we are here to make sure that your cold and flu-like symptoms don’t get the best of you!  We treat a number of upper respiratory illnesses such as:

  • Colds
  • Influenza (the “flu”)
  • Sinus Infections
  • Strep Throat
  • Bronchitis
  • Laryngitis
  • And more

Visit us when you’re sick and we’ll help get you feeling back to 100% in no time! Call us at 703-942-5331 to schedule an appointment today.

What You Should Know About This Year’s Flu Season

coughingThis year’s flu season is well underway, and this one is a bad one.  

The average flu season can start as early as November and last up until May, with peaks between the months of January and February.  The overall impact of the flu season can vary season to season, often time resulting in hospitalizations, other illnesses and viruses, and can become fatal.

The CDC has reported this year’s flu season as “widespread,” affecting 49 states, with 1 in 13 hospital visits being flu-related.  

With the flu season having no boundaries this year, anyone is susceptible to catching the flu.  Here are some common, frequently asked questions you may have about the flu season.

What is making this flu season especially bad?

Each year’s vaccine is adjusted to try to match the strains at could be the most dominant.  The more closely the vaccine matches the year’s strain, the less severe the flu season will be.

This year’s flu season’s predominant strain is H3N2, which is the cause of the worst outbreaks of the two types of influenza, and is the result of more hospitalizations, illnesses, and deaths.

This does not mean you should skip out on your yearly vaccination, as the flu shot is your best defense against catching the flu.

Who is at risk for the flu?

Each year, the flu leads to thousands of deaths and hospitalizations.  While the flu can make anyone sick, there are certain individuals who are at higher risk of flu-related health complications, including pneumonia and bronchitis.  Those who are especially at risk include:

  • Young children, particularly those under 5
  • Pregnant women
  • Adults over 65
  • Those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart or lung disease, and endocrine disorders

What are symptoms of the flu?

What can be easily mistaken as a regular cold can definitely be the flu during this time of year.  

Besides symptoms of coughing and sneezing, some symptoms of the flu to look out for include:

  • Body aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • High Fever
  • Chills/Sweats
  • Head Congestion
  • Chest Discomfort

How can I prevent myself from catching the flu?

While receiving your annual flu shot increases your chances of avoiding the flu and lessening your symptoms, widespread flu activity can make anyone susceptible to catching the virus.

A few ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones against flu-like symptoms include:

  • Frequently washing your hands
  • Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoiding contact with those who are sick
  • Staying home when you are sick

How do I know whether I have the flu or just a really bad cold?

Cold and flu-like symptoms share similarities, but flu symptoms can come on suddenly whereas a regular cold builds up over the course of a few days.  

If you are confused whether you have a cold, the flu, or pneumonia, the best thing you can do us to seek evaluation by a physician.

At Synergy Immediate Care, we are well-equipped to diagnose and treat your flu-like symptoms.  Make an appointment at our medical center to get on your way to a speedy recovery!  

For more information about the services we provide, please call us at 703-942-5331.

What is Psoriasis?

psoriasisWinter air will usually make your skin feel drier than normal, and can be treated by switching up your skincare routine with a heavier, oil-based moisturizer.  

But when your skin is covered in red patches that leave you with an itchy or burning sensation, or if the patches cause bleeding, you might be suffering from psoriasis.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells, causing the new cells to quickly build up on the surface of the skin.  

The new, extra skin can take the form of scales and red patches that can feel itchy, and at times painful.

Are there different kinds of psoriasis?

Some types of psoriasis go through cycles of flareups for weeks or months, and with proper treatment and evaluation, can subside over time.

There are five types of the psoriasis: plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, and erythrodermic psoriasis.

Plaque Psoriasis

The most common of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis shows up as dry, red lesions that flake up and shed.  These patches usually appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, or lower back.

Guttate Psoriasis

The second most common type, guttate psoriasis, usually affects individuals under 30 and is mostly triggered by strep throat.  This type can appear on arms, legs, and the scalp, and is a thinner layer of extra skin than plaque psoriasis.

Pustular Psoriasis

Pustular psoriasis usually appears as white blisters, covering large areas of the skin.  This type can be accompanied by fever, chills, and severe itching.

Inverse Psoriasis

Normally caused by friction and sweating, inverse psoriasis can develop in areas such as the armpits, groin, under the breasts, and even the genitals and buttocks.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis

The least common type, erythrodermic psoriasis can be extremely painful and potentially life-threatening.  Someone suffering from this type can develop peeling rashes across the surface of their entire body and is usually accompanied with unregulated body temperature.

What causes psoriasis?

Medical professionals have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of psoriasis, but have found triggers which include:

  • Injuries to the skin, such as a cut, scrape, insect bite, or sunburn
  • Bacterial infections such as strep throat
  • Skin rashes and allergic reactions

Where should I seek treatment?

If you suspect that you have psoriasis, you should seek medical attention at Synergy Immediate Care, particularly if your psoriasis:

  • Is bothersome and causes discomfort and pain
  • Makes you concerned about the appearance of your skin
  • Causes joint pains or severe swelling

Synergy Immediate Care’s dermatologist, Dr Kimberly Arrington, will review your medical history and perform an evaluation of the current state of your skin.   If you are at risk for psoriasis, or you have psoriasis, we can provide you with treatment to reduce the inflammation and clear the skin.  

If you are concerned that your skin shows signs of psoriasis, do not hesitate to contact us at 703-942-5331 to set up an appointment.  We look forward to getting your psoriasis under control, preventing future breakouts, and giving you great-looking skin!

How to Prevent Heart Disease

Heart HealthIt may not be on the top of your to-do list, but caring for your heart should be top priority when it comes to taking charge of your health.

You never know when a heart attack may come, or when your physician might diagnose you with diabetes, but there are preventative measures to reduce your risk for heart disease.  Here are three ways how you can reduce your risks.

Control your blood pressure

High blood pressure is the major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  When your blood pressure is high, the blood running through your arteries is flowing with too much force, and causes strain on your cardiovascular system.  When your body works to repair arterial wall injury, the scar tissue traps plaque and white blood cells which can turn into blood clots, blockages, and create weakened arteries.

A few ways to manage your blood pressure include:

  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Reducing sodium and sugar intake
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Limiting alcohol use and avoiding tobacco smoke

Keep your cholesterol levels under control

When you have too much “bad cholesterol” (LDL), it combines with white blood cells and forms plaque around your arteries.  These blockages can lead to heart disease and stroke, but when you control your cholesterol, you are allowing your arteries to remain clear of blockages.

You can lower your cholesterol by changing your diet for:

  • Whole-grain and multi-grain products
  • Fatty fishes such as salmon
  • Antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables
  • Omega-3 fatty acids such as avocados, flax seeds, olive oil, and canola oil
  • Plant sterols such walnuts and almonds

Lose Weight

If you have too much fat around your midsection, you are at a much higher risk for heart health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  If you are overweight, you can reduce your risks for heart disease by losing weight.  

Some ways you can work toward losing weight include:

  • Including at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine
  • Opting for water instead of sugary drinks
  • Eating a high-protein diet along with fruits and vegetables
  • Cutting back on sugars and starches

Endocrinology at Synergy Immediate Care

At Synergy Endocrinology Center, our dual-board certified physician, Dr. Pallavi Heda, specializes in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism.  

We specialize in the evaluation, treatment, and management of common heart diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol Disorders
  • High Blood Pressure

If you would like more information about our endocrinology program, or other services we provide, please call us at 703-942-5331 to schedule an appointment.