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Author: Jan Yerzik

High Pollen Counts – Many Allergy Sufferers

pollen counts highPeople who suffer from allergies may be really suffering this season. Mild temperatures have trees in bloom — ash and juniper are the main culprits now — and our recent dry, breezy weather has helped spread that pollen.

We are in the middle of allergy season, and pollen counts will remain high. Allergy sufferers can get relief from over the counter medicines, but some may require a doctor’s visit.

In most areas, trees are in bloom and a month later the grasses start pollinating.  However, in Arizona, both trees and grasses pollinate throughout the spring at the same time. It’s a double dose of allergens.

Three things you can do to alleviate the suffering:

  1.  Avoid being outside when it is breezy and pollen is in the air.
  2. Use OTC medicines for relief.
  3. See a doctor.  Immunotherapy can help relieve symptoms and build up long term resistance to allergens.

West Valley Urgent Care offers allergy shots to help those who are suffering.  If OTC medicines are not helping, walk-in or call for a priority appointment.


Facts About Rising Healthcare Premiums in Arizona

Healthcare premiums increase 116%

Arizonans were lucky and paid some of the lowest individual insurance premiums in the U.S. when policies were first available under President Obama’s health care overhaul laws in 2014.

Premiums Up 116% in 2017

In 2017, many people who buy plans on the federal marketplace have seen premiums jump by 116% on average! In Maricopa, those premiums jumps may even be higher.

About 75% of the people enrolled in plans this year are receiving subsidies to help pay their premiums, and those subsidies will go along with premiums.

However, the other 25% of people who make too much to qualify for subsidies because the ear more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, are getting hit hard.

Key Facts Responsible for Premium Increases

An analysis of price increases by the Associated Press and health care consulting firm Avalere looked at the premium of a 50-year-old non-smoker buying a benchmark “silver” plan.  In Maricopa County, this plan increased by 145%, from $289 per month to $708 per month.  The top seven percentage increasing counties in our state include Maricopa, La Paz, Gila, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma.

Health Care Choices Very Limited

Choices for health care plans are becoming slim. Pima County only has more than one insurer to choose from, and on of those is offering catastrophic coverage not suitable to many people.

Maricopa County, for instance, had 11 insurers in 2015 and eight in 2016. Insurers such as United Health Care and Humana pulled out because of big losses. HealthNet is on the only insurer now offering health care covered. Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona no longer offers coverage in Maricopa under the federal plan.

Why Premiums Are Skyrocketing

According to experts, there are several reasons why premiums are going up. Younger people aren’t signing up for sufficient insurance coverage, which affects the number of people in the plans who are unhealthy and are more expensive for insurers. Enrollment of younger people has not increased, leaving the high-need population enrolled, which increases medical costs. That has prompted many insurers to leave the market.

In addition, for the first three years of the law, a pair of government backstops for insurer losses ended, so companies are raising prices to build a cushion for unexpected costs.

Pharmacy Costs Going Higher

Another trend influencing the rising cost of health insurance is the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals. As Reid Rasmussen reported in a recent article, up to 40 percent of the medical plan cost will be drugs by 2025.

Health Care Membership Plans

West Valley Care is trying to help patients afford their medical care by offering affordable membership programs which include office visits.  To learn more, click here. Call 623-334-8671 to enroll today! 

healthcare membership program

Source:  Tuscon.com “Key Facts About Rising Arizona Health Insurance Premiums”.

How Often Should I get a Physical

So many of us take our good health for granted, and are shocked when something goes awry. Our hope is to help all our patients live longer, healthier lives.

In the big picture, people who proactively address their health on all fronts tend to better than those who do not.

Build a Strong Foundation for your Health

Maintaining your good health includes addressing many areas:

  • The Mind
  • The Body
  • Spiritual Well-being
  • Your Social connections

We all make choices about our health on a daily basis, both by action and inaction.

Guidelines for Preventive Health – Health Exam

If you’re generally healthy, you may only need occasional preventive screenings based on your age.

General adult physical schedule:

  • For ages 19-21, once every 2-3 years
  • For ages 22-64, once ever 1-3 years
  • Over 65, once a year

If you smoke or have other risk factors, you should come in more often.  Your doctor can suggest a check-up schedule.

How Often Should You Get a Physical

While 92% of the general public thinks they need a physical every year, only 62% do so, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking Pool. Here are guidelines from the National Health Institute.

Even if you’re in good shape, take regular preventive steps to stay that way.

  • Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years.
  • Make sure important vaccinations are up to date:
    • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis immunization booster within the last 10 years
    • Chicken pox if you’ve never had a vaccination or the disease
    • Measles-mumps-rubella if you weren’t inoculated as a child
    • Meningitis if you’re under 24 and never had a vaccination.
    • Hepatitis A or B if you’re at high risk
    • Annual flu shot

Guidelines for everyone

Even if you’re in good shape, take regular preventive steps to stay that way.

  • Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years.
  • Make sure important vaccinations are up to date:
    • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis immunization booster within the last 10 years
    • Chicken pox if you’ve never had a vaccination or the disease
    • Measles-mumps-rubella if you weren’t inoculated as a child
    • Meningitis if you’re under 24 and never had a vaccination.
    • Hepatitis A or B if you’re at high risk
    • Annual flu shot

After age 40:

  • Have cholesterol screenings every 5 years.
  • Screen for colorectal cancer with a fecal occult blood test every year or a colonoscopy every 10 years.

After age 55:

  • If you’re a current smoker or quit fewer than 15 years ago, have regular lung cancer screenings.
  • After 60, get an annual shingles vaccination.
  • After 65, have a pneumococcal vaccination.

Guidelines for women

In addition to the screenings everyone needs, women should have an annual pelvic and breast exam.

Women between ages 18 and 29:

  • Ensure you have a complete HPV vaccination.
  • Get a pap smear to test for cervical cancer every 3 years.

Women between ages 30 and 49:

  • Get a pap smear every 5 years.
  • Consult your doctor about whether you should have mammograms.

Women between ages 50 and up:

  • Get annual mammograms until age 75.
  • Have a pap smear every 5 years until 65 or 70.
  • Test for bone density with a DEXA scan after age 50.

After menopause or if you’ve had a hysterectomy, your doctor may recommend a different screening schedule.

Guidelines for men

Until age 50, most men can follow the general health guidelines. This is a great time to take some baseline measurements for comparison later.

Men ages 50 and up:

  • Have a bone density (DEXA) scan. (Although osteoporosis is more commonly associated with women, men can suffer bone loss as well.)
  • Ask your doctor whether you should have prostate cancer screening given your family history.
  • After 65, if you do or have smoked, get an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance will cover the entire cost of procedures like immunizations, cancer screenings, and blood tests. So if you haven’t had a regular checkup recently, make an appointment now. A little preventive healthcare today can buy you a happier, healthier, and longer future.

To get your physical, call any one of our West Valley Urgent Care offices. You will be seen by our primary care doctors.

If you are seeking a primary care physician, we do have openings so you can be seen quickly at our West Valley Internal Medicine offices.

Schedule Your Physical Today – Call:

Glendale/Peoria Clinic:  (623) 334-8670

Phoenix/Avondale Clinic: (623) 218-0782

Surprise/Sun City Clinic:  (623) 691-7748

Don’t wait, call today.


World TB Awareness Day – March 24, 2017

World TB DayUnite to End TB

Each year, we recognize World TB Day on March 24. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis (TB).

Although tuberculosis (TB) is preventable and curable, many people in the United States still suffer from this disease. Anyone can get TB, and our current efforts to find and treat latent TB infection and TB disease are not sufficient. Misdiagnosis of TB still exists and health care professionals often do not “think TB.”

How TB Spreads

TB bacteria are spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing

When a person breathes in TB bacteria, the bacteria can settle in the lungs and begin to grow. From there, they can move through the blood to other parts of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

TB disease in the lungs or throat can be infectious. This means that the bacteria can be spread to other people. TB in other parts of the body, such as the kidney or spine, is usually not infectious.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread it to people they spend time with every day. This includes family members, friends, and coworkers or schoolmates.

Signs & Symptoms

The TB disease symptoms  depend on where in the body the TB bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs (pulmonary TB). TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as:

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

Other symptoms include

  • weakness or fatigue
  • weight loss
  • no appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • sweating at night

Get Tested

Many schools now require TB testing for enrollment.  Getting a TB test is easy as it requires a simple skin prick which is checked in a follow up visit.

We do TB tests at West Valley Urgent Care.  You can walk-in or schedule an appointment in advance to get tested.

See which location is best for you. Get map & directions.

TB Infographic

tb infographic

Help stop the spread of TB.

Rare Cancer Linked to Breast Implants

rare cancer linked to breast implants

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported nine deaths stemming from a rare cancer associated with breast implants.

359 cases of cancer from breast implants reported.

The rare cancer, called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), can be found around the breast implant and affects cells in the immune system. Not a type of breast cancer, it can be found in the skin or lymph nodes.

Breast implants are the most popular cosmetic procedure, with over 300,000 women undergoing the treatment in 2016.

“Women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants” warns the FDA.  The textured surfaced implants seem to be the culprits, with 203 of the 231 cases found.

To date most cases of ALCL have been described as a slow-growing cancer that is treatable when detected early.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the Plastic Surgeon Foundation, about 10 to 11 million women in the world have breast implants. One study estimates the incidence of ALCL from breast-implants at 1 in 300,000.

How To Monitor Breast Implants

This cancer can take 10 years to develop.  Women with implants should have routine screenings such as regular mammograms or MRIs as recommended by their doctors. Women should also watch out for breast swelling.

Source: CNN.com “9 deaths and rare cancer linked to breast cancer implants, says FDA.”

E. coli Outbreak

E. coli Outbreak Reported

157 Cases Reported so far

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli infections.
To date, 157 cases have been reported, with six people requiring hospitalization. Four of these people developed HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome), a type of kidney failure.

Outbreak Suspected Cause

e coli outbreak reported
The outbreak is linked to the I. M. Healthy Brand SoyNut Better, different varieties and sizes. If you have any in your household, put in a sealed bag in the trash immediately. It is harmful to children, adults, pets or other animals.
Symptoms include:
  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Usually ill from 2 – 8 days (average is 3-4 days after swallowing the germ)
  • Recovery within one week
This infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.

Severe Cases Require Hospitalization

More severe cases can result in HUS – a type of kidney failure.
If you or someone you know experience the symptoms of HUS, seek immediate medical care!
  • Fever, abdominal pain
  • Pale skin tone
  • Fatigue and irratability
  • Small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth
  • Decreased urination.
Seek immediate medical attention. We can check your symptoms. Get checked at of our Walk-in Clinics:
Glendale/Peoria – 17218 N. 72nd Dr., Glendale AZ  85308
Phoenix/Avondale – 4110 N. 108th Ave., # 101, Phoenix, AZ 85037
Surprise/Sun City – 14811 W. Bell Rd., # 100, Surprise, AZ 85254
Source:  Infection Prevention & Control Department 3/13/17

Why You Should Keep Your Doctor’s Appointment

why you should keep your doctors appointment

One of the most important relationships you will have to maintain your health is your relationship with your doctor. A good doctor-patient relationship can be very much like a partnership. It’s your opportunity to work closely with your doctor to stay healthy and address any medical concerns. You should always keep your scheduled doctor’s appointment unless a real emergency comes up.

Why You Should Keep Your Doctor’s Appointment

Your doctor can watch out for your health.  Many people think they are healthy, and are surprised when they go in for a physical and their doctor discovers a health concern that needs to be addressed.

See the same doctor regularly to establish a comfortable relationship. Good communication with your doctor can help the partnership.  Ask questions if you don’t understand and talk about problems you are experiencing even if your doctor does not ask. Good communication between you and your doctor can lead to the best possible health outcome.

Prevention is another good reason to keep your appointment. Your doctor can identify things to do and/or provide helpful suggestions that can lead to better health and prevent illnesses. We believe prevention and leading a healthy lifestyle are very important to our patient’s overall health.

Financial consequences – Avoid cancellation fees by keeping your appointment. Most doctor’s offices and clinics charge a fee for missing your appointment.

Getting Ready for Your Doctor’s Appointment

If you have a number of health concerns to discuss with your doctor, let the staff know when you schedule your visit so they can allocate enough time.  Here’s some things to consider:

Prescription Refills. Do you need to refill any prescriptions? For some medications, the doctor may be willing to provide a small prescription to carry your over.  Prescriptions for controlled medications will be considered a special case and will likely require a visit (or even multiple visits) and some background information. Sometimes lab tests are needed.

Be sure to bring any current prescriptions and supplements you are taking with you to the appointment. If you don’t want to bring the bottles, bring a list of the items you take and include name, brand and dosage.  Your doctor will check to make sure they are medicines that can be taken together.

Number of Concerns.  If you have a number of health concerns to discuss with your doctor, let the staff know when you schedule your appointment.  The office staff needs to know so they can schedule enough time for the doctor.  If you don’t want to list the concerns, at least let the staff know how many concerns you would like to discuss at the appointment.

Write down your concerns prior to the doctor’s appointment.

Special Needs. If you have special needs such as wheelchair access or interpretive needs, let them know. If you need an interpreter, that is also good for the clinic to know in advance.

Excuses.  When you make the appointment, let the staff know if you need any excuses for missing work or school.

Office Policies.  Find out what policies are in place for missed or rescheduled appointments.  We charge $50 for missed appointments that are not cancelled within the 24 hours period before your appointment.

Advance Appointments. It’s always best if you can schedule an appointment in advance.  We offer priority appointments so you can schedule a good time on the day you need to see a doctor.

New Patient. If you are a new patient, there will be a number of forms that require filling out. Allow time to fill out these forms prior to your appointment.  At West Valley, we have the forms online so you can download and complete prior to your office visit.

At West Valley Urgent Care, you will be seen by our primary care doctors who also serve in our internal medicine and family practice.  If you need a primary care provider, you can join our Internal Medicine practice – West Valley Internal Medicine. Check to see if we take your insurance, as we accept most insurance carriers.

In summary, it is important to keep your doctor’s appointment.  Your health may depend upon it.

You’re Invited – Total Body Event – March 10, 2017

Total Body Event

You’re Invited

RSVP Now to (623) 691-8319

When: Friday, March 10, 2017
12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Where: Abloom Med Spa
17218 N. 72nd Dr., Ste. 101, Glendale AZ  85308
Cost: Free!

Find out about the latest body contouring & facial rejuvenation treatments

  • Meet with Dr. Punia, who performs all our Smartlipo treatments
  • Get a Free Consultation
  • Learn about Kybella, a Non-invasive Way to Get Rid of Double Chins
  • See how Smartlipo Triplex can melt away stubborn fat in one treatment with minimal downtime
  • Discover New Facial Rejuvenation techniques
  • Learn about hormone therapy pellets
  • Get Exclusive Event Pricing!
  • Win great raffle prizes


KYBELLA is the first FDA-approved injectable to treat double chins.

kybella before and after

Smartlipo Triplex

Smartlipo is laser-assisted lipolysis that can melt away fat and tighten the skin.

  • 1 Session in-office procedure
  • Less than 2 hour treatment time
  • Low discomfort
  • Minimal downtime

At West Valley Care, we want people to look and feel their very best!

Call (623) 691-8319 to reserve your spot.  Attendance is limited.

Spring Allergy Season & $15 Allergy Shot Special


The first step is to know what you’re allergic to. Next, it helps to minimize your exposure to those allergens—whether that means cleaning your home in a certain way to reduce indoor allergens or keeping an eye on your local allergy forecast.

Once you start suffering from seasonal allergy symptoms, figure out which allergy medicine is right for you and start treating as soon as your allergy symptoms start. Taking your medicine before peak allergy season can help alleviate symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.

According to the National Weather Channel, in partnership with Flonase, this is our allergy chart for March 1, 2017.  Pollen is high.

spring allergy season

Allergy Shot Special Offer

West Valley Urgent Care is offering $15.00 allergy shots with your paid office visit!

Get relief for this spring’s allergy season. This offer is good through March 31, 2017.  Mention this offer during your appointment.

You can walk-in or call ahead to schedule a priority appointment. You can also request it your priority appointment online.

Glendale Peoria Office (623) 334-8671
17218 N 72nd Dr., Suite 100, Glendale, AZ 85308

Phoenix Avondale Office (623) 218-0782
4110 N. 108th Ave., Suite 101, Phoenix, AZ 85037

Surprise Sun City Office  (623) 691-7748
14811 W. Bell Road, Suite 100, Surprise, AZ 85374

About Pollen Levels

Pollen levels indicate the amount of pollen in the air. The season and geographic area are the two primary factors that contribute to higher pollen levels. A common misconception is that pollen levels will be almost zero during colder months. Trees actually start producing pollen as early as January in southern states. They also produce such a large volume of pollen that it can increase pollen levels miles away.

Also, be aware that regardless of your outdoor pollen level and allergy report, pollen can still be transported indoors by animals and clothing.

If you are suffering from allergies, come in for an appointment! You don’t have to suffer.

10 Heart Failure Facts to Know

10 heart failure facts

When the heart isn’t able to pump enough blood throughout the body, heart failure occurs, leading to symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath.

One of our employees relatives was brought to the hospital by ambulance. We were told his heart had stopped a couple times and CRP was done by the first responder.  We were frightened and started researching cardiac arrest, learning it is fatal in 9 out of 10 instances.  Luckily, the reason he was actually brought to the hospital was because he had stopped breathing twice.  Big difference, still scary.

Approximately 5.7 million Americans are affected by heart failure.

“Heart failure occurs when the muscles of the heart essentially die, or weaken,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, the director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a national spokeswomen for the Go Red for Women campaign. “As heart function weakens, the blood doesn’t push forward through the body as easily.”

Many symptoms can occur, from shortness of breath, fatigue, to swollen ankles.

1. There are different types of heart failure.

The heart’s left ventricle, right ventricle or both can be affected by heart failure. Systolic heart failure is the most common failure, when the heart muscle’s function is diminished and blood doesn’t flow as readily through the body.

Diastolic heart failure occurs when the heart experiences relaxation impairment and is unable to fill with blood properly due to stiffening of the muscle.

Heart failure is often referred to as “congestive heart failure,” which means that fluid has accumulated in other parts of the body (such as in the lungs and liver) as a result of blood circulating improperly. But not all cases of heart failure are congestive.

2. Certain conditions may signal heart problems

Heart failure tends to follow other conditions. People with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks or coronary artery disease are more likely to experience heart failure. Many of these diseases do weaken the heart.
The good news is many of these conditions are correctable, given good lifestyle choices and taking steps to reduce the risks.

3. Pinpointing symptoms isn’t always easy.

When it comes to your heart health, determining whether certain symptoms are linked to heart problems isn’t always easy. Still, when the heart is unable to meet the demands of the body, typical symptoms would include shortness of breath, swelling of the extremities (think: feet, ankles, and legs), chronic coughing,fatigue, a diminished appetite, or a quickened heart rate.

4. Diagnosis are largely symptom based.

“Heart failure is diagnosed by symptoms more than anything” explains Dr. Steinbaum. “If someone has worsening shortness of breath, inability to walk down the street, or they can’t lie flat in bed without difficulty breathing, their doctor may want to do an EKG to look for heart damage or an echocardiogram, which looks at the function of the heart muscle.” If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment and discuss it with your doctor.

5.  Exercise Helps

Regular exercise is an excellent way to lower the risk of heart disease. Aerobic exercise prevents weight gain (lowering the risk of diabetes and obesity) and also keeps your arteries healthy and controls blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity every week.

6.  Avoid Salty Foods

Consuming too much sodium causes the body to retain water. Excess salt raises your risk of blood pressure, which in turn taxes the heart even more.

7.  Not Smoking Is Very Important

“Everytime someone inhales from a cigarette, they’re potentially tearing the lining of the arteries, called the endothelium,” says Dr. Steinbaum. As this lining gets worn down, she explains, a person’s risk of developing coronary artery disease—as well as heart attacks and subsequent heart failure—goes up. “Stopping smoking is the most preventable thing we can do,” she adds.

Lifestyle factors play a big role in lowering one’s risk of cardiovascular disorders.

8. Choose a Heart-Healthy Diet

For patients with heart failure, a balanced diet is important. Heart-healthy food include:

  • Salmon – packed with omega-3 fatty acides
  • Avocados – a healthy fat
  • Oatmeal – soluble fiber which can help lower cholesterol
  • Nuts – more fiber plus vitamin E
  • Fresh Produce – blueberries, citrus fruits and tomatoes

9. Customized Treatments are Available

The good news is there are multiple treatment options for people diagnosed with heart failure. The first step is treating the underlying causes of heart failure such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Doctors can conduct tests to see if there is blockage or placque buildup present.

10. Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle

Lifestyle choices can make all the difference in preventing heart failure.

“Learning the best way to eat and making time to get up and move—even if it’s just walking 10,000 steps a day—is a huge part of staying healthy and preventing heart failure down the road,” Dr. Steinbaum says. “Plus, it’s a progressive disease. Let’s make healthy choices now so we never have to get there.”

heart health month