My Blog
February 08, 2021
Category: Health Care
Tags: Prostate Exam  

Prostate cancer affects about one out of every ten adult males in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer is always easiest to treat when its caught early. Prostate exams are an effective way to detect prostate cancer during its early stages. Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal, the experienced internal medicine doctors at Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, can assess your risk factors for prostate cancer and advise you regarding when you should undergo a prostate exam.

Screening for Prostate Cancer

The American Cancer Society advises that men with an average to low risk of developing prostate cancer do not need to undergo a prostate exam before their early 50s, and only if they are interested in being screened. Men with a high risk of developing prostate cancer, such as those with a brother or father diagnosed with the disease, should undergo a prostate exam around age 45. Men with more than one first-degree relative with prostate cancer are at an even higher risk for developing the disease and should consider being screened as early as age 40.

Screening for prostate cancer can involve a blood test and a digital rectal exam. The purpose of the blood test is to check for a protein that is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Men with higher levels of this protein could be at risk for developing prostate cancer. If the blood test reveals a high PSA level, additional testing is usually performed.

A digital rectal exam involves a physical examination of the prostate. To perform the exam, the doctor gently inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate, which is just in front of the rectum. The doctor checks for bumps or hard areas, which could be signs of cancer. If suspicious areas are discovered, a sample can be taken for biopsy to determine if cancer is present. The exam is performed quickly and can be slightly uncomfortable for some patients, but is usually not painful.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Men of any age who are experiencing certain symptoms should talk to one of the skilled doctors at our office in Houston, TX, about scheduling a prostate exam. These symptoms could be a sign that prostate cancer has developed. Diagnosing the condition right away is important so treatment can begin promptly. Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue
  • Pain along the spine, hips, or ribs
  • Numbness in the feet or legs
  • Erectile dysfunction

A prostate exam can lead to early detection and prompt treatment of prostate cancer. Dr. Rios or Dr. Neal can assess your risk for developing prostate cancer and determine when you should undergo screening. To schedule an appointment, call Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, at (832) 323-9230.

December 30, 2020
Category: Health Care
Tags: Heart Disease  

Here are some simple strategies to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Do you have a family member with heart disease? Are you concerned about your current health? Many people turn to our Houston, TX, internists Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal because they are concerned about their health and risk for developing heart disease. With heart disease being the leading cause of death in US men and women, you must be doing what you can to reduce your risk. Here are some ways to protect yourself from heart disease,

Get your blood pressure under control

Normal blood pressure falls below 120/80. If you have a family history or personal history of high blood pressure, you must be monitoring your blood pressure and making sure you are getting it under control if it’s elevated. If our Houston, TX, doctors have determined that you have hypertension (high blood pressure), they can provide you with the proper medication needed to get your blood pressure levels in check.

Monitor your cholesterol

Along with monitoring your blood pressure, it’s also important that you see your family doctor regularly to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol leads to clogged arteries, which can increase your risk for a heart attack or coronary artery disease. The good news is that lifestyle changes and medications can help you get your cholesterol back on track to reduce your risk for heart-related complications.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

You must be following a healthy diet that is low in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. A plant-based diet offers a lot of amazing benefits, particularly for your heart. Don’t forget to load up on lots of fresh vegetables, healthy fats (e.g. avocados, nuts), whole grains, and lean sources of protein. If you have concerns about your diet or would like to find ways to alter your diet to improve your heart health, talk with our doctors.

Get up and moving

It’s also important that you are getting regular aerobic exercise to get the heart pumping. Remember, your heart is a muscle, so working out can strengthen and improve how your heart functions. Plus, exercising regularly can help you lose excess weight and reduce stress, which is also great for your heart! Make sure to work out at least 30 minutes a day.

Lose excess weight

Those who are overweight or obese are also more at risk for heart disease, so you must maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). If you are concerned about your weight, our doctors can help you find safe, effective weight loss solutions to help you shed those pounds safely and to lower your risk for heart disease.

It’s important to make smart choices about your health right now so you can lead a healthy life for the future. One way to do that is by visiting your primary care doctor at least once a year for a checkup. If it’s time for your annual checkup, call Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, at (832) 323-9230 to schedule an appointment.

December 30, 2020
Category: Health Care
Tags: Stress  

At Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, our dedicated team prioritizes your physical health and emotional well-being. Part of preventive care is understanding the stresses which impact our patients, the effects on their bodies, and how we can help them manage stress responses. Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal want you well equipped so you function well and love life.

Just what is stress?

Sounds like a really basic question, doesn't it? Intuitively, we all know when we feel stressed. However, what causes it, and what does it do to our overall wellness?

The Cleveland Clinic defines stress as anything which changes bodily function quickly or chronically, over time. A too-long, quick-paced work environment causes stress on your body. So, does a car accident, moving to a new home, or getting married.

While some stress is positive (you need a deadline to accomplish many tasks efficiently), too much can harm our physical and emotional well-being. Instead of strengthening our resolve and ordering our priorities, intense, repeated stress puts the body into "fight or flight" mode continually. In short, we wear down physiologically.

Impacts on the body

Stress touches everything. It triggers the release of many chemicals--hormones--which, for the short-term, help you get through a crisis. Constantly or repeatedly released hormones, such as cortisol, harden arteries, increase blood pressure, upset the stomach and bowel, increase inflammatory processes, and reduce your ability to fight off acute and chronic disease. Research cited by the American Psychological Association demonstrates it.

Examples of how your body responds to stress include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath
  • Panic attacks
  • Chronic fatigue
  • GI pain and bloating
  • Poor absorption of key nutrients
  • Decreased sexual function and libido
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Heart attack, hypertension, and stroke
  • High blood glucose and cholesterol levels

Managing your stress

At Rios Healthcare Associates, Dr. Rios and Dr. Neal recognize the signs of stress in their patients, and they can help. Simple lifestyle modifications can reduce physiological stress. Our Houston, TX, team suggests:

  • No tobacco
  • Limited alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Seven to nine hours of sleep per night
  • Routine exercise
  • Talking it out with a trusted friend, therapist, or pastor

Contact Rios Healthcare Associates

We are here for your ongoing and emergency health needs, including stress management. For a personal consultation with Dr. Tomas Rios or Dr. Nicolin Neal in our Houston, TX, office, call us. We are open seven days a week. Phone (832) 323-9230.

December 23, 2020
Category: Health Care
Tags: Flu Season   Flu  

The onset of the fall and winter months in the U.S. also means flu season has arrived. Contracting the flu can result in a host of symptoms, including fever, body aches, a sore throat, fatigue. Preparing for flu season ahead of time by taking certain precautions can potentially reduce your likelihood of getting sick. Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal, the skilled providers at Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, can help you take steps to safeguard yourself during flu season.

Symptoms of the Flu

Several symptoms are associated with the flu. However, not everyone will always develop the same symptoms. For example, some individuals might have a fever while others do not. Common symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue

Children sometimes also experience vomiting or diarrhea when they have the flu. These symptoms can occur in adults as well, but it is less common for them to have either of these in conjunction with the flu.

It is important to note that many of the symptoms associated with the flu also occur with the common cold and it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. One notable difference is that the symptoms of a cold tend to develop gradually, while flu symptoms come on quickly. See one of the experienced doctors at our office in Houston, TX, for diagnosis and treatment if you develop any of the symptoms associated with the flu. Our providers can determine whether you have a cold or the flu and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Flu Prevention

One of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming flu season is to take measures to safeguard yourself against getting sick. By taking certain precautions, you might be able to prevent the flu from affecting you. Steps for preventing the flu include:

  • Get a flu shot early
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Maintain a safe distance from others who are ill
  • Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (e.g., doorknobs and remote controls)

Another way to prepare for flu season is to maintain good health, which can contribute to a stronger immune system. Ways to stay healthy include getting enough rest, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, and eating a balanced diet rich in healthy foods. It is also helpful to avoid or quit smoking, which can decrease your immune system’s response to the influenza virus and other viruses.

We can help you prepare for flu season by administering a flu shot and helping you take preventative precautions. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rios or Dr. Neal, call Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, at (832) 323-9230.

November 06, 2020
Category: Health Care
Tags: Vaccines  

Vaccines are effective medicines that guard against communicable diseases. Important from birth through the senior years, routine immunizations save lives. At Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal want your family to stay well. Preventing disease is a path toward this goal--both for you and your teen. Does he or she have all the vaccines needed for college?

The college environment

Yes, higher education teaches young people to think, gain knowledge and wisdom, and set and attain career goals. But, have you considered how the college environment--particularly in dormitories, sports training, group assignments, and more--exposes your child to a communicable disease?

Influenza, upper respiratory infections, mono, meningitis, STDs and strep throat rank among the top reasons college students visit the infirmary or their primary care doctor if they commute, reports Healthline. At Rios Healthcare Associates, these illnesses concern Dr. Rios and his colleagues.

Prevention is so important

So, our team encourages college-bound students to get their vaccines early. Schools require them for admission and dorm life.

At our Houston, TX, office we follow the vaccine schedule for 19 to 26-year-olds set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Each vaccine stimulates your young person's immune system, creating antibodies against many diseases and their potentially devastating consequences. Additionally, with each individual vaccinated, community, or herd, immunity increases, protecting those most at risk for complications and those who cannot receive vaccines for medical reasons.

Protection for your college student

The "shots" protect against many illnesses, including:

  • Influenza
  • Mononucleosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Pneumonia
  • Varicella-zoster related diseases (chickenpox and shingles)
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Human papilloma virus, or HPV

Additionally, the CDC recommends you check your teen's immunization record to be sure he or she is up to date on all childhood vaccines. Fortunately, the staff at Rios Healthcare Associates helps families maintain these records, making them available for work, school, sports, and other venues as needed.

Stay healthy

Vaccines are a great way to ensure your teen stays healthy in college. Phone Dr. Tomas Rios and Dr. Nicolin Neal at Rios Healthcare Associates in Houston, TX, for more information. Call (832) 323-9230. We are open seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm for your convenience, and as always, walk-ins are welcome!

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