Do You Know the Warning Signs of Meningitis?

Meningitis is one of the 10 leading causes of death with over 1.2 million worldwide cases and 135,000 deaths per year.

But what exactly is meningitis and what should you know about it? 

“There is a protective lining of tissue around the brain and spinal cord called the meninges. Meningitis is inflammation of these tissues,” said Dr. Calvin Martin of SIMEDHealth Urgent Care.

Spread similarly to the common cold or flu, anyone can catch meningitis through close contact with anyone who has it by kissing, sharing beverages eating utensils, sneezing or coughing. The most common symptoms of meningitis are headaches and a stiff neck. However, according to Dr. Martin, there are a number of other symptoms to watch out for.

“If the cause is infectious, then there is usually high fever, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes a rash. Additionally, meningitis can cause widespread problems in the body including sepsis (which may lead to organ failure), brain swelling (which may cause brain tissue to be squeezed out of the skull), seizures, altered mental status, blood clots (which may lead to paralysis), and death,” Dr. Martin said.

There are a number of factors which may put you at risk for this life-threatening illness. According to Dr. Martin these risks include:

  • Being over 65 years of age
  • Being in close conditions to someone with meningitis
  • Head trauma
  • Recent upper respiratory infection
  • Being a diabetic
  • Being an alcoholic
  • Injection drug abuse
  • Those with implanted medical devices in the skull

The best way to prevent against meningitis is to get immunized, said Dr. Martin. Other precautions include hand washing, avoiding exposure to those with the illness, eating well, getting good sleep and exercise to maintain a strong immune system. At SIMEDHealth we believe preventative care is the best way to ensure a healthy life.

“If you feel that you may have meningitis and have minor symptoms such as a headache, slightly stiff neck or low lever fever, consider being evaluated at First Care to determine your risk and symptoms,” Said Dr. Martin.

Set up an appointment with your primary care doctor today to request the meningitis vaccine. 

School Tips for Parents

school supplies, stick figures waving, SIMED wishes everyone good luck for school
School is starting soon, and it’s important for both parents and children to feel prepared for the change in routine that comes from starting a new school year. 
SIMED Dr. Calvin Martin, an urgent care physician, has compiled a list of tips to help parents prepare for a healthy new school year. 

1. Enforce a regular sleeping schedule

During the summer, your children might become accustomed to getting up later, so it’s important to get them adjusted to going to bed at a reasonable time, even weeks before school starts.
Children should get at least 8 hours of sleep (preferably more) each night. Get into the habit of enforcing your child’s bedtime. Children should have regular sleep and wake times.
Put rules into place and make sure your children understand it’s important to follow them. For example, parents can make sure children don’t use technology after a certain time by creating a spot on the kitchen counter where children have to place their devices when it’s time to go to bed. The children can then get the devices back in the morning.
Parents: You should also adjust your sleeping habits to ensure you get a good night’s sleep when you have to wake up early to get your children ready for school.

infographic with back to school health tips for parents


2. Pack healthy lunches and plan healthy meals

Make sure to prepare good quality food to pack for your children’s lunches.
One way you can ensure your child has healthy meals each day is to plan those meals in advance. If you know your schedule you can plan to make food ahead of time in preparation for busy days and plan when to cook. 
Avoid fast food, and don’t let children drink caffeine (like soda) later in the day. 
Create alternatives for unhealthy snacks and make them easily accessible. For example, prepare portions of fruit wedges or vegetable slices and leave them in baggies in the fridge.
If your children eat school lunches, make sure what you’re feeding them at home compensates for the lack of nutrition. 

3. Schedule everything

Scheduling can be helpful to make sure you don’t forget about anything. You can schedule your grocery trips, your children’s practices, your children’s rehearsals and other weekly activity to make sure you maximize your own time and avoid burnout. 
Make lists or keep a schedule on the fridge that has information about who is going to be where and when. Making schedules can reduce stress, and schedules offer a way for parents to quickly look up what they’re doing so they don’t forget anything.
Having everything organized and everyone’s schedule in one place can make school days easier for the whole family.

4. Make sure your children get their school physicals

If your child is playing fall sports, make sure they get their sports physicals. If they’re going to a new school, get them a checkup and make sure their immunization records are up to date. SIMED First Care offers back to school and sports physicals.

5. Remind your children about common risks

Make sure your children know to use hand sanitizer and wash their hands.  This could help them avoid diseases.
Children should understand that they need to wash their hands after using the restroom and before and after eating if they show any symptoms or signs of infection. Children should also be careful to wash their hands after gym class. 
It’s useful to buy your child a small bottle of portable hand sanitizer they can use in emergencies.
When children wash their hands make sure they know to use soap and water and wash for at least 30 seconds or however long it takes them to say the entire alphabet.
As the new school year approaches, it’s important for both parents and children to get into healthy habits. These tips will ensure you and your children are best prepared for staying healthy during the school year.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Martin, call 352-373-2340 or request an appointment online.
If your child needs back to school or sports physicals, call 352-373-2340 or request an appointment online.

How to Prevent and Treat the 5 Most Common Summer Injuries

Planning to go swimming at the beach, relax on a boat or do some yard work this summer? Be careful.
Dr. Calvin Martin, a practicing Family Medicine physician at SIMED, sees patients at SIMED’s First Care in Gainesville with injuries related to these activities every summer, but he said it’s easy to avoid and treat these injuries and have a safe summer.
Learn about Dr. Martin’s five most common summer injuries and how to prevent and treat them so you can stay safe while having fun this summer.
How to Prevent and Treat the Five Most Common Summer Injuries Infographic

1. Sunburns

Every year people come in to see Dr. Martin with severe sunburns, but it’s easy to prevent them.
Sunburn Prevention:
1. Apply Sunscreen.
“Research shows that people don’t apply enough sunscreen. People think that if they use a high SPF, they don’t need to apply it as much or as often, but you should make sure to follow the label on the sunscreen bottle,” Dr. Martin explained.
Each product is different, and people don’t realize, but they tend to lose protection from sunscreen a lot faster when swimming. It’s important to remember to keep reapplying.
Dr. Martin also pointed out that the difference in protection between 100, 50 and 30 SPF is only a few percentage points, and one sunscreen might not protect you significantly more than the other. He recommends using at least 30 SPF.
2. Wear the Appropriate Clothing.
You can wear long sleeved shirts and clothes that are highly rated for sun protection. Wear quick drying, cool nylon. 
“You could also apply sunscreen, but if you’re wearing clothes, you don’t have to put sunscreen under them,” Dr. Martin explained.
3. Avoid Going Outside in the Middle of the Day.
“Just choose not to be in the sun right in the middle of the day,” Dr. Martin advised.
You can still get sunburned when it’s cloudy. You can also get sunburned through a window.
Sunburn Treatment:
1. Take ibuprofen or Aleve.
2. Use any kind of lotion to keep your skin moist.
3. Use products with aloe on the burns.

2. Slipping and Falling (Boating Injuries)

During the summer time, more people are out on the water, and if they aren’t careful, being on a boat can lead to some serious injuries. 
Slip and Fall Prevention:
1. Keep everything properly stored.
Improperly stored skis, paddles, kneeboards, wakeboards and other materials are all tripping hazards on boats. 
“You can even trip on a rope that is lying at the bottom of a boat and break a bone,” Dr. Martin cautioned.
2. Wear shoes with good traction.
Try to avoid flip-flops.
When the boat is wet, people can slip and fall. When people are loading and unloading the boat from the trailer, people can slip on the slick boat ramps and get broken bones and a number of other injuries. 
“That’s why wearing the right shoes is important,” Dr. Martin shared.
3. Follow general safety rules.
“My general advice is just make sure people are seated before you drive. Don’t drink and drive your boat. Make sure you pay attention and use caution,” Dr. Martin warned.
Slip and Fall Treatment:
1. Put ice on any kind of sprain, strain or injury.
2. Don’t use the injured body part until it gets examined by a doctor.
3. Severe pain and rapid bruising are good reasons to come in and get checked out as well.

3. Poison Ivy

Poison ivy can be found anywhere, and you can go weeks without noticing you were in contact with it. It’s important to know how to avoid it and what to do if you think you’ve come into contact with it.
It can take a few hours to two weeks for the rashes to show up, so it’s important to always be on your guard.
Poison Ivy Prevention:
1. Familiarize yourself with what poison ivy looks like.
“Get on the internet or get a book and see what poison ivy looks like,” Dr. Martin suggested.
 Poison ivy has three leaves in a triangle shape and a matte texture.
Poison ivy can be anywhere. If you’re pulling out weeds from old dead limbs, you can get poison ivy on your hands and not even notice it especially if you can’t recognize poison ivy.
2. Wash your hands and exposed areas of the body with soap and water.
“Wash your exposed areas with soap and water to get off the oil that got on your skin,” Dr. Martin recommended.
When people get the rashes, they usually think back to a time they were doing yardwork or going on a walk through the forest or another occasion. Because poison ivy contact can go undetected, you can accidentally get it on your hand and transfer it to another part of your body or someone else by touching them. That’s why it’s important to clean afterwards.
“People think two weeks later after they get the rash that when they scratched it, it transferred to another area of the body, but it can’t transfer to another body part, or to someone else, after you’ve washed the parts of your body in contact with it,” Dr. Martin explained.
Poison Ivy Treatment:
Poison ivy rashes have a more linear pattern than other rashes. If you think you’re infected with poison ivy, start treatment immediately as it can take days to weeks to heal.
1. Treat it with hydrocortisone cream.
2. Treat it with oral or topical Benadryl.
3. If the rash gets worse, go to the doctor for stronger treatments.


4. Swimmer’s Ear

Did you know Swimmer’s Ear isn’t just for swimmers? Swimmer’s Ear is when liquid gets trapped in your ear canal. You can get it in the shower, when you sweat or even when someone shoots champagne into your ear.
Swimmer’s Ear Prevention:
1. Try to avoid getting water into your ear.
2. After swimming, use isopropyl alcohol drops to drain the water out.
“While some people’s anatomy makes them more likely to get Swimmer’s Ear, it’s a good idea for everybody to use isopropyl alcohol after swimming,” Dr. Martin recommended.
3. Get ear plugs.
“People who are subject to getting it can purchase wax ear plugs that will mold to the shape of their ear and stop it from getting trapped,” Dr. Martin suggested.
Swimmer’s Ear Treatment:
Usually, symptoms become noticeable a few days after contact. Symptoms include pain, swelling, decreased hearing and painful chewing.
There isn’t a lot you can do to treat Swimmer’s Ear. If you get it, schedule an appointment with your doctor so they can prescribe treatment.

5. Mosquito Bites

Pesky mosquitos are more prevalent during the summer, and people spending more time outdoors increases the hazard of mosquito bites.
Mosquito Bite Prevention:
1. Wear DEET insect repellent. 
“DEET is the best and comes in varying degrees of strength. For DEET, the strength you’d use would depend on the amount of mosquitos in the area,” Dr. Martin explained.
While some people might avoid DEET due to health concerns, it’s generally regarded as safe.
2. Wear protective clothes.
3. Use thermacells.
Thermacells are butane torches that heat an area and keep mosquitos out of it. They’re useful if you want to keep mosquitos away from a specific location. 
4. Avoid wet, low-lying areas, especially at dusk and dawn.
Mosquitos are most prevalent at dawn and dusk, and they breed in wetlands which makes them more active in those areas.
Mosquito Bite Treatment:
1. Apply Benadryl topically or orally.
2. Use Hydrocortisone cream.
3. Use Sting Stop.
4. Avoid scratching the bites.
“Scratching them will only make it itch more,” Dr. Martin cautioned.
If there is an infection, redness or swelling around the bite that worsens over a couple of days or you have trouble breathing or swallowing go to a doctor.
Now that you know how to prevent and treat these common summer injuries, you can prepare yourself for time spent out in the summer sun. Remember to always be alert and stay safe.
If you have one of these injuries and feel like you need to see a doctor, you should contact an urgent care facility like SIMED’s First Care in Gainesville at 4343 Newberry Road for treatment.
You can reach First Care at 352-373-2340 or walk in without an appointment between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Dr. Martin sees patients with urgent care-related needs at First Care. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment with him, call the number listed above or request an appointment through


SIMED offers a new BasicMed physical program and Comprehensive Medical Examination of small plane pilots

SIMED First Care Urgent Care is excited to announce our new BasicMed physical and Comprehensive Medical Examination of small plane pilots. Bring in your checklist and let one of our state licensed physicians perform your physical examination. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

For a shorter wait time, make an appointment.
Call 352-373-2340

SIMED First Care Urgent Care

STDs, and What You Need To Know

April is STD Awareness Month and Dr. Scott Wilson of First Care, SIMED’s walk in urgent care center provides valuable information on sexual health.

The CDC estimates there are 20 million new sexually transmitted infections in the United States each year. Nearly HALF of all new sexually transmitted infections in the US are in young men and women. - CDC 2015

April is STD Awareness Month and Dr. Scott Wilson of First Care, SIMED’s walk in urgent care center, provides valuable information on sexual health.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), are infections that are transmitted through sexual activity. The route of transmission may be oral, anal or vaginal contact. Many STDs cause no or minimal initial symptoms in the infected individual, which is why it is important to get tested regularly.

STDs can be broken up into 3 categories: viral, bacterial and protozoan parasites. Viral Infections - HIV, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Hepatitis A/B/C, and Herpes I/II- are examples of vital STD’s. When encountered these are often able to be controlled with certain medications or procedures; however, they are not curable at this time.

HIV: With HIV, there may be a flu-like illness that occurs with the initial infection. Then, the infected individual may have no signs or symptoms of infection for months to years. HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is lifelong disease in which certain cells of the immune system are destroyed, allowing multiple infections to cause disease in various areas of the body, and if untreated death.
HPV: The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States is Human Papillomavirus (HPV). An infected individua,l especially females, may have no symptoms, or they might experience genital or anal warts. When left untreated, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer in women, emphasizing the importance of regular PAP smears for sexually active females. A vaccine is recommended for all young men and women to reduce risk of HPV infection.
Hepatitis B, and C: Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the liver. Hepatitis B and C can be acquired from sexual contact and are the leading cause of liver cancer, and the most common reason for liver transplantation. Vaccines are available to prevent Hepatitis A and B, but to date not for Hepatitis C.
Herpes I, II: With Herpes the initial infection is usually the most severe with sores/blisters appearing on the mouth, rectum or genital area. Some individuals also experience flu-like symptoms that occur with the initial outbreak of infection. Subsequent outbreaks may be very mild, without any symptoms or blisters present.

Bacterial Infections - can be cured with antibiotics. Common STD bacterial infections include Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease.
With Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, there may be burning with urination and a discharge from the penis or vagina. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease in women, the infection can spread to the reproductive organs causing infertility, and sometimes chronic pelvic pain.

With Syphilis, there may be an initial painless sore or lesion in the genital area. If it goes into the secondary phase, a rash appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Syphilis, if left untreated, can lead to serious problems up to 10-30 years after infection, such as difficulty coordinating muscle movement, dementia, blindness, paralysis and even death from damage to internal organs.

Protozoan Parasites - are parasites that are spread through sexual activity. For example, Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite. It is treatable with antiprotozoal medications. Trichomonas may cause burning with urination and a discharge from the penis or vagina.

How You Can Protect Yourself?

Prevention for sexually transmitted infections can be accomplished by:

 1- Getting vaccinated for those diseases with available vaccines, such as HPV, Hepatitis B
 2- Practicing safe sexual protocols, like using condoms consistently and correctly 
 3- Reducing your number of sexual partners 
 4- In certain high risk populations for HIV, getting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to lower your risk

When to Get Tested?
The CDC’s Recommendations for Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening are:
 1- All adults and adolescents should be tested at least once for HIV (however, one may need to be tested more frequently if not practicing safe sexual procedures)
 2- Annual Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening for all sexually active women 25 years old and younger, as well as older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners
 3- Annual Gonorrhea screening for sexually active women
 4- Syphilis, HIV, Chlamydia, and Hepatitis B screening for all pregnant women; Gonorrhea screening for at risk women at the first prenatal visit;
 5- Trichomonas screening in women at high risk of STD’s and annually in all HIV-infected females;
 6- Screening at least once a year for Syphilis, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV for all sexually active gay men and bisexual men.

SIMED offers STD testing in our Urgent Care at First Care and Primary Care offices. If you have questions about sexual health or would like to request a STD test, request an appointment online by clicking here.

Alcohol and Its Cost To Society

Alcohol and It's Cost To Society

"The cost to society for alcohol consumption is enormous," says Dr. Calvin Martin, an Urgent Care physician at SIMED's First Care. "An estimated $746 per person per year is expended in the United States on healthcare, crime and making up for decreased productivity due to alcohol consumption."

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Dr. Martin wants to increase awareness about what alcohol does to the body and mind, and how its lesser known consequences affect your wellbeing.

Alcohol is popular, because its effects start to be felt soon after drinking. Alcohol is primarily absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly enters the bloodstream. In short, it delays the signals that are sent between nerve cells.

Different alcoholic beverages contain different percentages of ethanol - the toxic part of alcohol that impairs functioning. As far as beverages go, the ethanol is the same chemical no matter the type of alcohol – be it wine, beer, clear liquor or dark liquor. The other ingredients in those beverages are what change the taste, calories and other qualities.

"Thirty percent of Americans have less than one drink per week," said Dr. Martin. "However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, ten percent of drinkers in America consume 74 drinks per week. That's not one or two people. That means there are quite a few people among us in our everyday lives that drink that much."

The average American consumes 552 drinks per year, which is a little over 1.5 drinks per day. Since 70% of all Americans consume alcohol, the other 30% are likely to be affected by the alcohol consumers.

But why are these numbers important?

Monitoring your consumption could very well save your life.

According to Dr. Martin "low amounts of alcohol consumption can be very beneficial."

Decreased risk of diabetes mellitus, blood clots and heart attacks is seen in regular consumers of low amounts of alcohol. Also, bone density increases, the "good" cholesterol – HDL – increases, and the "bad" cholesterol decreases.

On the contrary, high alcohol consumption rates can cause problems throughout the body, including cancer, anemia, heart failure, liver failure, kidney failure, gastritis, pancreatitis, increased risk of diabetes, and impaired brain functioning.

Alcohol consumption also limits your freedom:

  • Injuries are much more likely to occur when impaired. Driving, power tools, heavy equipment, and anything that would be dangerous to use when your reaction time is delayed should be avoided whenever alcohol is consumed.
  • Mixing some prescriptions with alcohol can enhance the effect of the alcohol and increase the side effects of the medicines.
  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, which increase the risks of trauma and sexual misadventures. Many unwanted pregnancies and STD's occur from alcohol enhanced encounters.

"You may think that your own consumption is normal or below average," said Martin. "The shocking truth is that half of all the alcohol consumed by adults is consumed during binge drinking."

Binge drinking is defined as whatever amount of alcohol intake gets you to the legal limit of being drunk.

Martin recommends downloading an application on your smart phone to track your consumption.

If you or someone you know is concerned about their alcohol consumption, ask the CAGE questions:

  • Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
  • Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover (Eye opener)?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or if you have questions about your alcohol consumption, click here to request an appointment with a SIMED physician.

Are You At Risk For Diabetes? Get Checked For Diabetes Alert Day

Are You At Risk For Diabetes?  Get Checked For Diabetes Alert Day | SIMED Health
The American Diabetes Association Alert Day is the fourth Tuesday in March this year (March 24th, 2015). This is a one-day "wake-up call" asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Tests for developing Type 2 Diabetes. These tests can also be conducted at our SIMED Primary Care and at our First Care Urgent Care offices.  

SIMED's Tenley Noone, MD shares some valuable insight on the different types of diabetes and how each one can affect the human body in different ways.

There are different types of Diabetes, but all involve how your body metabolizes sugar.  When you eat sugar your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. Insulin allows your body to get the sugar out of the blood and into the tissues that need it, like nerves, muscles, and your brain. When your body doesn’t make enough insulin you feel starved for energy and may start craving sugar.
There are several types of Diabetes and each has something to do with insulin and blood glucose, but they’re not all the same and the treatment for each can be different.
  • Type 1 Diabetes is a disorder in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. It used to be called juvenile diabetes. It is sometimes referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas can produce insulin. The insulin is either not enough for the amount of energy your body is trying to use, or your body can’t use it effectively and needs help.
  • Gestational Diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), women with gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 20 years.
  • Prediabetes is when your blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, but not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Are you at risk?  The main risk factors for developing diabetes include:
  • Obesity (a body-mass-index over 30): if you have been steadily gaining weight this is the biggest risk factor developing diabetes, accounting for approximately a 50 percent of the increase in diabetes in men and 100 percent in women. Recently a major study showed a 100-fold increased risk of incident diabetes over 14 years in people whose BMI was over 35 compared to a normal BMI.
  • Family history: compared with individuals without a family history of type 2 diabetes, individuals with a family history in any first degree relative have a two to three-fold increased risk of developing diabetes. The risk of type 2 diabetes is higher (five- to six fold) in those with both a maternal and paternal history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Ethnic heritage: certain ethnicities are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Native Americans, Hawaiian/Pacific Island Americans and Asian Americans.
  • Fat distribution: ever noticed some people’s body shapes? The distribution of excess fat tissue is another important determinant of the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurred most in people with larger waist circumferences. This is called central or abdominal obesity.
  • Smoking: many people don’t realize there is a link, but the longer you smoke (and the more cigarettes you smoke) increases your risk is of developing diabetes. The good news is this risk is diminished with each year you continue to not smoke.
  • Sleep duration: another less known risk factor is the quantity and quality of sleep you get may increase your risk of developing Diabetes.
So do you have Diabetes?
Come into SIMED First Care or your SIMED healthcare provider's office and get tested for diabetes today! It’s a simple blood test and can have a big impact on your long term health. Despite the test result, and especially if have any of the risk factors listed above please talk to your doctor about lowering your risk of diabetes through your lifestyle factors such as physical activity, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, body weight, and sleep duration. Improving these lifestyle factors can reduce the risk of diabetes mellitus, and your doctor is always there to help!