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It’s February, and you know what that means: it’s time to start thinking about your heart. Aside from all the chocolates and love that Valentine’s Month is known for, it’s important to recognize the risks Latinos face for heart disease and start incorporating ways to combat it.


Heart disease is the number one killer of Latinos, who face higher risks of the disease because of high blood pressure and diabetes rates. According to the National Lipid Association, there are many actions you can take to decrease your risk for heart disease—particularly eating heart-healthy foods. Latino-style diets can be very heart-healthy, including rich foods like red and black beans, avocados, colored vegetables, yams and plantains, grilled lean meats and brown rice.


In honor of National Heart Month, here are five simple diet changes to help keep Latino cooking in your kitchen and your heart healthy throughout the year.


  1. Eat fiber-rich whole grains. A good rule to remember is to fill ¼ of your dinner plate with brown rice instead of white. Maize, yucca, yams and plantains are all good sources of fiber that taste great. You can also swap whole-wheat or corn tortillas instead of white for a quick health boost. Lastly, whole-grain cereals will help ensure you start your morning right.


  1. Eat plant-based or lean protein. Lean protein is healthier and will leave you feeling lighter than regular cuts of meat. Try grilling more fatty fish like salmon during the week. Fish is a good source of protein and full of helpful omega-3s that can help decrease your risk for heart disease. Skinless chicken breasts and lean beef and pork are also great sources of protein that can still add flavor to your Latino-style dish.


  1. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Eating colorful red, green and yellow peppers add a nice pop of color to your dish and help reduce your risk for heart disease. Squashes like napoles and chayote are also great options to try. Spicy sofrito and tomatillo sauce are both healthy and full of bursts of flavor. Fruits like papaya, mangos, bananas and pineapple can add a nice contrast and make excellent options for snacks and dessert.


  1. Go for healthy fats. Eating large amounts of saturated fats (usually in the form of dairy) can lead to raised amounts of unhealthy cholesterol and contribute to the development of heart disease. Increasing your healthy fat intake and reducing your saturated fat intake is a simple way to improve your heart health. You can do this by avoiding whole milk, full-fat cheeses, lard and butter in cooking. You can also try using more avocado and less cheese in meals. Snacking on raw and unsalted nuts and seeds is another simple way to incorporate more healthy fats into your diet. Finally, using canola, corn, extra-virgin olive and safflower oil are wonderful substitutions for butter.


With these simple diet changes, you’ll be well on your way to feeding a happier heart.


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You show love to your friends and family everyday—especially during the month of February. But how often have you remembered to show yourself love? Taking the time to show your body love is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and especially when you’re trying to get on the path to a healthier you.


Here are five little ways you can show yourself the unconditional love you give to others.


  1. Take a listen. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the rush of daily life and forget to listen to how your body is feeling. Your body is capable of so much, but if it’s lacking proper care and attention, it won’t allow you to continue living a healthy life.

    Take time throughout the day to check in with your body and assess how you’re feeling on a scale of 1-10, with 1 as the absolute lowest and 10 as the best. If you’re not at a ten, listen to your body’s needs and do your best to fulfill them. This way, you can ensure that you’re always operating at your optimum level throughout the day.


  1. Feed your body. Although this seems obvious, skipping meals and running on coffee all day is not enough to keep your body well nourished. You wouldn’t dare let your phone or laptop go uncharged, so why not do the same for your body? Your body needs refueling every day, just as your prized electronics need charging. Nourish your body with whole foods, hydrating liquids, self-care and movement. Making nourishment a priority will give you the energy and stamina you need to be your best each day and show love to others around you.


  1. Get moving. It’s no secret that getting your heart pumping and your legs moving is great for your body. However, it’s important to note that there is no “right” way to exercise. Find a method that works for you and stick to it—whether it’s yoga class, spin, swimming or lifting weights. Any kind of physical activity throughout the day counts. Committing to get your body moving each day with some physical activity and stretches will go a long way in keeping your body happy and healthy.


  1. Embrace rest. Rest is an important component of taking care of your body. Living on 3-4 hours of sleep a night is not how your body is designed to operate, not to mention very unhealthy. Think about it—it’s difficult to be at your best while your body is physically exhausted. Make an effort to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night, and learn to slow down and rest when your body tells you to. It’s okay to skip a task on your to-do list to take a quick nap—your body is more important.


  1. Appreciate your body. Your body is amazing—don’t deny it! It allows you to travel, eat wonderful food, and most importantly, love the ones around you freely. Just as you would a tangible gift, make a point to be grateful to your body for it allows you to do.


This Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to show love to the most important vessel in your life—you.


A new year means new resolutions. For some people, this means getting serious about working out and hiring a personal trainer. Having a trained, professional exercise coach helps guide your workouts and makes sure you are achieving the results you want. However, before you make the investment, it’s important to verify your potential trainer’s credentials and make sure they have the right qualifications. Here are four questions you can ask to make sure you choose the right physical trainer for you.

What certifications do you have?

This simple question will weed out a whole group of “professional” trainers. Unlike other professions that require employees to be licensed by a board or meet federal guidelines, personal trainers can sometimes find employment by just calling themselves trainers—even if they lack proper certification or a four-year exercise degree. In addition, online and “Instagram trainers” can be anyone—ranging from a real, certified professional to a person with abs. Steer clear of trainers with no credentials and look for current certifications from reputable organizations like the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the American Council on Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

The certification not only helps trainers understand the science of exercise and how it affects the body, but it also ensures they know the basic knowledge requirements of the fitness field.

What is your education?

You should consider both a trainer’s certification and education level. Some certifications require trainers to have a four-year degree in exercise science or a science-related field, while others simply require a high school degree. Despite this, having a degree in exercise science doesn’t always mean they’ll make a great trainer. A trainer with a non-science degree might be a better coach than a trainer with a science-related degree.

What’s your specialty and training experience?

It’s important to not only consider a personal trainer’s years of experience, but also the types of people they specialize in. If you’re an older adult looking to lose weight, a trainer who specializes in working with high school students may not be the best choice and vice versa. Ask potential trainers to connect you with past or current clients with similar health histories and goals, or ask your friends for trainer recommendations. From there, you can check certifications and education levels. Make sure your trainer not only knows what they’re doing, but can also coach people with your unique needs.

Do you have liability insurance?

If you’re ever injured during a training session, you want to ensure that your trainer’s insurance will pay for your health-care expenses. The best way to make sure this will happen is to ask for proof of insurance before signing up. Though most gyms insure their employees, it’s your trainer’s personal responsibility to obtain their own insurance, usually through their certifying organization.

Ensuring that your personal trainer is not only professional but knowledgeable is a solid step towards avoiding injuries and attaining your personal fitness goals!

For more helpful health tips, follow us on Facebook! Laredo Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


January is National Blood Donor Month. This means thousands of people in Laredo and across the nation will participate in donating blood to blood banks and patients in need. These donations can save lives, and because hospitals are constantly in need of fresh blood, your contribution will make an immediate difference. If you’re giving blood for the first time, there are a few things you should do to ensure everything goes smoothly on donation day. Here are five things you should know before you donate blood.


Before you donate, make sure that you’re eligible to do so. The basic requirements are that donors must be healthy, at least 17 years old, and weigh at least 110 lbs. Expect a “mini-physical” once you enter the facility to ensure you’re in prime health. An attendant will check your pulse, blood pressure, hemoglobin level and temperature, and ask you a few questions regarding your general health and lifestyle. Eligibility requirements change year-to-year, so be sure to check this list by American Red Cross before donation day to avoid being turned away.

What to Eat

Arrive well-fed and hydrated the day of the donation—if it’s early in the morning, eat a healthy meal the night before. If it’s later in the afternoon, eat a healthy meal immediately before donating. Go for iron-rich foods instead of fatty foods—these can make your blood too fatty and difficult to test for infectious diseases, meaning it won’t be used for future transfusions. In addition, make sure you eat right after donating. The food will help replenish your body. Take advantage of the free juice and cookies available for donors!

There’s nothing to be afraid of

Most people have a healthy fear of needles. However, when you donate blood you’ll hardly feel a thing. The needles used to collect blood are designed to glide on the surface of the skin. Once you get past that initial pinch, it’ll be 8-10 minutes of smooth sailing. If you’re still nervous about it, look away while your needle is inserted and ask the attendant to cover up the insertion sight for you.


When you’re done, don’t put extra stress on your body. Avoid strenuous activities such as rigorous exercise or heavy lifting on the day you’ve given blood. It’s also important that you drink four glasses of liquids (8 ounces) and avoid alcohol for the next 24 hours. If you start to feel faint or dizzy, stop what you are doing and rest until you start to feel better.

Be Proud

As a blood donor, you are saving lives that depend on your contribution. Wearing your “Be nice to me, I gave blood today!” sticker will not only feel good, but will spread the word about the importance of National Blood Donor Month. It takes about eight weeks for the red blood cells to replenish after donating blood, so be proud of yourself and encourage family and friends to do it as well.

 For more helpful health tips, follow us on Facebook! Laredo Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.



Every year thousands of people resolve to eat healthier and lose weight in the New Year.  Unfortunately, only 8% of people who make a resolution actually follow through. Although this is a low success rate, making New Year’s Resolutions isn’t hopeless! Read these five tips to find some easy ways to start eating healthier this year.

Eat more seafood.

Research shows that consuming omega-3 rich foods can help lower your blood pressure. In fact, adults who consumed the highest amounts of omega-3s had the lowest amount of hypertension. Omega-3s have also been shown to improve your mood. You can increase your intake of omega-3s by eating two servings of fatty fish a week, such as salmon, sardines and certain types of tuna. If you’re not a fan of fish, walnuts and flax contain good amounts of omega 3-s as well.

Roast your vegetables.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans don’t meet the daily recommended portion of 3 or more vegetables a day. If you need to increase your vegetable intake but can’t stand the taste, consider roasting them. Vegetables are full of healthy nutrients and fiber, and roasting them caramelizes their natural sugars to make them taste better. Roasting is also an easy way to cook vegetables for dinner—all you have to do is pop them on a pan in the oven and finish the rest of dinner while they roast!

Try whole grains.

It’s no secret that whole grains are beneficial to your health. Whole grains are packed with fiber that can help prevent cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, multiple cancers and can actually help you lose weight. The recommended daily amount is 21 to 38 grams, but the average American only eats about 14 grams a day. An easy way to reach your daily amount is to increase your fiber intake with whole grains such as quinoa, couscous, bulgur and polenta. These grains are a healthy and quick-cooking option that can take your meals to a whole new level!

Eat less meat.

Too much of anything can be bad for you. Though meats have some nutritional benefit, cutting back on the amount you eat can be good for your heart. Substituting tofu for meat can be a fun, easy way to help maintain heart health. The soy will help you naturally eat less saturated fat, which is often linked to an increased amount of “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Though tofu doesn’t have a real “flavor”, it can easily soak up the flavorful spices of a stir-fry or marinade, making it the perfect addition to your next meal.

Curb your sweet tooth.

Americans eat too much sugar —consuming on average 22 teaspoons (or 355 calories) of added sugar per day. One of the ways to cut back on the amount of sugar you consume is to make low-sugar treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. This way, you can still enjoy a nice treat and cut back on your sugar intake. It’s a win-win!

These five simple steps will have you on the way to a cleaner and healthier diet!

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With the New Year on the horizon, many people turn to resolutions in hopes of bettering themselves in the year to come. Whether they resolve to spend less, lose weight, or eat better, people use the New Year as a chance to start fresh and changes the things they’re unhappy about.

Unfortunately, only 8% of people end up following through on their resolutions. However, there are a few steps you can take to help you successfully complete your New Year’s Resolution.

Set Manageable and Attainable Goals

Although it’s tempting to set lofty goals for yourself, if you make them too difficult to attain, you will quickly get discouraged and more often than not, fail. Set a simple goal to try to achieve first.

Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds next year, first try to lose 5 pounds. After you achieve your first milestone, you’ll be on your way to getting to the weight you want to be. Achieving your first objective will give you a sense of satisfaction and motivation to continue towards a healthier body!

Change One Behavior at a Time

Before you make a long list of things you want to accomplish this year, ask yourself – are these attainable? If you have too many goals, it may be difficult to accomplish them all. Start off with the ones that are most important to you. Once you have a handle on those, you can work towards achieving more goals.

Write Your Goals Down

Writing down what you want to accomplish is an important step towards achieving them. In fact, one study shows that writing down your goals makes you 42% more likely to accomplish them.

Make sure you keep your goals somewhere visible, especially in a place that’s likely to cause you to falter on what you want to accomplish. For instance, if you are trying to eat healthier, write that down and keep it on the fridge so you are reminded of it when you go to grab a snack.

Ask for Support

Find a family member, friend, or coworker who is willing to help keep you accountable. It will help if you can find someone who is also working on themselves, so you can keep each other accountable. Having support and someone rooting for you will make you much more likely to achieve your goals.

Forgive Yourself

If you’re like most people, you won’t always be perfect. Whether you skip a day at the gym or have a cheat day on your diet, it’s important to get back up and try again. Achieving your New Year’s Resolutions shouldn’t be about perfection, it should be about working to create a happier, healthier you.

For more health tips, follow us on Facebook! Laredo Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


It’s no secret that holiday travel can be a stress on the body, often leading to unexpected and unwelcome illnesses. Public places like airports and bus stations are riddled with the germs of thousands of people and new unfamiliar environments can be a shock to your immune system.

However, holiday travel doesn’t have to leave you feeling under the weather. In fact, by following a few simple steps, you can stay happy and healthy throughout your travels.

  1. Plan your meals in advance.

Make sure to pack your carry-on with healthy snacks so you’re prepared when hunger strikes. A couple of low-sugar energy bars, a sandwich or a small bag of trail mix are all good options to combat hunger without giving into unhealthy temptations. If you’re driving to your destination, avoid eating a heavy meal before you get into the car, to avoid drowsiness on the road. A low-fat meal with a couple of heart-healthy snacks should keep you energized throughout the drive.

  1. Make sleep a priority.

Not getting enough sleep can have serious effects on your health. Even skipping a few hours of sleep can make you more susceptible to colds, more likely to get a fatigue headache, and cause you to be a less alert driver. If you’re driving, make sure you get the packing done the day before to avoid any drowsiness while driving. If you’re flying, avoid the last-minute headaches and make sure to put the in-flight pillow to good use.

  1. Stay active.

Exercise can give your mood and energy level a quick boost. Take advantage of a large airport and wear comfortable shoes so you can walk around the terminal instead of sitting down to wait for boarding. You can keep active on the plane too by walking up and down the aisle a few times. If you’re driving, try to take quick breaks every 2-3 hours and go for a brisk walk – even just ten minutes will help.

  1. Follow the 80/20 rule.

You can still indulge in all your holiday favorites this season as long as you watch your portion sizes. It’s as easy as loading up your holiday plate with 80% fruits and vegetables and 20% of everything else.

  1. Be kind to yourself.

If you do eat too much or overindulge in a large meal, avoid the temptation to skip breakfast and lunch to try to make up for it. It’s better to get off course once and get back on the right path then to head right into a downward spiral. Steer yourself back on the right course the next morning by taking a brisk, morning walk and eating a light, nutritious breakfast paired with a snack and glass of water before sitting down to your next meal.

With these five tips, you’re on your way to enjoying a happier, healthier holiday season.

For more health tips, follow us on Facebook! Laredo Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


The end of the year is almost always busy. With family gatherings, presents and baking galore it can sometimes be easy to forget some important things. Before you finish checking off your holiday to-do lists, make sure you take advantage of your end-of-year insurance benefits, particularly when it comes to your deductible.

A deductible is the amount you have to pay for healthcare out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in. Most insurance plans start over at the beginning of the year with a brand new deductible that must be met. Many plans will also change going into 2018, and there’s a chance your plan may not be as good next year! The most advantageous time to go to the doctor is before the end of the year.

By the end of the year, many people have met their deductible. This means that healthcare you would normally have to pay for is covered by insurance. If you take advantage of that during December, you will be able to get medical attention at little or no cost to you, but when the New Year rolls around, you will face a brand new deductible!

There are a few things you can do to take advantage of these benefits while you have them.

Spend Your FSA Money

If you have an FSA account through your employer, you were able to set up a medical savings account that was tax-free. All of the money you contributed to the FSA account will not roll over to next year! Be sure to use that money for checkups and prescriptions before it’s too late and you lose that money.

Pick Up Your Prescriptions

If you have prescriptions, be sure to pick them up now while they are covered your insurance. At the start of the New Year, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for the full cost until you meet your deductible. If possible, try to pick up a 3-month supply of your medications.

Visit Laredo Emergency Room

If you have health problems you have been ignoring, it is best to come visit us now before your deductible resets. If you let health problems remain unaddressed, they can become much worse and lead to hefty medical bills in the future.

For more health tips, follow us on Facebook! Laredo Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


How do you view the food you eat? Although it may seem like a strange question, the answer might reveal whether or not you have an unhealthy relationship with food and dieting. Cheating on diets, hiding the food you eat from loved ones, continually relapsing on strict diets, emotional eating and food addiction are all common issues that show an unhealthy food relationship at play.

In order to cultivate a healthy relationship with food, here are a few steps you can take to maintain good eating habits.

  1. Avoid branding certain foods as good or bad. The nutritional benefits of broccoli and other vegetables don’t make them angelic. In the same way, a slice of pizza or a piece of cake shouldn’t be seen as evil. Don’t give certain foods moral qualities, which can lead to an increased sense of defeat and overeating if you deviate from your diet and eat junk food. Instead, cultivate a healthy perspective on food by understanding that some foods are better for you than others, but no single type of food will completely ruin your health.
  2. Anticipate opportunities to make bad choices. Recognize possible temptations to make bad food choices and work around them to ensure you keep your healthy eating goals. If you’re on a low-sugar diet, allow yourself a small piece of cake for special occasions and celebrations. Limiting your cake intake to only special occasions and making sure you don’t keep it in the house will help you stay on your diet. If you find yourself snacking midway through the work day, bring a healthier alternative to eat when you feel cravings hit.
  3. Allow yourself a cheat meal. Instead of cutting certain foods out of your diet completely, letting yourself eat a modest portion of it once a week can be beneficial in preventing binge eating. If you like donuts and can’t seem to cut them out of your diet, let yourself eat one once a week. Cutting certain foods out of your diet completely can be an unrealistic goal and make you feel like a failure if you give in—incorporating that food into your eating routine in moderation is a better option.
  4. Try a food journal. Writing down what you eat and how you’re feeling when you eat can help reveal patterns in your diet. If you notice from your journal entries that you backslide from your healthy eating habits when you’re feeling sad or anxious, you can plan ahead to take a short walk or try deep breathing when the urge to grab an unhealthy snack hits.
  5. Try cooking. Take the time to cook instead of picking up dinner from a deli or a microwaving a meal. Going to the grocery store, picking out your food and then taking time to prepare it helps you not only appreciate your food more, but eat mindfully.
  6. Strategize your grocery shopping. The battle to maintain a balanced relationship with food starts in the grocery store, where the food you buy will determine whether or not you’ll be successful in keeping your healthy eating goals. Strategize your shopping trip by avoiding aisles packed with unhealthy foods. Staying in the perimeter of the store—where you can find fresh produce, lean meats, dairy products, and baked items can help you make more nutritious food choices, while avoiding the inner aisles where snack items and sugary desserts are sold.


Making a few simple changes can have you on the road to creating a healthier lifestyle. Start today.

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The holiday season, though filed with joy and love, can also be riddled with stress. Stress is your body’s natural reaction to pressure, but too much of it can cause harmful anxiety and depression. In order to put the “happy” back in the holiday season, it’s important that you put together a game plan for how to combat stress. This will help minimize the stress that comes with the holidays, allowing you to enjoy yourself and the company of your loved ones even more.

  1. Take frequent breaks. Remember to make some time for yourself. Even spending 15 minutes alone distraction-free can mean the difference between an overwhelming day and a manageable one. Listening to soothing music, getting a massage, reading a book or taking a walk are all great options.
  2. Listen to your feelings. The holidays aren’t always a happy time for everyone. If you’ve recently lost a loved one or are unable to see your relatives, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. Take time to cry and express yourself without guilt—you can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
  3. Be flexible. Don’t fall into the trap of believing the holidays need to be perfect or just like last year. Your family traditions and rituals will naturally evolve as you all change and grow. Embrace it by choosing a few to hold on to and staying open to creating new ones.
  4. Find Community. If you find yourself feeling lonely and isolated, finding a sense of community can be the perfect remedy. Look out for community, religious or other social events around your neighborhood that can offer you support and companionship. Volunteering during the season can also help lift your spirits, create new friendships and spread holiday cheer.
  5. Stick to a budget. Holiday overspending and credit card debt don’t have to be your future. Decide how much you can afford to spend before you go gift and food shopping and stick to it. To cut back on spending, consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name, giving homemade gifts, or starting a family gift exchange.
  6. Plan ahead. Avoid last minute scrambling to pick up forgotten meal ingredients by setting aside specific days for specific tasks. Set up a day for shopping, baking, visiting friends, etc. in order to keep your schedule manageable. Planning your menus ahead of time and then making your shopping list can also keep last minute shopping to a minimum.
  7. Say no. Committing yourself to too many things can leave you feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Saying no to some requests will allow you to make time for yourself or for other needed tasks. Your friends and coworkers will understand if you can’t participate in every activity. If it’s not possible to say no, remove something else from your schedule to make up for lost time.
  8. Look for the positives. Staying with family members for an extended period of time can easily cause tension. It’s important to accept your family members and friends as they are, regardless of whether they live up to your expectations. Extend grace to others if they get upset when something doesn’t go right—it might just be their reaction to feeling the same holiday stress you are.
  9. Seek professional help. If the feelings of sadness, anxiety or insomnia persist, it may be time to seek professional help. Talk to a doctor or mental health professional if you have continuous feelings of irritability, hopelessness, depression and feel unable to face your daily tasks. They can help you develop coping strategies to help you feel better.
  10. Get moving. Don’t let the holidays stop you from living a healthier lifestyle. Instead of letting them become a “free-for-all”, try to avoid overindulgence, which only lead to stress and guilt. Getting plenty of sleep, creating time to exercise, and having a healthy snack before holiday parties can help you continue creating healthy habits.


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