We love interacting with the people of the Laredo community, but we’d much rather do it outside the ER than inside it. Keep up with the latest knowledge from our professionals to help keep yourself in the peak of health.

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Let’s face it: pregnancy doesn’t get put on hold just because of a pandemic. And even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of yourself and your pregnancy is just as important now as in so-called “normal” times. We understand that you likely have additional concerns about getting prenatal care and even caring for your newborn during a pandemic, so we’ve put together some frequently asked questions that can help you in your pregnancy through these uncertain times.

Q: Should I still go to prenatal care appointments?

A: Yes! While some physicians limited appointments and access early in the pandemic, most have worked out processes for keeping you and your unborn baby safe now. You can expect your OB/GYN to have implemented a number of safeguards, including facemasks, extra sanitation of exam rooms, and social distancing. Skipping your regularly scheduled prenatal care visits can mean you miss identifying complications, risk factors, or problems with the development of your baby that, if caught early, can be better addressed. For this reason, it’s still important to keep up with your regular visits. If you have early pregnancy bleeding or go into early labor, contact your OB/GYN immediately.

Q: Is it still OK to deliver in a hospital?

A: Again, yes. Hospitals are isolating all coronavirus patients into separate wings or facilities in order to keep other patients safe. And as with your OB/GYN, you can expect your hospital to be taking extra precautions to ensure your and your baby’s safety. You will want to contact the hospital where you plan to deliver to learn of any unique restrictions they are implementing during this time, such as stricter limits on visitors and extra health screenings.

Q: What if I get sick with COVID-19 while I’m pregnant?

A: There is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is passed in utero to your fetus, so you can put that worry aside for now. But pregnant women do need to be extra cautious about any symptoms experienced while pregnant. If you start to have any symptoms of COVID-19, contact your OB/GYN and seek out testing as soon as possible. Rest assured that even if you have the illness, you should be able to receive the prenatal care and delivery experience you’ve planned unless your illness becomes severe – which is statistically unlikely, since the majority of COVID-19 cases are mild.

Q: If I have COVID-19 after my baby is born, can I still care for my newborn?

A: Yes, as long as you take extra precautions. Wear a face mask, sanitize surfaces frequently, and wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially before touching your baby. During times when you are frequently coughing, minimize close contact with your newborn and get the rest you need. When you feel up to it, you can still practice skin-to-skin contact with your baby and breastfeed, as there has been no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 is passed to a baby through the new mother’s milk. If you experience severe COVID-19 complications while pregnant, please know that it is safe to come to Laredo ER, where we are taking every precaution for our patients. We can give you the emergency care you need and work with your OB/GYN to protect the health of your baby going forward.


The coronavirus hot topic of the moment – or at least one of them – continues to be face masks. It’s no wonder some have been confused about the effectiveness of face protection, given that early in the pandemic when the virus was little understood, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) didn’t feel that face masks would be effective in slowing the spread.

It didn’t take the CDC long to change its guidance, however, once the transmission of COVID-19 was better understood. Now, given that it has been confirmed that people can spread the virus through exhaled droplets even without symptoms, wearing face masks is one of the top recommended ways the CDC and other health organizations say we can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

But how much protection face masks offer depends on one very important factor: mass adoption of the strategy.

This is because the benefit to wearing face masks is not in protecting the wearer against becoming infected – but in reducing the spread to others by those wearing face protection. The more people who wear them, the less likely it is you will get sick. In other words, it’s a group effort.

How face masks help in the fight against coronavirus

Imagine yourself working at home when suddenly you hear loud music coming from a family member’s room. You ask your relative to close the bedroom door. It doesn’t completely block the noise, but it helps enough for you to get back to work.

That’s how face protection helps.

When worn by people infected by the virus, face masks trap some of the droplets – and reduces the distance any droplets that do escape can travel – thereby reducing the chance of spread to others. They don’t completely block virus transmission, but they help enough to reduce and slow the spread.

What kind of mask is best?

One concern within the medical community has been that the use of N95 masks by the general public would make it harder for healthcare workers to obtain them – and this is true. But there’s also another important reason to avoid the use of N95 in the community: These masks are designed to release the wearer’s exhale unfiltered – so if the wearer has the virus, the virus will not be stopped by an N95 mask. These masks are specifically designed for use in contaminated environments where healthcare workers are caring for infected patients who are often unable to wear masks.

It is in this way that even a simple, homemade cloth mask can do a better job at helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 within a community. Multiple layers of tightly woven fabrics are best – and cloth face masks have the added benefit of being washable and reusable. A face scarf or tied bandana can also work in a pinch.

Other kinds of face guards are becoming popular, too – like safety face shields or face shield visors, which include a transparent guard over the entire face. These safety shields offer a few benefits over face masks in that they don’t inhibit speech and may be more comfortable.

Even when wearing a face mask, you should still take a variety of other precautions, too: clean your hands and high-touch household surfaces frequently, maintain distance from other people, and work from home if you can.

Here at Laredo Emergency Room, it’s our job to take care of our community. And we encourage you to help us in our effort to do exactly that – by wearing face masks. Together, and only together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19.


Sitting at a desk for even just one hour can make your muscles feel tight, making it difficult to straighten up and get moving again. So sitting at a desk all day for eight hours or more and doing little more than looking at a computer monitor can really take a toll on your body and lead to stiff neck, upper back pain, tight shoulders, and more. At Laredo ER, we’ve seen our share of patients who come in for pain, so when we see an easy way to help you avoid it, we want to share it. And it starts with a stretch.

The human body was designed for movement. It’s why we have so many muscles and joints. So it’s important to use them throughout the day every day. Throughout the workday, you might not have many opportunities to leave our computer desk and go out for a quick jog. But you can complete some simple desk stretches.

Neck and Shoulders

Give relief to tight neck muscles by doing some shoulder rolls and neck tilts while you’re at your desk. Roll both your shoulders forward and then backward to loosen and warm them up. Then perform neck tilts by lowering your ear toward your shoulder and holding briefly while you feel the stretch. Do this both directions. Then lower your chin toward your chest to stretch the back of the neck and raise your chin to stretch the front of the neck.


Relieve and prevent back pain and stiffness by simply standing up and taking a few steps once every 30 minutes. Before you sit back down, take a few seconds to perform a simple standing stretch. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, cross your arms in front of your chest, and pivot your shoulders, keeping your hips straight. You should feel a stretch in your back as you hold the position. Do this stretch the other direction to complete the set.

Legs and Hips

Standing and using a desk for balance, bring up one foot and grasp it with your hand, keeping your back straight. Pull upward on your foot to stretch your hamstring. Repeat on the other side. Then performing some slow lunges can stretch your hips and your calves.

Even with stretching you should be sure your office desk environment is set up optimally.  Make sure your chair is set to the proper height so that your feet rest comfortably and flat on the floor. Your arms should rest at a 90-degree angle on the desk and your neck and eyes should be straight when looking at the computer monitor.

Remember, kids also can experience stiffness from sitting in classrooms for hours on end, so encourage them to stretch during breaks or between classes to start good desk work habits early.

Taking a few moments throughout the day to do these stretches can be a simple way to feel refreshed, energized, and pain free – and also help with stress relief. By staying stretched and flexible even in an office environment, you will be more likely to feel up to engaging in the physical activity you need to stay your best – and that has benefits that last a lifetime. Time to get up and move!


Many of us, even still, are sheltering in the safety of our homes more often in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s an important part of social distancing that’s designed to help ensure that healthcare resources are available to those who need it most and to protect our own physical health as much as possible. The problem is that the steps we’re taking to protect our physical health may result in feelings of isolation and boredom that can ultimately take a toll on our mental health. The self-isolation that has become so important during the COVID-19 pandemic has become integrated within our behavioral health routines – the habits that can affect our mental health.

Here, we’re defining mental health as our psychological, emotional, and social well-being, and it matters every bit as much as our physical well-being. When our mental health is good, we are better able to work, handle stress, and enjoy our lives and relationships. When we are in poor mental health, our physical health can suffer and we are at greater risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

During the pandemic, we’re faced with a number of new worries ranging from health to social and financial. In uncertain times like this, people can experience sleep difficulties or irregularities, poor eating habits that can worsen other health problems and affect self-esteem, and even engage in self-destructive behaviors such as excessive drinking or drug abuse. So it’s no wonder that as the pandemic continues to create uncertainty in our communities, a mental health crisis is brewing.

Having good mental health awareness is key in making sure you engage in the routines and behaviors that support optimal mental health. Even in times of self-isolation – whether for a pandemic or any other reason – we can engage in routines and behaviors that support better mental health:Unplug from sources of discouraging news.Take time for exercise, which is a great natural stress reliever.

-Connect with others on the phone or video conference calls.

-Establish a predictable sleep routine, even if you are out of work or working from home.

-Eat a well-balanced diet and resist the temptation to snack throughout the day even as you have increased access to food.

-Start a new hobby with the help of instructional online videos or engage in a long-loved pastime you can do from home.

-Seek out opportunities to help others, whether friends, neighbors, or family members.

-Find time for quiet reflection and gratitude. Meditation, relaxation exercises, or journaling are great ways to do this.

-Care for your physical health by staying up to date on caring for any chronic conditions.

If you feel that your mental health is suffering during this time, the sooner you take action the better. You may be able to find helpful advice in books on self-help or from depression support groups (contact psychiatric hospitals for help finding one near you). Many counselors and therapists are seeing patients, and you’ll likely be able to find help via telemedicine if you prefer.

Remember, taking care of our mental health is important, now more than ever. And if you find yourself thinking suicidal thoughts, call 911 or seek out emergency room care right away.


When you’re as flexible as you should be, it means you can take advantage of your full range of motion. And with greater flexibility comes a variety of health benefits, like better posture and balance, fewer muscle injuries, and better physical performance and strength. But for most of us, we need baby steps and reasonable goals for becoming more flexible. So if becoming a contortionist isn’t really your goal – but being more flexible is – then we have some simple steps you can take to help you get there.

Warm up first. Before you stretch, you should warm up the muscles you plan to stretch so that they don’t become injured. Muscle aches and strains are a common reason many people visit a doctor and even come to Laredo ER. And a common cause is tight muscles that aren’t properly warmed up and then stretched for exercise and other physical activity.

Stretch evenly, actively, and gently. This means making sure to stretch both sides of your body the same way for the same amount of time and using a dynamic stretching routine that keeps your body in motion throughout the stretch. These include stretching exercises that focus on muscle groups you’ll be working out. For example, if you’ll be playing baseball, tennis, or any sport that requires a wide range of upper body motion, be sure to do some shoulder exercises like shoulder rolls. When you stretch, do it gently, without bouncing, which can cause injury to muscles.

Adjust your diet. Be sure to get plenty of water every day to keep your muscles, as well as your entire body, hydrated and at their best. Eating high-quality protein after exercise can help alleviate joint pain and help in healing so that you’re better able to keep up your active lifestyle.  

Use heat. Whether you love indulging in a warm bath or shower or using a heating pad, these ways of applying heat are natural muscle relaxers, helping you to maintain your flexibility.

Keep going. The key is to make small steps so that you become more and more flexible over time.Find an activity that promotes flexibility and that you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it. Some favorites include activities like yoga, tai chi, and Pilates. And remember that even if you don’t have access to a specialty gym, you can learn some basics online for any one of these practices. Most importantly, remember that becoming more flexible is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Overstretching your muscles to the point of pain can mean that you’ve suffered a muscle strain, sprain, or tear – something we see a lot of at Laredo ER. But working gently and persistently toward a more flexible you can help you avoid injury and actually succeed in becoming more flexible. It just takes patience.


We all experience pain – but some of us deal with it day in and day out. From knee pain and lower back pain to neck pain and more, chronic pain can come from many causes, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine, to name a few, so it’s something that tens of millions of Americans must learn to live with. But how people with chronic pain manage it can have a huge effect on quality of life, so we’re sharing some tips on how you can live well with chronic pain.

Start with the basics.

It may sound obvious, but making sure that you are getting enough sleep can help diminish the intensity of chronic pain During sleep, your body can rest and restore itself, and without it, you’re unlikely to feel up to taking good care of yourself each following day. Yes, it can be difficult to achieve sleep when you’re in pain, but once you’ve been able to develop a good sleep routine, both pain management and sleep will get easier. Avoid screens, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine late in the day, indulge in a relaxing activity, such as a warm bath, and limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes.

Exercise also is an amazing way to relieve chronic pain. It is difficult to feel motivated to exercise in the first place when you’re in pain, but getting up and moving in whatever way you can should release endorphins and lessen your sensation of pain. Over the long term, exercise builds muscle strength, which is especially helpful for pain management of osteoarthritis.

Be mindful.

Studies have shown that the practice of “mindfulness” can be an effective way to manage chronic pain. Practicing mindfulness can start with meditation. It’s something you can do almost anywhere. Simply sit in a comfortable position with your arms relaxed. Relax each muscle in what is called a “body scan” to make sure you release tension throughout your body. Then focus only on the now and on your breathing. You can also visualize yourself pain free during this time.

Manage stress and mood.

Pain can get you down, but pain, stress, and depression can also turn into a vicious cycle. Getting yourself out of the cycle takes work, but it’s work that can pay off. Try deep breathing and stretching to manage the physical feelings of stress. Schedule time to relax each day. Build a social network for emotional support and opportunities for activities you enjoy. Even laughter among friends is a great pain management tool. Seeking out professional help from a cognitive behavioral therapist can also help you better cope and live with chronic pain.

Distract yourself.

Getting started or back into the habit of engaging with a hobby or activity you love can get your mind off of pain and help you to lead a fuller life. Read a good book. Start a journal. Begin a collection. Get your mind engaged and off your chronic pain and onto something you love.

However you choose to live with your chronic pain, be sure to involve a trusted medical professional who can offer advice and support – before your pain sends you to Laredo Emergency Room.


Think about it. If your feet don’t feel their best, especially as you age, a cascade of health-damaging events can happen. You might slow down – or, even worse, become truly sedentary. Then comes the weight gain, the slower metabolism, the reduced strength, and so on – all of which have the potential to lead to life-threatening conditions like cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, and diabetes that have patients coming to Laredo ER.

It makes sense, then, to keep your feet and legs in good shape – because healthy feet make for healthy living. What’s more, it’s thought that strong legs are linked to better brain health. And research shows that foot massage techniques can help relieve a variety of ailments, including anxiety and back pain.

But we at Laredo Emergency Room understand that building and maintaining strong legs and caring for your feet can seem like just something else to add to your to-do list, or maybe you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, it’s easier than you may think – and it starts with a few simple adjustments.

Start with supportive shoes. We know that in footwear, style is often a primary consideration, but with so much at stake, it’s much more important to select footwear for their comfort and support. Routinely wearing shoes that don’t properly support your feet – or, worse, pinch them into abnormal positions – can cause a variety of foot injuries and conditions ranging from bunions, corns to plantar fasciitis, and more. For healthy feet, choose well-fitting shoes with wider toe boxes, arch support, and low heels.

Prep them for exercise. Begin by warming up your feet with some brisk walking first. Then use your hands to pull your toes upward in a stretch, repeating 10 times for each foot, and then pull your toes downward toward the bottoms of your feet. You can also roll a tennis ball with your foot for a gentle, massaging stretch.

Try exercises that promote feet and leg health. Yoga and Pilates are great exercises for gently building strength in the leg muscles and can improve feet and leg circulation. Tai chi is a type of exercise that offers similar benefits and also has been shown to improve balance and reduce the incidents of falls in seniors. For targeted leg workouts, set aside a few minutes three to five times each week to do some tried-and-true leg exercises like lunges, squats, and leg lifts.

Lose weight if you need to. Excess weight can put a lot of stress on your lower body – and that includes your feet, which do the hard job of supporting your entire body. So, if you need to lose weight, make now the time you start working at it. Reducing your weight offers a host of health benefits for your entire body, from the feet up. And of course, if you’re already suffering from painful foot conditions that have affected your ability to stay active and strong, see your primary care physician. She will be able to advise you on next steps to take to get your feet in better health – and to ultimately keep you out of the emergency room


With the coronavirus pandemic, most of us now are faced with something we’ve never experienced before, so it’s understandable that most of us also have questions about what to do and what not to do. Laredo ER is here for you – not only for the emergency treatment you need, but also with the prevention information you need to stay safe and informed about COVID-19.

DO prepare. For most people, this simply means having enough household supplies and food to last for extended periods of time in quarantine. This includes medications you need during that time, as well as cleaning supplies and hygiene items like tissues and antibacterial soap.

DON’T panic. We understand the temptation to go overboard and panic-buy items once you’ve seen they are in short supply. However, this spiral of fear-driven hoarding behavior is resulting in important items not being available for other people who need them. Remember that for the average American, your risk of contracting the coronavirus is still low.

DO wash your hands. Laredo ER recommends you follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for handwashing, which is to use warm water and soap and to scrub your hands well for at least 20 seconds – which is about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” When you are done soaping up, rinse well and use a clean towel to dry. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, before eating or cooking, and after using the bathroom, touching animals, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

DO keep your surroundings clean. The coronavirus can live on surfaces several days, so it’s important to practice good sanitizing at home. Wipe down frequently used surfaces and objects, like countertops, doorknobs, remotes, and phones, with disinfecting wipes or cleaning sprays.

DON’T touch your face. This one is hard because we don’t really think about it, but every little scratch of the nose or touch of the lips is an opportunity to spread or pick up germs.

DO stay at home as much as possible. As schools and many businesses and special events are being shuttered, this is the time to practice “social distancing” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. The purpose is to slow the infection rate so that our healthcare system can keep up with the demands presented by the pandemic.

DO know the symptoms. The most prevalent symptom of coronavirus is fever, followed by a dry cough. Some patients also report fatigue, a wet cough, and shortness of breath, along with other symptoms. And if you start feeling ill with any of these symptoms, again, don’t panic. Call Laredo Emergency Room, and we’ll walk you through any next steps you need to take for treatment. Whether it’s just a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, we’re here for you.


If you’re like most people, every so often you look in the mirror or at your lifestyle and wish things were different. Perhaps right now you lead a sedentary lifestyle, are stuck in traffic for hours each day commuting between work and home, and are dining on fatty take-out food because you have no time to cook. You may sigh and wish you could suddenly become a fitness guru, a vegan, a marathon athlete leading an active lifestyle. But it just seems so hard.

Whether you’re contemplating making some changes for your New Year’s resolutions or just tired of being tired and feeling like there’s no way out, Laredo Emergency Room has good news. It can be easier than you think – with these active lifestyle and work out tips.

  • Start small. Instead of planning to sprint for 45 minutes every day, add three brisk walks of 10 minutes apiece for five days each week. You’ll be better able to avoid injury and increase your stamina over time, leading to the energy and strength you need to tackle longer, more intense fitness routines.
  • Find opportunities to add activity. Another easy way to enjoy a more active lifestyle is to find opportunities for physical activity in the everyday. Park at the far end of the lot. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pace while talking on the phone.
  • Take breaks. We can’t completely avoid seated activities, especially those of us who work in an office setting. But taking a brief, even one-minute break to stand and stretch can help improve circulation and give you a boost of energy – just what you need to feel good during the work day.
  • Beat the rush hour. Instead of spending your rush hour sitting in traffic, stop by a park or gym that’s close to your place of work. Your overall time spent on commuting and your workout will be reduced, giving you more time to do other things you love.
  • Take up a hobby. Who doesn’t love binging on their favorite shows? But how about trying a new hobby instead? Wood crafting. Drawing or sewing. Gardening. Playing with your kids. It can be anything that gets you off the sofa, even if it isn’t strenuous exercise. Any increase in movement adds to your overall health, and it can give you a confidence boost when you learn a new skill.
  • Meditate. Sometimes just taking a quiet moment to be still and focus on your breathing and your thoughts is all you need to feel calm and refreshed. Besides, meditation has been shown to help reduce stress, improve sleep, and control blood pressure, among other health benefits.
  • Drink water. Staying properly hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health. Try to drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day for a variety of benefits, including improved energy and skin health. Especially when you engage in fitness activities, you need to replace fluids lost through sweat, so plan to drink even more after exercise.
  • Find healthier food replacements. Time is short for many of us, making it easier to stop by the take-out joint rather than cook healthy meals. But taking small steps can make this important change easier. Cook in big batches when you do have time and freeze the leftovers for another day. Swap out refined (white) carbohydrates for healthful whole grains. Try ground turkey for your burger instead of beef. By gradually incorporating healthier food choices like these, you’ll find that over time, your diet can make a big transformation easily.

Too often, people emerge from the holiday season overeager to overdo it – and end up suffering from injuries or even heart events. So as much as we at Laredo Emergency Room care about our community, we’d rather you stay healthy and feeling good than have to seek out emergency room treatment – and following our active lifestyle and work out tips is a great way to get going in the right direction.

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Ah, the holidays. It’s the season that many of us look forward to all year long. And with all the good food, friends, and gifts, it’s no wonder. But along with the extra holiday festivities come extra opportunities to put you and your kids at risk of injury or illness – some of which can send you to the emergency room.

This holiday season, we at Laredo Emergency Room are all for making merry – but we do recommend you navigate the season with care and caution because of holiday risks like these:

  • Overeating. What would the holidays be without all your favorite seasonal treats? We get it. But patients come to Laredo Emergency Room frequently for nausea and stomach pain, and the sad truth is that overindulging in those festive foods can turn you into a humbug with indigestion, nausea, and excess gas. Instead of giving yourself permission to go overboard because it’s the holidays, approach the season’s goodies with a dose of moderation. Go ahead and enjoy reasonable portions of all your holiday favorites – and then skip the foods that simply aren’t worth the pain and weight gain.
  • Alcohol. Holiday parties also serve up plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favorite alcoholic beverages – and to overindulge in them. While this can result in hangover symptoms like headache and nausea, the consequences of drinking too much also can be deadly. Drinking in excess can put you at risk for alcohol poisoning, a life-threatening condition that requires emergency room treatment. Aside from that risk, drinking too much can be deadly for others if you drink and then choose to drive. If you plan to drink at holiday parties, be sure to set a limit for yourself and have a designated driver help you get home.
  • Travel. With holiday travel comes risk associated with getting out on the highways or airways at one of the busiest times of the year. To minimize your risk of a vehicle crash, be sure you are well-rested, using your seat belt, and taking frequent breaks throughout your road trips. If you are flying, reduce your risk of blood clots by standing and walking around in the plane at least once every hour or two. Be sure to use your seat belt however you travel.
  • Decorating. If you’re in fierce competition with the neighbors to see who can put up the most holiday lights in your yard, we’re rooting for you. But keep in mind that this kind of decorating comes with serious health hazards. When climbing ladders, make sure you have a helper holding the ladder at its base for stability and don’t try to carry too much up at once. Check all light strings and electrical extension cords for shorts and other signs of damage – and don’t overload your electrical panel’s circuits.
  • Cooking, candles, and fire. All season long kitchens across Laredo are warmed by the hustle of cooking and the ovens and stoves that make it all come together. But Laredo Emergency Room sees our fair share of burn victims, so we urge you to use care while cooking for your loved ones. And while candles and fires add a festive glow to the season, they also pose a significant burn hazard. Keep fireplace screens in front of blazes and opt for battery-operated candles.
  • Medical office closures. Throughout the holidays, many primary care physicians and even urgent care practices close their doors in observance of the holidays. This means it’s important for you to have a holiday season plan for your emergency care. Know that Laredo Emergency Room is here for you 24/7/365 to treat emergencies throughout the season for you and your family.

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