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How to lose weight after 40

Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge at any time of life. But it’s especially hard after 40. Throw a coronavirus pandemic into the mix, and you might just find yourself with some extra dreaded belly fat. But you’re not alone. With restrictions related to COVID-19, many of us have been unable to go to the gym or may be too concerned to be exercising outside the home and lack the equipment to do so in the home. Turning to comfort foods and take out hasn’t helped with your weight loss goals, either.

There’s so much you can do to turn things around and use these unique times to your advantage. Think of this as a time to get a fresh start and make new healthy habits that help you learn how to lose weight fast and get healthy. Here are our best strategies to try.

Eat (and drink) for life.We don’t mean to try the latest fast diets. Instead, we encourage you to think about your food as fuel for your body. Eating healthier can help you stay more energized and focused for your day. So instead of experimenting with the latest low carb diet or weight loss pills, use this time to learn to cook meals you’ll want to eat not only to lose weight but also to keep up your healthy lifestyle. It becomes not just a weight loss meal plan – but a life meal plan. The main change you likely need to make is to focus more on fruits and veggies. About half your plate should be full of them. Then small portions of healthy whole grains and lean meats should complete the other half. Be aware that drinks like soda and alcoholic beverages add a lot of calories. Opt for lemon-infused water or low-calorie drinks instead.

Eat at the right times.Eating a healthful breakfast is incredibly important and gets you fueled for your day, so don’t skip it. But do avoid eating heavy evening meals and anything close to bedtime or else you won’t be able to burn any of those calories before you sleep. And when you eat, just finish your first serving without going back to fill up your plate again.

Stay or get active.Even when the gyms are closed, there are plenty of ways for you to get and stay active. Think beyond weight loss workouts and try to incorporate activities you can enjoy beyond your weight loss goals. Walk or jog through the neighborhood. Learn yoga. Get a simple set of weights and build muscle at home. Bike. Do some gardening. Volunteer to do outdoor chores for others. Even house cleaning is good exercise. There are plenty of studies that show that cardiovascular exercise has amazing health benefits, like improved sleep, brain and lung function, and mood. It can also reduce cholesterol and pain and boost your immune system. What’s more, it’s even associated with a lower risk of death from chronic diseases. For these reasons, getting enough exercise is more than just about weight loss – it’s about quality of life.Here at Laredo Emergency Room, we’ve seen too often what uncontrolled weight can do, bringing many patients through our doors with heart disease, diabetes and other chronic condition complications. Keeping a healthy weight can help keep you out of the emergency room.


From the moment it came onto the world stage, COVID-19 was widely thought of as a respiratory illness. And by and large, along the way in our growing understanding of the virus, physicians and scientists have seen that the coronavirus is not only causing respiratory distress but also affecting other major organs, including the heart.

In fact, for some patients, severe COVID-19 can produce effects that mimic heart attack. Physicians who have looked closer at this have discovered that some patients whose electrocardiograms indicated they had experienced heart attacks in fact did not. More than half of the patients were not found to have had any blockage of a major artery, which is the most common cause of heart attack. Yet even though there had been no heart attack, the damaging effects on the heart muscle were clear, real and, in many cases, fatal. These types of findings shine a light on the fact that what we are learning about COVID-19 is that it is a very complicated disease.

It is true that some of these patients contract the coronavirus with pre-existing heart disease, putting them at greater risk for coronavirus heart complications. We can also safely assume that some COVID-19 patients have underlying heart problems that haven’t yet been diagnosed. For these people, the risk of coronavirus heart complications is greater.

But there are some people who don’t have any heart problem but experience these heart-related coronavirus complications. So far, we’re learning that this can happen because COVID-19 causes stress, inflammation, and even direct injury to the heart and other organs.

What can you do?

Those with chronic heart conditions are at greater risk of complications or even death from a potential coronavirus infection. For that reason, Laredo Emergency Room urges you to take all the essential precautions, including keeping your hands and high-touch surfaces clean, maintaining distance from others, avoiding large crowds, and wearing a cloth face mask. But as someone living with a chronic heart condition, you should also take some extra for the prevention of heart attack:

-Be sure you’re getting enough sleep, which may help keep inflammation and blood pressure in check.

-Keep your exercise regimen moderate, unless your cardiologist recommends otherwise.

-Seek treatment for any respiratory illness, and be sure to get your flu vaccine and keep your asthma under control, if you have it.

-Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

-Eat several light, heart-healthy meals throughout the day instead of fewer heavy meals.

-Avoid polluted air by staying in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible.

-Do you best to keep your emotions in check and care for your mental health.

Symptoms to look for

Whether you suspect or know you have coronavirus, if you experience heart attack symptoms or signs of heart failure, you should seek emergency treatment. Heart attack signs can include:

-Sensation of pressure, squeezing, fullness, discomfort or pain in the center of your chest.

-Pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

-Shortness of breath.

-Nausea or lightheadedness.

If you experience these or any heart-related symptoms, come to Laredo Emergency Room right away. We’re keeping ourselves safe so that we can care for you when you need us most.


As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies throughout Texas, those with chronic conditions like asthma may be particularly concerned. Because the virus is still so new and scientists are having to learn about it in real-time, our understanding of COVID-19 grows over time, shedding new light on how it affects people both with and without chronic conditions. What we’ve recently come to understand about how COVID-19 affects those with asthma has come as a bit of a surprise because for many asthma sufferers, it is not as concerning as you might expect.

As it turns out, evidence is starting to emerge showing that it is only those with non-allergic asthma that are at any increased risk for more severe COVID-19 complications. These are people who experience asthma attacks triggered by exercise, stress, and other factors. Those who experience seasonal asthma flare-ups due to allergens, such as mold or pollen, do not appear to be at any heightened risk for COVID-19 complications or severity. This means that about half of adults and most children with asthma are at no increased risk for severe coronavirus complications.

What to do if you have asthma

Whichever of the types of asthma you have, you likely treat your condition with steroid medication. And because steroids can suppress the immune system, you may be tempted to stop your medication. Here at Laredo Emergency Room, our advice is: don’t. Keeping your asthma controlled is your best strategy for staying healthy and out of the emergency room. You also may be encouraged to know that some scientists think that because steroids work to reduce inflammation, they may actually help protect COVID-19 patients who use them. This means sticking with your medication and using your asthma spray at the first signs of asthma symptoms or an asthma attack.

During the pandemic, you can reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus in the first place by continuing to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, keep your hands clean, avoid touching your face, maintain a distance of 6 feet from others, avoid large crowds, and wear a face covering if you are able.

As someone with asthma, you’ll want to take some extra precautions, too. Talk to your treating physician and insurer about having an extra supply of emergency inhalers, allergy drugs, or other medications so that you can refill them less frequently and so that you have all you might need in case you need to avoid leaving home. Take extra care in avoiding the things that trigger an asthma attack. And take steps to reduce stress, such as by disconnecting from the news or electronic devices.

If you do experience asthma symptoms or an asthma attack during the pandemic, be sure to use your emergency medication ñ and to come to a fast ER like Laredo Emergency Room if needed. We’re taking extra precautions and making sure to keep our facilities clean so that we can safely care for you, no matter what.


The link between obesity and numerous health conditions has long been established. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Arthritis. High blood pressure. The list goes on. Unfortunately, there’s a new entry on this list: risk of death from COVID-19.

To be clear, obesity does not put a person at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. We well know by now that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and that together we can all reduce our risk of infection by wearing face coverings, social distancing, cleaning our hands, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. The problem instead is that once a person has contracted the virus, the risk of developing more severe symptoms and complications is seen as rising with the patient’s body mass index, which is a ratio of weight and height and used to estimate a person’s percentage of body fat.

It’s still unclear whether the problem is simply obesity by itself or rather due to the strong link between obesity and chronic conditions that make an obese COVID-19 patient suffer worse outcomes. Regardless, the bottom line is clear: obesity is linked to a higher risk of respiratory failure, other complications, and even death from the virus.

In fact, having a BMI of 40 or above is now listed as a risk factor for severe COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Obesity is now considered a top risk factor for COVID-19 complications, second only to advanced age.

It’s news enough to get people who have been gaining their “quarantine 15” to think long and hard about their diets and lifestyles. But that’s easier said than done – and many people have long had good reasons to try to tackle their extra pounds but few or no resources to actually get the job done. In many cases, it’s an obesity-related chronic disease itself that prevents a patient from getting active and healthier. In others, the higher-quality food or resources needed to lose weight and get healthy are too expensive or unavailable within a community. Other times, patients view themselves as harmlessly overweight, not realizing that they are actually morbidly obese and at risk for health complications.

Healthcare strategies for obesity are scarce as well, with most physicians simply addressing the concern with a brief comment during a patient’s checkup, rather than introducing specific weight-loss recommendations. Instead, problems related to obesity are more often addressed when associated chronic and even life-threatening conditions crop up. Too often, those patients end up at Laredo Emergency Room in need of lifesaving care.

While self-isolation can make matters worse, this extra time we have on our hands can also give us the opportunity we need to take control of our community’s obesity problem. A few minutes a day is all we need to fit in the moderate exercise that can make a big difference over time – and to explore healthy lifestyle and food options, rather than a fad diet plan that doesn’t last. Here at Laredo Emergency Room, we also encourage you to seek out specific recommendations for weight-loss and healthy diet strategies from your primary care physician and to make weight control a health priority, before winding up here. For anyone suffering from obesity, a goal to lose weight is about more than simply looking and feeling better. It’s an achievement that may ultimately save your life, even in a pandemic.


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.

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