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Primary Care

Maricopa County is a great place to live, work, and play! At Mercy Grace, we consider it our privilege to serve the families of this community by providing Internal Medicine among the services we offer. We desire to keep you healthy and active so you can do what makes you happy.
 
Primary Care involves the practice of Internal Medicine in our prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses in adults. Many of the conditions require frequent monitoring, which is why we strive to build a trusting relationship with our patients. By utilizing a whole-health approach and striving for consistent management, we will create a care plan that fits your needs and lifestyle.
 
Our providers will not only treat existing conditions by learning your health history, but we will empower you with prevention techniques and treatments. We are here to help you and your family live in optimal health.

Primary Care Services

Adult Immunizations

Immunizations Q&A
How do Immunizations Work?
Immunizations work by introducing small amounts of bacteria or viruses (either dead or alive) into the body so the immune system can start to build the antibodies that are needed to fight off the disease if the person is ever exposed to it. Many childhood diseases have almost been completely wiped out through the use of immunizations. Polio, measles, mumps, and rubella are just a few of the childhood diseases that no longer pose a large threat to the population. Although cases still occur, they are easily controlled due to the number of people who have been immunized. There are no immunizations for chickenpox, HPV, and the flu that individuals can receive to help control these illnesses as well.

Can Adults Receive Immunizations?
Anyone can receive immunizations. Many adults receive booster shots to help maintain the benefits offered by the immunizations they received as children. There are also new vaccines that can be extremely beneficial. The chickenpox vaccine, as well as those for the HPV and flu viruses, can help to prevent a person from getting sick or exhibiting signs of certain illnesses. Because the Influenza virus changes from year to year, doctors recommend their patients get vaccinated each and every year to ensure they have the antibodies they need to prevent them from coming down with the virus.

How Often Should an Adult get a flu shot?
Doctors recommend adults get a flu shot each year. The influenza virus changes and mutates from year to year. This means that it can become more difficult to treat with each passing year. It also means that the virus may become resistant to many types of medications. Small children and the elderly, as well as individuals who have a depressed immune system, can become quite ill if exposed to the flu virus. Being immunized protects a person from the virus by helping their body build up a resistance. Not only does this keep the person from getting seriously ill, but it also helps them to build immunities they will need in the future.

Asthma

Asthma Q&A
Can an Asthma Attack be Triggered by Allergies?
An asthma attack can be triggered by the body’s allergic response to an allergen. When the body is exposed to an allergen, a series of responses occur, beginning with the release of histamine. Histamine causes the nasal passages to swell, the nose and eyes to run, sneezing, and coughing. If the attack occurs rather suddenly, the allergic response can have a dramatic effect on the lungs. When the lungs are affected, the normal result is a mild to a moderate asthma attack that generally correlates to the other symptoms. When the sneezing and runny nose begin to subside, the wheezing and difficulty breathing associated with asthma will also begin to diminish.

What is the Most Effective Way to Treat Asthma?
The most effective way to treat an asthma attack is through the use of bronchodilators and steroid medications that work to open the small pathways in the lungs. Understanding how to breathe and being able to control the panic that sometimes sets in when an asthma attack strikes are also important. Keeping breaths at a slow, steady pace and remaining calm will prevent the chest from tightening up, making it increasingly more difficult to breathe. It is also important to use medications that work to decrease the frequency of an asthma attack. These medications help to control the substances like histamine that cause an attack once they have been released by the body. They also work to strengthen the tissues of the lungs.

Can Asthma Attacks be Prevented?
With chronic asthma attacks, episodes may not be able to be prevented, but they can be controlled and their frequency and duration diminished. Corticosteroids and other medications that work to control the release of the substances that trigger an asthma attack may help to reduce the frequency of chronic attacks. By controlling the frequency, the duration is also kept to a minimum. Individuals who do not have regular or chronic attacks may still be able to control the episodes they do have by acting quickly when they feel the changes begin to occur. Constantly having a rescue or emergency inhaler on hand is important if a person wants to be able to properly manage their asthma.

COPD

COPD Q&A
What is COPD?
COPD is also referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. COPD is a progressive condition that affects the lungs and will continue to worsen as time passes. It is aggravated by smoking, airborne contaminants, and allergens. Constant exposure to these types of irritants can cause the condition to worsen at a much faster rate than if the person would avoid them. COPD is sometimes used in relation to other lung diseases, like emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. The main symptom associated with COPD and other conditions similar to it is breathlessness. The inability to draw in a full breath may be the most accurate description of what a person feels like who has COPD.

How is COPD Treated?
For most people with COPD, smoking has played a large role in how they were diagnosed with the disease. Putting down the cigarettes will make a huge impact on how quickly their COPD worsens. If a person stops smoking, it can dramatically slow down the progression of the disease. Removing the causes of irritation is a great help. Bronchodilators can be used to keep airways open and steroid-based inhalers are effective in helping to reduce the inflammation that can be caused by the irritation of certain pollutants. Oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation programs are extremely beneficial at keeping the airways open and breathing patterns normally.

Can COPD be Prevented?
A person’s overall, general health and how well they protect their lungs from airborne contaminants will determine whether or not COPD can be prevented. Keeping the lungs strong, with regular exercise and a nutritionally sound diet will help tremendously. Eliminating cigarette smoke, airborne contaminants, pollution, and controlling a person’s exposure to known allergens are the keys to making sure COPD does not become a measure issue as a person gets older. Individuals who have upper respiratory conditions like chronic bronchitis and asthma are already predisposed to COPD, so it is important to not increase their risk.

Depression

Depression Q&A
Can Depression be a Symptom of Another Disorder?
Depression can often be a sign or symptom of other health problems throughout the body. If a person is overly obese or has issues with their thyroid, depression may be one of the first symptoms they experience. Obesity can lead to feelings of hopelessness if the patient believes they have no way to get healthy. It can lead to a vicious cycle that causes them to eat more and continue to gain weight. With hypothyroidism, the decrease in thyroid production can cause a person to feel tired and lacking in energy. Over time, the lack of energy and motivation can turn into a severe bout of depression that may need to be treated with medication.

What are the Effects of Depression on the Body?
Depression is not a physical condition. It is a mental health disorder that can have physical effects on the body if not carefully treated. By the same token, physical conditions in the body can cause a person to become depressed. Once the cycle has been created, just treating the physical symptoms is not enough. The depression must also be addressed through counseling and the possible use of medication. If a person’s depression is due to an illness, treating the illness may resolve the issue. If the depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, treatment may need to continue long after the physical illness has been corrected.

How is Depression Treated?
Treatment for depression can take many forms. While therapy and counseling are the most common and straightforward way of dealing with the problem, it may be wise to find out if there is an underlying cause by seeing an internal medicine specialist. Obesity, hypothyroidism, and other health conditions can lead to depression if not properly treated. Certain medications, exercise programs, healthy diet plans, and other treatment options may be beneficial if the underlying cause is one of these conditions.

To effectively deal with depression as a mental health condition, therapy and counseling are considered to be the most effective option. While medications can be helpful when it comes to restoring chemical imbalances in the brain, counseling provides human interaction that can eventually lead to the true cause and most effective treatment of the disorder.

Diabetes

Diabetes Q&A
What Causes Diabetes?
Doctors are unsure as to what actually causes diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to control the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. In Type 2 diabetes, the body produces ample amounts of insulin but is unable to utilize what it has on hand. With gestational diabetes, the mother’s ability to utilize insulin is altered and her blood sugar levels are allowed to rise. Although gestational diabetes is treated in much the same way as other types of diabetes, it does not last longer than the length of the pregnancy. As soon as the baby is born, the mother’s blood sugar levels are quickly brought back under control. The occurrence of gestational diabetes does increase the risk of a woman being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Can Diabetes be Prevented?
If a person has a genetic defect that causes their pancreas to not function as it should, then diabetes cannot be prevented. If a person has a family history of diabetes or other chronic health problems, they may want to get tested on a regular basis to ensure their blood sugar remains within normal limits. Once a person has determined they may be at a higher risk, they can begin to make healthier, more positive lifestyle changes. Reducing their intake of sugars and artificial sweeteners, exercising, and including more complex carbohydrates in the diet are just a few small changes a person can make to prevent a diabetes diagnosis later in life.

Is Diabetes Hereditary?
Many people are predisposed to diabetes, either through an unhealthy lifestyle or genetics. Although diabetes is not considered a hereditary disease, a person who has family members that have been diagnosed with it are at an increased risk. Individuals who have a family history of diabetes, chronic heart disease, and upper respiratory problems need to take precautions as soon as possible so they can prevent the onset of many of these health conditions. Creating a healthy diet full of fresh foods in their most natural state, healthy oils, lean meats, and other high protein foods will help you live a fuller, more active life, reducing your health risks across the board.

Fatigue

Fatigue is a state of feeling extreme tiredness, exhaustion, or lack of energy. So much so, that it interrupts your daily life. This tiredness can be physical, mental, or both. Most of the time, fatigue is a symptom and not a condition. Speak with your primary care provider if you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Flu

Flu Q&A
What are the Flu “Basics”?
Common symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, headache, body aches, chest congestion, runny nose, and watery eyes. Although a virus will not help with a viral infection like the flu, it is important to visit the doctor. Medications can be prescribed to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with most symptoms. One of the ways doctors can help their patients prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year. Each year, the flu virus is slightly different than the prior year. Getting a flu shot is just one way of building a stronger line of defense against the virus. The doctors can also help you improve your diet to ensure your body’s immune system is as strong as possible.

How are Respiratory Infections Treated?
Respiratory infections that are caused by viruses will not be helped with antibiotics, so many doctors will not prescribe them unless a bacterial infection is present. The symptoms of the infection, however, are easily treated. Pain medications and anti-inflammatories may be alternated to help control pain, inflammation, and fever. Increasing the intake of fluids can help prevent dehydration and flush away toxins and by-products that are created as the body tries to heal itself. Doctors may encourage the use of supplements and over the counter cough medicines and decongestants to help relieve the discomfort and congestion associated with a respiratory infection.

What Other Upper Respiratory Infections can the Doctors Treat?
Upper respiratory infections like the common cold, sinus infections, and bronchitis can be easily prevented if a person maintains healthy lifestyle habits that include frequently washing the hands, especially if they are out in public, eating ample amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables. and getting adequate amounts of rest. During cold and flu season getting a flu vaccine and boosting your diet with a nutritional supplement will also help to strengthen the immune system. Doctors are capable of treating many upper respiratory infections with antibiotics and other medications.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis Q&A
What is Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is sometimes referred to as the stomach flu. It is caused by an infection that ends up in the digestive tract, causing vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache, headache, and severe abdominal pain and cramping. In most cases, the cause of gastroenteritis is related to a virus. Bacteria may also cause a flare-up. In most cases, if a person lets the condition run its course, it will usually clear up on its own in about ten days without medication. It is possible to treat the symptoms or provide at least a modest amount of relief during the most difficult days. In most cases, the first 24 to 48 hours will pose the most problems and the most severe symptoms.

How is it Treated?
Gastroenteritis that is caused by a virus will have to run its course. The symptoms can be treated to help relieve the discomfort, however. Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers can help to minimize the pain and discomfort, but the key is being able to stay hydrated. While water is efficient, it can’t replace the electrolytes that are lost when a person is getting sick or experiencing diarrhea. A sports drink will contain a modest amount of electrolytes, but for the maximum amount, it is important to drink Pedialyte or another type of electrolyte solution that is specifically formulated to produce the maximum of electrolytes in each serving.

Can Gastrointestinal Problems be Prevented?
Maintaining a healthy gut may prevent many different gastrointestinal problems, but it can’t always protect against being exposed to a stomach virus or bacteria that result in gastroenteritis. It is important to maintain the right level of digestive enzymes and bacteria in the intestines. When a person gets the stomach flu or food poisoning, it can destroy the delicate balance throughout the digestive tract. When this occurs, it leaves the gut open to possible infection. Eating the right foods and drinking fluids with additional electrolytes can help to restore the balance of flora and fauna in the gut and reduce the possibility of an infection.

Headaches

Headaches are common, but can be caused by a variety of things. There are several types of headaches and each one has a different set of causes and symptoms. These symptoms can be caused by underlying issues and may cause discomfort that affects concentration at work and performance of other daily activities. Headaches and causes of headaches may be diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

Speak with your primary care provider if you are experiencing any problems with headaches.

Hypertension

Hypertension Q&A
What Causes Hypertension?
Hypertension can have several causes. A person’s blood that is thicker than it should be due to excessive amounts of lipids and fats can make it more difficult for the heart to pump it through the blood vessels. As a person ages, their veins can become harder and less flexible, combining that with the thickening of the blood can put stress on the heart, increasing a person’s blood pressure. The longer a person’s heart has to struggle to pump the blood through the body, the weaker it becomes. Blood thinners are often used to help thin the blood and allow it to flow through the circulatory system without any issues. Exercise may also prove to be somewhat beneficial in helping the heart regain its strength as long as it doesn’t place undue stress or strain on the muscle.

Can Hypertension be Treated Without Medication?
Although treating hypertension with medication is advisable, many people may work to make substantial lifestyle changes in an attempt to regain their health. Eating a diet that includes substantial amounts of fiber, while limiting fats and cholesterol can help to thin the blood, making it easier to travel through the blood vessels. Exercise can also offer benefits, as well. When a person suffers from hypertension, the heart must struggle to pump the blood throughout the body. Exercise burns calories and helps to strengthen the muscles of the body. Since the heart is a muscle, it will also reap the benefits as long as the patient doesn’t overdo it or stress the body.

What Can Happen if Hypertension is Left Untreated?
If hypertension is left untreated, the heart may become so weak that it is no longer able to function. The increase in fats and lipids that continually flow through the blood, may lead to blockages in the arteries near the heart, again weakening the heart. If the heart does not receive fresh blood, it will begin to atrophy, and scar tissue will begin to develop. Over time, this can lead to congestive heart failure, or in very severe cases, a heart attack. Hypertension can also affect the blood vessels that supply the brain with much-needed oxygen. If this continues to be a problem, the person may end up suffering from a stroke that causes paralysis or even death.

Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism Q&A
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is common in many individuals. When the thyroid gland is underactive, it does not produce enough thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is responsible for all of the metabolic processes that take place in the body. When the gland becomes sluggish and doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, the metabolic processes throughout the body begin to slow down. Blood sugar is not metabolized properly, cells and tissues in the body do not get the nutrients they need, and your heartbeat and body temperature begin to fluctuate. Because the body does not process fuel the way it should, a person begins to gain weight and their level of energy begins to drop.
 
How is it Treated?
An underactive thyroid gland or one that has become diseased will not produce enough thyroid hormone to sustain the body’s needs. If this occurs, doctors will prescribe a synthetic thyroid supplement known as T4. The pill must be taken every day to ensure the body has what it needs to maintain all of its metabolic processes. If a person must take synthetic thyroid hormone, they will also have to have their hormone levels checked on a regular basis. Several different factors can disrupt the uptake of synthetic thyroid hormones. The doctor needs to know what herbs, medications, and over the counter remedies you are taking so they can ensure you are receiving the proper dosage at all times.
 
Can Hypothyroidism Lead to Other Health Problems?
The lack of thyroid hormone that is caused by hypothyroidism can lead to many different health problems. Because the thyroid hormone is responsible for almost every metabolic process that takes place in the human body, the list of complications is quite extensive. A few of the most common complications of hypothyroidism include infertility, depression, joint problems, diabetes, obesity, and a wide array of health problems. If left untreated for long periods of time, the condition can become so severe that a person’s body temperature can drop dangerously low, leading to a coma and even death.
Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Q&A
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a bone condition that causes the bones to lose tissue causing them to become extremely brittle. In healthy bone, the tissue is replaced as soon as it is lost. This constant transfer keeps the bones healthy and strong. When osteoporosis becomes a problem, nothing replaces the bone tissues as they are lost. Normally this occurs as a person ages, but some people tend to lose mass earlier than others due to poor diet or the use of certain types of medication. Doctors can perform bone density tests to determine how much bone mass a person has as they age. With the right medications, they can slow down the loss of bone and help a person to keep their bones strong and resilient.

Can Osteoporosis be Prevented?
In most cases, the progression of osteoporosis can be dramatically slowed, if not stopped. As an adolescent grows, they begin to develop the bone mass that will last them throughout their lifetime. The amount of bone mass they have accumulated when they reach their peak will determine their level of risk when it comes to dealing with osteoporosis later in life. Keeping the bones strong is the key to preventing bone loss as a person ages. Weight-bearing exercise and including calcium-rich foods in the diet are key elements in maintaining bone density for as long as possible. It is also important to make sure to avoid foods and medications that can hasten bone loss.

What are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis may not cause any symptoms at all during the earliest stages. People may have no idea that they have osteoporosis until one or more of their bones begin to break. Fractured or collapsed vertebra, bone fractures throughout the body, and bone that have started to condense or break down. Any of these situations can cause chronic pain and result in a stooped or bent posture. Individuals who have a family history of osteoporosis, are over the age of 55, are female, and have a smaller, more frail frame, are more likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis. The risk is also higher for Asians and Caucasians.

Preventative Medicine
Preventive Medicine Q&A
What is Preventive Medicine?
Preventive medicine encompasses many different facets of healthcare that help an individual remain healthy and prevent possible health problems. This can include medical screenings, diagnostic testing, and the establishment of positive lifestyle habits. Through the use of annual physical exams, yearly screenings for potentially dangerous diseases, and advice on how to live a healthier, more invigorating lifestyle, doctors can help their patients prevent common health problems that reduce their quality of life or prevent them from doing the things they enjoy. With preventive health measures, patients are able to prevent many of the conditions that may have been a problem for their parents or other family members.
 
What Types of Examinations and Tests are Included in Preventive Health Plans?
Preventive health plans often include many different tests and screenings that are used to determine if a person is predisposed to specific health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, or high blood pressure. In addition to blood glucose tests, women can also benefit from mammograms, Pap smears, and pelvic exams that give doctors the information they need about a woman’s reproductive health. Men, women, and children alike can benefit from annual physical exams. These types of examinations are vital when it comes to preventing serious illnesses, especially in individuals who have a family history of illness or disease.
 
What Types of Conditions can be Prevented or Slowed Using These Measures?
During an annual examination, doctors may uncover the beginnings of diabetes, hypertension, chronic gastrointestinal upset, or heart disease. In some cases, individuals may also exhibit the symptoms of a chronic upper respiratory disease, like COPD. When signs of these diseases begin to appear, the doctor can recommend possible lifestyle changes and treatment plans that will help to control the progression of the disease. If a condition is in its earliest stages, a reversal may even be possible. In a case where a person has an extensive family history of chronic disease, preventive health measures may save their life.
Well Woman Exam

Well Woman Exam Q&A
What is a Well Woman Exam?
A Well Woman Exam is what every woman should have to remain in the best health possible. During a Well Woman Exam, a woman receives all of the screenings necessary for good health, a mammogram, Pap smear, blood glucose test, and a thorough pelvic exam. A Well Woman exam not only covers her reproductive health but other aspects of her health as well. The doctor may offer advice on how to lose weight or improve their lifestyle habits. Medically supervised weight loss plans as well as other preventive health measures that can be taken to get them back on track to good health and help them maintain a positive lifestyle.

What Special Health Concerns do Women Have?
Women have several health concerns that most men do not have. While men are recommended to get prostate exams, women are encouraged to receive mammograms, Pap smears, pelvic exams, and bone density tests. During a Well Woman exam, blood glucose levels may be tested, as well as their cholesterol levels. The reproductive aspects of a Well Woman exam are unique to them and their physical makeup. Another major concern for women is weight gain. During different periods of their lives, gaining weight can become a major issue. Doctors can help them to face depression and learn how to control their weight to avoid excessive weight gain.

How Often Should Women get an Examination?
Women are encouraged to get a Well Woman Exam once a year. Most preventive health screenings are annual tests. Scheduling a Well Woman exam on a yearly basis allows a woman the benefit of early detection. Many health concerns women have can be put to rest with wellness checks. When certain health conditions are discovered in their earliest stages, a woman has many more options for treatment. During the yearly exam, doctors can also discuss many preventive health care measures with their patients that can be used to maintain a healthy weight, improve their diet, and create heart-healthy exercise plans.