Why Am I So Itchy?

Is itchy skin keeping you up at night? Itchy skin can be maddening – especially if you can’t stop scratching it. But unlike pain, which triggers us to withdraw from whatever’s causing discomfort, itch-transmitting nerves lead to a satisfying release when we scratch, prompting us to dig in with the fingernails even more. Too much of this good thing can lead to worsening itch, excoriations, scars, and even skin infections – not to mention prominent under-eye circles from a poor night’s sleep.

There are dozens of possible reasons why we might itch. The most common cause is simply dry skin, especially during the winter months. But if you’re moisturizing diligently and caring for your skin gently, yet you still feel itchy, something else could be the cause. Here are some possible reasons you might be feeling the urge to scratch:

Skin Conditions: Perhaps you are experiencing a skin disease or condition that predisposes to itching, such as eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, bug bites, or hives. More rare forms of itching could also include certain autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

Allergy or Irritation: You may have developed a skin allergy or skin irritation from a personal care product, fabric, plant (poison oak and ivy are notorious, though numerous other botanical and natural ingredients can cause similar itching), or other substance that makes contact with the skin.

Infection: Some of us itch because of a skin infection – such as a fungus or a mite infection – or a body-wide infection, such as measles or chickenpox (though no one should have to suffer from these particular diseases anymore, on account of safe and effective vaccines).

Medicine: Sometimes, the problem can be due to an oral medication. Heart and cholesterol drugs, pain medicines, and antibiotics are among many that have the potential to cause scratch-happy tendencies.

Allergies: An intensely itchy rash can develop in some people with Celiac disease – but this skin condition is actually quite rare. Other food allergies can also cause itchy skin reactions.

Age: As we enter our 50’s and beyond, the skin tends to become drier, which may contribute to uncomfortably itchy skin.

Fingernail-induced: Sometimes, itching is our own fault. You may repeatedly pick or scratch at an area, causing the skin to thicken up and become even itchier – a vicious cycle with the potential to snowball out of control.

Medical Conditions: If you have no rash on the skin, but feel itchy everywhere, it may be time to get checked out by a doctor. Many medical concerns can trigger itching, including problems with the thyroid, kidney, liver, blood count, or even an undetected infection.

The good news is that treatments available for itch are as diverse as its causes, starting with gentle skincare and bathing habits, including brief, lukewarm baths and showers, liberal application of moisturizer, cortisone creams, antihistamine pills, or certain lotions. We can help determine the cause of your itch and guide you through prescription options – so that you can give those fingernails a break and get back to sleep.

Feeling Itchy (or Sick)?

If you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.



Are You at Risk for Heart Disease?

New research from the American Heart Association has found that nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have some form of cardiovascular disease. Yikes! But if you eat well and exercise regularly, there’s nothing to worry about, right?

While you already know the main culprits behind heart disease—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a history of smoking—there are other unexpected risk factors that can have a big impact on your heart health, as follows:

You’re lonely: Researchers at the University of York found that people who have few social connections or who felt lonely had a 29% higher risk of heart disease and 32 percent higher risk of stroke compared to people who had—or felt like they had—lots of social relationships. Loneliness, or the stress of being alone, can cause inflammation in the body, creating conditions that can lead to heart disease, or lead to depression—another major risk factor.

Poor dental hygiene: The state of your teeth and gums are related to heart health. That’s because bleeding and inflamed gums allow bacteria from the mouth to enter the bloodstream, where it can cause inflammation and create conditions that can lead to heart disease. Flossing is associated with a lower risk for new cardiovascular events, so be sure to brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist.

You had pregnancy complications: While what happens during your pregnancy doesn’t seem like it should influence your heart health, research shows that it may have an impact down the line. According to studies, gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, spontaneous preterm delivery, and gestational diabetes all increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this may be the case, but if you’ve experienced any of these complications, tell your doctor about your pregnancy history and get regularly screened for diabetes and hypertension.

You’ve experienced a traumatic event: A sudden traumatic event like a death in the family or a car accident doesn’t just feel like your heart stops. It may actually cause heart trouble. Traumatic events can contribute to coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. If you have experienced these stressful events, tell your doctor so they can monitor your heart health.

You can’t sleep at night: Lack of sleep and waking up frequently at night can raise your blood pressure and heart rate, keeping your body on high alert instead of at rest. Plus, when you’re tired, you’re less likely to keep up with healthy habits.

You live with high-blood pressure: Living with another chronic illness increases your chances of developing heart disease. That’s because many health conditions share the same risk factors with heart disease, like high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, belly fat, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol. According to a recent 2019 study, conditions such as systemic lupus erythematous, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Sojogren’s syndrome can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

You eat lots of fried foods: You love French fries and fried chicken, fried fish, and chips. But too many fried foods can increase your risk for heart disease and death, especially in postmenopausal women over the age of 50. In a 2019 study, researchers found that women who ate fried chicken at least once a week had a 12 percent increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease compared to women who ate none. Among women who ate fried fish or shellfish once a week or more, they also had a 13 percent increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease compared to women who ate none. So, while it’s OK to enjoy some deep-fried food every once in a while, don’t make it a regular habit.

You use e-cigarettes: While e-cigarettes may be an alternative to smoking, it isn’t much better for your heart health. A 2019 study from the American Stroke Association found that people who regularly use e-cigarettes had a 71 percent higher right of stroke, 59 percent higher risk of heart attack or angina, and 40 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease compared to those who never used e-cigarettes. Yikes.

You have a family history of heart disease: They say it runs in the family and with heart disease, it’s definitely true. Having a first-degree relative—parent or sibling—with heart-related problems before age 55 in male relatives and before age 65 in female relatives greatly increases your risk for a heart-related problems.

You’re depressed: Studies have found that people who are diagnosed with depression tend to be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. It’s not 100 percent certain why this happens, but it’s thought to be because you’re less likely to take care of yourself like eat well and exercise, especially if you already have high blood pressure or other health issues.

Take Care of Yourself and Try to be Heart Healthy

Be sure to avoid the things described above and to take good care of yourself and your heart. If you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.



Congratulations to Dr. Zahir on being a 2018 Washingtonian Top Doctor!

A New Healthy Addiction to help you Quit Smoking

Making any lifestyle change can be tough, especially when it comes to eliminating something addictive such as cigarettes. To achieve success in quitting an unhealthy habit, there needs to be a willingness to try out different strategies, and ultimately to find a healthier replacement for your behavior. It takes a lot of courage, but also requires motivation, time, and patience.

Is Vaping a Good Alternative?

Some people who are trying to quit smoking try vaping instead. While federal regulators have not approved vaping as a smoking cessation aid, it is nonetheless marketed as a strategy for smokers trying to quit. Although some research supports the use of vaping as a smoking cessation aid, most findings have conflicting results. A European study, for instance, concluded that vaping does not help individuals quit smoking. Instead, researchers said, it’s likely these individuals become “dual-users.” Another study published in PLOS One contends that vaping helps almost nobody to quit smoking.

A Healthier Alternative

A more powerful strategy to help overcome smoking is as simple as getting active. Exercise helps you deal with both the physical and psychological aspects of nicotine addiction. Not only does it act as a great distraction from smoking, it helps curb cravings and enhances your overall quality of life.

What are some other benefits of being physically active while quitting smoking?

  • Reduces your nicotine withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease
  • Decreases stress levels
  • Helps manage weight gain
  • Improves concentration
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Improves sleep
  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves mood
  • Improves responsiveness

What are examples of activities that you can do?

  • Aerobic exercises, such as walking or running, are easily accessible and you can do them indoors and outdoors, so weather isn’t an issue. Take a walk or a jog at lunchtime or after dinner, perhaps finding a coworker, friend, or family member to join you. Be sure to choose companions who don’t smoke! Gradually lengthen your walks or jogs and step up the pace.
  • Think about other activities that you might enjoy, like biking, swimming, dancing, yoga — just about any sports activity will help.
  • Consider strength training and lift some weights to boost your energy level when your energy is low.
  • Practice yoga or pilates in the comfort of your own home or at a local gym and focus on breathing patterns to help you relax and calm your mind.
  • Try signing up for an exercise class or learning a new sport. Or set a goal, such as entering a race or participating in a tournament. The competitive challenge may be just what you need.
  • Leisure activities such as gardening and yard work can also help redirect your focus.

Smokers often experience shortness of breath with physical activity. But after you’ve quit, you’ll probably notice that it’s becoming easier to exercise. That’s because your lung function gets better when you’re not smoking. Good luck on your journey to quit smoking and to become healthier!

To learn more about smoking cessation or if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.





What Types of Flu Are There?

When it comes to the flu, not all types are created equal. According to the CDC, there are four types of influenza viruses: influenza A, influenza B, influenza C, and influenza D. Influenza A and B are the two main types that routinely spread in humans and cause seasonal flu epidemics. Influenza C viruses cause only mild respiratory infections and are not thought to be responsible for epidemics. Influenza D viruses primarily affect cattle and are not known to infect or cause illness in people.

Influenza A vs B: Brief History & Transmission

Influenza A viruses are the most harmful, as they can cause severe disease. Wild aquatic birds are often the hosts for a large variety of influenza A viruses. Sometimes these viruses are transmitted from bird to human and can cause devastating outbreaks. Some of the subtypes of influenza A that have caused the largest number of known human deaths are:

  • H1N1, which caused Spanish Flu in 1918 and Swine Flu in 2009
  • H2N2, which caused Asian Flu in 1957
  • H3N2, which caused Hong Kong Flu in 1968
  • H5N1, which caused Bird Flu in 2004

Influenza B almost exclusively infects humans and is less common than influenza A. Because humans are the natural host of influenza B, pandemics generally do not occur with influenza B viruses.

Influenza C viruses are milder and do not cause epidemics. Seasonal flu vaccines, which contain strains of influenza A and B, do not protect against influenza C viruses.

Do You Have the Flu?

The good news is most people will recover from the flu on their own. However, if you have a severe case of the flu, you should call our office to make an appointment. Not sure if you have the flu? The CDC lists flu symptoms and complications here.

If you do in fact have the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat types A, B, and C and speed recovery by 1 or 2 days. But the CDC stresses that these drugs are a second line of defense against the flu after vaccination, which is the best way to prevent seasonal influenza in the first place.

Certain populations are more susceptible to getting the flu, including the very young, the elderly, and people with a compromised immune system. If you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

Five Ways to Relieve Stress During The Holidays

The holiday season can truly be the most wonderful time of the year. Who doesn’t love indulging on the season’s best foods and checking out neighborhoods decked out in lights? But between social obligations, shopping, and celebratory meals, it can also be stressful. The good news is that sneaking some stress relief into your busy schedule can be easier than you thought. Here are a few ways you can approach it.

Get some exercise.

Sometimes, the last thing you want to do after days of family and friend gatherings filled with rich foods is hit the gym. But it’s a great way to both stay in shape and manage your stress during the holidays.

Travel can complicate things, but if you are traveling, it’s a good idea to throw some sneakers and workout clothes in your bag so you can sneak in a workout anywhere.

Get outside.

If you’re feeling a little overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, you may want to pull on your winter coat and head outside. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce your cortisol — otherwise known as the stress hormone — levels. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of spending time outside, you can reap some of the benefits. Just looking at photos of nature has been found to have some benefits.

Take some time for yourself — and don’t be afraid to say no.

The holidays are all about being with loved ones, so it can be easy to overlook yourself in all the hubbub. But if you’re feeling stressed, don’t be afraid to call a timeout and spend some time on self-care. Maybe your self-care is taking a bubble bath, scheduling a massage, heading to the gym, or indulging in some retail therapy — whatever it is, enjoy the moment and let yourself feel refreshed.

Practice mindfulness.

Instead of getting caught up in everything you need to check off your list, take a few moments to focus on what you’re doing right now. Take some time to focus your attention on the present — the smells, sounds, sights, and feelings around you.

Multiple studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help with stress and anxiety. Fortunately, it’s easy to incorporate into your daily life.

No matter where the holiday season takes you, make sure you bring a stress-relief strategy along. And if you still have questions about how to manage your stress, we’re here to help anytime. At Prosperity Internal Medicine, we wish you happy holidays!

If you are due for a physical, or if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

Foods that Add Vitamin K to Your Diet

Vitamin K is often overlooked, but highly functional. It can help decrease heart disease, keep bones strong, prevent calcification of arteries, and help blood clots. The National Institutes of Health recommends 122 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K for women and 138 mcg for men each day. So, it certainly deserves a place on your plate like vitamins A, C and D.

Luckily, you won’t have to pop any pills if you load on foods high in vitamin K. Here, 10 options to add to your plate.

  1. Natto: Vitamin K content: 850 mcg per 3 ounces

Natto is a sticky Japanese breakfast food that’s made with fermented soybeans. Because it’s fermented, it is full of gut-loving probiotics. Add natto to salads, pasta dishes, and sandwiches and wraps. You can also enjoy it as a side dish with your dinner.

  1. Collard greens: Vitamin K content: 530 mcg per 1/2-cup, boiled

In addition to vitamin K, collard greens supply excellent doses of fiber, iron, calcium, and manganese. Collards can help lower bad cholesterol in the body, and the vitamin K helps with anti-inflammatory processes, too.

  1. Turnip greens: Vitamin K content: 426 mcg per 1/2-cup, boiled

As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, turnip greens are packed with disease-fighting phytonutrients that can help with lowering inflammation and reducing your risk for cancer.

Vitamin K in these super greens can also help reduce anemia, improve skin and hair conditions, and lower blood sugar levels.

  1. Broccoli: Vitamin K content: 110 mcg per 1/2-cup, boiled

In addition to its powerful vitamin K content and a rich source of vitamin C, broccoli is a key nutrient for boosting your immune system. Broccoli strengthens your immune system and removes free radicals and toxins from the body. It also helps maintain healthy skin and keeps your heart healthy.

  1. Soybeans: Vitamin K content: 43 mcg per 1/2-cup, boiled

While soybeans are protein-strong, they can also help lower cholesterol levels and protect against cancer, thanks to their potent vitamin and mineral mix.

  1. Carrot juice: Vitamin K content: 28 mcg per 6 ounces

Besides being a good source of vitamin K, just like all orange veggies, carrots are rich in beta carotene, a type of vitamin A that protects the surface of the eye and contributes to stronger vision.

  1. Canned pumpkin: Vitamin K content: 20 mcg per 1/2-cup

With fiber to keep you full and vitamins A and C to stoke your immune system, this fall-flavored option is just as delicious mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, or whole grain pancake batter. It’s also a great way to squeeze in more fiber and nutrients in pasta sauces, smoothies, or your bread batter for a morning treat.

  1. 100 Percent Pomegranate juice: Vitamin K content: 19 mcg per 6 ounces

Pomegranate juice helps fight against chronic diseases, all while protecting your heart, aiding in digestion and supplying a healthy dose of vitamin K and vitamin C.

We hope you enjoy some of these options for adding vitamin K to your diet. If you are due for a physical, or if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.


Cholesterol – The “Good” and the “Bad”

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all of the cells in your body. There’s lots of advice out there about lowering your cholesterol, leaving people to think that it’s all “bad.” Yet, some cholesterol is “good” and much needed to maintain your health. For instance, cholesterol is responsible for maintaining skin, developing hormones, and making vitamin D and substances that help you digest foods. Let’s explore what makes cholesterol “good” and “bad.”

“Good” and “Bad” Cholesterol

HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is called the “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body.

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is known as “bad” cholesterol because a high LDL level leads to the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

VLDL stands for very low-density lipoprotein. It is also “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to the buildup of plaque in your arteries. VLDL and LDL are different in that VLDL carries triglycerides and LDL carries cholesterol.

What if I Have High Levels of “Bad” Cholesterol?

An estimated 73 million American adults have high levels of “bad” cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To see whether your cholesterol levels are normal or if they are high, you should make an appointment with our office and get a physical, including a cholesterol test. If you do end up having high levels of LDL or VLDL, you can lower your cholesterol through heart-healthy lifestyle changes. They include a heart-healthy eating plan, weight management, and regular physical activity. If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicine. We can help recommend steps you can take to get your cholesterol to a healthy level.

If you are due for a physical, including a cholesterol check, or if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

It’s Back to School Time: Keeping Your Entire Family Healthy

Did you know that children can catch a common cold as many as six to eight a year, thus putting your entire family at risk? Not to mention rashes, ear infections, the stomach bug, and other medical problems. A lot of the time, they pick up the germs for these conditions from school, and they bring them home to share with the family.

Even if you take certain measures at home, your children can come in contact with germs that linger on desks, doorknobs, lockers, and other surfaces at school. Therefore, it’s important to know how to keep your children (and your entire family) safe. Here are some tips:

1. Keep hands clean

The common cold spreads quickly in school. It can cause a variety of symptoms, such as a sore throat, a hacking cough, congestion, headaches, and mild fatigue. There’s no cure for the common cold, and most infections clear up after a few days.

Preventive measures can help keep your child and your family safe from germs. Teach your children the importance of washing their hands during the day, particularly before eating meals. Washing their hands with soap and water is best. And of course, to ward off germs, you should do the same!

Though hand sanitizer is less effective, you could include a small bottle in their lunch box or book bag. This way, if they can’t readily wash their hands, they can disinfect their hands throughout the day.

Also, encourage children not to touch their mouth, face, or nose with their hands. This reduces the risk of the common cold, and it can help keep them safe from other contagious infections, such as pinkeye.

2. Get the flu vaccine

The flu is more serious than the common cold. Symptoms might include a high fever, exhaustion, coughing, congestion, and severe body aches. Like the common cold, the flu virus can also spread rapidly in schools. And once sick, it might take one or two weeks to recover.

The flu vaccine can reduce the risk of getting the flu by 40 to 60 percent, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Getting vaccinated can also help protect against flu-related secondary infections like ear infections and pneumonia.

To protect your family during flu season, get the flu vaccine.

3. Teach them not to share drinks and food

Sharing food or drink with a friend can spread cold and flu germs. Also, your child could get sick with other contagious illnesses that spread through direct contact with saliva or mucus. These include mononucleosis, stomach viruses, and hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Make sure your child avoids sharing personal items such as hats and scarves. Some highly contagious illnesses and infections are passed that way, including head lice and ringworm.

4. Get moving

Physical activity is important for strengthening the immune system and helping bodies fight off infections. Get creative and think of fun ways to be physically active as a family. Play sports outside, such as basketball or kickball. Or try other outdoor activities such as skating, tennis, or bike riding.

If you or your child contracts an infection, don’t panic. Take him or her to the pediatrician. If you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

What to Do When Someone Has Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you’ve been exposed to high temperatures, and it often is accompanied by dehydration.

Although heat exhaustion isn’t as serious as heat stroke, it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs, and even cause death.

Heat Exhaustion Causes

Heat exhaustion can be caused by water depletion, which has symptoms such as excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.

It can also be caused by salt depletion. Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.

Heat Exhaustion Treatment

If you suspect that you or someone else is experiencing heat exhaustion, here’s what you should do:

  • Get out of the heat—quickly: Move to a cool, shady place or an air-conditioned building. If body temperature continues to rise, heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to heatstroke, a more serious, potentially fatal condition. Even returning to the sun many hours later can cause a relapse in some cases.
  • Drink cool water: You need to get hydrated, so start drinking lots of water or other fluids. To stay hydrated while you’re exerting yourself in hot weather, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that you drink 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Rest: Lie down with your legs and feet slightly elevated.
  • Loosen your clothing: This helps your body cool down faster.
  • Speed up cooling: Have someone spray or sponge you with cool water, and then fan you with a folded newspaper. The evaporation of the water is very cooling.

Monitor your symptoms

If it’s not treated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can be deadly. However, sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. Of course, no one goes directly from feeling fine to the brink of death—no matter how hot it is. For this reason, a person who doesn’t respond to self-help measures for heat exhaustion within 30 minutes should be taken to the hospital. It’s important to get emergency care quickly, as possible complications such as shock and kidney shutdown could develop. If you have heat exhaustion, the worst you’ll get is confused. If you have trouble walking or become unconscious, then you’re getting into heatstroke, and should call 9-1-1.

Heat exhaustion doesn’t necessarily develop in one day. You could be dehydrating gradually over several days. If you continue to feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

Why do we cough?

Ever have a cough that keeps you up at night and never seems to go away? You prop yourself up with five pillows just to get a bit of sleep, and try home remedies, such as tea and honey, and extra strength cough medicine but nothing seems to work. You begin to wonder. . . does coughing serve any purpose at all, or is it just a clever method that viruses use to spread?

Coughing is a normal reflex to clear the airway of small particles, microorganisms, mucus, or food or drinks accidentally going down “the wrong pipe.” But when we are plagued with a pesky cold or flu infection, cough takes on a new dimension.

What often starts as a tickle in the throat at the first sign of an upper respiratory tract infection can easily turn into a full-blown dry cough, most likely followed by a hacking, mucus-producing cough that can be very uncomfortable.

Coughing is a way in which our body gets rid of foreign particles, irritants, microbes, mucus, and bacteria – among other allergens from the throat. Coughing, by forcing air out of the lungs under high pressure, attempts to clear the throat of these foreign particles.

There are two types of cough – a dry cough which is itchy and a chesty cough (also called a productive cough because it generates phlegm). Here are some things that might cause coughing:

Allergies and asthma: If you have them, inhaling a trigger such as mold can cause your lungs to overreact. They’re trying to cough out what’s bothering them.

Irritants: Even if you’re not allergic, things such as cold air, cigarette smoke, or strong perfumes, can set off a hacking spell.

Postnasal drip: When you’re congested, mucus drips down from your nose into your throat, and makes you cough. You can get postnasal drip from colds, flu, sinus infections, allergies, and other problems.

Acid reflux: When you have heartburn, stomach acids back up into your throat, especially at night. They can irritate your windpipe and make you cough.

Flu and the common cold: Cold and flu viruses attack our bodies through our nasal lining. In response, our immune systems try to fight back. Mucus production stimulates nerve receptors, making us feel compelled to cough.

Other causes: Many other problems — lung inflammation, pneumonia, sleep apnea, and drug side effects — can be triggers. Get coughs that won’t go away checked out to make sure you don’t have a separate problem.

Coughing is temporary

The good news is that most coughs clear up within 3 weeks, although some — known as postviral or postinfectious coughs — can last for up to 8 weeks.

Often a cough seems minor, and it may be. However, if you are feeling sick and do not know the cause of a cough, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is so important. Unfortunately, many night owls and insomniacs don’t get enough of it! Sleep helps keep your mind and body healthy, which helps you function at your best!

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep on a regular schedule each night. Getting enough sleep isn’t only about total hours of sleep. It’s also important to get good quality sleep on a regular schedule so you feel rested when you wake up. Here are some things that could happen if you don’t get enough sleep each night:

  • Your skin may soon show it. Some studies have found a link between a lack of ZZZs and acne, perhaps related to how sleep controls hormones in your body. Sleep deprivation also hurts the immune system, leaving your body open to many different issues.
  • Your eyes show it, too. Redness, puffiness, dark circles, and bags — all signs that you’re not getting enough shut-eye. The sleep-deprived tend to get more wrinkles, lines, swelling, and droopiness, studies show. Why? It may be that your body misses out on the hormone control and tissue repair that happens in deep sleep stages.
  • You may experience weight gain. When you get a good night’s rest, your body can properly control ghrelin and leptin — the hormones that affect how hungry you feel. Without them, you may feel the urge to eat more than you need, which can make you gain weight.
  • You’re more likely to eat unhealthy food. A sleep-deprived brain is more likely to crave unhealthy snacks and meals. It may be that judgment and decision-making aren’t as sharp when you’re tired, which makes it easier for other desires to take over.
  • You drink more caffeine. Your usual 2 cups of coffee might not cut it, as you may not be as rested as usual. Caffeine may seem like an answer to poor sleep, but it quickly can become part of the problem. In the short term, the pick-me-up of coffee or soda may make you more alert, but in the long term, it can lead to insomnia or anxiety.
  • Irritability is a big sign of poor sleep. One study limited people to 4 1/2 hours of sleep a night for a week. The result: More stressed, angry, and mentally exhausted people. They felt better when they returned to their normal schedules.
  • Depression and poor sleep are also closely related. Depression can lead to poor sleep, and the reverse can happen, too.
  • You are less focused and your memory isn’t as sharp. Losing just 2 hours if you usually snooze 8 hours a night — can make you groggy and affect concentration and memory. This may make you less skilled at work — or worse, behind the wheel of your car. More than one-third of people admit dozing off while driving.

As you can see, not getting enough sleep affects many areas of your life. Not sleeping well? Here are some things you can do to catch some zzzs.

  • Stick to a schedule, which means going to bed and waking up about the same time each day.
  • Keep your room cool, quiet, and dark.
  • Exercise regularly, especially workouts that get your heart pumping. It may promote deeper sleep.

If you often have trouble sleeping, or if you are feeling under the weather, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.


Five Signs of Sepsis

Let’s say your body has an infection. You’re busy at work or with the kids and decide to ignore it. Many of us think it will go away on its own. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case!

When an infection isn’t treated properly or rages out of control, you can develop what’s known as sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which the body actually injures its own tissues and organs. And it’s a serious matter. In fact, more than 1.5 million people get sepsis each year in the U.S. and at least 250,000 Americans die from sepsis annually, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sepsis can even occur if you are taking medications such as antibiotics and antivirals to fight the invaders that are making you sick.

So, how do you know if sepsis is happening to you? Here are the five main signs of sepsis:

  1. Cold and clammy skin: When experiencing sepsis, your body focuses on pumping blood to the most crucial organs like your heart, kidney, and brain rather than to less crucial areas of the body (your extremities). Because of this, your skin can begin to feel cold and clammy.
  2. Low levels of urine, or dark more concentrated urine: When your body senses low blood pressure, it tries to hold onto as much fluid as possible, which results in less fluid and darker, smellier urine. Your kidneys also make less urine, meaning fewer bathroom trips.
  3. Confusion, decreased level of alertness, and lightheadedness and/or dizziness can all be the result of low blood flow to the brain, dehydration, and the “bad” toxins released into the body as a result of sepsis.
  4. Very fast heart rate: If you take your pulse and find anything above 90, this could be a sign of sepsis. In sepsis, your body is revved up because it’s attempting to fight the infection, plus it’s trying super hard to get blood flow to the damaged tissues. This calls on your heart to increase the amount of blood it’s pumping out, thus speeding up your heart rate.
  5. Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath: if you notice you are breathing rapidly and/or experiencing shortness of breath, as if you just climbed multiple flights of stairs, then you might want to take a deeper look into what’s going on.

If left untreated, sepsis can progress into septic shock, the most severe form of the condition, which compromises the cardiovascular system and results in very low blood pressure and inadequate blood flow to vital organs. Once in shock, you have very low blood pressure that’s difficult to improve with IV fluids and a high lactate level, which suggests you’re not getting adequate blood flow to organs and cells.

Sepsis is most commonly caused by four infections: pneumonia, abdominal infections (such as untreated appendicitis), urinary tract infections (UTIs), or an infection of skin or soft tissue. So, if you ever experience a combination of infection symptoms and the symptoms, you should call 911 and seek medical help immediately!

If you start feeling sick, don’t let it fester in your body, and potentially get worse. Please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.


Five Ways to Eat Clean

The latest buzz among health-conscious consumers involves adopting a clean diet. Eating clean involves changing your diet so that there’s a greater focus on whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fats, and less reliance on processed or refined foods.

The basic idea of clean eating is to choose foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. The concept stresses healthy, whole, unprocessed foods. The benefits include reduced incidence of disease, increased quality of life, and a longer life expectancy, just to name a few.

Clean eating sounds like a no-brainer, but ditching donuts, pizza and mocha lattes can be a lot tougher than it sounds. Here are five ways to make clean eating a way of life:

  1. Eat more whole grains: Refined carbs, such as white bread, pasta, and rice, lose nutrients during the manufacturing process. Trade them for whole wheat bread and pasta and brown or wild rice. Or opt for other whole grains like oatmeal, popcorn, or barley. This change can have a big impact: Studies show that a diet high in whole grains can lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.
  2. Drink plenty of water: Water can curb your hunger and help you feel full, but it can also fend off fatigue and give you more energy. Miss flavored drinks? Try infusing your water with a slice of citrus or sprig of mint.
  3. Load up on fruits and veggies: Aim to get at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, depending on the calories you need and your level of physical activity.
  4. Be smart about meat and dairy: Meat, dairy, and eggs you buy at the store may come from animals that get growth hormones and antibiotics. Clean eaters avoid them and choose organic or opt for local sources that raise animals humanely. The cleanest approach to protein? Get most of it from nuts, beans, and legumes.
  5. Watch out for salt and added sugar: Clean foods are naturally low in salt and sugar. Read food labels to look for added sweeteners and salt, even in foods that seem healthy, such as yogurt or tomato sauce. Also keep tabs on how much you add to your foods and drinks!

Before starting a new diet, it’s always prudent to check with your doctor. For a physical or if you are feeling ill, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidence-based, patient-centered approach.




Four Beverages with Heart Health Benefits

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming approximately 1 million lives annually. Fortunately, there are things you can do to become more heart healthy!

Most of us know that eating right is one way to help keep your heart healthy, but did you know that what you drink is also an important factor? Here are some of the heart healthiest beverages available, many of which you drink on a daily basis anyway!


Many of us need our coffee in the morning to give us a jolt of energy to help keep us going throughout the day. Did you know that drinking coffee is associated with cardiovascular benefits? In fact, studies cited in the journal Circulation found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had a significantly lower risk of heart disease. Other studies have shown that moderate coffee drinking (about four cups a day) is also linked to a lower risk of stroke and heart failure. Make sure you’re keeping your coffee heart-healthy by limiting creamers high in saturated fat and sugar.

Red Wine

In recent years, some studies have linked moderate alcohol intake with a decrease in heart disease. Researchers believe that compounds found in red wine known as polyphenols may help reduce inflammation and improve circulation.

If you drink alcohol — including red wine — do so in moderation. Men 65 and older should limit their alcohol use to no more than a single drink per day.


There’s a lot of evidence brewing that tea may help boost heart health. That’s because tea — green or black — is a good source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, part of a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Studies indicate that flavonoids may help reduce inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Iced or hot, tea is a healthy, no-calorie brew as long as you don’t add cream or sugar. If you’re caffeine-sensitive and enjoy black or green tea, drink it earlier in the day (before noon) and limit to three cups or less.

100% Grape Juice

The dark purple Concord grape in 100% grape juice provides powerful plant polyphenols. In fact, 100% grape juice made from this special grape delivers many of the same polyphenols and heart-health benefits as red wine, and it can help promote healthy circulation.

Including the drinks above in your diet can be part of a heart healthy diet. You can also dramatically reduce your chances of heart disease or a heart attack by following healthy lifestyle habits. Pay attention to good habits and incorporate them into your lifestyle and your heart health will be the best it can be for you.

If want to get a physical to ensure your blood pressure is normal and your heart is healthy or if you get sick, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

How to Stave Off the Flu

It’s flu season, and everyone seems to be getting sick. Your son came home from school with shivers and a fever. Your daughter has a wicked cough. And, your co-workers are suffering, as well. How can you dodge the flu this season, when it seems like everyone you know is getting it?

If you want to better your chances of not getting the flu, there are some other simple steps you can take, as follows:

  • Wash your hands often. Be sure to use soap and water, and scrub well. Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, because germs are spread that way. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t around.
  • Get your flu shot. The flu can even be dangerous, especially for young children, older adults, and pregnant women. One little shot may pay off for you and your family. It’s a myth that the flu vaccine can give you the flu.
  • Pay attention to symptoms Cold or flu? There’s no surefire way to tell the symptoms apart. However, usually, colds are milder. You might have a runny or stuffy nose. The flu is typically more severe and comes on suddenly. It will probably knock you off your feet for a few days. Fever, body aches, and exhaustion are more common with it.
  • Stay home if you’re sick. Take time off. If you push yourself to work instead of rest, your recovery may be much harder. Not only it could last longer, but also you could also spread germs to other people.
  • Use disposable cups, toothbrush, towels etc. to curb germs. When someone in your home is sick, switch to disposable products in your bathroom until they get better. It’s a simple way to stop the spread of germs among family members. Replace cloth hand towels with paper ones, and bring in paper or plastic cups.
  • Drink Extra Fluids. Water, broth, and sports drinks are good choices. Alcohol isn’t. Hot drinks such as herbal tea will warm your airways, helping relieve congestion. Liquids in general help thin mucus, drain your sinuses, and relieve a stuffy nose. If your sick kids don’t drink enough, offer them Popsicles. Or let them drink fluids with a spoon or a straw.

Sometimes, you can take all the preventative measure in the world and still get sick. If you do get sick, you can keep other people from getting the flu by staying away from them. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze, too. If you don’t have a tissue handy, the inside crook of your elbow is a great place to do it, so you don’t get germs on your hands.

Hope you remain healthy through flu season. If you do get sick, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.




How to Set Realistic Health Goals for the New Year

Each year, we express our hopes for the new year with grand resolutions, such as losing 40 pounds by summer or spending 90 minutes a day at the gym. Yet, after a month or so, those big dreams prove to be impossible to carry out.

Often times, life gets in the way, and work and activities consume your time. Discouragement sets in, followed by inaction, guilt, avoiding thinking about our goal, and eating lots of chocolate (or chips) for consolation.

Don’t be discouraged! You can set realistic, achievable goals for a more healthful life in 2018. What’s more, those targets—whether for weight loss, exercise or both—will produce results that help you look and feel better.

To set and achieve your goal, research shows it helps to follow this process.

Recognize what you need to change;

  1. Establish a goal;
  2. Begin a goal-directed activity;
  3. Track your progress;
  4. Reward yourself.

If it’s so simple, you may ask why January’s good intentions often end up discarded by March. Many goals start out being too difficult and too general. That’s a set up for failure. Here’s some things you can do to help your goal-setting be more successful:

  1. Before deciding on your goal, keep a food or exercise diary for a week to get a clear view of your current lifestyle. Every day, write down what you eat and your physical activity. Then use that snapshot of your life to choose an area to focus on. You may see that you’re spending hours on the living room couch at night or having fast-food lunches most days of the week. By looking at what you’re currently doing, you can set a goal and know where you started.
  2. Be specific and choose a precise, positive goal for a short period of time. Make it challenging enough to motivate you, without being beyond your capabilities. If you haven’t exercised in years, don’t plan on running 20 miles a week—it’ll never happen. Instead, think of your goal as, “I’ll take a walk with the dog three times this week.”
  3. Be realistic and reasonable. For instance, if you are fighting extra weight, instead of saying, “I want to drop 50 pounds,” state your goal as “I will lose one pound this week.” You’ll probably be able to meet that goal successfully, and even repeat it the following week. Remember, recommended weight loss for most people is only about one pound per week.

Realistic goals might not seem exciting, but grander plans are often self-defeating. By achieving a smaller goal, you see what you’ve done, then you can tackle the next goal.

Before starting a diet or exercise plan, it’s a good idea to check with a doctor. Please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

Ways to Lower Risk of a Heart Attack or Stroke

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States; and stroke ranks at number five. One of the biggest contributors to these statistics is a lack of commitment to a heart healthy lifestyle. Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, it’s also your responsibility. By following these simple steps, you can reduce your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

  1. Exercise a little each day

Moderate physical activity lowers your chances of a heart attack. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise that gets your heart pumping at least 5 days a week. Brisk walking or swimming are some good choices. On the other 2 days, do strength training, such as lifting weights.

If you’ve got a tight schedule, break your exercise routine into small chunks. Try a 15-minute walk in the morning and another before lunch.

  1. Set a reasonable goal for weight loss

If you’re overweight or obese, you don’t have to get thin to reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke. If you lose 5% to 10% of your weight, you’ll improve your cholesterol numbers and lower your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

  1. Take your heart medicine

Don’t skip your meds. Many people don’t take their medications the way their doctor told them to. Figure out what keeps you from taking your medicine — it could be side effects, cost, or forgetfulness — and ask your doctor for assistance.

  1. Eat Well

Fill your plate with different kinds of fruits, veggies, whole grains, fish, and lean meats. Stay away from processed or prepared foods that often are high in salt and added sugar. They’re also filled with preservatives.

  1. Drink Some Wine, but Not Too Much

If you drink red wine, it has been shown to help your heart, but use caution. Too much raises your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

To get the benefit without the risk, stop at one drink a day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a man.

  1. Eat a Little Chocolate

Go for dark chocolate, and make sure the ingredients are at least 70% cacao. It’s filled with nutrients that help protect your ticker. Keep your portions small, so you don’t gain weight and work your heart harder.

  1. Don’t Smoke

Smoking dramatically raises your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Talk to your doctor about how to quit. You’ll also be doing your friends and family a favor, since secondhand smoke can also lead to heart disease.

  1. Pay Attention to Your Symptoms

Don’t just hope they’ll go away. Call us, or call 911 in an emergency, if you feel anything unusual, like shortness of breath, changes in your heart rhythm, or extreme tiredness. Also, watch for pain in your jaw or back, nausea or vomiting, sweating, or flu-like symptoms.

If you have specific health concerns, such as those described above, please call Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 to get checked. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

How to Manage Migraines

A migraine is a headache with throbbing pain that is usually worse on one side of the head. The pain is often severe enough to hamper daily activities and may last from four hours to three days, if untreated.

If you believe you have migraines, you are not alone. More than one in 10 Americans, including one in 6 women, have migraines, but many have been told mistakenly that they have a sinus or tension headache. Foods, stress, and hormones can be migraine triggers. The tendency to get migraines runs in families. And while you can’t change your relatives, a lot of lifestyle choices determine how disabled you’ll be by a migraine and how often you’ll get one.

These tips can help.

Stick to a routine. Be as consistent as possible in your daily activities. Try and go to bed and wake up around the same time — even on the weekends. Eat your meals on a schedule and try to exercise aerobically every day for at least 20 minutes. These things will help protect you from getting migraines.

Why does routine help? If you get migraines, your brain is sensitive to environmental changes — both external, such as bright lights, and internal, like hormonal changes. Such changes tell your brain that the environment is threatening. The more predictable your lifestyle, the less likely you are to have alarms going off in your brain saying that there’s something wrong here.

Track your triggers. Not everyone has the same migraine triggers. A lot of people get migraines when they eat dark chocolate. For others it’s red wine or cheese, or being dehydrated. Flashing lights, too much stimulation, or flying can even be migraine triggers for some.

Keep a headache diary to find your triggers. Use a smartphone app or a paper diary to track your migraines. Fill it in for 1 to 3 months, recording how severe and frequent your headaches are, and what you ate or did before the migraine. After a while, you should start to notice patterns.

Do you have headaches that you think could be migraines? If you have specific health concerns, such as bad headaches, and would like to get checked, please call Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.

How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

Protein is an important nutrient–one that 60% of Americans say they want more of in their diet. This is why food labels proudly tout protein grams, magazines devote pages to ‘high protein’ picks, and people everywhere are eager to up their protein intake. Read More

How Sugar Affects Your Cholesterol

When most of us think of foods that are the worst for their cholesterol, eggs or shrimp often come to mind. But, this is a misconception! It’s not these foods that are adversely affecting your cholesterol. It’s sugar that’s the main culprit! Read More

Five Health Myths Debunked

Too many eggs are bad for your heart. Green mucus means you have an infection. You need to drink eight glasses of water a day. Being cold will give you a cold. Read More

Avoid These Five Summer Health Hazards

Summer is a season filled with long days of backyard barbecues and walks on the beach! Of course, we don’t want to spend even one of those days either sick or injured. Below are some summer hazards to watch out for, so you can stay safe, happy, and worry free all summer long. Read More

How Can I Best Protect Myself from Skin Cancer?

Summer is here! And, sunburn is a major cause of skin cancer, with 90% of melanoma are estimated to be caused by ultraviolet (UV) exposure. This includes UV exposure from the sun and from artificial sources, such as tanning beds. Read More

Fruit May Reduce Risk and Complications of Diabetes

Fresh fruit has well-known health benefits. But some experts, and some people with diabetes, question whether its high sugar content could pose risks. A large study, published in PLoS Medicine, found that eating fresh fruit may reduce the risk for developing diabetes, and the risk for its complications. Read More

Celebrating National Nutrition Month 2017

Chocolate and cake are delicious. And, despite the title of this post, there’s no reason to stop eating them. But, like with most things, moderation is key. March is the perfect month to return to a balanced diet of healthy eating! Read More

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Doctor?

You’re healthy – at least as far as you know. But if you’re like many other Americans, you see your doctor once a year just to make sure. Read More

Our Office Has Moved

Our office has moved! Our new location is conveniently located just 15 minutes away from our old Fairfax office at:

1801 Robert Fulton Drive Suite 140,

Reston, VA 20191

We Are Accepting New Patients

Please call our office at 703.876.9300. Same-day appointments are available!