Building a Campfire or Bonfire? Read This First!

The temperature has dropped and that crisp autumn breeze has blown into Nashville. As the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, many Nashvillians will light up the fire pit! Whether you’re going camping at Fall Creek Falls or just enjoying a warm fire in your own backyard, be sure to follow these guidelines for your own health and safety!

Health & Safety Guide for Campfires & Bonfires

  • Check the county’s policy on fires and burn bans before making a fire.
  • Never use gasoline or any flammable that is not exclusively intended for fire-starting purposes.
  • Build your fire away from fences, trees, and overhead items (string lights, telephone wires, etc.).
  • Only burn dry material, as damp wood causes excess smoke.
  • As a general rule, a fire should be distanced at least 5x its height from the nearest structure. For example, a fire burning four-feet tall should be at least 20 feet away from your home.
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case the flames get out of control.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Closely supervise children around a fire.
  • Anything that goes into the fire stays in the fire.
  • Store extra wood upwind of the fire.

First Aid for Burns

Accidents happen. If a burn does occur, follow this first aid guide.

Option #1 – At-Home Care. Many first-degree burns can be treated at home with basic first aid practices. Follow these steps.

  1. Stop the burning.
  2. Remove any clothing or jewelry in the area.
  3. Cool the burn by running cool (not cold) water over the skin until pain diminishes.
  4. Protect the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive cloth or bandage.
  5. Use over-the-counter pain relievers.

See your Nashville doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group if pain and redness lasts several hours or more, if the burn produces a large burn blister, or if you notice any signs of infection (such as swelling, oozing, fever, worsening pain).

Option #2 – Call 911. Certain types of burns require emergency care. This includes burns that…

  • Sear through multiple layers of skin.
  • Are on the hands, feet, face or genitals.
  • Cause leathery, charred, white, black, or brown marks on the skin.

Always call 911 if the burn victim is an infant or senior.

St. Thomas Medical Group: Partners In Your Health

At St. Thomas Medical Group, primary care physicians partner with patients throughout Nashville with a common goal: better health. To learn more about how you can better care for yourself and your family, schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group. You can schedule online or by calling +1 (615) 297-2700.

Who Should Get Screened for Breast Cancer?

From the supermarket shelves to the TV commercials, you’re probably well aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While funding research and learning more about this cancer is important for both men and women, perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself by getting screened!

This month, doctors at Nashville’s St. Thomas Medical Group are encouraging women ages 40 and older to get their annual screening mammograms. (See below for details. Talk to your doctor to learn more about screening recommendations based on your personal and family history).

Breast Cancer Facts

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)…

  • “Breast cancer accounts for 30% of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in women.”
  • “In the United States, a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 12% (one in eight).”
  • “It is estimated that 252,710 new cases of breast cancer, resulting in 40,610 deaths, will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2017.”

While these are sobering facts, there is good news. Breast cancer mortality rates have plummeted significantly in the last half-century. For example, while women had a five-year survival rate of 75% in 1975, the current five-year survival rate is 90%.


This major step forward can largely be attributed to earlier detection and better treatments. Early detection is key when it comes to breast cancer, which is why physicians at St. Thomas Medical Group encourage the following breast cancer screening recommendations.

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

The American Cancer Society offers the following breast cancer screening recommendations:

  • Women age 40-44: Consider beginning annual breast cancer screening with mammogram.
  • Women age 45-54: Annual mammograms recommended.
  • Women 55+: Continue annual screening or switch to every other year. This practice should continue for as long as a woman is in good health and expects to live 10 years or more.
  • All women: Talk to your doctor to learn more about the benefits, limitations and potential harms associated with routine screening mammography.

Get Screened at St. Thomas Medical Group

To schedule your next screening mammogram, contact St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 297-2700.

Warning Signs to Look for In Your Child’s Health

We all want the best for our kids, right? But between soccer practice, homework, extracurriculars, and everything else that fills up the calendar, it can be difficult to monitor our children’s health. With busy family schedules and a variety of commitments, many kids are eating out on-the-go and fending for themselves in many areas of health.

This fall, St. Thomas Medical Group’s Children & Adult providers are encouraging parents to take notice of warning signs in their children’s health. From eating right to getting a good night’s sleep, let’s look at some common health warning signs among children…

Warning Signs of Poor Sleep Quality

Sleep is critically important for young, developing bodies and minds. Eight to 10 hours of sleep per night is a standard recommendation for healthy children and adolescents. Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising. Warning signs that your child may not be getting enough quality sleep:

  • Use of phones, tablets, TV or other screen devices during the hour leading up to bedtime.
  • Engaging in risky behavior may be correlated with sleep deprivation. For example, one study found, “Teens with sleep problems were 55 percent more likely to have used alcohol in the past month in comparison to teens who didn’t report any sleep problems.”
  • Mood swings, irritability, and difficulty in concentrating can be signs of poor sleep quality.

Social Warning Signs

It can be impossibly frustrating to figure out, at times, what’s really going on at school. Is your child being bullied? Depressed? Struggling with a learning disorder that hasn’t been recognized by her teachers or doctors? Some common behavioral health warning sings include:

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities

Nutrition Warning Signs

In the U.S., nearly one in five children between the ages of six and 19 are obese. “Empty calories” like added sugars and fats account for nearly 40% of the calories consumed by two- to 18-year-olds, reports the National Institutes of Health. Warning signs your child may not be getting a balanced, healthy diet include:

  • Lack of family meal time.
  • Reliance on fast food and highly processed foods.
  • Irregular meal times (or lack of regular meals altogether).

See a Doctor in Nashville at St. Thomas Medical Group

If you’re concerned about your child’s health, you can always schedule an appointment with a provider at St. Thomas Medical Group by calling +1 (615) 301-7040. You can also make your child’s appointment online (new and returning patients) at your convenience. We look forward to partnering with you and your child in better health!

6 Ways to Get Rid of Acid Reflux

Heartburn can be extremely uncomfortable. Worse, chronic heartburn could even put you at risk of Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer. If you suffer from heartburn, the gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group are here for you. Learn more about acid reflux management techniques below…

What Is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a condition that occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) fails to close properly after you swallow food or liquid. When the LES relaxes abnormally or becomes weak, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest. Chronic acid reflux is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Symptoms of acid reflux and GERD include:

  • Burning sensation in the chest (sometimes accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth)
  • Chest pain
  • Lumpy feeling in the throat
  • Regurgitation
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat or hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing

Learn more about acid reflux and GERD.

Techniques for Managing Acid Reflux

There are several things you can do to reduce acid reflux symptoms. Following these guidelines may even help eliminate symptoms entirely. Talk to your Nashville gastrointestinal specialist at St. Thomas Medical Group to learn more about the lifestyle changes that may be most appropriate for managing your acid reflux.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. One study found that women who gained 10-20 pounds had a 3x increase in heartburn symptoms. Losing even just a few pounds (if overweight) may help reduce your symptoms.
  2. Avoid food/drink triggers. Fatty and fried foods, garlic, onion, mint, tomato sauce, alcohol and caffeine can trigger acid reflux.
  3. Eat smaller portions. Large meals fill the stomach, causing more pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter.
  4. Don’t lie down after eating. Eat dinner earlier or purchase a wedge-shaped pillow to prop yourself up if you must lie down after eating.
  5. Don’t smoke. Smoking can contribute to acid reflux symptoms. If you do smoke, talk to your doctor at St. Thomas Medical Group about quitting.
  6. Monitor symptoms with a journal. Keep a journal that records what you eat and drink, as well as when you experience heartburn symptoms. By keeping records, you and your physician may be able to identify avoidable triggers.

Upper Endoscopy for GERD Treatment

In some cases, your gastroenterologist may recommend an upper endoscopy for diagnosing and treating GERD. During this procedure, frequently performed at our Gastroenterology Endoscopy Center, a small flexible endoscope is inserted through the mouth to explore and gather images of the upper digestive tract. Patients are sedated during this procedure, which can take five to twenty minutes to complete.

Learn more about upper endoscopy, pricing, and outcomes.

See a Gastrointestinal Specialist In Nashville

Meet our gastroenterologists at St. Thomas Medical Group. For scheduling information, please call +1 (615) 297-2700. You can also request an appointment online.