Health and Wellness Blog

Meet the Staff: Cierra Gritzinger, CMA — Patient Care Coordinator


Cierra Gritzinger joined us at BioDesign Wellness Center in the summer of 2019, intent on completing her Medical Assistant externship. After successful competition of that important medical credential, she was invited to officially join the BioDesign team.

She soon became a Certified Phlebotomist and is currently serving as our Tampa functional medicine practice’s Patient Care Coordinator. In that position, Cierra works with both patients and our medical staff to ensure effective, organized, and seamless care. She sets up labs, orders tests, and makes sure our patients have a clear understanding about their plan of care.

We asked Cierra to tell us a little about her career and give us some personal tidbits about her life. Here is what she had to say:

BIODESIGN WELLNESS CENTER: What did you do for work before joining us at BioDesign?

CIERRA GRITZINGER: I started working in Early Childhood Education while I was in high school, and I continued doing that for about eight years. Once I had my son, I decided I didn’t want to go back to working in education. Instead, I started working at the telecommunications and mass media company Spectrum as a billing analyst. I loved working customer service, but I didn’t really feel like I was “helping” people, which is what I love to do! Someone told me about a Medical Assistant program, and I’m so happy that I just went for it, because today I am working here, and in January of 2021, I start nursing school.

BDWC: Where did you grow up and what did you want to be when you grew up?

CIERRA: I grew up in Ruskin, Fla., when it was just orange trees and tomato fields. There is so much more there now. Growing up, I always wanted to be a storm chaser with the United States Air Force, but because I could never make the weight requirements, that didn’t happen.

BDWC: Why did you choose to come to work for BioDesign? continue reading

Beating COVID-19 and Other Illnesses in Your Sleep


People often brag about how little sleep they get or need, as if that’s a good thing. While it’s true that some people can function better than others on less sleep, quality sleep enables our bodies to fight infection, repair damage, and recover from illness.

Here at BioDesign Wellness Center, we take sleep very seriously, both as a symptom of underlying dysfunction and as an essential tool for restoring optimal health and fitness. In this post, we present some of the evidence that attests to the importance of sleep in combating illnesses (including COVID-19), we highlight some additional benefits of quality sleep, and we explain how we work with our patients to ensure they’re getting the sleep they need.

Exploring the Connection Between Lack of Sleep and COVID-19

(Image courtesy of Gregory Pappas – sourced from Unsplash)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults of any age with certain underlying health conditions have an increased risk of severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. Severe illness from COVID-19 is defined as hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), intubation, mechanical ventilation, or death.

Underlying medical conditions that increase a person’s risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include the following:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Heart conditions, including heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) as a result of organ transplant
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes

In addition, the following conditions may create an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19: continue reading

Stop Losing Sleep Over Hot Flashes and Night Sweats: The Cortisol Connection


If you experience hot flashes (called night sweats when they wake you up in the middle of the night), you know how unpleasant they can be. A hot flash feels as though your internal thermostat suddenly got stuck at 100-plus degrees. Your blood vessels dilate, sending a surge of warmth through your upper body, sometimes turning your skin red and blotchy. You may sweat profusely, soaking your clothing or bedsheets and then feel a chill as your body temperature suddenly drops back down to normal.

The deep discomfort of hot flashes often interrupts sleep, leading to fatigue, irritability, and impaired thinking and memory. The sleep loss can also cause a gradual decline in overall health and well-being.

While the exact causes of hot flashes are still unknown, they seem to be related to hormonal changes that impact the brain’s thermoregulatory center, mostly in women during menopause (though men are not immune). In fact, more than 80 percent of U.S. women report hot flashes, and the majority rate them as moderate to severe. Decreasing levels of estrogen may cause the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that acts as the body’s thermostat) to become more sensitive to changes in body temperature. When the hypothalamus senses that your body is too warm, it triggers a cooldown sequence that results in a hot flash.

The Cortisol Connection

A 2015 study published in the May 2016 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism draws a connection between hot flashes and patterns in daily cortisol levels in midlife women.

In healthy adults, cortisol levels rise abruptly within 30 minutes of waking up, and then decline throughout the day. Low cortisol in the morning or throughout the day is usually a symptom of chronic illness or stress. High cortisol in the evening is often connected with continue reading

How to Keep Thanksgiving 2020 from Becoming a Turkey


It goes without saying that Thanksgiving 2020 is going to be a different animal than past turkey days, capped this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) suggestion that we should perhaps cancel this year’s holiday travel plans and large family gatherings.

All signs point to a Covid-19 resurgence this holiday season with disturbing numbers of Americans testing positive for the virus in nearly every state, including here in Florida. So, for this holiday season at least, it behooves us all to meet the challenges of protecting ourselves and our families by making health a top priority.

Here at BioDesign Wellness Center, we have several health tips for those who believe their family circle is small enough — and safe enough — for an in-person holiday gathering.

Healthy tips for Thanksgiving Day feasting

If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, bring food you can eat, so you don’t feel continue reading

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