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Thursday, 08 December 2022 22:55

Managing Stress During the Holidays

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Managing Stress During the Holidays

Reducing Stress

Feeling some stress in daily life is common, but it doesn't have to control your life. While we can't control feeling concern or worried, we can control how we react. The best way to deal with stress during the holidays or any time of year is to have a strategy to stay calm in the moment and understand what’s causing the stress.

There can be many causes of stress and everyone experiences it in different ways and for different reasons. But there are many stressful things most of us experience, including money and finances, work and personal relationships, health concerns and events going on locally and in the larger world.

Too Much Stress Can Be Harmful To Your Health

Stress can take a toll not just on your mind, but also your body. body, mind. Physical and psychological  symptoms can include:
  •    Headaches
  •    Stomach pain
  •    Insomia
  •    Fatigue or having low energy
  •    Feeling overwhelmed
  •    Anxiety
  •    Hopelessness
  •    Loneliness
  •    A lack of motivation
  •    An inability to maintain focus
  •    Difficulty controlling emotions
Chronic stress can also weaken your immune system, making your body more prone to catching infections. Symtoms caused by pre-existing conditions can be made worse by stress.

Reducing Stress In Your Life

Many of the side effects of stress such as lack of sleep, lack of focus and muscle pain can be alleviated by getting physical activity. Exercise improves the quality of sleep and releases endorphines that act like natural painkillers, Working out in nature can also help by providing a peaceful environment without the distractions of home or the gym.

Meditation is another effective means of reducing stress and anxiety. By being attentive to the present moment, you’re not focusing on past problems or concerns about the future. By being mindful more often you'll be more alert during daily activities that may trigger stressful feelings and be better able to respond rather than react to situations.

Breathing exercises are another helpful strategy for easing stress and anxiety.  Breathe in for a count of 5, hold for 5, and exhale for 5. Repeat until you start feeling calmer and relaxed.

Turn Off Digital Devices

It's no secret that spending hours on the phone scrolling through social media or the latest can leave you feeling anxious, unfocused and tired. Try to spend time doing activities with friends and family, volunteering and doing tasks that provide more meaningful connections.

What Are the Symptoms of Cold, Flu and COVID-19?

How To Know Which Virus You Likely Have

Cold or Flu Virus?With several different viruses circulating widely this holiday season, it can be difficult to know whether you have the common cold, the flu, or COVID-19. Generally, flu-related symptoms appear more suddenly and severely than cold symptoms.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of each virus.

Cold Syptoms

  •  Runny or stuffy nose
  •  Sore throat
  •  Sneezing
  •  Cough
  •  Fatigue
    Less common cold symptoms include a fever over 100 degrees and headache.

Flu Symptoms

  •  Fever
  •  Cough
  •  Sore throat
  •  Runny or nasal congestion
  •  Body aches
  •  Headaches
  •  Fatigue
Less common flu symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea.

COVID-19 Symptoms

One of the reasons it can be difficult to determine whether you have a COVID-19 infection is that it can lead to mild symptoms that are similar to a cold, or more severe flu-like symptoms. These are some common COVID-19 symptoms to be on the lookout for:
  •  Fever
  •  Cough
  •  Shortness of breath
Less common COVID-19 symptoms:
  •  Loss of taste and smell
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Sore throat
  •  Headache
  •  Repeated shaking with chills
  •  Muscle pain
If you think you may have a viral infection, it's important to avoid infecting others by staying home from work or school and avoiding close contact with family members. Contact your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment.

Thursday, 20 October 2022 22:51

Holiday Health Tips

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Holiday Health Tips

Holiday Health Tips

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many people. With Covid-19 variants circulating along with the flu and other viruses, it's also a time when we can be sidelined with illness. That's why it's important to take steps to keep your family as healthy as possible. Here are some tips to reduce stress and avoid illness.

1. Get Vaccinated and Take Steps to Avoid Germs

Getting your Covid booster shot and seasonal flu shot can protect you from more severe side-effects should you become infected. If you do become sick, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading viruses.

Most cold viruses are spread from hand to mouth. When traveling or out shopping and dining during the holidays, there are endless points of contact with germ covered surfaces. By carrying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and using it regularly, you can reduce the risk of catching a cold.

2. Stay Hydrated

Low humidity during the winter months makes our airways more prone to viral and bacterial infections. Flying on airplanes and traveling to high altitudes further decreases the humidity in the air. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine to prevent dehydration and respiratory system irritation.

3. Eating Healthy and Staying Active

The holidays are time when we all want to indulge a little in holiday treats. To avoid starting the new year off with extra weight and a larger clothing size. One simple way to control over your caloric intake is to use a salad plate to keep the portions smaller. A couple of small hard candy pieces will usually have fewer calories than rich cookies or cakes.

Staying active during the winter months can be a challenge. Having walking partners to keep your motivated can be a big help. Consider walking at the local mall when the weather is too cold for outdoor exercise.

4. Get Enough Sleep

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who slept at least eight hours nightly were about three times less likely to catch a cold than those who slept for less than seven hours a night. Staying rested helps your body's immune system fight off infections, reduce your stress level and improve your mood. Turning off computers and phones a couple of hours before bedtime will help you fall asleep more easily.
Friday, 30 September 2022 19:53

Who Should Have the HPV Vaccine?

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HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause multiple types of cancer, including cervical cancers later in life.  HPV is very prevalent, with around 13 million people in the U.S, including teens, becoming infected each year.

HPV vaccination has proven to be a safe, effective defense against cancer-causing HPV infections.   In fact,  since HPV vaccination was first recommended in 2006, infections with HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 88% among teen girls and 81% among young adult women. Studies have shown the vaccines provide at least 12 years of protection.

Following CDC guidelines,. it is recommended that all preteens aged 11-12 years receive two doses of HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart.  Teens and young adults who receive the vaccinations later, at ages 15 through 26 years, will need three doses of HPV vaccine. It is recommend that those with weakened immune systems aged 9 through 26 years also receive three doses.

Should Adults Older Than 26 Get the HPV Vaccine?

Because adults older than age 26 are much more likely to have already been exposed to HPV, there is less benefit provided by the vaccine. However, certain adults age 27 through 45 years who have not been vaccinated should talk with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections. There may be possible benefits to getting the vaccine.

Pregnant women and those who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to any ingredients in the HPV vaccine, or who have had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of HPV vaccine should not receive the vaccine.

What Are the Side Effects of the HPV Vaccine?

The most common side effects of HPV vaccine are usually mild and include:
  •     Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
  •     Fever
  •     Dizziness or fainting (fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents than others)
  •     Headache or feeling tired
  •     Nausea
  •     Muscle or joint pain
Most health insurance plans cover recommended vaccinations. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program also provides vaccines for children 18 years and younger who are uninsured or underinsured.

Thursday, 15 September 2022 18:02

Flu Shot Facts

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Flu Shot Facts

Flu Vaccine Facts

With the first cases of influenza being reported in the U.S., it's important to get your flu shot as soon as possible to allow your body to build immunity and reduce the risk of serious effects from the flu. It takes around 2 weeks for your body to create the antibodies that protect you against the flu virus. Adults over 65 can receive a high-dose of the vaccine to improve the immune system response.

By getting immunized you will not only protect yourself from infection and increase your immunity, you will also reduce the likelihood that the flu virus will be spread to your family and the community. Children under 5, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems are at highest risk of complications from the flu virus.

Should I Get a COVID-19 vaccine when I get my flu shot?

When the COVID-19 vaccines were first approved, it was recommended that the vaccines be given 2 weeks apart. As more research has been done, it is now considered safe to receive both vaccines at the same time.  Each vaccine is designed to build up different  antibodies in the immune system. If you have has side effects from either the influenza or COVID-19 vaccines in the past, we recommend talk to your doctor about the timing of each vaccine.

Did You Know?

It's important to get a flu shot every year. Each season's vaccine is be targeted to this year's most dominant strain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the last 50 years hundreds of millions of Americans have received the flu shot. The vaccine has proven to be safe and effective at preventing serious complications.

While getting a flu shot is not a guarantee against getting infected, and the effectiveness of the vaccine will vary from season to season, being immunized can reduce the severity and duration of the illness should you become sick from an infection.

Flu Shot Side Effects

The most common side effect of the flu shot are soreness and slight swelling at the injection site. These effects usually last no more than two days. Other mild side effects include a headache, and muscle aches.

Have questions about flu or COVID-19 vaccinations? Give us a call at 651-690-1311

Should You Take Aspirin to Prevent a Heart Attack?

Aspirin for preventing heart attack
With more a third of Americans now taking low-dose aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack it's important to understand when aspirin should be taken and what the health risks are.

How aspirin can help prevent heart attack

When bleeding occurs, cells called platelets form around the site of the wound, sealing the wound and stopping the bleeding. If the clots form in the blood vessels around the inner arteries that carry blood to the heart, it can prevent blood flow, leading to a heart attack. Aspirin interferes with the blood's clotting action, reducing the formation of platelets where bleeding is occurring.

Should you be taking a daily aspirin to prevent a heart attack or stroke?

In 2019, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released a study noting the lack of benefits for most people without known heart disease, and the potential risks of taking a daily aspirin to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

No one should begin taking aspirin at any dose without first consulting with a physician to determine their risk of cardiovascular disease. Simply having a family history of heart disease and stroke is not enough to make an informed decision and may put you at risk from complications. The potential complication from taking even a baby aspirin include cerebral hemorrhage and gastrointestinal bleeding.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that more than 1 in 10 patients in the U.S. were inappropriately prescribed aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Inappropriate use of aspiring was defined by primary cardio vascular disease prevention guidelines as use of aspirin therapy in patients with a 10-year cardiovascular disease risk of less than 6 percent.

The best way to predict whether you are at risk is to have a noninvasive CT scan of your heart to look for coronary calcium. This is considered by most experts to be the most reliable predictor of a future heart attack. The result of this scan is called a calcium score, and it reflects the amount of atherosclerotic plaque that you’ve built up in your coronary arteries over a lifetime. The higher your calcium score, the more plaque in your arteries and the greater your risk of a future heart attack or stroke.

The bottom line is that aspirin is not a magic bullet, and carries significant risk, but under certain circumstances, including preventing a second stroke or heart attack, the benefits can outweigh the risks.

While there is no magic food or pill that that will protect you against coronavirus, there are steps you can take to keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

Maintain Good Nutrition

Healthy Immune System

One of the most important ways to protect and strengthen your immune system is to eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Our immune system relies on the right mix of vitamins and minerals to protect our blood cells from infection and to aid our bodies when recovering from illness.

Vitamin C increases antibodies in the blood, so aim to increase your intake of fruit such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons and strawberries. Certain vegetables are also high in vitamin C, include brussels sprouts, red and green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Vitamin D is another important nutrient that research suggests can help the body fight infections. Foods that are a good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and sardines; eggs, fortified milk; cheese, fortified juice, tofu and mushrooms.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can stress the body and lower immunity. Most people should aim to drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water a day.  Eating fruit, vegetables and soup are another good way to stay hydrated.

Maintain Physical Activity

Maintaining regular physical activity is a one of the best way to strengthen your immune system and manage stress. Those who engage in regular exercise have a lower incidence of infection compared to inactive individuals.

If you're just starting an exercise program it's important to begin slowly and to take a day off occasionally to give your body enough time to recover.

Get Enough Sleep

To keep your immune system strong, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping for the recommended time, making up time with short naps during the day can be beneficial.

A vegan is someone who does not eat any animal by-products, including meat, poultry, game, fish or shellfish. While a vegan diet is generally viewed as the strictest form of vegetarianism,  there are several other types of vegetarians. For example,  some may avoid all animal flesh, but may consume dairy and egg products (lacto-ovo vegetarians). Others may exclude all animal products except for fish (pescatarians).

According to a 2018 Gallup poll, the number of Americans who say they are vegetarian has grown to 5% in reent years. As part of this trend, and to meet the growing demand for plant-based meals, the fast food giants have begun offering meatless version of their burgers.

For many people the move to reduce or eliminate meat from their diet is done for health reasons. Research has shown that eating more plant-based foods can lower the risk of many chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. A vegetarian diet has also been show to reduce rates of obesity.

Nutritional Factors To Consider

Plant-based diets are cholesterol free and tend to be low in saturated fat. Eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and soy products can naturally provide a high degree of important vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, when removing animal products from the menu it's important to plan carefully to avoid lowering the intake of some important nutrients. A poorly planned vegetarian diet may lack sufficient iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin D. An insufficient intake of these nutrients as well as omega-3 fatty acids and B12, can have a negative impact on your health, including mental and physical health.

If you have made the switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet,  consider having your blood nutrient levels measured. It may be necessary to eat fortified foods and supplements to ensure you are consuming sufficient levels of iron, calcium, omega-3 and vitamins D and B12.

Whether you are switching to a vegan diet or looking to restrict your consumption of meat and animal by products, careful planning is important to ensure you are receiving the right amount of essential nutrients to help you avoid any potential health problems over the long term.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020 17:35

Preventing Back Pain

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According to the Mayo Clinic, back pain sends more Americans to the doctor than nearly any other medical condition. In some cases, back pain can be debilitating, preventing people from working or performing the basic functions of daily life.

Preventing Back Pain

What Causes Back Pain?

The back area is composed of many muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones that support the body and provide for a wide range of movement. While medical conditions like osteoporosis and trauma are well-known causes of back pain, for many people back pain and muscle spasms can strike suddenly and without warming.

There are several contributing factors that can increase the likelihood of experiencing back pain, including obesity, inactivity and a poor diet. Because being overweight or obese contributes to a loss of core strength and poor posture. Getting weight under control is often the best way to relive back pain symptoms and reduce the occurrence of future back problems.

Maintaining a healthy diet is also important for preventing muscle pain. Processed foods containing high amounts of fat and suger can increase inflammation in muscles, which can cause weakness, swelling and pain. A healthy, balanced diet made up mostly of healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can reduce inflammation while also making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

Technology is also increasing rate of back and neck pain. Looking down at a phone screen for extended periods of time can cause muscle strain and discomfort. Making a conscious effort to keep your posture upright when looking at screens and limiting screen time to short intervals can reduce muscle strain.

Back Exercises

If you are experiencing back pain it's important to maintain moderate activity to any extent possible, since inactivity will weaken muscles, worsening the condition over time.

One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of back pain is to have a daily routine to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles. We recommend the Mayo Clinic's 15 minute daily back exercise routine.

Kids and Screen Time, How Much Is Too Much?

A study published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the average time that a child spends watching TV, using a computer or mobile device each day increased from 53 minutes at 12 months of age to more than 150 minutes by age 3.
The finds suggests that efforts to reduce screen time may have a better chance of success if started early.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 18 months of age. After 18 months of age screen time should be introduced slowly and limited to an hour a day for children from 2 to 5 years of age. Research has found that 87% of the children had screen time exceeding these recommendations. However, by age 7 and 8, screen time fell to under 1.5 hours per day – a decrease researchers attribute to children starting school. Children of first time mothers and children in home-based care were twice as likely to  have high screen time.

Not surprisingly as children enter their pre-teen and teen years, screen time continues to rise, with tweens logging nealy five hours of screen time per day and teens spending an average of six hours and 40 minutes in front of a screen. According to Common Sense Media (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/technology-addiction-concern-controversy-and-finding-balance-infographic), 59 percent say their kids are “addicted” to their screens, while 66 percent say their kids spend too much time on screens.

Managing Kids Screen Time

First, it's important for parents to take into account their own screen usage. It's easier to get kids to follow the rules by setting a good example. Also, understanding the side effects to too much screen time can also help find good alternatives. For example, to avoid poor sleep habits, don't allow children to have screens in the bedroom, or enforce a strict screens off time. Inactivity and obesity are also problems related to too much screen time. Involving kids in extracurricular activities like team sports can provide a healthy balance.

As screens continue to dominate our work and home lives, the line between healthy screen usage and over usage will only become more blurred. By starting kids on the right path and setting a good example we help them become healthier and happier media consumers.

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