There are ways of preventing heart disease at any age, and it is never too late to start! February has Valentine’s Day, but it is also a time to be good to our heart in other ways.
Make Healthy Eating Chooses
In the everyday choices you make try to find items low in: saturated fats, trans fats and sodium. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes (examples are: peas, beans, soybeans, lentils, and peanuts) and seeds. When doing dairy, try lower fat choices and poultry without the skin, and reduce red meat consumption to once a week or less.
Be sure to Participate in Physical Activity
You can slowly work up to at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (brisk walking) every week or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity ( jogging, running) or a combination of both every week. Learn the American Heart Association's Guidelines for Physical Activity in Adults and in Kids (American Heart Association, 2017a).
It is the time of year again when folks are overly stressed and pay more attention to preparing for the upcoming holidays rather than taking care of their health. A few simple things may help to prevent coming down with the dreaded cold or flu.
5 Simple Ways to Dodge a Cold or Flu
Ok I know, sounds simple…children learn this in preschool. But the fact remains is it one of the simplest and most proactive ways to avoid getting and spreading a cold or flu. Use soap, rub your hands together vigorously and “Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, Hum the Happy Birthday song from beginning to end twice” (CDC, 2015, para. 3). Do this and do it OFTEN!
Flu Vaccine/Pneumonia Vaccine
Here is what the Flu (influenza) vaccine does.
Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. (CDC, 2016a, para. 2)
There are special considerations for those younger than 6 months and those with certain allergies.
The pneumonia vaccine is vitally important for certain age groups. There are 2 types of pneumonia vaccines. Here is what is recommended by the CDC (2016b),
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for all babies and children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for all adults 65 years or older; people 2 through 64 years old who are at increased risk for disease due to certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes. (para. 2)
More water should be consumed in the winter then even the hotter times of the year. When we do not keep hydrated in the winter these things may occur; exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination, and more susceptible to colds and flu.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 11-16 cups of fluids each day for adult men and women, with children and adolescents needing 9 -14 cups (Michigan State University Extension, 2014, para. 4).
Getting Enough Sleep
Getting run down and not getting enough sleep can happen easily during the busy holiday season. The National Sleep Foundation (2015) recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. And children and teens need even more (para. 10). Making sleep a priority is as important as the activities we make a priority while awake.
It can be the natural inclination in the cold winter months to hibernate like bears, but it is more important to keep moving. University of South Carolina researchers discovered that men who got in 2 hours a day of moderate activity (the equivalent of walking briskly, climbing stairs) were 35% less likely to catch a cold. And while the weather might be frightful, walking inside at a mall or indoor track will keep you healthier and won’t hurt in chasing away colds and the winter blues!
The key is taking care of you, follow these 5 steps and they may keep those nasty cold and flu illnesses from ruining your winter activities!
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2015). Handwashing: Clean hands save lives. Retrieved
Centered for Disease Control (CDC). (2016a). Facts about seasonal flu vaccines. Retrieved from
Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2016b). Vaccines and preventable diseases. Retrieved from
Michigan State University Extension. (2014). Is your body staying hydrated this winter?
National Sleep Foundation. (2015). National sleep foundation recommends new sleep times.
Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-
The human body is usually good at maintaining its ideal temperature of 37°C. At any time of year and in various circumstances, the body produces heat from muscle use and prevents overheating by sweating. In extreme temperatures however, when the air is as hot or hotter than the body, the cooling mechanisms don't work. When the body can no longer cool itself properly, a number of heat-related health problems may occur.
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are the most serious health illnesses caused by hot environments, and a real danger to people who work outside in the summer. Without immediate medical attention, heat stroke can be fatal. In previous years, people have died at work of heat stroke in occupations ranging from agriculture workers to football players. Heat exhaustion and fainting are other less harmful heat-related health risks that can cause temporary illness.
Know the warning signs
Heat stroke victims usually don't recognize their own symptoms. Their survival therefore depends on their co-workers' abilities to detect symptoms and seek first aid and medical help immediately.
While the symptoms vary from person to person, they include dry, hot skin (due to failure to sweat), a body temperature often exceeding 41°C, and complete or partial loss of consciousness.
Signs of heat exhaustion (caused by loss of body water through excessive sweating) include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, visual disturbances, intense thirst, nausea, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, breathlessness, palpitations, tingling and numbness of the hands and feet.
How to prevent health problems from overheatingAvoid sun exposure. Move some tasks indoors or into the shade. When that's not possible, erect a temporary shelter. Take frequent breaks in a cool or well-ventilated area to get out of the sun and heat.
Don't be afraid to sweat. Sweating is the body's most effective cooling mechanism. The cooling occurs as sweat evaporates. In some cases a fan can be used to move cool air into a room and help keep body temperatures down.
Become acclimatized. Don't take on strenuous activities too soon if you're not accustomed to the heat. It can take six to seven days for the body to fully adapt (or acclimatize) to a new thermal environment. Ease into your tasks gradually, taking frequent breaks from the heat as needed. It is advisable to assign about half of the normal workload to new employees or those back from vacations or illnesses on the first day of work and gradually increase day by day.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water - frequently (equivalent of about one litre every hour) - in hot weather conditions whether you feel thirsty or not to replace the fluid loss. Avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you.
Clothing. For protection from the sun and heat when working outside, cover up as much as possible with loose-fitting clothes made of a light fabric that "breathes". When you work in the sun without a shirt or hat, the sun dries your sweat too quickly and prevents it from cooling the body. Clothes give sweat a chance to cool the body, and help protect the skin from the sun's harmful rays.
Emergency Action Plan. An emergency plan should include procedures for providing affected workers with first aid and medical care. Workplaces where heat stress can occur should monitor conditions and ensure that workers get specified rest periods dependent on the measured heat levels. The Threshold Limit Values for Heat Stress and Strain, produced by the ACGIH (American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) offers guidelines to determine when the weather should have no effect on outdoor workers, when caution should be exercised and when work should be discontinued.
By Patricia Singer
Children today want a cell phone and a tablet. As a parent you feel obliged to get them one. How are they going to keep up with their friends? They insist that “all of their friends have one!” How can you use yours if your kids are on them all the time? So we give in. We give them the phones and the tablets and now they spend their entire days on these devices. Do you check what your kids are doing on these devices? Do you monitor who they are talking to and what apps they are using?
Stuff happens all the time on the internet, social media and apps , and it is not all fun and games. There is bullying. There is sexting. There are predators disguised as cute boys or girls. You need to take charge and know what your kids are doing on their phones. Of course they are going to roll their eyes and tell you that you are invading their privacy but you need to monitor what they are doing NOW! They will thank you one day.
Here are five apps that you need to monitor on your children’s phones. Make sure you know all their passwords, know who they are talking to. Before your children downloads an app be sure to check it out. A good resource to check apps is Bewebsmart.com. Now onto the list.
Snapchat is a video messaging application. Users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps, from 1 to 10 seconds, after which Snapchat claims they will be deleted from the company's servers. Snapchat makes it very easy for your children to connect with others using a phone number, username or location. Kids think it is safe to send mean, rude, obnoxious or sexual photos or videos because they will be deleted. What they are finding out is that screen captures can be taken of these things and shared with others. They need to learn that what is posted on the internet, stays on the internet!
Tinder is a location-based dating and social discovery application that facilitates communication between mutually interested users, allowing matched users to chat and potentially hook-up. You need to join Tinder through Facebook with a profile of a person over the age of 18, but as every kid knows, you can just go in and make your birthday whatever you want on Facebook. Kids would be dealing with people well over their age as well as predators, scammers and creeps.
Whisper is an anonymous social networking app. Users post confessions and secrets, either fact or fiction, by super imposing text on a picture. Whisper’s unique selling point is that it is completely anonymous. Users are suppose to be over 17 years of age. The downside to Whisper is that is based on geographic location, once again alerting people who, may want to take advantage of your child or bully them, know exactly where they are.
Kik is an instant messenger app that lets you connect with friends, groups, and the world around you through chat. This app is used almost exclusively by kids. Special Agent Michael Bowman of the Virginia State Police High Tech Crimes Division states that the only adults using Kik were predators trolling for their next victim. What will happen is that a predator will make contact with a teen using another form of social media like Facebook or Twitter and ask them to take their conversations over to the less monitored, less secure Kik. Also, kids will use Kik for “sexting”, which is the sending or receiving of sexually explicit messages.
Yik Yak is an app that allows people pseudo-anonymously to create and view discussion threads within a 5-mile radius. These discussions are called “yaks”. Originally designed for college campuses, it is becoming more popular with the younger set. Yakkers can post anonymous messages that will be seen by all users in a general vicinity. Not just nice messages but also cruel, untruthful, unkind, and downright mean messages aimed at a certain person. The perfect platform for bullies everywhere, leaving some user to defend themselves and restore their reputation.
Phew. Scary stuff. There are also app lockers which will hide apps on a phone as well as an app called Smart Hide Calculator . The Smart Hide Calculator’s icon looks like a regular calculator app but it hides the apps that your kids don’t want you to see. Of course not all kids are bad, bullies or mean and rotten, but you, as a parent, need to make sure that your children are safe using any form of electronic device. Always be open to conversations with your kids. Let them know you are trying to protect them. You may end up being the most despised parent in your neighborhood but your children will be safer for it. Stick to your guns and monitor your child’s activity!
Patricia Singer is the owner of Follow Me Social Media Consulting. She works with individuals, small and mid-sized businesses, helping them navigate and market using the numerous social media platforms. www.BestToFollowMe.com
Supplies You Should Have Before a Snow Storm:
1. Keep your kids safe and healthy.
Get involved with your kids’ activities at home and at school to help ensure they are safe and healthy.
2. Take steps to prevent the flu.
The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year in the fall. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often. Stay home if you get sick.
3. Get smart about antibiotics.
Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections, but not viral infections. The common cold and the flu are viral infections, so avoid using antibiotics if you have one of these. Using antibiotics when
they are not needed causes some bacteria to become resistant
to the antibiotic, and therefore stronger and harder to kill. See your doctor or nurse to find out if your illness is bacterial or viral.
4. Have a safe and healthy Halloween.
Make Halloween festivities fun,
safe, and healthy for trick-or-treaters and party guests.
5. Test and replace batteries.
Check or replace carbon monoxide batteries twice a year when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Replace smoke alarm alkaline batteries at least once a year. Test alarms every month to ensure they work properly.
6. Keep food safe.
Food is center stage during the holidays. Be sure to keep it safe by following basic food safety steps. Clean hands and surfaces often. Separate foods
to avoid cross-contamination. Cook to proper temperatures. Chill promptly.
7. Learn your family history.
National Family History Day is observed on Thanksgiving Day. Over the holiday or at another family gathering, talk about and write down the health conditions that run in your family. Learning about your family’s health history can help you take steps to ensure a longer, healthier future together.
8. Be prepared for cold weather.
Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious health problems. Infants and the elderly are
particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. Know how to prevent health problems and what to do if
a cold-weather emergency arises. Remember that using space heaters and fireplaces can increase the
risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
9. Don’t drink and drive.
Alcohol use impairs skills needed to drive a car safely. It slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination. Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes kill someone every 31 minutes and non-fatally injure someone every two minutes. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let others drink and drive.
10. Wash your hands.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. It’s best to wash your hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, use alcohol-based hand rubs.
For more information, visit:
Getting a sunburn is a very bad idea. It looks bad, hurts, peels and inflicts long-lasting, wrinkle-inducing damage. It's especially bad for children: Even one blistering burn may double their lifetime risk of melanoma, a serious skin cancer. And it's totally preventable (with sunscreen, shade and clothing). But mistakes happen. So here are five ways to ease the pain and maybe, just maybe, limit the damage...
If you feel the tale-tell tingling of a burn or see any sign of skin reddening on yourself or your child, get out of the sun and start treatment. "Sunburn tends to sneak up on us. It can take four to six hours for the symptoms to develop," says Barton Schmitt, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Colorado and author of a new book, My Child Is Sick! Expert Advice for Managing Common Illnesses and Injuries, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. So a touch of pink at the beach could turn into a big problem later.
After a cool shower or bath, slather on a moisturizing cream or lotion to soothe the skin. Repeat frequently to make peeling and flaking less noticeable. And consider a product containing vitamin C and vitamin E: It might help limit skin damage (though studies have not proved that), says Shawn Allen, a dermatologist in Boulder, Colo., and spokesman for The Skin Cancer Foundation. It's also OK to use a hydrocortisone cream for a day or two to relieve discomfort, Allen says. Not OK: scrubbing, picking or peeling your skin or breaking blisters.
Any burn draws fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body. So drink extra water, juice and sports drinks for a couple of days and watch for signs of dehydration: Dry mouth, thirst, reduced urination, headache, dizziness and sleepiness. Children are especially vulnerable, so check with a doctor if they appear ill.
Take (or give your child) a dose of ibuprofen (for example, Advil) as soon as you see signs of sunburn and keep it up for the next 48 hours, Schmitt advises. "It cuts back on the swelling and redness that is going to occur" and might prevent some long-term skin damage. "It's not just treating the symptoms; it's treating the severity of the symptoms." Acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) will treat the pain, but does not have the same anti-inflammatory effect.
Most sunburns, even those that cause a few blisters, can be treated at home. But if a blistering burn covers 20% or more of the body (a child's whole back), seek medical attention, Allen says. Anyone with a sunburn who is suffering fevers and chills should also seek medical help, he says. Finally: Consider the burn a warning that your sun-safety net has failed and vow to do better. That means using sunscreen, covering up with clothing and hats and avoiding the sun as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Allergies, such as hay fever, can make you feel awful. Allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose can affect your life at work, home, or in any situation.
So how can you get a handle on allergies and use strategies that can ease your misery? First, find out what’s causing your symptoms. A visit to your family doctor or an allergist may be the place to start.
A doctor will likely gather a health history, discuss your signs and symptoms, and the way you treat your allergies. Then, you may have a physical exam to discover more about your symptoms. Ultimately, you may be asked to take a skin prick or an allergy blood test.
During a skin prick test, small amounts of material that may trigger allergies are pricked into the skin of your arm or upper back. You’ll then be monitored for an allergic reaction, which is usually a raised bump on your skin.
An allergy blood test (the radioallergosorbent test or RAST) – measures the immune system's response to specific allergens. A blood sample is sent to a laboratory, where the RAST test can be performed.
If tests determine your allergies are not too severe, over-the-counter medications may be enough to help. However, if you have several allergies occurring simultaneously, or if the symptoms are more severe, prescription medications may be recommended.
Some medications that may be recommended to treat hay fever and allergies include:
· Prescription nasal sprays called nasal corticosteroids that can help prevent and treat nasal inflammation, itching and runny nose. These are a safe, long-term treatment for most people.
· Antihistamines can help with itching, sneezing and runny nose. Newer oral antihistamines, usually in pill form, are less likely to make people drowsy.
· Decongestants can ease your stuffiness. These medications are available over-the-counter or by prescription. There may be some side effects with oral decongestants, though, and you should not use over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays for more than two or three days at a time; that can worsen symptoms.
· A prescription tablet called a leukotriene modifier (known by the brand name, Singulair) may be taken to block your immune system from causing symptoms. This medicine has proven effective in treating allergy-induced asthma and may be used when nasal sprays can't be tolerated, or when mild asthma is present.
Allergy shots may also be recommended as a complement or replacement to medications. You may receive regular injections containing tiny amounts of allergens over the course of three to five years. These shots help get your body used to allergens that cause symptoms. Shots may be very effective against cat dander, dust mites, or pollen. These injections may also help prevent the development of asthma in children.
Whether you’re being treated for allergies or are simply trying to cope with them, you can do some things to reduce your exposure to allergens:
· Close doors and windows during pollen season.
· Use air conditioning in your house and car.
· Use an allergy-grade filter in the ventilation system.
· Avoid outdoor activity in early morning when pollen counts are highest.
· Stay indoors on dry, windy days.
· Avoid mowing the lawn or raking leaves.
· Use allergy-proof covers on mattresses, box springs and pillows.
· Wash sheets and blankets in hot water at least 130 degrees F.
· Vacuum carpets weekly with a vacuum cleaner that has a small-particle (HEPA) filter.
· Consider removing carpeting especially where you sleep.
· Bathe pets weekly.
· Keep pets out of the bedroom.
More information about allergies and treatment is available on the Mayo Clinic Website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/basics/definition/con-20020827 or the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Website, http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/rhinitis.aspx.
Ever hear the saying, “a laugh a day keeps the doctor away”? Okay, maybe it was an apple, but research shows the same may be true for laughter.
When you laugh, stress hormones like Cortisol, decrease. When elevated, Cortisol can cause serious health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. It can even affect your memory and weaken your immune system. And something else happens while you’re laughing away those stress hormones. Cells that help fight off viruses and disease, increase. Laughter may really be the best medicine.
The benefits of laughter don’t stop there. Here are a few more:
· Increases vascular blood flow. By reviving blood circulation and increasing oxygenation of the blood, a hearty “hardy-har-har” may be a powerful ally in the fight against heart disease.
· It’s actually a work out! According to research, laughing 100 times is equivalent to 15 minutes on a stationary bike. Hey, maybe you really can laugh your – behind off.
· Exercises face muscles. Worried about those wrinkles, Baby Boomers? Laughing works out approximately 30 facial muscles. Ever laugh so hard your cheeks hurt? Exactly.
· Pain relief. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, feel-good chemicals that promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter therapy is on the rise. Hospitals have used it for decades. Remember “Patch Adams”? And recently, “Laughter Yoga” has become a popular way to cope with stress. But you don’t need to attend a class to laugh. You can watch silly animal videos on YouTube, treat a funny friend to lunch or laugh in the car on your way to work.
So prescribe yourself some laughter. What a fun, natural way to improve both your physical and mental health!
A word of warning though, laughter is contagious.
Stacey Krout Minor, PhD(c), MSN, RN