4 Common Handwashing Mistakes

Handwashing is important to reduce the spread of infection.  We pick up infections daily by touching contaminated surfaces, then touch our hand to our mouth, nose, or eyes. There are some infections that are airborne, but most are spread through contact with the hands. According to the CDC, handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related sicknesses and about 20% of respiratory infections.

Handwashing takes on an especially important role during the winter months, so I thought I’d share with you the 4 most common handwashing mistakes that people tend to overlook.

      1. Not washing when you should
        After using the bathroom is not the only time you should be washing your hands. You should be washing them before, during, and after preparing food, after touching garbage, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
      2. Not washing long enough
        Many people tend to wash their hands for only 5 or 10 seconds but scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds is recommended. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
      3.  Not completely drying your hands
        Drying your hands is an essential part of handwashing. Germs love wet, moist areas so making sure your hands are fully dry will help prevent bacteria from spreading on your skin.
      4.  Touching germy surfaces directly after 
        If you wind up touching contaminated surfaces such as the faucet handles or door handle after handwashing, it becomes ineffective. Try using a paper towel when turning off the faucet or reaching for the door handle.

If you find yourself in a situation where there is no running water, use hand sanitizer. It doesn’t work nearly as well as soap and water, but does help.

No matter where you find yourself, good hand hygiene can protect and prevent you, your family, and others from illnesses.

 

 

3 Ways to Lower your A1C

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 84 million American adults—more than 1 out of 3—have prediabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. With November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, you can imagine why I’d want to bring attention to your A1C levels.  By lowering your A1C levels you can help reduce the risk or intensity of any diabetes complications.

For those who may not know, A1C is one of the primary blood tests used to diagnose Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and then, when diagnosed, used to gauge how well you’re managing your diabetes. The A1C test is also great for determining the likelihood that someone will develop diabetes.

Here’s how it works. Once your blood is drawn it is used to measure how much sugar is attached to the hemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. The higher the percentage, the higher your blood sugar levels, and the higher the risk of developing diabetes or an increase of complications.

There are several ways to get your A1C down. You can start by making some small adjustments to your everyday lifestyle to help you reach a healthy A1C number and avoid diabetes complications. Here’s 3 proactive changes to get you started.

  1. Create a diabetes management plan with your doctor which should include your medication list, target blood glucose levels, and a plan on how to correct low blood sugars.
  2. Track what you eat. Most foods, aside from lean proteins, contain some sugar. By learning how to balance and spread out carbohydrates evenly throughout the day, you can maintain healthy A1C levels.
  3. Get active and get others involved. It is easier to adopt to new changes if you have someone to motivate and keep you on the right path to a more active lifestyle.

It’s ok to go off track a little bit, as we’re all human, but try to be mindful as your health depends on it. To create a diabetes management plan or to discuss your A1C levels, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor.

 

Prevent a Sinus Infection—Head on

One of the most common conditions that patients seek medical care for is a sinus infection. The uncomfortable pressure, tenderness and lack of oxygen able to pass through your nose is experienced by 31 million people in the U.S., according to the American College or Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. To prevent a trip to the doctor’s office, it’s important patients understand how to prevent a sinus infection.

Sinuses are a system of connected hollow spaces in your head that link to the nasal passages via small channels. Sinus infections occur when fluid is trapped in the sinuses, interfering with drainage and causing mucus to build up, which allows germs to grow. Usually caused by a virus, to diagnosis someone with a sinus infection requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your doctor may look for nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing through your nose, and pain and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead.

Patients can take the necessary steps to prevent a sinus infection including:

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Avoid close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections
  • Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Use a clean humidifier to moisten the air at home
  • Work with your doctor to manage your allergies to keep symptoms under control

Although a doctor must examine you to determine if you have a sinus infection, most people don’t need to see a doctor. The infection, in most cases, will resolve itself within a week to 10 days. If you’re experiencing symptoms longer than 10 days, contact your doctor to get examined, as you may require additional attention.

4 Strategies for Enjoying, Not Overindulging, on Thanksgiving

Countless times we find ourselves off track from our healthy lifestyle, especially around the holidays. Tempted by so much delicious food, it can be especially hard to maintain or even introduce healthier eating and exercise habits.

To put things into perspective, a Thanksgiving meal on average will contain about 2,500 – 3,000 calories, not including the countless appetizers or snacks you had beforehand. That is about double the average of what we should be intaking in one day! Thankfully, you can still enjoy the Thanksgiving feast by following these simple tips on how to navigate the big meal.

  • Limit the carbs

This does not mean eliminate them. The key is not to have all of them in one meal and only indulging in one carb side such as macaroni and cheese, stuffing, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. Don’t deprive yourself, just be responsible.

  • Choose more vegetables

Be creative, you can make your vegetables more festive. Look for new recipes and try something different. It’s fun to experiment with food. By enjoying more vegetable dishes on your plate, you won’t miss the carbs as much. Butternut squash, and cauliflower, riced or smashed, are excellent options to replace the carbs.

  • Remember it does not have to be a one-day event

Leftovers taste even better. You can always eat one of the carb side dishes with each meal over the next 3 days after Thanksgiving. Then you’ll get a chance to taste everything without over indulging.

  • Activity is important

Eat earlier in the day, then you’ll have more time to burn off the calories. After you finish the meal, don’t just sit around. Help clean up the kitchen and go for a walk. This is another time you can be creative by planning some social activities that will get everyone involved and moving. Make it fun.

Enjoy yourself this Thanksgiving and do it in a way that you can feel great about yourself and your health.

Q&A: 10 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask Your Doctor

Something that is always talked about in Direct Care is the doctor-patient relationship. But how can patients get to know their doctor on a more personal level? Asking questions is one of the best ways to ensure you and your doctor are on the same page and a great way for you to get to know your doctor on a more personal level.

Meet Dr. Kimberly Jones-Mudd, you can call her Dr. Jones. She joined R-Health Ewing last month as a Board-certified Family Physician. You’ll find that Dr. Jones enjoys partnering with her patients to help them achieve their best health, and prefers to take a holistic approach incorporating mind, body, and spirit when creating a plan of care. But, to ensure Dr. Jones’ patients really know her, we asked 10 questions that you most likely always wanted to ask your doctor, yet never did.

 

Q: How did you end up going into medicine?

Jones: My decision to become a family medicine physician was a calling. Those who know me well will say I spoke of becoming a doctor in elementary school. I looked at other options after graduation from undergrad, but nothing gave me the same fulfillment. I feel compelled to serve others, help people lead healthy lives, and provide the assistance to help with healing when illness occurs.

 

Q: What would you be doing if you hadn’t gone into medicine?

Jones: I’d probably considered law. I was a Political Science Major.

 

Q: What job would you be terrible at?

Jones: IT, research, or anything that lacks day-to-day human interaction.

 

Q: What is one stereotype about doctors that you’d like to put to rest?

Jones: I would like people to know that not all physicians are judgemental and while we act as guides in offering care, the patient has autonomy in making decisions.

 

Q: What is your favorite TV show?

Jones: All things Hallmark. If someone were to turn on my TV at any given point, it would most likely be on the Hallmark Channel.

 

Q: What hobby would you get into if time and money weren’t an issue?

Jones: I wouldn’t call it a hobby, but I have always wanted to learn sign language.

 

Q: Do you have any pets or kids?

Jones: I have a 6-year-old daughter and a dog.

 

Q: How different was your life one year ago?

Jones: My life has been stable since my daughter was born. It just gets busier in juggling her extracurricular activities.

 

Q: What are you most likely to become famous for?

Jones: I have no desire to be famous. However, I hope when people think of me, professionally and personally, they see my desire to help others as the thing that motivates me.

 

Q: Who inspires you to be better?

Jones: My daughter, because I want to serve as a role model for her.

 

To learn more about Dr. Jones, visit https://www.r-health.md/dr-jones/.

Do I need the flu shot?

Still deciding whether you should get the flu shot? Just about everyone needs ones and it offers countless benefits.

Every year, a small needle prick can lower your risk of getting the flu while also protecting the people around you. It’s important that you get the flu shot yearly because the flu viruses are constantly changing and over time your immunity decreases.

Most people have heard of the flu but don’t know the extent of its severity. If you catch the flu it could result in hospitalization or even death. Here are some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that may encourage you to get your flu vaccination this year.

  • During the 2016–2017 season, vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.
  • A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
  • A 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59% less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent 4 fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.

It is recommended that you try to get the flu vaccine by the end of October. However, if you don’t get the vaccine by then, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  You can get vaccinated at any time throughout the flu season. But don’t wait too long, it takes 2 weeks for your body to develop immunity after you get the flu shot. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or local pharmacy and get vaccinated today.

 

Scare Safe: Best Practices for Trick-or-Treaters

When someone says Halloween, naturally what comes to mind are costumes, sweets, and of course the phrase “trick or treat.” However, safety should be part of your list.

Every year, there are an estimated 3,800 Halloween-related injuries according to Protect America. So how do we make this spooky night a little safer? Follow these best practices for before, during and after Halloween.

 

  • Before the night begins, homeowners should prepare their home and stock their candy bowls.

Be sure to remove any obstacles from the front yard, restrain any pets you may have, and make sure your house is well lit. When lighting your house, use artificial lights and candles, they are a safer alternative to real candles which can pose a fire hazard. Before putting together your candy bowl, consider providing treats that are individually wrapped or offer kids nonfood treats, such as stickers and erasers.

 

  • While Trick-or-Treating, be aware of your surroundings.

Whether you’re heading to a party or planning to walk around with your children, make sure you’re paying attention. If driving, be sure to watch out for kids crossing the street, drive slowly, and follow the rules of the road. If trick-or-treating by foot, know where you are geographically (try to stick to well-known neighborhoods), only approach houses that are well lit, and avoid taking shortcuts across backyards or alleys.

 

  • When the festivities are over, arrive home safe.

This goes for children and adults. Make sure your children don’t eat the candy they receive while out. When children return home, sort and check all treats. Throw away any unwrapped, opened, or suspicious candy. If you’re heading home from an adult party, be smart, don’t drink and drive. Use a designated driver or a ride share like Uber or Lyft to help you get home safely.

Remember, you can have a fang-tastic Halloween, just proceed with extra caution to help ensure a safe night for everyone.

 

Tips on Improving your Employee Wellness Program

Most people have heard of the term wellness program, normally thrown around the office, but for those that haven’t, wellness programs are put in place to improve and promote health and fitness.

Oftentimes, companies that offer employee wellness programs don’t know how to make them as effective as they could be. My philosophy is that these programs need to be practical as well as engaging. That’s why during National Health Education Week, I wanted to share 3 simple tips to enhance your wellness program.

1. Go smoke-free at your workplace.

Going smoke-free helps create a safer, healthier workplace by not exposing people to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. This change might also give tobacco users who want to quit more of a reason to do so.

2. Show you competitive side, create a fitness challenge.

This could be something as easy as creating teams and the team with the most steps or miles at the end of the month wins a prize. If your office is small, try doing this individually. You’ll be surprised how many people will turn this challenge into a habit.

3. Have a set kitchen area.

Having an area designated for eating is huge. By supplying a fridge and counter space for a blender or microwave allows people to store and prepare their lunch or snack versus eating out.

Have ideas on other workplace wellness programs that have worked for you? Let us know.

 

Identifying Breast Lumps: 8 Non-Cancer Causes of Breast Lumps

“Is it cancer?” is what most people think when they discover a lump in their breast. But, did you know, not all breast lumps are cancerous? In fact, the American Cancer Society reported that four out of five biopsies of breast lumps are benign, harmless and surely not breast cancer.

The more common non-cancer causes of breast lumps are:

  1. Breast cysts- a fluid-filled sac that’s usually benign
  2. Fibroadenoma- a solid, benign mass that is most common in young women
  3. Fibrocystic breasts- lumpy or rope-like breast tissue
  4. Injury or trauma to the breast
  5. Intraductal papilloma- a benign, wart-like growth in a milk duct
  6. Lipoma- a slow-growing lump made up of fatty tissue
  7. Mastitis- an infection in breast tissue that most commonly affects women who are breast-feeding
  8. Milk cyst (galactocele)- a milk-filled cyst that’s usually harmless

Knowing your body and being aware of how your breasts normally look and feel can help determine any new changes such as an increase in size or change in shape. If there are changes you are concerned about, let your doctor know. They will take more steps to find out what it is.

 

 

Top 3 Things You Should Expect from Your Doctor

Choosing a primary care doctor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Your primary care doctor essentially acts as your quarterback who helps you navigate the healthcare jungle. Without a primary care doctor, you could be putting your health and well-being at jeopardy. Why you may ask? Your primary care doctor should know your ins and outs in order to provide the best treatment option.  Whether you currently have a primary care doctor or are in the market for a new one, here’s a list of what you should expect from your primary care doctor.

  1. Someone that values your time.

No one likes to wait an hour to see the doctor for them to turn around and only take 5 minutes to review your symptoms. Primary care doctors should be active listeners and want to figure out the root of the problem rather than worry about hitting the patient quota for the day.

  1. Can give you access to them, when and where you need it.

Have you ever gone on vacation and got sick? Or not had time to see the doctor because by the time you get off work the doctor’s office is closed? Rather than turning to the ER or urgent care, you should be able to contact your primary care doctor to discuss your symptoms. That way they can point you in the right direction and help you plan your next course of action.

  1. Have a doctor-patient relationship.

With the internet available at your fingertips, and a lot of bad information out there, it’s hard to decipher what your symptoms truly mean. Sure, you could use an online “symptom checker” to figure out what your medical symptoms could mean, but this is why having a doctor-patient relationship is vital. Before Googling, your doctor should always be your first point to help figure out what your symptoms mean and to guide you through your options. So as a patient, use your doctor as a resource and continue to build on your relationship because having an open two-way communication and full trust in your doctor is really the key to good health.

So, when it comes to choosing your primary care doctor, be picky. After all, this is your health.