Posts

Cervical Health Awareness

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to raise awareness on how to protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STIs) in the United States, affecting nearly 80% of women, at least once in their lifetime. According to WomensHealth.gov, though most cases don’t show any symptoms, and usually goes away on its own, if it doesn’t, HPV can lead to:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Other genital cancers (e.g. cancers of the vulva, anus, penis, etc.)
  • Oropharyngeal cancer (i.e. cancer of the back of the throat, affecting tongue and tonsils)
  • Genital warts

However, there is good news. With HPV vaccine shots, regular screenings, and follow-up care, HPV and cervical cancer can often be prevented. This is one of the many reasons why a yearly well-woman visit is important. Other ways to prevent HPV and the risk of cervical cancer include:

  • Get tested – make sure you are your partner are tested for STIs
  • Use condoms – condoms have been linked to lower cervical cancer rates
  • Limit your number of sexual partners – your risk increases with the number of partners you have

As parents, it’s important to understand the benefits of the HPV vaccines, and have them administered to your children, both boys and girls. Though encouraged to get the vaccine during the pre-teen years, teens and young adults are still able to receive the vaccine (boys – up to age 21; girls – up to age 26).

R-Health gives our members access to vaccines right in the office. If you want to learn more about the HPV vaccine, or want more tips to prevent cervical cancer, call your local R-Health office to get started.

Why Weight?

Weight loss is always about what is on the end of your fork – it’s about what you are eating.  Exercise is extremely important to stay healthy, but it is a much smaller player in the weight loss journey.  Patients often express frustration with their progress because they feel that they have been going to the gym, or otherwise working out, and not losing weight.  The reason that they are not losing weight is that they are missing the most important piece, which is changing how much they eat and what they eat.

Slow weight loss is always best – 1-2 pounds weekly.  That is the kind of loss that will be maintained.  Rapid loss usually results in rapid gain that often surpasses initial starting weight.

Try to eat within a 12-hour window – begin about 30 minutes after getting up, and complete the last meal about 12 hours later.  People often get into trouble with nibbling after dinner or during the night.

Weigh or measure all food – many people incorrectly estimate how much they are eating.  And, keep track of what you are eating, a convenient app is called “MyFitnessPal.” In fact, I have had patients lose up to 60 pounds in just this way!

Instead of beverages with sugar or artificial sweeteners, make spa water – Fill up a container with water, and add in fruits/veggies/herbs and let sit overnight.  Some of our patients have enjoyed combos like:

  • Cucumbers and fresh mint
  • Ginger and lemon
  • Frozen peaches/strawberries

For healthy snacks, consider:

  • A cheese stick and ½ piece of fruit
  • A small handful of nuts and ½ piece of fruit
  • A small container of hummus or guacamole (individual serving sizes are available at the grocery store) with veggies
  • A 3 ounce can of tuna spread on a rice cake

These are just a few of the countless methods by which you can lose weight. For tips and much more feedback, visit your R-Health doctor and develop the plan that works for you.

Time to Stick With It

Like clockwork, every year around this time there’s a lot to wrap up – holiday gifts, end of year vacations, or another popular one, New Year’s Resolutions. Thinking about setting your own New Year’s resolution?  Here are some tips to help you set and achieve yours!  What makes a goal more attainable is accountability and proper planning, and HealthAdvocate helps focus on the latter by sharing a few steps that make your health resolutions achievable.

  • Choose something that interests you – Having a clear focus can help drive you towards reaching your goals
  • Choose your resolution as a long-term goal – There’s no quick fix for a long-term plan. Time allows you to better manage your goals, which ultimately brings more success
  • Think simple – Choose something that challenges you, but not taxing that it burdens you
  • Compare your 2018 resolutions with previous years’ – Learn from your mistakes and what worked well to better position yourself moving forward
  • Recognize it may take longer than a year – Some goals take longer to accomplish, but every step towards your resolution is one in the right direction

Breaking down your goals into small pieces can help make large goals more obtainable and more important in your daily life.  For example, if your goal is to lose 20lbs over the course of the year, that cheese steak seems less harmful, than if your goal is to lose 1 lb. that week.  You also get to celebrate more victories along the way!   The American Psychological Association shared these quick tips on how to persevere.

  1. Start small – Whether it’s losing 2 pounds a month, or drinking an extra glass of water a day, starting small makes your resolutions easier to keep
  2. Change one behavior at a time – Healthy behaviors take time to develop, don’t rush
  3. Don’t beat yourself up – Everyday won’t be a win, but make sure to continue your pursuit even when you stumble
  4. Ask for support – Share you experiences and find an outlet that helps support and push you to carry on

Attaining better health, is a common New Year resolution.  Maybe it’s through better food, exercise, improved sleep habits, stress management or a combination.  Maybe it’s finally getting a colonoscopy. Whatever it is, you can always reach out to your R-Health doctor and develop plan to make and meet your 2018 health goals. If you want, get a head start, fill out this worksheet to help you think about why the goal is important to you, what might be barriers and solutions to achieving your goal and bring it along.

Finally, don’t hesitate to share.  We can all learn from one another.  Visit our Facebook page and share your trials and successes during your journey.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat!

The little things. It’s always the little things that are often overlooked, but can carry the most importance. Fresh air. Cold pillows. A good breakfast. Washing your hands. Few have the impact of the latter.

Washing your hands is one of the most important steps to not only protecting your own health, but also prevention of germ spread and other bacteria to others. This week is National Handwashing Awareness Week, and with the flu and many other sicknesses very prevalent during this time, now is as good a time as any to discuss the importance of handwashing, and how it’s relative to prevention.

For a little context on how important this topic is, here are a few facts, courtesy of the CDC, related to handwashing:

  • Washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths by up to 50%
  • Handwashing can reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16%
  • A large percentage of foodborne disease outbreaks are spread by contaminated hands, which could be greatly reduced by handwashing.
  • The use of alcohol gel hand sanitizer in classrooms can result in upwards of 20% reduction in absenteeism due to infection.
  • Reducing the number of infections through handwashing may help prevent the overuse of antibiotics (and eventual antibiotic resistance) often prescribed for these health issues.

Looking for more reasons why handwashing is important? Look no further than the main culprit of sickness: germs.  As the CDC describes, feces is a main source of germs, like Salmonella and E.coli that spread many respiratory infections such as, hand-foot-mouth disease and adenovirus to name a few. These germs get onto your hands a variety of ways, including:

  • After toilet use
  • Changing diapers
  • Blowing your nose
  • Handling raw meat
  • Taking out garbage
  • Petting animals
  • Caring for sick people

These are common, everyday activities that people do, yet if people don’t take the initiative to wash their hands, germs will stay on the surface of your hands for hours. With frequent touching of the body (i.e. touching eyes, nose, and mouth) coupled with germ pile up on your hand surface, it gets you sick, and even worse, it transfers to other objects that will get others sick.

So, what can you do? Wash your hands multiple times throughout the day and follow standard handwashing techniques:

  1. Wet – Wet your hands with clean water, then apply soap
  2. Lather – Rub your hands together with the soap, making sure to get the back of your hands, between fingers, and under the fingernails
  3. Scrub – Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  4. Rinse
  5. Dry – Air dry or use a clean towel
  6. *Tip* For public restrooms, shut the faucet off with a paper towel, and use your shoulder (or another towel on the knob) to open the door

If you’re not near a sink, hand sanitizer is a great substitute. However, if your hands are visible dirty and greasy, this will not be as effective in eliminating the high number of germs. It’s also important to note to avoid the use of antibacterial soap, due to the dangers of triclosan. As the Mayo Clinic describes, although triclosan is an active ingredient in making some soaps antibacterial, excess use can cause small amounts to be absorbed by the skin, which may lead to a damaged immune system and/or antibiotic resistance.

In closing, sometimes it’s the little things that have big impact. Don’t risk getting sick, especially during peak flu season, by not washing your hands. Your R-Health doctor hand-washes every time they see you, so take the lead and follow suit. Or use our R-Health hand sanitizer.

The Battle of Arthritis

There’s an old myth that’s gone for decades about joint pain and weather predictability. Does pain in your knee or ankle really mean a storm is soon approaching? While there’s no scientific evidence of this, there have been links between seasonal change and arthritic pain.

Arthritis is a way of referring to joint pain or joint disease, and there are over 100 different types and related conditions; the main two being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America, affecting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children, of all ages, sexes, and races. Some of the common symptoms associated with arthritis include the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion

Per the Mayo Clinic, there are multiple risk factors associated with arthritis that may make one more susceptible to the symptoms. For example:

  • Family History
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Previous joint injury
  • Obesity

Since we’re amid a seasonal turnover, it’s important we focus on how change may affect the experience of those with arthritis. Although symptoms come and go, varying in intensity from person to person, Joint Essential identified seasonal factors that may impact arthritic pain.

  • Exposure or intensity of sun-rays – A study conducted showed intensity and frequency of pain attacks decreases during warm weather months.
  • High vapor pressure – High pressure of water vapors have a positive effect on arthritis symptoms. A person may be more likely to experience disturbing symptoms on rainy days than dry ones.
  • Temperature change – Extreme temperatures (freezing winter days, or excessive heat warning summers) can aggravate the intensity of symptoms.
  • Changes in air-pressure – This can lead to flaring of symptoms of arthritis. High barometric pressure pushes against the body and doesn’t allow tissue to expand, causing severe pain and swelling.

Humidity, precipitation, and even wind speed may also play a factor in arthritis pain, however, Joint Essential also highlighted ways to manage pain during weather change. The following are suggestions:

  1. Learning root cause – It’s imperative to know which type of arthritis you have. However, what’s even more important is understanding the root cause of your symptoms and how to deal with them, or distract yourself from them.
  1. Home exercising/gym training – Spring and summer months are known for increased hours of physical activity, and thus helps with steady circulation of the joints.
  1. Hydrotherapy – Excellent for alleviating joint swelling and edema in patients with flaring episodes of arthritis.
  1. Keeping warm – Although there is a lot more sun to absorb during the spring and summer months, there are times you’re indoors with an air conditioner blasting. It’s important to adjust the room temperature to your comfort level to ease symptoms.
  1. Massage therapy – Similarly to exercising, massages help with circulation across joint surfaces. You can enjoy massages in any season, but if that’s not a preferred method, there’s also physical therapy, acupuncture, or yoga.

While everyone is affected differently throughout seasonal change, it’s important to take preventative measures so your joints and tissues aren’t damaged, and your ability to function and perform day-to-day operations isn’t endangered. Reach out to your R-Health doctor to discuss your symptoms, and follow us for more helpful health and wellness tips.