Category Archives: Parish Nurse

Stay Safe in the Heat

We can get overwhelmed by heat. Certain factors increase the risk. Anyone can be affected by a heat-related illness. But it is more common in infants, young children, older adults and people who have chronic health conditions or when outdoor temperatures and humidity levels rise. The good news is, there are ways families can prevent these illnesses. <!–split–>

  • Never leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute! Vehicles heat up fast, even on cool or cloudy days.
  • Check weather reports regularly. Watch the temperatures and the heat index. Watch for heat warnings and advisories.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear clothing that is loose, lightweight and light colored. This will absorb less heat and allow sweat to evaporate better.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other sugar free fluids, even if you aren’t thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Provide plenty of water for pets too.
  • Limit outdoor activities. Avoid strenuous activities, including exercise, during the hottest part of the day (usually between 10 AM and 4 PM)
  • Prevent sunburn. Getting a sunburn can make it harder for the body to stay cool. Keep babies under 6 months of age out of the sun. For older children and adults, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher any time you go outdoors. Wear a hat and sunglasses too.
  • Keep your home cool. Use air conditioning if you have it. Otherwise, use fans to keep air circulating in your home.
  • Seek relief. If you do not have air conditioning, spend a few hours a day somewhere that does. For example, go to a local mall, library, senior center or cooling station.
  • Check on loved ones and neighbors. Older adults and people with health conditions are often more sensitive to the heat. When it’s warm out, check in regularly with any family members, friends or neighbors who fall into one of these groups.
  • Be alert for signs of heat-related illness. Heat cramps – heavy sweating and painful muscle cramps or spasms. Heat exhaustion – heavy sweating, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and cool, pale skin. Heat stroke – very high body temperature, hot red skin, confusion, fast pulse, dizziness, throbbing headache, shallow breathing, seizures and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency!
  • Medical help. Any symptoms of heat stroke require immediate medical treatment. Call 9-1-1 or your emergency number right away!
  • Get medical help if the person has high blood pressure or heart problems, symptoms do not improve within 1 hour, symptoms worsen.

Have fun and stay safe this summer! Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Taking a Break for the Health of It

There are times in our lives when we need to take a mental health break.  This is my month to do just that by sharing a pre-written article from Laura Brown, RN, Parish Nurse.

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being and mental illnesses are common and treatable.  So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally, it’s important to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to recovery. <!–split–>

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  It can also help people recover from these conditions.  For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health.  When dealing with dueling diagnoses, focusing on both physical and mental health concerns can be daunting but critically important in achieving overall wellness.

There are things you can do that may help.  Finding a reason to laugh, going for a walk with a friend, meditating, playing with a pet or working from home once a week can go a long way in making you both physically and mentally healthy.  The company of animals, whether as pets or service animals, can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to recover from illnesses.  A pet can be a source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives.  And whether you go to church,  meditate daily or simply find time to enjoy that cup of tea each morning while checking in with yourself, it can be important to connect with your spiritual side in order to find that mind-body connection.

It’s important for everyone to know that mental illnesses are real and recovery is always the goal.  Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.  Finding the balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life, physical health and mental health, can help you on the path towards focusing on wholeness of body, mind and spirit.

For more information, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may 

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Food Label Reading

Step 1: Serving Size

Look at the serving size and servings per container. All of the information below is related to the portion for 1 serving.  Looking at the example, if you eat 10 crackers you should multiply all of the nutritional information by 2 because a serving size is 5 crackers.              <!–split–>

Step 2: Calories

As a general rule, your meals should range from 300-600 calories and snacks should be between 100-150 calories.  Looking at the example, 10 crackers would be 160 calories.

Step 3: % Daily Value

The %DV is the percentage of the listed nutrition information that you should consume daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet. This calorie level is not right for everyone so be sure to calculate what is best for you.

Step 4: Fat Total

Fat includes harmful and beneficial fats. Saturated fat and trans fat are the harmful fats. Aim for no more than 3 grams of saturated fat and 0 grams of trans fat per meal.

Step 5: Cholesterol Dietary

Cholesterol is found only in animal fats. Consume 300 mg or less per day. Step 6: Sodium Table salt = sodium chloride. Consume less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. One teaspoon of salt is equal to 2,300 mg sodium. When comparing food  labels, try to choose foods with 140 mg of sodium or less.

Step 7: Total Carbohydrate

Total carbohydrate includes sugar, fiber and starch. Almost all carbohydrate is formed into glucose (sugar) during digestion, which can accumulate in the blood in someone with diabetes. One serving of carbohydrate (or “carb choice”) is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate. When reading a label, divide the grams of total carbohydrate by 15 to know how many carb choices you are eating in ONE serving of that product. Be sure to multiply that number by the number of servings you may be consuming. People with diabetes should try to eat no more than 45-60 grams or 3-4 carb choices at a meal.

Step 8: Fiber

A good source of dietary fiber contains 3 or more grams per serving. Try to get 25-35 grams of fiber per day.

Step 9: Protein

A good source of protein is 4 grams or more. If it is less than 4 grams, you should add another source of protein to your meal.

Step 10: Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are listed at the bottom of the label. They may be naturally occurring or added to the food.

Step 11: Ingredients

Ingredients are found alongside the nutrition facts. The ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest.

—  Kara Ade, Parish Nurse

VAPING

Vaping is the act of inhaling vapor produced by a vaporizer or electronic cigarette containing a liquid, concentrate or dry herb that is vaporized to form an aerosol mist.  Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices used to inhale a liquid solution, which typically contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals.  They can resemble traditional cigarettes, cigars, pipes or even everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks.  <!–split–>

Most e-cigarettes consist of four different components, including: a cartridge or reservoir, which holds the liquid solution (e-liquid or e-juice), a heating element (atomizer), a power source (usually a battery), and a mouthpiece.  In many  e-cigarettes, puffing activates the battery-powered heating device, which vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge.  The person then inhales the resulting aerosol or vapor (called vaping).  The nicotine in e-liquids readily absorbs into the bloodstream stimulating the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline).  Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate.  As with most addictive substances, nicotine increases levels of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine, which affects parts of the brain that control reward.  The more nicotine a person uses, the greater the potential for addiction.

E-cigarette use also exposes the lungs to a variety of chemicals, including those added to e-liquids, and others produced during the heating/vaporizing process.  Studies have found ingredients used in antifreeze and formaldehyde.  Others have found high levels of nickel and chromium as well as low levels of cadmium, a toxic  metal found in cigarette smoke that can cause breathing problems and lung disease.

Researchers also found that the liquid in e-cigarettes may contain artificial flavorings that, while safe to  ingest, are toxic to inhale.  This chemical, called diacetyl, is found in as much as 75% of e-cigarettes and is linked  to a disease referred to as “popcorn lung” or bronchiolitis obliterans.

The teen years are critical for brain development, which continues into young adulthood.  Nicotine affects the development of the brain’s reward system, so continued e-cigarette use can not only lead to nicotine addiction, but can also make other drugs more appealing to teens.  Nicotine also affects the development of brain circuits that control attention and learning.  Other risks include mood disorders and permanent problems with impulse control.

  • More than 2 million middle and high school students use e-cigs.
  • 16.2% of 12th graders in the U.S. report e-cigarette use in the past month.
  • 66% of teens who report using e-cigarettes say they smoke just flavoring, not nicotine.

Nicotine levels in e-cigarettes are often mislabeled.  Studies show wide-ranging nicotine levels in e-cigarettes and inconsistencies between the listed and actual nicotine levels in these products.  Contrary to popular belief, the FDA hasn’t found e-cigarettes to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit.  Instead of quitting, many e-cigarette users continue to use e-cigarettes while still smoking conventional cigarettes.

                                                                Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

Sources:  National Institutes on Drug Abuse, American Lung Association, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Milwaukee  Journal Sentinel               

7 Spiritual Practices for the New Year

Cultivating our faith life is an important part of wellness. Here are a few ways to gain new perspective of yourself, others and God throughout the year.  <!–split–>

  • Try praying at different times during the day. You may notice that you pray differently at different times of the day.
  • Laughter and rejoicing need to be a part of our faith life. Think of something funny that has happened, and thank God for giving us humor in our lives.
  • Loving yourself is the first step in “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Spend a few minutes writing about what it means to love yourself. Remember that God loves you.
  • Meditation or listening is a part of our faith life that we often neglect. Consider taking 5 minutes to sit quietly and breathe. Try to quiet your inner voice and just listen.
  • Go for a prayerful walk and remember that all of creation belongs to God, though it can be easy to forget that. The air you breathe and the ground you walk on belong to God.
  • Pray a movement prayer. Stretch out your arms. Touch your toes. Stretch your neck. Feel the brilliance in God’s creation and the way that your body is put together.
  • Thankfulness comes in a variety of forms. Each day make a list of everything that you encounter for which you are thankful. At the end of the day, incorporate the list into a prayer.

Visit Church Health Reader for more healthy flyers: chreader.org

Happy New Year from Your Parish Nurse,    Kara

COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a serious lung disease that, over time, makes it hard to breathe. COPD is used to describe a variety of lung diseases, including, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. An estimated 24 million people have COPD today, but about half do not realize it. <!–split–>

Many people mistake shortness of breath as a normal part of aging or a result of being out of shape, but that is not necessarily the case. COPD develops slowly, so symptoms may not be obvious until damage has occurred. Common symptoms include an ongoing cough, a cough that produces a lot of mucus, shortness of breath (especially during physical activity), wheezing and chest tightness.

Those most at risk are smokers, former smokers over the age of 40 and people who have had long-term exposure to other lung irritants like secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes and dust. Additionally, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic condition known as AAT deficiency, can increase the risk of developing COPD.

If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, you need to get tested by your doctor. Spirometry is a simple breathing test that your doctor can use to tell if you have COPD and, if so, how severe it is. Early screening can also identify COPD before major loss of lung function occurs.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD. However, if you do indeed have COPD, you need to know that there are things you can do to help manage symptoms and protect your lungs from further damage, including:

  • Quit smoking: If you smoke, the best thing you can do to prevent more damage to your lungs is to quit. To get help, the National Cancer Institute offers a number of smoking cessation resources at gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. You can also ask your doctor about prescription anti-smoking drugs that can help reduce nicotine cravings.
  • Avoid air pollutants: Stay away from things that could irritate your lungs like dust, allergens and strong fumes. Also, to help improve your air quality at home, you can remove dust-collecting clutter, keep carpets clean, run an exhaust fan when using smelly cleaning products, bug sprays or paint, ban smoking indoors and keep windows closed when outdoor air pollution is high (see govfor daily air-quality reports).
  • Guard against flu: The flu can cause serious problems for people who have COPD, so you should get a flu shot every fall and wash and sanitize your hands frequently to avoid getting sick. You can also ask your doctor about getting the pneumococcal immunizations for protection against pneumonia.
  • Take prescribed medications: Bronchodilators (taken with an inhaler) are commonly used for COPD. They help relax the airway muscles to make breathing easier. Depending on how severe your condition, you may need a short-acting version to use only when symptoms occur or a long-acting prescription for daily use. Inhaled steroids may also help decrease inflammation, reduce mucus and prevent flare-ups.

For more information, visit the COPD Foundation at copdfoundation.org or call the COPD information line at 866-316-2673.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book.

Nurse’s Notes — August Is Back To School Month

T’was the night before school started,

When all through the town,

The parents were cheering.

It was a riotous sound!

By eight, kids were washed

And tucked into bed…

When memories of homework…filled them with dread!

New pencils, new folders, new notebooks, too!

New teachers, new friends…their anxiety grew!

The parents just giggled when they learned of this fright

And shouted upstairs-…

GO TO BED-IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT!     Author unknown

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When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights.

But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag.

The Many Benefits of Exercise

Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Kids who are active will:

Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better. They’re also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.

The Three Elements of Fitness

If you’ve ever watched kids on a playground, you’ve seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:

  1. run away from the kid who’s “it” (endurance)
  2. cross the monkey bars (strength)
  3. bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility)

Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.

http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/exercise.html?WT.ac=p-ra#catstaying-fit

Artificial Sweeteners May Actually Cause You to Gain Weight

If you think switching to artificial sweeteners will help with weight loss, you may want to put down that diet soda for a moment.   A new meta-analysis published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that artificial sweeteners may be associated with an increased risk of obesity, long-term weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Artificial sweeteners include stevia, sucralose, and aspartame. <!–split–>

Researchers from the University of Manitoba reviewed 37 studies involving 400,000 people for an average of 10 years. Seven of these studies were randomized controlled trials that followed 1,003 people for an average of six months. Researchers said the seven trials failed to show a consistent link between artificial sweeteners and weight loss. The longer-term studies actually showed a higher risk of health problems. “Most people consuming artificial sweeteners do so assuming these products will help them avoid weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Yet we are seeing the opposite association from multiple studies,” Meghan Azad, PhD, told Healthline. Azad is the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.”  “Based on all of the research done so far, there’s no clear evidence for a long-term benefit (of using artificial sweeteners). But there is evidence of potential harm from the long-term consumption of artificial sweeteners,” she said.  Too much sugar  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people in the United States consume too much added sugar.                                                                                                                                                                      These are sugars that are added to foods and beverages when they’re processed or prepared. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit or milk are not considered added sugars. Both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend people should keep their sugar intake to less than 10 percent of their total daily calories.  For a 2,000-calorie diet, for example, only 200 calories should come from added sugars.  “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA MyPlate recommend people choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners,” Lauri Wright, PhD, assistant professor in public health at the University of South Florida, told Healthline. “In excess, sugar can contribute to nutritional deficiencies by supplying calories without providing vitamins and minerals. Excess sugar can also cause tooth decay and contribute to obesity, heart disease, and poor control of diabetes. Additionally, sugar causes inflammation, which worsens arthritis and is bad for blood vessels,” she said. Be aware of the consequences Azad said it’s important that consumers are aware of the risks of both sugar and artificial sweetener consumption. “Sugar is receiving a lot of attention lately as a major cause of these conditions. It’s important to study ‘sugar substitutes’ in parallel, to understand their impact on the same conditions. If we don’t do this, consumers may (understandably) assume that artificial sweeteners are a healthy choice — but this may not be true. Reducing consumption of sugar and artificially sweetened products in general is likely a good strategy,” she said.

Azad added that more research is needed to understand the long-term health impact of artificial sweeteners.  “This is especially important given the widespread and increasing consumption of artificial sweeteners in the general population, and the increasing use of artificial sweeteners in our food supply. Over 40 percent of adult Americans consume NNS (non-nutritive sweeteners) on a daily basis,” she said.  Artificial sweeteners are everywhere  Azad noted that studies have also found that some people are exposed to artificial sweeteners without even realizing it. Blood and urine samples taken from people who reported not consuming artificial sweeteners still found traces of the product. “This should inspire consumers to think about whether they want to be consuming artificial sweeteners, especially on a regular basis. We don’t know if they’re a truly harmless alternative to sugar,” Azad said. So which is the better option for weight loss? Artificial sweeteners or regular sugars?  Wright says it’s not as simple as switching from one product to another. “Weight loss is very complicated. It’s not realistic to think that sugar substitutes alone will result in significant weight loss,” she said. She advises that those who want to lose weight should work with a registered dietician. A dietician can help identify lifestyle changes that need to be made and develop strategies to support those changes. “Switching to sugar substitutes may be one strategy, but alone it will probably not have as great an impact,” she said.

Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

Nurse’s Notes: Take Changes in Stride – 6 Tips for Healthy Transitions

Periods of transition or significant change in your life, whether the death of a loved one, a loss of a job, a divorce, or adjusting to an empty nest, can take a toll on physical, mental and spiritual health.  It’s important to take changes in stride and do your best to keep your health and attitude up even when you feel down.  Here are some tips for coping with change. <!–split–>

ACCEPTANCE   The first step for coping with any change is to fully accept it.  Many times it is already out of your control, so accept that fact, and move forward.

POSITIVITY   Try to visualize the positive aspects of the change.  Transitions happen for a reason, and many times change challenges us in ways that may make us uncomfortable but can strengthen us if we let it.

HONESTY   Take time to honest with yourself and reflect on your emotions but do not let them control you.

GOOD VIBES   Do your best to surround yourself with people who want the best for you and can help feed your positivity and boost your self-esteem.  Being around others with optimistic attitudes can greatly influence your own.

VULNERABILITY   Let yourself be vulnerable and ask for help when you need it.  Realize that you’re not the only one who has faced these obstacles, and seek out those who have had similar experiences and come out on top.

LETTING GO   The most important step of accepting and embracing change is to let go of the past.  Letting go does not mean banishing it or forgetting it ever existed, but make a conscious effort to let the past be the past.  The future is always unfolding, and dwelling on the past does little to help ride that wave.  Keep yourself present in the present!

Lastly, ALLOW YOURSELF TIME   Transitions take time to adjust to and everyone I different and needs a different amount of time.  Don’t worry that you aren’t transitioning properly because it is taking you a different amount of time than it took someone else.  Everyone is different.

— taken from “Church Health”

 Your Parish Nurse,  Kara

Wells4Wellness 2018 Walk For Clean Water

This walk is a community-based and family-oriented, 6-week walking program where we (and you!) live. It involves people throughout the U.S. and the world. It’s not just one day, one place. For more information, please visit the website at www.well4wellness.com. <!–split–>

The walk not only improves your health but also brings the people of Niger, Africa access to fresh clean water. Our goal is to raise $35,000 for 5 wells in 2018. Participants solicit pledges and walk between March 11th and April 22nd. If you would like to donate, place your donations in the offering plate on Sunday and mark it “Wells”.

Bethel Wesley will again be participating as a team. Please join us as we help to make water clean for everyone!  Those participating in the walking team, please be sure to call, email or text your miles in to Kara.  Last year Bethel Wesley’s participation helped build 5 new wells in Niger, Africa.  Think how many people have clean water now and so many children are able to go to school now instead of spending their day walking to haul water!  You are awesome!.  Come join our team!

Your Parish Nurse, Kara