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Viewing posts from: February 2016

Kids Health: Preventing Frostbite

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frostbite Kids love playing outside in the snow, but did you know they are also more susceptible than adults to getting frostbite than adults? Especially in these chilly winter conditions. Kids can lose heat from their skin more rapidly and are often reluctant to leave their winter fun to go inside and warm up. Frostbite 101 Frostbite is, literally, frozen body tissue — usually the skin, but sometimes deeper tissue. It must be managed carefully to prevent permanent tissue damage. The varying degrees of frostbite are based on how deep the tissue injury goes. Mild cases affect a superficial area of the skin, while the most severe cases can go all the way down to the muscle and bone. The areas most prone to frostbite are the head, face, ears, hands, and feet. Frostbite needs medical attention from a health care provider. To help prevent frostbite in cold weather consider the following tips:

  • Stay updated on weather forecasts. If it's extremely cold, even brief exposure to cold can cause frostbite
  • Dress kids in layered warm clothes and use hats, gloves, scarves, thick socks, and well-insulated boots to cover body parts that are most prone to frostbite. Inner clothing layers that absorb moisture and outermost layers that are windproof and waterproof are helpful
  • Make sure kids come indoors regularly to warm up
  • Change kids out of wet clothing or shoes as soon as possible
  • Watch for “frostnip”, frostbite's early warning sign
  • If you're planning travel to a remote area, make sure you have proper supplies in case of emergencies and let family or friends know your travel plans
  • Take a first-aid and CPR class to help learn what to do in emergency situations

Tips to ease arthritis and joint pain in the winter.

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Old hands Is the winter chill may be leaving your joints a bit achy? Does your arthritis feel like it’s worse than ever? Whether this joint pain/weather connection is scientifically true or not, you can still use these arthritis pain-relief tips when your aching joints act up in winter. Dress Warm! If it’s cold outside, keep aching hands warm with gloves, and add extra layers over knees and legs. Layer. Layer. Layer. It's important to wear several layers to enable you to control your comfort level when temperatures shift dramatically during the day. Consider wearing a few pairs of gloves that you can peel them off, one by one, as needed. Hydrate Drinking more water. Even mild dehydration might make you more sensitive to pain, so hydration and activity is key! Lose Weight Not only will weight off your joints help, but the physical activity with losing weight has shown successful results in reducing inflammation in joints. Additionally, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, studies have shown significant improvement people with knee arthritis can get from weight loss, from diet, and exercise. Exercise Inside While it's understandable to want to avoid winter chill, people with joint pain should still stay active. The less sedentary you are, the better your physical function. Come up with an indoor exercise plan such as treadmill or elliptical work or consider something like walking at the mall. Let Warm Water Comfort You Swimming in a heated pool is both great exercise and soothing to joints. You can also get relief from warm baths, just don’t go right out into the cold after your soak. Let your body temperature normalize a bit first. Supplement Vitamin D Studies report that low levels of vitamin D have been shown to play a role in how sensitive you are to arthritis pain. Being deficient in vitamin D also raises the risk for osteoporosis. You're less likely to get enough vitamin D from its natural source, sunlight, in the winter, so talk to your doctor about your need for supplements or vitamin D-fortified foods. Get a Massage Yes, you a great reason to indulge yourself and get a massage. Pain often emanates from the joint and some from the muscles around the joint. Getting an hour-long massage once a week for at least eight weeks was shown to reduce pain. Talk to your doctor about additional ways you can ease your joint pain this cold winter season.

Feeling the winter blues? It could be Seasonal Affective Disorder

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SAD Short days, less sunlight, winter. Feeling a little down? Well you aren’t the only one. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually in winter. Otherwise known as seasonal depression, SAD can affect your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels, taking a toll on all aspects of your life from your relationships and social life to work, school, and your sense of self-worth. You may feel like a completely different person to and much different thank you feel in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. While a less common form of the disorder causes depression during the summer months, SAD usually begins in fall or winter when the days become shorter and remains until the brighter days of spring or early summer. Tip #1: Get as much natural sunlight as possible—it's free! Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun without wearing sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun). Take a short walk outdoors, have your coffee outside if you can stay warm enough. And increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows. Tip #2: Exercise regularly—it can be as effective as medication Regular exercise is a powerful way to fight seasonal depression, especially if you’re able to exercise outside in natural daylight. Regular exercise can boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Exercise can also help to improve your sleep and boost your self-esteem. Tip #3: Reach out to family and friends—and let them help Close relationships are vital in reducing isolation and helping you manage SAD. Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. It may feel more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will boost your mood. Even if you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect or start new relationships. Tip #4: Eat the right diet Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. Tip #5: Take steps to deal with stress—by making time for fun Whatever the time of year, too much stress can exacerbate or even trigger depression. Figure out the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload or unsupportive relationships, and make a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact. Practicing daily relaxation techniques can help you manage stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. And make sure to do something you enjoy every day. Having fun is a great stress buster, so make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be painting, playing the piano, working on your car, or simply hanging out with friends. If you’re feeling down due to the winter blues, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your mood.

What is the Zika Virus?

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Aedes aegypti It’s the top healthcare news story right now-- Zika virus. But do you know what Zika virus really is? The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection. It is related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the Western Hemisphere until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil. Until now, almost no one on this side of the world had been infected. Few of us have immune defenses against the virus, so it is spreading rapidly. Millions of people in tropical regions of the Americas may now have been infected. Yet for most, the infection causes no symptoms and leads to no lasting harm. Scientific concern is focused on women who become infected while pregnant and those who develop a temporary form of paralysis after exposure to the Zika virus. Ask your doctor if you are at risk for Zika virus. And take a look at the CDC website for more information about the virus.  

Football Injuries: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

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football-brain With the Broncos big Super Bowl win, football is everywhere right now. But, from a healthcare standpoint, football or other sports related brain injuries are a hot news topic, specifically Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). What Is CTE and why is it a topic of discussion? The condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was formerly believed to exist primarily among boxers, and was referred to as dementia pugilistica. It is a progressive degenerative disease which afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports, members of the military and others - and has been seen in a lot of professional football players as they age. CTE is a condition of brain damage which persists over a period of years or decades and which is the result of traumatic impacts to the cranium. The brain of an individual who suffers from CTE gradually deteriorates and will over time end up losing mass. Certain areas of the brain are particularly liable to atrophy, though other areas are prone to becoming enlarged. Another aspect of CTE is that some areas of the brain experience an accumulation of tau protein, a substance which serves to stabilize cellular structure in the neurons but which may become defective and subsequently may cause major interference with the function of the neurons. Have you suffered a few too many concussions or have additional questions? Talk to your doctor about your risks.