It's time for your 11-year-old son's annual check-up with his primary care provider. His annual check-up has covered the same things since he was a baby: In what percentile is his height and weight? Has he had his annual flu shot? Has he been getting regular eye exams? One of the last things a parent of an 11-year-old boy expects to be asked is "Do you want him to get his HPV vaccine?" It's a shocking question to say the least, whether you're the parent of a preteen boy or a girl. It's easy to dismiss the question itself as inappropriate and decline the vaccine. But parents should re-consider such a knee-jerk response. With January being Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, it's important to consider that cervical cancer is more than just a women's-only affliction. Some forms of HPV lead to cervical cancer, and everybody can play a role in preventing it, and that includes parents of pre-teen children. Why is my preteen offered the HPV vaccine? HPV, or the human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually-transmitted infection. According to the American Sexual Health Association, 14 million new cases of HPV occur each year in the United States, and over a lifetime, nine out of 10 people are infected with some form of HPV. But you may ask, "why does this matter to my preteen, especially if I have a preteen boy?" First of all, both males and females can contract HPV. Secondly, the facts state that some forms of HPV lead to cervical cancer, and reducing HPV cases help lower the incidence of cervical cancer. In clinical trials administered from 2004-06 to women aged 16-26 from 33 countries, the HPV vaccine was shown to be almost 100% effective in preventing cell abnormalities in the cervix caused by cancer-causing forms of HPV. These cell abnormalities potentially lead to cervical cancer later in life. Again, why does this matter to parents of preteens? It's been found that the vaccine works best if given before sexual activity begins, which has led doctors to recommend vaccination for every 11 and 12-year-old. Children are recommended to receive their first HPV vaccine at 11 or 12 years of age, then receive a second dose six to 12 months later. The taboo of the HPV vaccine - and how to overcome it Doctors in the United States understand vaccines related to sexual activity, especially vaccines offered to preteens, may shock and frighten some parents. As is the case with most vaccines, parents are not required to vaccinate their children for HPV, whether its for moral reasons or an opposite to vaccination in general. However, according to the World Health Organization, the vaccine is safe, it does not lead to increased sexual activity in young teens, and itself does not cause HPV. While it may be uncomfortable to think that our preteen will eventually become sexually active, the science is ironclad regarding the connection between HPV and cervical cancer. No matter whether you have a male or female preteen child, the HPV vaccine can help save a life. When your child is due for their next annual exam, ask your doctor about the HPV vaccine. Picture Designed by Freepik
You were supposed to work hard all month in an attempt to change your lifestyle, trying to eat right and exercise on a regular basis. But a few weeks into the New Year, that goal already seems to have failed. It’s easy to blame things like lack of willpower or general laziness (not to mention just how darn good cookies are), but maybe your relationship with food and exercise wasn’t the culprit. While this post doesn’t intend to send families into marriage counseling, it’s worth considering that a lack of support from spouses, parents, children and other family members made it difficult to impossible to sustain your lifestyle change. That may have been one thing missing from your would-be transformation - you didn’t develop any strategies to motivate your family to be health-conscious as well. The culture of a healthy family You’ve spend all weekend planning out the yummy, healthy meals you’ll eat this week. But the family has no interest in eating what you’re eating, so you find yourself making two dinners every night - one for yourself, and another for them, theirs including all manner of salt, fats and sugars. Who can look at their low-calorie, healthy meal and not salivate when seeing that burger across the table? It’s a near impossible situation, and eliminating that temptation will go a long way toward keeping your lifestyle transformation chugging along. Here are some helpful tips: ● Try new foods together: Even though your family isn’t too keen on changing their diets, it’s a safe bet that they enjoy food. While not everybody is an “adventurous eater” willing to try new things, everybody enjoys a fun twist on dinner. Try adopting the concept microbreweries use for beer “flights,” except make “flights” of healthy bites of new recipes. Dress it up, presenting each member of the family with a labelled plate showing the name of each food item. They try everything, and if they don’t like it, it’s all part of the experience. Before long, you’ll stumble across new staples for your family dinners. ● A family game of “Iron Chef”: The popular Food Network competition show, “The Iron Chef,” pits cooks against one another, each given a list of ingredients and asked to make a dish using all the ingredients. Take that idea, only using healthy ingredients, and give them the same rules to cook something. For kids, it’s a great opportunity to be introduced to healthy cooking while also learning about healthy options. Let’s be honest, what they come up with might not be edible, but the whole point is to make healthy food a fun experience. ● Pre- or post-dinner walks: Getting off the couch and trying to run a mile isn’t a fair expectation. But getting off the couch for a walk around the neighborhood before or after dinner? That’s an easier sell. Have the whole family take a stroll around the neighborhood for 30 minutes. It won’t take much convincing, not to mention that it’s a great way to talk with your family, and it has the added benefit of unplugging from technology. Don’t expect too much Are you going on a keto diet or a Paleo plan, and want your family to join you? Diving into Crossfit as your go-to exercise plan? Those might be tall orders, as such a restrictive diet or intense exercise routine isn’t for everybody. If you want your family all-in, pick a health and fitness plan together. It’s recommended that you speak to your doctor before starting a new diet, and maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have your family join you for that conversation. Designed by senivpetro / Freepik
It seems that every month or two, stories hit the news about food recalls. In the United States in 2019, extremely-localized recalls of beef, chicken, spinach, hummus, lettuce and other items have impacted our supermarkets, and sometimes were responsible for items leaving shelved. It may feel like it's almost too difficult to even keep up on what foods you should avoid in your supermarket, and what foods are safe. But, put in the simplest terms, various food recalls exist because the foods caused varying levels of food poisoning, ranging from the extreme in cases of e.coli and listeria outbreaks, to more minor cases of intestinal distress. Instead of trying to get ahead of any food safety issues in supermarkets, focus your efforts on understanding foodborne illnesses, how you get them and how popular terminology confuses what foodborne illnesses actually are. To get to the bottom of foodborne illnesses, you have to understand what the dreaded "stomach flu" is all about. "Stomach flu" isn't really a "flu" "There's a bug going around." It's a statement we hear all the time when multiple friends and family seem to get ill at once. Sometimes, the "bug" is influenza, commonly known as "the flu," which is a contagious respiratory infection that creates symptoms like fever, coughing and sore throat. But other times, people describe the "bug" as a "stomach flu." Words are deceiving, though. "Stomach flu" isn't a medical diagnosis at all. The symptoms that make you say "I have the stomach flu" are unrelated to the seasonal influenza virus, even though they are similar. What we call the "stomach flu" is actually gastroenteritis, which is a viral or bacterial infection that inflames the gastrointestinal tract and causes symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. Under the umbrella of gastroenteritis are some of those other common terms we throw around, such as "food poisoning." What causes gastroenteritis? When those telltale symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, cramping, nausea, and fever come on strong, there is an explanation as to why you're suddenly taking up permanent residency in your bathroom. Firstly, similar to the seasonal flu, you could simply come down with a viral infection that caused gastroenteritis. In children, the rotavirus is usually the culprit, causing most instances of vomiting and diarrhea in children. In adults, it's often the norovirus, which has received a lot of press after outbreaks in Colorado school districts and on cruise ships. If it's not a contagious viral infection, though, foodborne illness, commonly known as "food poisoning," is likely the culprit. Understanding "food poisoning" Somebody might say, "I think I have the stomach flu. But it's no big deal. It's probably just food poisoning." However, it could be a big deal. "Food poisoning" is another one of those terms we use to broadly describe any number of foodborne illnesses that are included under the umbrella of gastroenteritis. Those include bacteria and parasites. The culprits of many food outbreaks, such as E.coli, salmonella, and listeria, are examples of bacteria and parasites that create "stomach flu" symptoms. It's those bacteria and parasites that have the potential to cause the most harm. Eating tainted food can create gastroenteritis symptoms as early as one hour later, or at late as 10 days later. If you are showing signs of dehydration, cannot hold down liquids, have a fever or are experiencing severe abdominal pain, err on the side of caution and call a doctor. Picture Designed by Freepik
A hot-button topic in the news the past few months has dealt with the usage of e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” especially among teens. Over the past few years, the negative health effects of vaping have prompted health care professionals to recommend that individuals quit using e-cigarettes. In Canada, Jan. 19 through Jan. 25 is their “National Non-Smoking Week,” and it’s a good chance for us down south to reflect on the harms of smoking, especially with the arrival of e-cigarettes into our lives over the past decade. Answering all the dangers of smoking? When e-cigarettes first arrived on the scene during the first decade of the 21st century, it was touted as a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes. With decades of research proving that a link exists between cigarettes and lung cancer, millions of Americans tried to quit smoking. While some were successful, others simply couldn’t kick their addiction to nicotine, the chemical found in cigarettes. That’s where e-cigarettes came in. It was supposed to be the magic solution that allowed smokers to smoke in a more healthy way, not having to kick their nicotine habit while also eliminating the harsh odors of cigarettes, since e-cigarette liquid helps create a more pleasant smell. Additionally, without the secondhand smoke of a cigarette, e-cigarettes were supposed to reduce the chances of developing lung cancer compared to smoking cigarettes. However, findings in the past few years about the connection between vaping and harmful health conditions, not to mention the negative effects associated with nicotine, raises new questions about e-cigarettes. Is vaping safer than cigarettes? Yes, but... If you’re bound and determined to choose between vaping and smoking, choose vaping. Compared to smoking, vaping exposes the user to far less harmful chemicals. However, the best choice is to do neither, since both have connections to striking health effects. While the harms of smoking cigarettes are well-documented, as of November 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed 47 deaths related to use of e-cigarettes, related to lung injury from the prolonged use of e-cigarettes. Another side effect is a condition referred to as “popcorn lung.” Many e-cigarettes contain harmful ingredients that include ultrafine particles that could injure the lungs, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals such as nickel, tin and lead, and flavorants that include diacetyl. Diacetyl is a chemical used in products like microwave popcorn to create a butter-like flavor. Workers at factories that produce microwave popcorn have reported higher incidences of disease related to the chemical. That chemical is included in some e-cigarette flavorants and is directly inhaled, resulting in the “popcorn lung” effect. Knowing the risks is half the battle Just like many are addicted to cigarettes, e-cigarette users can become addicted, as well. This is why health professionals are warning about vape pens and, in particular, targeting teens that have become addicted to e-cigarettes. The U.S. Surgeon General’s Office has created a toolkit to help parents talk to their children that use e-cigarettes. You can find more information at E-cigarettes.SurgeonGeneral.gov. Designed by freepic.diller / Freepik
The holidays are over. That extra time with family - and for some, the extra time off from work - created a devil's playground where chocolates, snacks and Grandma's amazing cooking have combined to give you a few extra unwanted pounds. Now it's January, and it's time to join the masses in making the New Year's resolution to lose weight. While it's true that only nine percent of New Year's resolutions actually succeed, it's valiant to dedicate yourself to that new gym membership and that new and improved diet for yourself. Every doctor will applaud any patient's attempt to adopt a healthier lifestyle. As you scour the internet for that skeleton-key diet that will cure your holiday ills, you may come across "cleanses" or "detoxes" as a viable, short-term diet. Every fad-diet-book author will tell you their detox plan is the universal secret to weight loss. But it's also easy to dismiss any fad diet cleanse as ineffective and unhealthy. So, what's the truth? Are cleanses and detoxes good, or bad? The truth is somewhere in the middle. What are 'detoxes and cleanses'? Do they work? Here's the theory: If you eliminate solid foods or specific food groups, your body will be zapped into a state of optimum health, eliminating toxins in your body and re-booting your digestive tract. One plan might tell you to stick to only juice for a few days. Others might tell you to exclusively drink pepper and syrup concoctions. But, don't believe the hype. There is no conclusive medical evidence that such cleanses are effective for long-term weight loss. Any diet that requires severe caloric restriction, short-term or not, will likely decrease energy, may create gastrointestinal distress, or have other unforeseen side effects based on your personal health needs. However, the theories of detox-style diets come from the right place. What 'detoxes' get right Every cleanse has a certain amount of restriction, whether it's to cut carbohydrates or solid foods. But one thing they all have in common - the relative absence of processed food. Many popular processed foods are high in calories and low in nutrition. It's almost always healthier to opt for fresh fruits, vegetables and meats instead of something from a box. So if you know somebody that was successful with a restrictive detox plan, it probably wasn't the magic of fruit juice or cayenne-pepper cocktails. It was more likely that they "cleansed" processed food out of their diet. Even many longer-term "fad diets" share that same fact - the less high-calorie processed foods, the better. One size does not fit all While fact and fiction in the world of dieting is hard to determine, it's a universal truth that everybody is different, and what works for one person may epically fail for another. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before beginning any diet or embarking on any "detox" or "cleanse." Designed by Freepik
Healthy New Year's Resolutions It’s that time of year again. Time to start making your New Year’s Resolutions (if you haven’t already). Mindful eating practices. These days, it’s common to chow down with your eyes glued to a screen, but eating when you’re distracted leads to overeating. Take time to slow down and pay attention to your food, pausing to put down utensils between bites. It’s easier to notice when you are full when you eat mindfully. Plus you will more likely enjoy the foods you eat. Chill out and rest up. When it’s time to sleep, it’s time to chill – literally. Studies have shown that people sleep better when it’s colder and when their feet are outside of the covers. Knocking the thermostat down to 68 degrees or lower before you tuck into bed can help you sleep better. Darken your room by drawing the curtains or dimming the display on your alarm clock to really get those quality sleep. Be conscious of your gratitude. Take some time at the beginning or end of the day to reflect on what you’re grateful for, and consider starting a gratitude journal. A daily grateful check-in minimizes the distorting influence of stress. Reminding ourselves of the small, everyday positive aspects of our lives helps to develop a sense of balance and perspective that can enhance well-being. Walking 30 minutes per day. Getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise each day can be as simple as taking a walk. If you’ve got a busy schedule, take three 10-minute walks throughout your day. That’s 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch and then 10 minutes after work. Make it fun! Grab a partner at work to get you through your lunch routine. Or make your work meetings, walking meetings. Step it up. Making small, daily changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator may seem minor, but they can make a big difference for your heart in the long run. Commit to a 30-day fitness challenge You hear about them regularly, especially this time of year—the fitness challenge. Pick a fitness activity that’s easy and doesn’t require equipment, and commit to it for 30 days. There are many options to challenge yourself: practicing yoga, taking regular walks or joining a fitness class. Find what motivates you. Whatever you do, make yourself accountable. We look forward to seeing you in 2020! Happy New Year!
Preventing Hypothermia With cold winter weather here in Colorado, we sometimes need to think about hypothermia. The following from the CDC is what you need to know about it, who is at risk, and what to do if you or a loved one has it. What is hypothermia?
- Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it is produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
- Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know that it’s happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
- While hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
- Older adults with inadequate food, clothing, or heating
- Babies sleeping in cold bedrooms
- People who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.
- People who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.
- Exhaustion or feeling very tired
- Fumbling hands
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- bright red, cold skin
- very low energy
How Cold Weather Affects Health Did you know that cold weather can be hard on your health? It can affect your health in a variety of ways, including weight gain, viruses such as cold and flu, frostbite, etc. Learn how to keep warm this winter season.Your body requires extra fuel to keep warm. To get that extra fuel, you tend to eat more. This allows your body to store extra fat to better insulate your body and keep you warm. You can lose weight during the winter months by watching what you eat and staying active. Rather than packing on the pounds to keep warm, try layering clothes to insulate your body temperature. Wear close fitting base layers first, then an insulating mid-layer, and last, a looser fitting wind or waterproof layer such as a jacket. Physical Cold Risks Several physical risks from direct cold include the following:
- Heart attacks increase in the winter because the drop in temperature concentrates your blood at the core of your body, which in turn increases blood pressure and puts more strain on your heart. The cold also makes your body work harder, thus putting stress on your heart to ensure you stay warm. If you have high blood pressure or an existing heart condition, be sure to talk with your doctor due to an increased risk for heart attack.
- Slips and trips increase during the winter months due to wearing worn down shoes or improper shoes on slick surfaces. Try to wear boots or shoes with good tread. Salt your sidewalks and driveways with ice melt salt to prevent slipping and falling when walking out to your car.
- Frostbite and frostnip are also major risks when exposed to cold temperatures. These are caused by lack of blood to a part of the body. Your body will want to concentrate your blood around your core to preserve your heart, lungs, and brain. This leaves your fingers, toes, arms, and legs at risk for frostbite and frostnip. Frostbite or frostnip can cause permanent damage, loss of limb, or in severe cases death.
- Hypothermia is another risk when exposed to direct cold. This happens when you lose body heat faster than your body can make it. Your core body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If your core drops to or below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, hypothermia will set in. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, numb extremities, loss of dexterity, and feeling extremely cold. If hypothermia is left untreated, it will lead to complete failure of your heart and lungs, causing death.
It’s holiday time! Tis the season for holiday celebrations, libations, big meals, gifts and decorations. We love the holidays, but we also want to make sure you are considering your health over these great celebrations. Enjoy these tips for a Healthy Holiday season.According to the CDC, the following are helpful tips for making your health and safety a priority over the holidays.
- Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It’s flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
- Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves, and waterproof boots.
- Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.
- Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
- Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
- Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
- Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history.
- Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
- Monitor children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, and other objects out of children’s reach. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents.
- Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don’t leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves, or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
- Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
- Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
December 1-7 is National Influenza Vaccination (Flu Shot) WeekAccording the the CDC, the Flu isn’t a “bad cold” and can result in serious health complications, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, and can lead to hospitalization. Flu can sometimes even lead to death.
- Most people who get flu will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop serious flu complications
- All people are at risk of developing serious flu complications and certain groups are at higher risk. For people at higher risk, flu is more likely to lead to serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.
- People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, and people 65 years and older.
- Anyone who gets flu can pass it to someone at high risk of severe illness, including children younger than 6 months who are too young to get a flu vaccine.