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Valley Healthcare

Donate Blood This January!

January is National Blood Donor Month. You can find the closest blood drive through the American Red Cross website. Becoming eligible to donate blood for first time donors is a simple process – just bring your driver’s license and two forms of ID. The biggest thing preventing people from donating blood is a fear of needles. But imagine the impact you’ll have on people’s lives you’ve never met (one donation can save up to three lives)! And you can also think of it as a free physical, as doctor’s will check your temperature and blood pressure to make sure it’s safe to give blood.

Donating blood becomes more important when looking at the facts – there’s a blood transfusion needed every two seconds, and over 41,000 per day. One unit of blood gets separated three ways – red blood cells are used in surgery, the plasma is used for clotting, and platelets are used for cancer and transplant patients. O-negative is the rarest blood type and is compatible with all blood types. And if you’re new, you won’t be alone, as 31% of blood donors are first timers. All it really takes is about an hour out of your day, and you might save a life (or two, or three). And don’t forget your free cookie!

Valley Healthcare
Driving Impaired: A Human Choice

The statistics for impaired driving are staggering: crashes involving alcohol cost $37 billion annually. Over 10,000 people died in drunk driving incidents in 2010. More than 30% of fatal crashes on weekends involve alcohol. Driving impaired doesn’t only involve alcohol – over the counter and prescription medicine has a negative effect on driving, slowing down decision making and reactions.

And things we don’t normally associate with driving impaired, such as texting and phone calls while driving, significantly decrease reaction times. Impaired driving comes down to a human decision that takes place long before a driver gets behind the wheel. For texting and phone calls, it’s as easy as putting a smartphone on silent.

There are urban myths like taking a cold shower or a warm cup of coffee to get sober quicker. But the best way to prevent driving impaired is to not drive at all. Whether taking a cab, having a designated driver, or turning your phone off, it is up to people to make a decision to not drive when impaired or distracted. One wrong decision can last a lifetime.

 

Valley Healthcare

National Hand-washing Week

Throughout all the medical innovations of the past century, the most effective way of preventing illness is washing your hands. That’s right – just a simple combination of soap, water, and 15 seconds of scrubbing and drying can add up to a lifetime of health. This is an important habit for kids to learn at a young age, especially since they have weaker immune systems than adults. To teach kids the importance of this lifelong skill, the first week of December marks National Hand-washing Awareness Week, with help from Henry the Hand.

Henry the Hand wants to raise the importance of when kids should wash their hands to prevent not only them from getting sick, but from getting their classmates, friends, and parents sick as well. Henry has four principles for kids to prevent germs from spreading. First, he teaches kids to wash their hands when they’re dirty or about to eat. Then he teaches kids not to cough or sneeze in their hands. And most importantly, he teaches kids not to put their fingers in their eyes, nose, and mouth where germs can easily spread and get inside immune systems.

Washing your hands is easily overlooked as it seems too simple. But it works, and can be easily taught to children at a young age. National Hand-washing Awareness Week and Henry the Hand is a great place to start.

Valley Healthcare

While many young men take Movember as a sartorial event, growing moustaches for the month of November does provide a serious symbol of raising prostate cancer awareness, specifically targeted at men from the ages of 21-25. It’s a difficult topic and conversation to bring up at that age, as many young men feel a level of invincibility. Yet cancer knows no age, and the goal of Movember is to raise awareness for annual check-ups for early detection of prostate cancer, and an overall healthy lifestyle. What began locally in Australia in 1999, Movember is now a worldwide event that also addresses mental health issues.

The numbers are alarming – 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. 238,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2013, and men are 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than women are with breast cancer. Yet with early detection, prostate cancer has a 97% chance of survival. Symptoms include a slow flow of urine, frequent urination, and urinating at night. Family history (men with fathers or brothers diagnosed with prostate cancer are twice as likely to be diagnosed) and ethnicity (African Americans are twice as more likely to develop prostate cancer) must be taken into consideration. A healthy, active lifestyle may have an impact – although the biggest difference one can make, and the point of Movember, is for annual check-ups and early detection.

Valley Healthcare

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. As is the goal for awareness months, it is important to raise the profile of Alzheimer’s, including its symptoms and treatments.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia. It affects 1 person out of 20 over the age of 65, and 1 in 3 seniors die of the disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in America. The disease is associated with the ApoE4 protein of the brain, which increases risk ten-fold. With no cure, it is important to catch onto symptoms of the disease early to provide treatment. Symptoms include memory loss, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion, difficulty with spatial relationships, withdrawal and changes in mood and personality. Taken by themselves, some symptoms such as memory loss may be a cause of old age. But a recurrence or combination of these symptoms must be taken seriously.

There is no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Any links between prevention of the disease and a cure are tenuous – though certain studies show a link with diet, diabetes, smoking, and physical activity. Some treatments that target the plaque of the brain increase brain activity, but do not slow the death of brain cells. Recent breakthroughs that halted the death of brain cells in mice have raised hope, although these treatments have yet to be replicated in human brains.

Valley Healthcare

The average adult takes anywhere from 12 to 20 breaths per minute. We breathe so often we don’t even notice it, and that is all the more reason to appreciate and take care of your lungs. Your lungs are one of the most durable organs in the body and should last you a lifetime – as long as you take care of them. Here are some tips to keep your lungs in tip top condition:

  • Do not smoke – smoking is the worst thing you can do to your lungs. Smoking increases the chances of getting cancer, and a whole other host of lung problems including bronchitis.

  • Steer Clear of Air Pollution – yes, if you live in a city, it may be difficult to avoid pollution caused by cars and factories. Be mindful

  • Exercise – Exercise is a key theme for not just healthy lungs, but for a healthy life

  • Get Your Snoring Checked Out – Snoring or sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing during your sleep. It’s an easy, vital fix.

  • Practice Deep Breathing – Take 5 minutes out of your day to practice deep breathing – deep breathing starts from your stomach. This can strengthen your diaphragm.

  • Protect Your Home Air – Institute no smoking rules in your house to keep air clean and fresh. Also, pay attention to various household cleaners for toxicity, and keep them far away.

  • Eat Vegetables – studies have shown that foods such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are good for the lungs

Those are just a few tips to keep your lungs healthy. Most of these tips translate to a healthy working and living environment as well. Keep your lungs healthy, and they will pay you back in 12 to 20 times per minute!

Valley Healthcare

Cholesterol Treatments for the Elderly: Context is Key

Monitoring cholesterol levels is significant for all ages, but especially the elderly. People over 65 have the highest rates of coronary artery disease (CAD), so having low cholesterol is important for a prolonged life. But due to a lack of clinical trials on the subject, there are differing opinions on how to go about the matter (there are even some studies that say that high cholesterol may be advantageous in the elderly). One thing is for certain in regards to cholesterol treatment in elderly: it is important for doctors to balance potential side effects with the patient’s current health condition.

The usual treatment of exercise and diet may not be applicable to the elderly. While one can be more active, nutrition needs change as one grows older. Thus, standard treatment includes statin drugs like Liptor and Zocor. These treatments can result in side effects that affect the liver and cause various muscles aches. Muscle aches must be taken with extra precaution in the elderly, especially those susceptible to falling. Other medications cause a loss of vitamins in the body. Dementia, especially in patients over 85 years old, must also be taken into consideration as certain studies show that cholesterol treatment may have an effect on brain function. All these external factors must be taken into consideration when deciding on a treatment plan.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels or treatment for yourself or a loved one, please contact one of our friendly physicians at (706) 322- 9599.

Valley Healthcare

Psoriasis in Babies and Children – A Manageable Condition

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition associated with the immune system. It is a result of the body producing extra skin it cannot shed, which then piles up and forms lesions. The skin around the lesions turns red due to an increase in blood flow around the area. It can appear on any part of the body, but is especially prevalent in elbows, knees, and the lower back. These are two types of psoriasis: plaque psoriasis appears as red lesions covered with a white flake. Guttate psoriasis, most common in children, appears as smaller lesions and is triggered by a bacterial infection like strep throat.

An estimate of 20,000 children under 10 years old are diagnosed with psoriasis every year. There is no explanation for the cause of psoriasis, although genetics appear to be a factor (a third of all cases reported have some family connection). A child can be diagnosed with psoriasis with no family history, and almost half of psoriasis cases in babies and children occurs after an infection. It is especially important for parents to be aware of symptoms following an infection like strep throat, earache, or bronchitis. Psoriasis is most commonly mistaken for eczema. There’s no known cure for the condition, and treatment depends on the intensity of the lesions. Mild cases are treated with a combination of medication and moisturizer. More severe cases are with therapy and oral medication.

Valley Healthcare

National Men’s Health Awareness Month

June is an important month for men. Not only is it National Men’s Health Awareness month, but Father’s Day falls on this Sunday, June 16. It’s an appropriate time to keep perspective on what’s truly important. Health is something that many men gloss over, especially with a career and a family taking precedence. Daily health is one of those things that men don’t think about until confronted with a situation. This blog has already talked about how to live longer. Taking care of your health doesn’t have to be time consuming. By focusing on a couple small things every day, men can drastically improve their health. The key idea to focus on is prevention.

There are several types of preventative measures. Exercise and diet are the two most important pieces of prevention. Humans are meant to be active – the positive impact of exercise has been documented many times. Exercise doesn’t necessary mean going to the gym. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking further away when going to the grocery store. Diet is also essential. As the blog post about living longer discusses, eating less meat and more vegetables (and less food in general), as well as cutting down on sugary drinks, can have a significant effect on maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. Last but certainly not least, getting regular checkups is essential.

Small preventative steps can have a large impact in the long run. By being aware of these steps, men can ensure that they’ll be around for many National Men’s Health Awareness Months in June and Father’s Days to come.

Valley Healthcare System, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Non-profit, Charitable Organization.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in accordance with the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act, as amended, sections 224(g)-(n) of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n), deems Valley Healthcare System, Inc. to be an employee of the PHS which provides liability protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

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