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What’s the best way to treat bee stings?

What’s the best way to treat bee stings?

Summer is here. The grass is growing. The flowers are blooming; the bees are buzzing.

Alarming one of these small insects could result in a painful sting.

The best way to avoid being stung is to stay away from wasp nests and beehives. But even with the best of intentions, sometimes we find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. At those times, the insect’s self-preservation instincts take over, and you get stung.

The painful burning and stinging sensation occurs when the bee or wasp inserts its venom-loaded stinger into the skin. It takes just an instant, but the pain and subsequent itching may last a few days.

The sting of a honey bee can be up to 46 times more potent than the sting of a wasp. However, the honey bee only stings once and usually leaves its barbed stinger behind. Wasps have smooth stingers and are able to sting multiple times. Both types of stings can cause pain, redness and swelling.

Most of the time, you can take care of bee stings at home.

  • If the stinger is still in the skin, remove it as soon as possible. An embedded stinger can continue to inject venom for up to 1 minute. Be careful not to squeeze the stinger’s sac which will inject more venom into the bloodstream.
  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply an antibacterial ointment.
  • If burning, itching or swelling continues, apply an ice pack or a package of frozen vegetables to the skin for 20 minutes. Rest for 20 minutes and then reapply as needed. Place a cloth between the “ice” and the skin to avoid freezing the skin.
  • If you feel itchy, take an over-the-counter antihistamine containing diphenhydramine (pronounced: DYE fen HIGH dra mean) to counteract the venom.

Watch for an allergic reaction.

According to an article published in the July 2015, issue of the Journal of Asthma and Allergy, 1 in 15 people may have an allergic reaction to bee stings.

The allergy may cause a system-wide reaction such as itching over the entire body, which can be treated with an antihistamine.

A more serious response known an anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention. A severe anaphylaxis reaction to a bee or wasp sting can cause the heart to stop within 5 to 10 minutes.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Facial swelling
  • Spreading hives
  • Loss of consciousness

If you’ve been stung more than ten times or you experience an allergic reaction, call 911 or get to an emergency room as soon as possible. If an EpiPen® is available, use it.

People who are allergic to bee stings should always have an EpiPen with them. This portable injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) increases blood pressure and heart rate while relaxing the lungs to improve breathing. It can also help reduce hives and swelling. The person who has the allergy should tell others when and how to use the EpiPen in an emergency.

Once you have had an allergic reaction to bee stings or other allergens, you may be more susceptible to anaphylaxis. Working with an allergist may help you minimize your reactions in the future.

You can find an allergist at Affinity Health System or Ministry Health Care.


AUTHORS: Gina Ramthun, APNP, and Heidi Heise, APNP, at the Ministry Medical Group Clinic in Wausau

We’ve got your numbers

We’ve got your numbers

You know your telephone number. You probably know your social security number. Some of you may know credit card or driver’s license numbers.

But do you know the most important numbers of all: your blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol and BMI?

Blood pressure. Your blood pressure measures how hard your heart is working. The top number (systolic) pressure measures the pressure as your heart beats. The lower number (diastolic) measures the pressure as your heart rests. Normal blood pressure is 120/80.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is called the silent killer. There are rarely symptoms until it becomes a life-threatening or life-limiting condition. You should have your blood pressure checked frequently. If it’s higher than 120/80, contact your healthcare provider.

Heart rate. Your heart rate (pulse) indicates how efficiently your heart works. The normal heart rate for a resting adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. A physically fit person may have a pulse that is lower than 60.

Cholesterol levels. Your cells need cholesterol to keep your hormones in balance, supply vitamin D and help digest food. At normal levels, under 200 mg/DL, the fatty, wax-like high-density (HDL) and low-density (LDL) lipoproteins circulating through your bloodstream are helpful. Out of balance, they cause plaque build-up on the sides of arteries and contribute to heart attack and stroke.

Your cholesterol numbers measure the amount of three types of fat in your blood using milligrams per deciliter (mg/DL).        

Know the highs and lows of your blood-fat trifecta.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) Help remove cholesterol from the arteries. Good levels are 40 – 59 mg/DL; better numbers are 60 mg/DL or above. When it comes to HDL, Higher numbers are better.

Low-density lipoproteins(LDL) Layer plaque on the walls of the arteries. You should have less than 100 mg/DL cholesterol in your bloodstream for good health. The lower your LDL is the better.

Triglycerides. A third type of fat in your blood stores unused calories and provides energy. For the best health, your triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/DL.

Body Mass Index. Your body-mass index or BMI is found using a mathematical calculation based on your weight divided by the square of your height (your height multiplied by itself). BMI guidelines are used to determine the average health of a population.

Because it is based on averages, physically fit people, who have less body fat and more muscle, may register a higher BMI than they actually have.

The body mass index calculation for children and adolescents also uses information from medical growth charts to determine BMI.

For adults, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 suggests you are at a normal weight for your height. To calculate your BMI visit, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm.

If you don’t know your numbers and you’ve had a checkup recently, you should be able to login to your patient portal and find them.

If you’ve not been to your healthcare clinician recently, you should make a routine appointment. Most insurance companies provide preventative care appointments as part of their plan. Call your insurance company to find out for sure.

Author: Cortney Cleereman, APNP

Cortney is an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner in Rhinelander and Crandon

Fire up the grill for these healthy cookout ideas

Fire up the grill for these healthy cookout ideas

Summertime means cookout time, but just because it comes from the grill doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy! We have ideas for keeping your summer diet healthy for your heart and your waistline—all it takes is thinking a little differently about the standard grilled menu.

Go fishin’

Forgo the traditional beef griller for fish! Oily fish, like tuna and salmon, are full of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You could form patties or treat a fillet with lemon juice, and add your favorite herbs and spices for even more flavor. Just remember fish cooks fast so you want to be attentive while you are grilling it.

Slim down your burger

If you can’t go without your red meat, use lean or extra lean beef and drain or pat off the excess fat after you’ve grilled it. Did you know that the recommended serving size for a hamburger patty is three ounces? A 3 ounce burger is roughly the size of the palm of your hand.  Keep your patties on the slim side, or add in finely chopped vegetables like peppers or onions to make a thick burger that’s heavy on nutrients.

Think green

Take the mixed veggie-burger one step further by grilling vegetables instead of meat. Kabobs are an easy way to grill up a variety of veggies, and they’re easy to handle, too. Fill a skewer with veggies like mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini or yellow squash—anything with some “flesh” to it should work well. Lightly spray the skewered veggies with olive oil and place them on the grill. For the most flavor you’ll want to turn them over occasionally, until they are slightly blackened. You can also grill corn on the cob right in its husk; place on the grill for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Let it cool for about five minutes after removing it from the grill and before you peel the husk off.

Fruit too

Consider grilling some fruit for a deep sweet taste.  You can grill peaches, nectarines, watermelon, pineapple and more.  You will need a grill that is heated to medium high heat and you want to oil the grill.  Then simply cut the fruit in half (peaches) or in slices (watermelon and pineapple) and place on the grill for about 3 minutes or 4.

Turn them over and grill the other side for 2 or 3 minutes.  Enjoy as a sweet side.


Take baked, not fried

Don’t forget the sides! If you don’t own a fryer, you’ve probably never considered making your own fries. This baked option is healthier and allows you to get your fry fix right at home! Slice your choice of potatoes into sticks and place on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray with olive oil, add your choice of seasoning and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.  You can also make zucchini fries or kale chips!

What are your favorite healthy summertime recipes? Let us know in the comments, and don’t be afraid to get creative the next time you fire up the grill!


Author: Julia E. Salomón, MS, RDN, CD

23 ways to keep fireworks from blowing up your celebration

23 ways to keep fireworks from blowing up your celebration

The Fourth of July in American brings the sounds of firecrackers, screamers and fireworks.

It’s a wonderful time to celebrate our country’s history. It’s also a time for caution.

In 2014, approximately 10,500 firework-related injuries were treated in the United States. Nearly 7,000 of those people visited emergency rooms from June 20 to July 20, 2014.

  • 11 people were killed. Four of those lives were lost in house fires caused by fireworks.
  • 23 percent of injuries were the result of sparkler injuries. (Sparklers can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit)

This year, don’t be a statistic. Follow the 23 safety tips below.

  1. Know your fireworks laws before you buy. Each state, county and city has regulations regarding the types of fireworks a non-licensed person can use. A few calls before shopping may save you hundreds of dollars in fireworks and fines.
  2. Only buy consumer-rated (Class C) fireworks from a licensed and reputable vendor.
  3. Fireworks should only be handled and lit by an adult.
  4. Always read the directions before use.
  5. Light fireworks on a hard, level surface away from people.
  6. Children should not be allowed to light fireworks.
  7. Never place any part of your body over a firework.
  8. Never use medication or alcohol before lighting fireworks.
  9. Never give fireworks, including sparklers, to small children.
  10. Enjoy one firework at a time.
  11. Never relight fireworks. Don’t move or go near a “dud” for at least 20 minutes.
  12. Soak used or malfunctioning fireworks in water before throwing them in a trash can.
  13. Do not shoot or throw fireworks at buildings.
  14. Do not light fireworks when the DNR warns of fire danger.
  15. Protect your eyes with safety glasses.
  16. Protect your ears with ear plugs.
  17. Never light fireworks in glass or metal containers.
  18. Always have a bucket of water and a working hose nearby when lighting fireworks.
  19. Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  20. Never shoot or point fireworks at another person.
  21. Never use homemade fireworks.
  22. Don’t buy fireworks packaged in brown paper. These types of packages suggest 1.3G explosives.
  23. If you are not licensed, do not purchase or shoot Class B fireworks listed as 1.3G explosives. These are used in professional fireworks displays.

If you notice someone using fireworks in a reckless or illegal manner, report the location and other details to your local fire or police department.

Author: Virginia Trzebiatowski, family practice APNP, at Ministry Medical Group’s Iola Clinic 



Source: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

10 ways to prepare for tick and mosquito season

10 ways to prepare for tick and mosquito season

As hot summer days turn into warm summer evenings, many people enjoy sitting outside.

But, it takes just a few minutes before you hear a high-pitched buzz and feel a burning itch. You’ve been found by mosquitoes.

But mosquitoes are just one summertime pest. Ticks are another.

Each year the risk of getting bacterial or viral infections from tick and mosquito bites seems to increase. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid getting bit.

Here are ten ways you can protect yourself.

  • Wear pants and long sleeves to minimize areas of exposed skin.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to see crawling ticks easier. Light colors, which do not absorb as much heat, may also make you less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Use Picaridin or a 30 percent DEET repellent. Spray your clothes, boots and socks. Avoid spraying your face and the palms of your hands. If you’re hiking or camping, don’t forget to spray your backpack and your tent.
  • Treat your clothes with permethrin. This repellent is effective for both mosquitoes and ticks. When applied correctly, permethrin may last through more than five washings. Treat your clothes and let them dry before wearing. Use caution during treatment. When liquid or wet, permethrin can be toxic to small animals.
  • When you’re outside, avoid areas with long grass. Stay on trails if possible.
  • After being outside, shower and carefully check your body for ticks. Blacklegged ticks are very small and easy to miss.
  • Make yourself less attractive to mosquitoes. Don’t use sweet-smelling soaps or sprays. Mosquitoes are attracted by sweet scents, especially banana.
  • Stay inside during the evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Burn a mosquito-repellant torch or candle when you’re outside.
  • Remove all standing water in your yard that may be home to mosquito larvae.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Health, Division of Health Services, mosquitoes in the Midwest can transmit arboviral infections such as the West Nile Virus and various strains of Encephalitis. They can also infect animals with equine encephalitis and canine heartworm.

Black-legged or deer ticks, on the other hand, can harbor the Powassan virus along with disease-causing bacteria such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.

In rare cases, Wisconsin wood or dog ticks can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and typhus, tularemia and tick paralysis.

“In Wisconsin, Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness,” said Jean Vincent, MD, a fellowship-trained infectious disease specialist at Ministry Medical Group in Weston. “The symptoms of Lyme disease can appear in just three days, or they may take as long as 30 days after a tick bite to develop.

“A rash, which often appears one week after a tick bite, occurs in 70 percent of patients. It is the most recognizable sign of Lyme disease. As the area of the rash gets larger, it may begin to resemble a bull’s eye.”

In addition to the rash, a person who is suffering from Lyme disease may experience other symptoms in the first month including:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes

“It’s important to treat Lyme disease as soon as possible after the bite,” said Dr. Vincent. “Left untreated symptoms become more serious as the bacteria starts to affect the nervous system. It can become difficult to treat.”

At later stages, Lyme disease can cause headaches, arthritis-like pain, stiff neck, loss of muscle tone, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, shooting pain, numbness and short-term memory problems.

A simple blood test can detect Lyme disease.

If you spend time outside and experience achy muscles and sore joints, ask your primary care clinician for a Lyme disease blood test.


Author: Sara Kolell, APNP

Sara is an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner at Affinity Medical Group’s Koeller Street Clinic in Oshkosh

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