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Cold Weather Health Hazards

cold weather Cold weather presents increased risks to your workforce in a variety of ways: It can directly injure the body, aggravate existing physical injuries and even cause injury through changes in our environments. However, you can mitigate the risk. All of these injuries can be prevented—with preparation.

Low Temperatures and Wind Chill
The physical elements of cold—cold temperatures, rain, sleet, snow and wind—can cause direct injury to the skin and body. The mildest form of injury is chilblains, which is a skin tissue injury. This occurs when uncovered skin is exposed to low temperatures and wind. A more serious tissue injury is frostbite. In frostbite whole appendages such as fingers, ears and noses are damaged. Frostbite can even result in amputation in severe cases. The most serious kind of cold-related injury is hypothermia. This type of injury compromises the makeup of vital organs such as the heart and brain.

Remember, air temperature is only part of the picture. Wind chills can cause harm beyond the digits on the thermometer. For a wind chill calculator, visit the National Weather Service online. Continue Reading »

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

foodJanuary is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and there is a lot of information to be had if you are pregnant or know someone who is and want to decrease your chances of having a child with a birth defect.

According to the National Birth Defects Prevention Network:

  • Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States
  • More than 120,000 babies born with a birth defect (approximately one in every 33 live births) are reported each year in the United States
  • Birth defects are the most common cause of death in infants and the second most common cause of death in children ages one to four years old
  • Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect. It occurs in one out of 100 births

Don’t let these statistics overwhelm you. The risk for many types of birth defects can be reduced through healthy lifestyle choices before and during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant should:

  • Consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
  • Manage chronic maternal illnesses such as diabetes, seizure disorders or phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Talk to a health care provider about taking any medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, as well as any supplements Continue Reading »

Resolution tips to keep you on track

shutterstock_169613255We’re about a week into 2014, so I thought it would be a good idea to see how everyone’s resolutions have been going. Good, I hope!? I’ve noticed that a lot of resolutions people make revolve around wellness. Losing weight tops the list of the ten most popular resolutions along with staying fit, quitting smoking, spending less, getting more organized and spending more time with the family.

About 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 10 percent actually succeed in achieving their resolution or goal. Unfortunately, resolutions tend to be abandoned quickly. Why is that?

  1. Too vague. More specific goals tend to result in more successful outcomes. General goals are hard to grasp and usually result in loss of interest. Analyze what you are really trying to accomplish and break it down into more specific goals. Instead of “I will drink more water,” try, “I will keep a water bottle on my office desk, in my car, on my nigh stand and drink at least eight cups of water a throughout the day.”
  2. It can be lonely sometimes. While personal goals are… personal, but the effort to reach that goal does not have to be. Studies show that the more you share what you are trying to accomplish with others, a support network, family, friends, etc. the more successful you will be. Friends and family can support your efforts to achieve your resolution. Workout with a buddy, go running with your neighbor find a “team” that will motivate you.
  3. You lose track. As tedious as it sounds, keeping track of your efforts does help.  Whether they are food journals, or fitness trackers; pedometers that track how  many steps you’ve taken in a day or an app that lets you know how many hours of sleep you’ve gotten, can help hone in on areas you want to work on. In addition, it keeps you accountable and well… on track!
  4. Forgetfulness. People who are reminded of their goal on a consistent basis tend to be more successful in achieving those goals. The best thing to avoid losing focus of your goal is to write it down. Make yourself several notes with your goal written on it and post these all over your house; on the bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator and pantry door; in your car, etc. Make yourself a bookmark and keep it in your favorite book; write it as a screen saver for your computer, tablet or phone. Tell your friends and family. If your goal is to drink more water for example, you can easily program your phone, computer or table to make a sound every hour as a reminder to drink water. If your goal is to get more physically active, carve out time in your calendar (write it in) to do just that. 
  5. No reward system. Good deeds should be rewarded. If you reach a milestone along the way to your final goal, do something good for yourself (do not reward yourself with food). Buy a book, enjoy a massage, take a day off work, etc. Do something that will create a positive feeling. It’ll keep you  motivated. 

Above all, when making resolutions try to focus on ONE behavior change. Trying to change too many things at once is NOT a strategy that will lead to success. Good luck to you and a happy 2014 to all!

How to ease carpal tunnel syndrome pain

carpal tunnel Did your hands wake you from sleep again? Maybe you had to sit up and shake your hands to make the numbness and pain go away. How many nights has it been since you’ve had a good night’s sleep?  You may have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by swelling around the median nerve in the wrist. This can result in numbness, tingling or pain at the hand and fingers. Usually these symptoms come and go but some activities such as sleeping with your wrists curled, driving or holding a book or phone can make them worse.

We take care of many patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Some have suffered with it for days. Others have been dealing with it for years. Regardless of how long you have had it, here are some tricks to try to help relieve your numb or painful hands: Continue Reading »

Five exercises to help improve your balance for icy conditions

As we all know, Wisconsin weather can be called confusing at best. Temperatures can swing from 30 degrees one day, to 70 degrees the next day. Wisconsin winters can be particularly problematic due to the snow, ice and cold that lasts from December through March. One area of concern is slipping or falling on the ice. In general, people are more careful when they can see ice in the way, but what happens when we run into black ice or ice covered with snow? Is there anything we can do to prevent these falls, or limit the severity of injury when slipping? There is! I have several exercises and tips that can keep you healthier during the Wisconsin winter ahead. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.