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Combating cancer-related fatigue

cancerfatigue

According to the American Cancer Society, fatigue is the most common side effect found in individuals going through cancer treatments. In fact, about 90 percent of patients have fatigue while they are receiving treatment. While working with various individuals throughout different stages of diagnosis in treatment I have found this to be a fairly accurate symptom assessment. The main difference that most people do not understand is that cancer-related fatigue is completely different from everyday tiredness or fatigue. Cancer-related fatigue makes general activities such as shopping, showering, dressing, household chores or work extremely difficult. The other major difference is that it can occur without warning and is not relieved with rest. Cancer-related fatigue is physically, mentally and emotionally draining for an individual, and it affects their ability to actively participate in daily life.

Some sings of cancer-related fatigue are: Continue Reading »

Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.

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May is Stroke Awareness Month. It’s a good time to educate yourself about the warning signs of a stroke and how you can help save lives and improve recovery by responding F.A.S.T.

Last year, many of the 795,000 Americans who suffered a stroke did not get the right lifesaving treatment in time. In an effort to help decrease that number, we want to help educate people about the signs and symptoms of a stroke. It’s easy to remember through the acronym F.A.S.T.

Face drooping – Does one side of the face droop, or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

Arm weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech difficultly – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like, “The grass is green.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 9-1-1 – If any of these symptoms are shown, even if they appear to go away, call 9-1-1, and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you know when the first symptoms appeared.

Other symptoms to be aware of:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

To learn more about the warning signs go to strokeassociation.org/warningsigns.

If you think you are at risk for a stroke, talk to your health care provider so they can work together with you to prevent or treat medical conditions that can lead to stroke.

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

sneezingThe flu season is under way in Wisconsin and confirmed cases have been reported. While the best way to stay healthy this flu season is to get vaccinated, there are some other things you can do to protect yourself.

Here are a few:

1.  Practice good hand hygiene. Encourage everyone in your family to practice regular handwashing, especially after using the bathroom, before and after handling or eating food and after coming in from the outdoors. Handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.

2.  Take cover. Get into the habit of sneezing into your inner elbow. If you have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with it when you sneeze or cough.

3.  Don’t touch. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

4.  Replace and wash items. Buy a new toothbrush after a cold or other illness. Wash your bedding at least once a week, especially pillow covers. Wash gloves, scarves and any other attire that covers your face or mouth. This is helpful in keeping germs away.

5.  Stay hydrated. Dry nasal passages make it easier for the flu virus to breed, so its important to drink plenty of fluids. Water is a natural moisturizer for the inside of your body. Aim for eight cups of water a day. Swap out fizzy carbonated drinks for herbal tea. Increase your fluid intake if you are on a high-fiber or high-protein diet. Continue Reading »

Cold vs. Flu: How to read and treat your symptoms

fluCough, congestion, aches, chills. Cold and flu season is upon us. But which do you have? And why does it matter?

“Both the common cold and influenza (the flu) are respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by different viruses. In general, flu symptoms are more severe than the common cold and can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections,” says Richard Menet, MD, a physician with Affinity Occupational Health.

Get the FACTS
While many cold symptoms can mimic the flu, there are five FACTS that generally point to influenza:

Food borne illness prevention tips

clean upMany food borne illnesses – which can be caused by a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and parasites – are caused by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. While most of the food in the U.S. can be considered safe, food can become contaminated at any point in its preparation.  There are many simple food safety rules that we can all practice in our home kitchens to keep our food safe. Here are a few:

Hand Hygiene

  • Wash hands when they are dirty. A good rule to follow is to wash your hands when you come home from being outside. (Just think of all the things you have touched when out shopping, running errands, etc.)
  • Wash hands before handling food, and before and after eating.
  • Wash hands after handling pets and other animals.
  • Wash hands after using the bathroom.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Practice cough etiquette by coughing (and sneezing) in the crook of your arm.

Wash Surfaces

  • Keep kitchen surfaces such as countertops, cutting boards and other appliances clean.
  • Check your can openers and clean them after each use.
  • Wash dishcloths, sponges and towels often. Use hot water. *Tip: put sponges in your next dishwasher load to clean them.
  • Replace worn sponges frequently.

Cutting Boards

  • Whether you use wood, plastic, acrylic, glass or other type of cutting boards the key is to designate one strictly for raw meats and another for ready to eat foods such as breads, fruits and vegetables. Try using color-coded cutting boards. Designate a certain colored cutting board for vegetables and another colored board for meats to help you remember which one to use.
  • Keep cutting boards clean by washing them thoroughly in hot soapy water after each use; or place them in the dishwasher after each use. The safest way to clean ‘meat’ cutting boards is to wash them with hot water and then disinfect them with bleach or other sanitizing solution. Keeping a spray bottle with bleach by your kitchen sink may be convenient.
  • Discard cutting boards that have a lot of scratches or knife scars, cracks, crevices, splinters, etc.

Prevent Cross Contamination

  • When storing raw meats, place them on a plate and store them on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so their juices don’t inadvertently drip onto other foods.
  • If washing produce before use, store in clean containers not their original one.
  • Wash plates and other containers between use or use different plates to hold raw meats and other foods.
  • Use one utensil to taste the food and a different one to stir the food.
  • If you have a cut or other sores on your hands use gloves.

Proper Cooking Temperatures

  • Cooking food to proper temperatures is a reliable way to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses.
  • Using a food thermometer is important to ensure that food is cooked to a safe temperature.
  • To ensure that red meats, chops, poultry etc. are cooked to their proper temperature, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat away from bone or gristle.
  • Insert thermometer in the inner thigh area near the breast, but not touching the bone when cooking whole poultry.
  • For egg dishes and casseroles, insert thermometer in the center or thickest area of the dish.
  • For ground meat foods, insert thermometer into the thickest area. You may have to insert it sideways to reach the very center of a burger patty, for example.
  • When cooking fish, cook until it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Refrigerate Promptly

  • Make sure your refrigerator is set below 40º F.
  • Foods should not stay out of refrigeration for longer than two hours. In very hot weather, food should not stay out for longer than one hour.
  • When in doubt, check this website for more information about general guidelines about refrigeration leftovers: http://homefoodsafety.org/

Keeping your food safe once you bring it home is important to keep you and your family healthy.  For more information on home food safety visit: http://homefoodsafety.org

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.