Category: Health Notes

Viral Illness Everyday Precautions

Take everyday precautions on ANY VIRAL ILLNESSES–common cold, flu, pandemic COVID-19 virus:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Take everyday preventive actions:

  • Clean your hands often
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.

N-CoV 2020 Wuhan Pneumonia –CDC

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

For information about handwashing, see CDC’s Handwashing website

For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

February is Heart Month

Heart Disease: It Can Happen at Any Age

Heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults. It is happening to younger adults more and more often. This is partly because the conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at younger ages. February is Heart Month, the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you need to take now to help your heart.

Heart disease—and the conditions that lead to it—can happen at any age. High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among younger people (ages 35-64) are putting them at risk for heart disease earlier in life. Half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking).

You Could Be at Risk

Many of the conditions and behaviors that put people at risk for heart disease are appearing at younger ages:

  • High blood pressure. Millions of Americans of all ages have high blood pressure, including millions of people in their 40s and 50s. About half of people with high blood pressure don’t have it under control. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke.
  • High blood cholesterol. High cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease. Having diabetes and obesity, smoking, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough physical activity can all contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
  • Smoking. More than 37 million U.S. adults are current smokers, and thousands of young people start smoking each day. Smoking damages the blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
  • Obesity. Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. More than 1 in 3 Americans—and nearly 1 in 6 children ages 2 to 19—has obesity.Other conditions and behaviors that affect your risk for heart disease include:
  • Diabetes. Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. This can damage blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. Nearly 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes.
  • Physical inactivity. Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Only 1 in 5 adults meets the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity.
  • Unhealthy eating patterns.  Most Americans, including children, eat too much sodium (salt), which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. But only 1 in 10 adults is getting enough fruits and vegetables each day. Diet high in trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.

4 Ways to Take Control of Your Heart Health

You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your heart. Learn how to be heart healthy at any age.

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, learn how to quit.
  • Manage conditions. Work with your health care team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This includes taking any medicines you have been prescribed. Learn more about preventing and managing high blood pressure
    managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Make heart-healthy eating changes. Eat food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium. Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits, and aim for low sodium options.
    Learn more about how to reduce sodium.
  • Stay active. Get moving for at least 150 minutes per week. You can even break up the 30 minutes into 10-minute blocks.
    Learn more about how to get enough physical activity.

Cervical Cancer Awareness: January Teal Color

Cervical Cancer Awareness and Prevention–wear TEAL color in January:

Each January we observe cervical cancer awareness month and reflect on a disease that affects over 12,000 women in the U.S. each year with approximately 4,000 associated deaths. Although the rate of cervical cancer in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women has decreased over time, AI/AN women continue to have 4.2 times the rate of illnesses and deaths due to cervical cancer when compared to non-Native women. Often, AI/AN women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in more advanced stages making successful treatment and cure more difficult.

Although the cause of cervical cancer is not completely understood and research continues, it is known that sexually transmitted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) plays an important role in the development of cervical cancer. While HPV is common and almost every sexually active person will get it at some time in their life, few men and women will go on to develop cancer. When the body’s immune system can’t get rid of a high-risk HPV infection, it can linger over time and turn normal cells into abnormal cells and then cancer. Risk factors associated with cervical cancer include early onset of sexual activity, having multiple sex partners, exposure to other sexually transmitted infections, smoking, and having a weakened immune system. Pain during sex or unexplained vaginal bleeding can be indicative of illness, but there are often no symptoms associated with cervical cancer, and diagnosis requires an examination and testing by a health care provider.

For Patients

Cervical cancer is preventable through regular screening and treating any abnormalities early-on before they progress to cancer. Screening with a Papanicolaou (Pap) test every three years is recommended for all women ages 21 to 65 years and screening with a Pap and HPV test is recommended every five years for women ages 30 to 65 years. If the results of any cervical cancer screening test show any abnormalities, additional testing known as a colposcopy test may be performed at your health care provider’s office.

One of the most important ways to protect yourself from HPV and related cancers is by getting vaccinated for HPV. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both girls and boys at the age of 11-12, as well as for older adolescents and younger adults. Building your immune system with a healthy diet and exercise, while stopping or never starting smoking is important as well. Also, decreasing your high risk sexual activity by using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners can help. All of these actions can support your goal of reducing your risk of cervical cancer (HHS, 2020). 

SUICIDE PREVENTION MONTH SEPTEMBER

Friends and Family

  • If someone you know is struggling emotionally or is in crisis, you can make a difference by getting them the help and support they may need. Watch for these suicide warning signs:
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, like researching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

Do’s when helping:

  • DO talk openly about suicide
  • DO be willing to listen
  • DO allow expressions of feeling
  • DO get involved, be available, and show interest and support
  • DO remove means, such as weapons, rope, or pills

Don’ts when helping:

  • Do NOT dare him or her to do something harmful
  • Do NOT act shocked, judge, or “one-up” (example: “You’re having a bad day? You should hear about my day!”), as this encourages disconnection
  • Do NOT be sworn to secrecy; do seek support
  • Do NOT offer glib reassurance

Suicide is a scary topic, but help and education are available.

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month. 

Nutrition plays an integral part in many of our most prevalent diseases, including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke, obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, certain cancers, and osteoporosis. The Indian Health Service (IHS) Nutrition Program works both to improve the health of patients with nutrition-related diseases and to prevent these illnesses in future generations through interventions in schools, community health programs, and hospital and clinic-based services.

March is Nat’l Kidney Month

National Kidney Month raises awareness about the prevention and early detection of kidney disease.  Risk factors for chronic kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.  Lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight help prevent chronic kidney disease.

LINKS:

Diabetes Symptoms

Common symptoms of diabetes:

  • Urinating often.
  • Feeling very thirsty.
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal.
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tinglingpain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)  (WMD, 2019).