10 Summer Health Tips for Your Kids

Keep summer fun and safe for your kids with these helpful tips.

Summer is near. School is out, and the kids are enjoying the seasonal freedom. With less time spent indoors, there is more time to have fun and potentially get hurt or have a summer-related health issue. 

Have a safe and healthy summer with these tips:

  1. Wear sunscreen. At least 30 minutes before going out the door, apply a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect from sunburns.
  2. Bring the water. Avoid dehydration by having water readily available. Make sure the kids are rehydrating often.
  3. Bike safety. Every rider needs a helmet. Also, be sure to set boundaries indicating where your children can ride and educate them on bike safety.
  4. Swimming safety. Enroll your children in swimming lessons. Once they know how to swim, don't take it for granted. Never let children swim unsupervised. 
  5. Playground safety. Whether the playground is on your property or a community site, check the area for hazards before letting your kids play. Also, enforce playground rules like waiting your turn and no pushing.
  6. Fight bug bites. Apply insect repellent or wear long sleeves and pants.
  7. Say no to hot cars. Never leave a child in a closed up car on a summer day. Sun shining into the car can heat it up very quickly, even on a cool day.
  8. Avoid allergies. Talk to your child's pediatrician about allergies before the summer begins. The doctor can recommend strategies, over-the-counter or prescription medications to alleviate allergy symptoms.
  9. Fireworks are for professionals. The American Pediatric Association strongly urges parents to pass on home fireworks and, instead, attend community displays. Even a simple sparkler can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing burns.
  10. Poisonous plant awareness. Teach your kids about poison ivy and poison oak. Have an over-the-counter treatment on hand in case of accidental contact.

Not all summer accidents can be prevented. For that reason, the Pediatric Emergency Care Center at Oak Hill Hospital is here to help. As the area's only pediatric ER, we provide child-centered care with "ouch-less" techniques. For more information, contact our Consult-A-Nurse® service at  1-888-741-5120.

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Tips for Managing Medications During a Hurricane

Keep your medications and health in check during a hurricane with these tips.

The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1. Use this year's Hurricane Preparedness Week to get all of your preparations together, especially with your family's medications, before any storms start brewing in the ocean.

Pack it.
Since the effects of a hurricane can lead to treacherous travel, disrupted service from businesses or even evacuation, it is crucial to have extra doses of your medication on hand. In preparation for hurricane season, your family should assemble a disaster supply kit filled with necessities including food, water and medication. According to the American Red Cross, your disaster supply kit should contain a 7-day supply of medications as well as other medical supplies your family members require:

  • Catheters
  • Syringes
  • Hearing aids with extra batteries
  • Eye glasses
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Mobility aids like canes or walkers

List it.
If you are forced to evacuate, having important documents such as your driver's license, insurance polices and property inventories could be crucial in the event you are displaced for a long period of time. FEMA also suggests you carry copies of the following medical documents:

  • Medication list with names, dosage and indications
  • Doctor's orders
  • Style and serial numbers for any medical support devices

Check it.
Should you stick it out as the hurricane passes through, beware of the effects of the storm on your medical items. Use the following guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • Drugs contaminated by flood or unclean municipal water should be discarded. However, in the case of life-saving medications being needed quickly; if the container is contaminated but the contents appear to be fine, then the drugs can be used.
  • Medications that need to be reconstituted with water should only be administered if they are reconstituted with bottled or purified water.
  • Medications requiring refrigeration, like insulin, should be thrown out following a long-term power outage. However, if the medication is needed to sustain life, use it until a new supply is secured.

To find more information on keeping you family safe and healthy in the event of a natural disaster, visit our Disaster Preparedness Center online at Oak Hill Hospital. If you have any other questions, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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5 Health Numbers You Must Know

Keep your numbers in check to prevent illness and disease.

Do you really know the numbers tied to good health? How about your blood pressure; are you more likely to know the score of the last Tampa Bay Rays game than your most recent blood pressure reading?

Knowing certain health numbers can help you prevent future illness as well as keep you on the right track to good health.

  1. Blood pressure. Hypertension is known as the "silent killer" because the condition doesn't have significant symptoms. However, high blood pressure is associated with artery damage, heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney damage and vision impairment. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
  2. Cholesterol. There are two types of cholesterol, which is a waxy substance produced by the liver and obtained from the food you eat. HDL is the good cholesterol that helps keep the the bad cholesterol (LDL) from getting stuck in the artery walls. High cholesterol, much like high blood pressure, had no symptoms, but the effect is a greater chance of coronary heart disease. LDL cholesterol levels below 100 and HDL levels above 40 for men and 50 for women are considered to be in the healthy range.
  3. Triglycerides. Like high cholesterol, elevated triglyceride levels are linked to coronary heart disease. Less than 150 mg/dL is considered a normal triglyceride reading.
  4. Blood sugar. Diabetes is a condition when you have an excess of sugar, or glucose, in your blood and has devastating effects including heart disease, nerve damage and stroke. A healthy range of glucose level is 70 to 130 mg/dL, if tested prior to eating.
  5. Waist size. The circumference of your waist is good indication of whether or not you are at a healthy weight. A waistline smaller than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is considered to be healthy.

To learn more about your numbers and how to become a healthier you, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® line at 1-888-741-5120 with any questions or for a physician referral.

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5 Things Every Man Can Do to Be Healthier

Since it is Men's Health Month, June is a time for men to focus on themselves and their health.

Father's Day isn't the only special occasion in June. The entire month is dedicate to the awareness of men's health issues. The goal of Men's Health Month is to raise awareness of preventable health problems as well encourage men to be proactive in early detection.

Get ready for June by putting these lifestyle changes into action.

Stop smoking, now!
Smoking is linked to many illnesses including heart disease, lung cancer and lung diseases. However, a study has revealed that smoking accelerates the decline of mental function in middle-aged men, affecting the man's ability organize, plan and pay attention.

Maintain a healthy weight
A BMI (body mass index) in excess of 25 is considered overweight, with 30 or higher being categorized as obese. Being overweight increase your risk for coronary heart disease, hypertension and other health problems. Before you embark on a diet and exercise regimen, check with your doctor.

Exercise
When you exercise, your are strengthening a very important muscle – your heart. Adding 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week can aid in weight loss, improve your heart health and lower your cholesterol.

Make an appointment
Women are much more likely to seek preventative health care than men. In fact, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the rate of doctor visits for such reasons as annual examinations and preventive services was 100 percent higher for women than for men. Talk to your doctor about when you should receive routine screenings such as prostate exams and a colonoscopy.

Drink less alcohol
Consuming too much alcohol has many negative health effects. Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol excessively. According to the CDC, men have a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with cardiovascular problems, depression, liver disease and cancer.

Start your month of June off right with a check-up. To ask any health questions or for a physician referral, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Why a Mini Stroke is Serious

Mini strokes should not be taken lightly because they are warning signs.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, drawing attention to the leading cause of death in the United States. Mini strokes, known medically as a transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), are often warning signs of an actual stroke.

Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face or extremities, especially on one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or mental confusion
  • Blurred vision, or difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of coordination
  • Severe and unexpected headache

A mini stroke is defined as stroke symptoms lasting less than 24 hours. When TIAs occur, there is no permanent brain damage. However, TIAs are a serious warning. According to the National Stroke Association, 40 percent of people who suffer a mini stroke will later have an actual stroke. In fact, studies show that 10 to 15 percent of TIA sufferers will have an actual stroke within three months of the initial TIA occurrence.

The causes of mini strokes include:

  • Low flow in a major artery due to a narrow area in the artery
  • A blood clot traveling to the brain
  • Smaller blood vessels in the brain narrowing and blocking blood flow for a short period of time

Treatment for TIAs vary and depend on the how the TIA originated. TIA management could include clot-busting medication or surgery to open narrowed arteries. Like stroke, prevention of TIAs starts with lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and not smoking.

Since you may not be able to tell if someone is having TIA or a stroke, you should always act quickly when the symptoms are exhibited. Call 911 and get to an emergency room immediately. To learn more about your risk for stroke, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® line at 1-888-741-5120 for a physician referral.

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5 Sun Safety Myths Debunked

Protect yourself from skin cancer risks by knowing the truth about sun safety.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Of the different types of skin cancer, melanoma is labeled as the deadliest. May is National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, focusing a spotlight on the disease and the risk factors.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, from the sun or tanning beds, is the main risk factor for melanoma. You can reduce your melanoma risk by debunking the myths of sun safety and knowing the facts. 

Myth: You don't have to worry about applying sunscreen on a cloudy day.
Fact: Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of UV rays from the sun can seep through the clouds and damage your skin. 

Myth: Applying sunscreen with higher SPF provides all day protection.
Fact: Sunscreen is only effective if used correctly. You should apply about two tablespoons of sunscreen all over your body 30 minutes before going out into the sun. More importantly, you must reapply the sunscreen about every two hours.

Myth: Sunscreen with the highest SPF is the best protection.
Fact: SPF is only half of the equation. To have the best protection, your sunscreen should have "broad spectrum" protection. Broad spectrum provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Myth: Getting a base tan prevents sunburn.
Fact: The truth is, any tan cause by UV exposure (as opposed to a spray tan) is damaging to the skin. According to the National Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is the skin's response to UV damage. That response can develop into cancer.

Myth: Tanning beds are safer than being out in the sun.
Fact: Both indoor and outdoor UV exposure is dangerous. In fact, the CDC reports that people who start using indoor tanning facilities before the age of 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma.

If you would like to learn more about skin cancer screenings and staying protected in the sun, visit us online at Oak Hill Hospital or call our Consult-A-Nurse service at 1-888-741-5120.

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Best Tips for Managing Your Arthritis Pain

Find out how to manage arthritis pain with lifestyle choices.

Arthritis in general means inflammation of the joints. However, the medical community uses the word to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease labels osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as the most common types.

Osteoarthritis can occur as you age or can result from an injury. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body's defense system doesn't work proper and begins to have a negative effect on the joints. The common thread is pain and stiffness. In addition to following a medication regimen as prescribed by your doctor, you can manage arthritis pain with simple lifestyle choices and changes.

Get smart about getting physical
Although arthritis pain can make moving difficult, exercise, in the long run, will help manage the pain of the disease. Regular exercise can decrease pain while improving mobility and function. Arthritis sufferers with more intense pain should concentrate on low-impact activities such as:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi

Step on the scale
If you are overweight, considering shedding some pounds. Maintaining a healthy weight pays positive dividends for those with arthritis. Being overweight puts more pressure on already aching joints.

Do the little things
You can alleviate stiffness by simply moving and moving often. Regularly change your position, move your neck from side to side, move your hands and bend your legs. Conversely, take a break when you may be over-using your joints.

Find a quick fix
There may be instances when you still have pain even after taking medication. Try one of the following solutions:

  • Do some stretching exercises
  • Place an ice pack on sore joints
  • Rest the affected joint
  • Take a relaxing, warm shower

Before beginning a new exercise regimen, consult your doctor. To learn more about managing your arthritis pain or how to life an active life with arthritis, visit Oak Hill Hospital's Orthopaedic Institute online or call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-741-5120 for health information and physician referrals.

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Exercise is Good Medicine for Arthritis

Exercise may be just what the doctor orders to help manage your arthritis symptoms.

Sometimes the aches, pains and stress associated with arthritis can leave people feeling less like moving. However, exercise is often some of the best medicine when it comes to relieving arthritis symptoms. In honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and help arthritis sufferers live better, here are a couple of things to know.

Physical Benefits
Exercise can help relieve arthritis-related pain and stiffness, build strength and increase range of motion. Exercise can be a means to manage your weight, therefore reducing strain on your joints. Aerobic activity is typically best for burning calories and losing pounds, while low-impact exercises are often recommended for people with arthritis. Weight-training is a good way to build muscle and become stronger. Yoga exercises are easy on the joints and can help you become more flexible as well as increase your range of motion. All of these benefits combined can make performing everyday functions easier and more comfortable.

Mental Benefits
Beyond the physical benefits associated with exercise, there are the mental and emotional benefits. Getting active is a good tool for managing stress, brightening your outlook and helping to get a good night's sleep, along with all the restorative benefits that go with it.

To learn more about osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, visit our online Health Library for more information. Talk with your doctor before beginning any fitness plan and discuss exactly what types of exercises are recommended for you. To find a doctor, search our online physician directory or call Consult-A-Nurse®, our free healthcare referral service at 1-888-741-5120.

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The Dangers of Button Batteries

Find out why button batteries pose a risk to children and how you can avoid danger.

During Safe Kids Week, April 21st through the 28th, take time to learn about the dangers of button batteries. These small batteries represent a high number of cases of children visiting the emergency room after swallowing batteries. In fact, 84 percent of such visits involved button-sized batteries, according to Healthfinder.gov.

Where are these batteries found?
Unfortunately, button batteries can be found in a wide range of products and these are not limited to products intended for children. Remote controls, hearing aids, small toys and even greeting cards may contain very small batteries that curious children and infants might swallow or insert into other areas, like their nose.

What danger do these batteries pose?
USA.gov reports that when swallowed, batteries can leak acid if the casing around the battery is eroded. Some may even create an electrical current flowing through tissue and burn a hole in the trachea or esophagus. In rare cases, this can be fatal. It’s very important to keep these batteries out of the reach of kids, especially kids four and under.

How can this danger be prevented?
Children who are young enough to put toys and other items in their mouths should be supervised and should not be allowed to play with anything that could pose a choking hazard. Tape battery areas shut on remotes and don’t allow kids to play with items that contain small batteries. If you think your child has ingested a battery, head immediately to the ER.

Be prepared for emergencies that may occur with your children. Learn more about our Pediatric Emergency Care Center in Spring Hill. We are the only hospital in the region dedicated to pediatric emergency services. Give us a call at 352-596-6632 in Hernando and 352-628-6441 in Citrus for more information.

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6 Superfoods for Lowering Your Cholesterol

Find out what you can eat to help lower your cholesterol.

We hear a lot about cholesterol when it comes to health, especially health in aging adults. What is it exactly? Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. When you have too much of it in your blood, it can actually clog your arteries and lead to health problems including heart disease and heart attack. If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol or reduce your risk for heart disease, try these great foods for lowering cholesterol.

  1. Whole grains. Whole grains are key when it comes to a heart healthy diet. Ask your doctor or nutritionist for help when it comes to reading labels and identifying true whole grains in the foods you eat.
  2. Beans. When you add beans to your diet, watch your sodium intake. Try making them at home so you know exactly what’s going into them.
  3. Avocados. While fattening, avocados contain what is considered good fat. Try them on a sandwich instead of meat for a healthier alternative.
  4. Raw almonds. Avoid salty or sugared almonds and try eating raw almonds. You can eat them on a nonfat yogurt or in your cereal in the morning with nonfat milk or almond milk.
  5. Blueberries and pomegranates. These darkly colored fruits contain antioxidants that can boost your heart health. Try them on a healthy salad of dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale.
  6. Sardines. Don’t be put off by these tasty little fish. Try adding these nutrient-rich fish to a savory pasta sauce if they don’t make a delicious snack. If you do love them, eat up!

What about alcohol? According to the American Heart Association, there is no scientific proof that drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage can replace a healthy diet and exercise when it comes to lowering cholesterol.

If you have more questions about cardiac care, or you want to make an appointment to check your cholesterol level, call our free Consult-A-Nurse® line at 1-888-741-5120. You can also visit The Heart Institute webpage to learn more about heart health.

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