JES Nurse's News

January

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simple tips for healthy eyes


Your eyes are an important part of your health. There’s a lot you can do to keep them healthy and make sure you are seeing your best. Follow these simple steps for maintaining healthy eyes for life!

have a comprehensive dilated eye exam. You might think your vision is fine or that your eyes are healthy, but visiting your eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way
to really be sure. When it comes to common vision problems, some people don’t realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. In addition, many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration often have no warning signs.

know your family’s eye health history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with a disease or condition since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease or condition.

eat right to protect your sight. You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. But eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens is important for keeping your eyes healthy, too. Research has also shown there are eye health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna and halibut.

maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes and other systemic conditions, which can lead to vision loss, such as diabetic eye disease or glaucoma. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor. The HealthSmart wellness team is here for you as well. Our registered dietitians can help you with delicious, effective meal plans.

wear protective eye wear. Wear protective eye wear when playing sports or doing activities around the home. Protective eye wear includes safety glasses and goggles, safety shields, and eye guards specially designed to provide the correct protection for a certain activity. Most protective eye wear lenses are made of polycar- bonate, which is 10 times stronger than other plastics. Many eye care providers sell protective eye wear, as do some sporting goods stores.

quit smoking or never start. Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. Research has linked smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataract, and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

be cool and wear your shades. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

give your eyes a rest. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or focusing on any one thing, you sometimes forget to blink and
your eyes can get fatigued. Try the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look away about 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds. This can help reduce eyestrain.

clean your hands and your contact lenses properly. To avoid the risk of infection, always wash your hands thoroughly before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Make sure to disinfect contact lenses as instructed and replace them as appropriate.

practice workplace eye safety. When protective eye wear is required as a part of your job, make a habit of wearing the appropriate type at all times and encourage your coworkers to do the same.

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Give the Gift of Health to the Kids in Your Life

Many things can influence a child, including friends, teachers and the things they see when they sit in front of the TV or computer. If you’re a parent, you know that your behavior plays a big part in shaping your child’s behavior. Read on for some great reminders:

 Be a role model. Eat healthy family meals together. Walk or ride bikes instead of watching TV or surfing the internet.

 Make healthy choices easy. Put nutritious food where it’s easy to see. Keep balls and other sports gear handy.

 Focus on fun. Play in the park, or walk through the zoo or on a nature trail. Cook a healthy meal together.

 Limit screen time. Don’t put a TV in your child’s bedroom. Avoid snacks and meals in front of the TV.

 Check with caregivers or schools. Make sure they offer healthy foods, active playtime and limited TV or video games.

 Change a little at a time. If you drink whole milk, switch to 2% milk for a while, then try lower fat milks or even soy milk. If you drive everywhere, try walking to a nearby friend’s house, then later try walking a little farther.

When it comes to food and physical activity, what you say and do around your children can have a lasting effect. Work together as a family to make healthy habits easy and fun!

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Allergies

Causes of Allergy

An allergy is a disorder of the immune system that causes symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a runny nose. Allergens are the stimuli that cause these allergy-related symptoms. One of the most predominant allergies among the population is hay fever, which causes allergic conjunctivitis and itchiness.

Environmental or dietary factors can cause reactions to allergens. The majority of people that have allergies react to airborne particles, such as dust or pollen.

What Causes an Allergy?

The risk of an allergic reaction is dependent on either host or environmental factors. An allergy is dependent on its host when the person is genetically predisposed for that allergy, either through inherited disease or congenital deficiency. An environmentally-dependent allergy is triggered when the person comes in contact with an infectious disease, an airborne allergen, pollution, or if they change their diet.

Genetic Causes

A parent with an allergy is more likely to pass it to their child, and the child's allergy is also likely to be more severe. Identical twins will share the same allergy 70% of the time.

Environmental Causes

A person is more likely to suffer from an allergy if they live in a highly industrialized country, such as factory-heavy regions in China. On the national level, allergies are more common in an individual that lives in an urban area as opposed to a rural area.

How do I know if I'm Allergic to Something?

Other possibilities must be considered before an allergy is diagnosed. Some maladies share the same symptoms with certain allergies.

Skin, or puncture testing, consists of pricking a patient's arm with minimal quantities of possible allergens. The patient is diagnosed with an allergy if the corresponding needle causes an inflammatory reaction. Blood testing, although not as common as skin testing, is another way to determine if a patient is allergic to a specific substance.

Pollen Allergies

Pollen allergies are the most common, especially in geographic regions with large amounts of pollen producers, such as flowers and trees. If you suffer from pollen allergies, use pollen.com's four-day allergy forecast to plan your week. The forecast is a useful tool any time of the year since trees start producing pollen as early as January in the southern United States.

Allergy Prevention Tips

Over 67 million Americans suffer from allergies every day. Pollen.com is your resource for an up-to-date local pollen count for every state across our nation.

We don’t want allergies to control your life. Severe allergy sufferers: get the up-to-the-minute local pollen count you need to help plan your daily activities…so you can take your allergy medication when it matters…before the allergies start.

Allergy Prevention Tips

  • Sign up for allergy alerts so you can easily monitor the allergy counts in your area. Forewarned is forearmed.
  • Keep your windows closed in your home and car to avoid letting in pollen, especially when the local pollen count is high. Set your air conditioners to re-circulate in your home and vehicle, to avoid drawing in outside pollen-rich air.
  • The pollen counts are the highest between 5am and 10am, so limiting your outside exposure during those times can be extremely helpful for diminishing your allergies.
  • Limit exposure on mornings that are especially warm and dry; these will usually be the high pollen count days. Days that are dry and windy also have high pollen counts. The best time for outdoor activities is immediately following a heavy rainfall.
  • Avoid line drying your clothes and bedding outdoors when your
    local pollen count is high.
  • Wash your face and hands after you’ve been outside to remove pollen. Also, change and wash clothes if they’ve been exposed to pollen.
  • Bathe and shampoo hair daily before going to bed to remove pollen from hair and skin in order to keep it off your bedding. Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
  • Minimize contact with items that have come in contact with pollen, such as pets and people that have spent a large amount of time outdoors.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, and in severe allergy cases, wear a facemask when daily pollen counts are extremely high.
  • Visit your allergist or doctor to see if the allergy shot is for you. Be consistent with your allergy medications for best results.
  • If you’re traveling, check our allergy forecasts for your destination. Also, be sure to check out our helpful traveling tips for allergy sufferers.
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What is a sunburn?

Summer means lots of out-of-doors time. Whether at beaches, barbeques, hanging out in the park or at the pool, most people catch more sun rays this season than other times of the year. In the process, some will get a suntan while others, unfortunately, will experience the painful redness, peeling and blistering that can occur with a bad sunburn.

So what is the skin up to when it starts soaking up sunlight and changing its hue this summer? Essentially, a suntan results from the body's natural defense mechanism kicking in against damaging ultraviolet sun rays. When the defenses are overwhelmed, a toxic reaction occurs, resulting in sunburn.

"It doesn't matter how much sunscreen you have on — if you are lying there forever and ever, some of the radiation will definitely penetrate through," said Chuang. "Even if you have a tan you can get a sunburn, and people with dark skin types can get a sunburn if out long enough."

The body senses this destruction and over the course of several hours starts flooding the area with blood to help with the healing process. Painful inflammation occurs as well. Usually within half a day of overindulging in the sun, the characteristic steamed-lobster look of a sunburn begins to make itself known, and felt.

With very bad sunburns, thermal damage in the manner of second-degree burns not unlike that caused from being too close to a fire can set in. The skin blisters as a result, with liquid-filled, protective bubbles forming over areas of tissue damage.

Several days after the initial sun-wrought carnage, dead skin cells in the blasted region will start to peel off. "The cell signals the body that it has received enough radiation and has a chance of becoming mutated, so [the cell says] 'Now you need to die off before it becomes problematic,' and you get that sloughing of the skin," said Chuang.

Sometimes the cells with sun-caused mutated DNA do turn into problem cells, however, that do not call it quits and keep proliferating as cancers. "The UV light causes random damages in the DNA and DNA repair process such that cells acquire the ability to avoid dying," said Chuang.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. People who allow themselves to get sunburnt repeatedly are at much higher risk. The risk for the deadliest form of skin cancer, called melanoma, doubles for someone who has received five or more sunburns, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

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10,000 Steps a Day: Your Path to Fitness


Medical authorities around the world agree that taking 10,000 each day is a healthy number to aim for. The American Heart Association uses the 10,000 steps metric as a guideline to follow for improving health and decreasing risk of heart disease. 10,000 steps a day is also a rough equivalent to the Surgeon General’s recommendation to accumulate 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. The benefits are many: lower BMI, reduced waist size, increased energy, and less risk for Type II diabetes. In fact, a recent study of the 10,000 steps a day method reported conclusive health benefits. Click here for a great guide on fitting walking into your life, courtesy of kera.org

Wearing a pedometer is an easy way to track your steps each day. Start by wearing the pedometer every day for one week. Put it on when you get up in the morning and wear it until bed time. Record your daily steps in a log or notebook. By the end of the week you will know your average daily steps. You might be surprised how many (or how few) steps you get in each day. 10,000 steps daily is ap- proximately 5 miles. Unless you have a very active lifestyle or profession, you probably don’t reach 10,000 steps on a given day without putting some effort into your activity. This could be a lifestyle change such as walking to work, or the addition of an exercise routine to your day.

Use your imagination to to get extra steps into your lifestyle! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

 Take a walk with your spouse, child or friend  Walk the dog
 Use the stairs instead of the elevator
 Park farther from the store

 Better yet, walk to the store  Get up to change the channel  Window shop
 Plan a walking meeting

 Walk over to visit a neighbor

If you have any health concerns, seek your physician's advice prior to starting or changing your exercise routine.