“It has certainly been a very long two years, and we are all experiencing COVID-fatigue,” commented Dr. Jenks, head of the Fauquier Hospital Emergency Department. Dr. Jenks knows as well as anyone, the unprecedented challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on hospitals, communities, and residents. Especially now, that we are entering into year three of the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we continue to do everything we can to stop the spread of this novel coronavirus. The latest Omicron variant surged through our community in late December through January, like we have not seen by previous variants. Currently, the community transmission levels seem to continue decreasing, translating into a decrease in the number of COVID positive patients we are seeing within the hospital’s walls.
As our community continues to focus on recovering from Omicron, we are all hoping to get back to a more normal state. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 threat doesn’t appear to be making an official exit anytime soon. So, what can we do? How can we continue living with this virus? A key answer is that we need to stay diligent and educated on the facts. Working together as a community by practicing safe habits where possible will help to reduce the spread. The likelihood that another, more dangerous, variant might emerge does seem possible.
Dr. Jenks shared, “Vaccination remains the most important step that we can all take to reduce the spread of this disease, and to protect ourselves and our communities from the risk of bad outcomes from infection. Remember, vaccination is not only about your protection. For example, it is about protecting those who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons. As more people are able to get vaccinated, including children, we get closer one step at a time to getting back to our normal lives.”
Vaccines are now available and recommended for children five years and older, boosters are available for 12 years and older after five months after primary series.
Keeping our Children Safe
It’s a very unique environment. A world in which some of the younger children don’t have a clear remembrance of what it was like before COVID. Mental health is of great concern when it comes to the developing minds of children of any age. Some important tips to work with your children include calming them down about any issues they are worried about. By opening communication channels, reinforcing healthy lifestyles and dieting habits, and encouraging outside time keep the mind and body strong. When talking to your children about COVID, it can be useful to incorporate explanatory cartoons that are available.
We asked some of the experts – Dr. Diana Chalmeta, local Pediatrician, and Dr. Aliona Bortun, Family Practice Physician – to shed some light on many of the commonly asked questions by parents.
Where can my child get a COVID-19 test?
According to Dr. Diana Chalmeta, a local Pediatrician at Piedmont Pediatrics, “Local pharmacies. Piedmont Pediatrics provides rapid and PCR testing for our patients with an appointment and the usual turnaround time for testing is two days. You can also check with your primary care provider or pediatrician to see if they perform testing.”
Dr. Aliona Bortun, Family Practice at Bealeton explained, “There are different options of COVID testing at your pediatrician’s office, urgent care, and COVID testing sites. Now, testing is also more readily available with at home COVID test kits. The best time to have a COVID test, and to avoid false negative test, is after two days of symptoms.”
If my child begins exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 what should I do?
Dr. Chalmeta explained that symptoms of COVID in children are typically more mild and often appear to be consistent with a mild cold. “It is rarer that children run fevers,” she commented. “If your child has an unexplained runny nose or cough, even if mild, it could be COVID-19. If they are around other children, your child should be tested or isolate until they are feeling better.”
Dr. Bortun advises parents not to panic! A COVID diagnosis can be worrisome and if a child contracts it, but the majority of cases in children tend to be more mild. The best thing the family can do is isolate at home, if possible. Dr. Bortun suggested, “Assign a personal bathroom for their use only. Social distance, when possible, but do not leave the child without adult supervision. Notify the child’s school immediately and contact his/her doctor. Scheduling a televideo appointment will allow you to discuss a plan, further directions, and testing.” It is especially important to notify the doctor as early as possible if the child has comorbidities and respiratory chronic disease. Ultimately, Dr. Bortun suggests making sure the basics are covered, “The child should hydrate well, even if s/he does not eat a lot. For toddlers and babies, a good rule of thumb is to count wet diapers. Be vigilant in monitoring how fast the child is breathing, the color of his/her lips, muscle intercaustal retractions, and identifying any croup or croup-like symptoms.”
If my child contracts COVID-19, what are some at-home remedies I can use to help treat their symptoms?
Dr. Chalmeta advises parents to check with their pediatrician before introducing new treatments to their child’s routine. She advises parents the importance of maintaining hydration. “Immune boosting vitamins can be beneficial in fighting off viruses, such as COVID-19. These include vitamin D, vitamin C and Zinc. Fever reducing medications can also be used as needed.” With regards to babies, she says, “They can benefit from consistent saline nasal flushing and suction for cough and congestion. Older children can benefit from honey and over-the-counter age, appropriate cough and cold remedies.”
Dr. Bortun also added to this list. She said, “Tylenol can be used for pain and fever. One teaspoon of honey for children one year and older can help with coughing. Adding a humidifier in the child’s room can be beneficial and taking warm baths and showers. Vicks rub is recommended for children older than two years of age; baby Vicks rub can be used for younger children.
How can I protect my child/baby should someone in my household has COVID-19?
According to Dr. Chalmeta, “If possible, distance the child/baby from the person infected with COVID. Ideally, the infected person should stay in a separate room but if that isn’t possible, they should wear a mask at all times, an N95 if possible.”
Dr. Bortun agrees, “Using different rooms and different bathrooms helps along with practicing good hand hygiene. If you have a baby, and are breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed by pumping the milk or chest breastfeeding with precautions, such as using hand hygiene and masking.”
Vision changes should be checked
Suddenly, it’s hard to read when the light is low. Maybe there are halos around lights. These small changes can become big problems.
Cataracts affect the majority of older Americans across all ethnic groups by age 80, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Cataracts occur when the proteins in the lens of your eye gradually change shape and clump together as you age, according to Health in Aging. Over time, the tissue becomes thicker, changes color, and loses transparency, which can block light from entering your pupil. Aging, diabetes, alcohol consumption, excessive sunlight, high blood pressure, and smoking are among the most notable risk factors.
New glasses or contact lenses may correct vision loss from mild cataracts. If your cataracts are advanced and impacting your quality of life or ability to perform normal activities, your doctor might recommend surgery. During this quick outpatient procedure, the doctor removes the clouded lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens implant (IOL). The vast majority of people who undergo cataract surgery can see better after. Discomfort is usually mild, and patients generally heal within a few weeks.
While Medicare doesn’t typically cover vision care, such as eye exams or glasses, it does cover standard cataract surgery with IOL implants for people 65 and older. If your doctor recommends more advanced surgery or a specialized implant, you may face additional out-of-pocket costs.
If you don’t have cataracts, protect your vision by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat with a brim to shade your eyes. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (especially dark leafy greens). Quit smoking and make sure to get a dilated eye exam every two years.
Broken toes aren’t always a DIY fix
Many of us have experienced it at some point — stubbing a toe so hard that it swells and bruises, and wiggling it is too painful to attempt. It’s probably broken, so we tape it carefully to the neighboring toe, pop some ibuprofen, and soldier on. After all, everyone knows that there’s no point in seeing a doctor for a broken toe.
That’s not exactly true, according to the BBC. While most broken toes really will heal just fine with careful taping or a special rigid shoe, some fractures are more complex and without appropriate treatment, can lead to complications like long-term pain or deformities. Not all broken toes are created equal, either — a fractured big toe is a serious injury and may require a cast to heal properly.
Symptoms of a broken toe include swelling, bruising, inability to bear weight on your foot, and pain that lasts longer than a day or two, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Dominic King, D.O., a sports and medical orthopedist for the Cleveland Clinic, advises against icing potential broken toes and instead recommends elevation and over-the-counter pain relievers. Let your body’s natural healing response take the wheel and see a doctor if the pain doesn’t subside in a day or so.
Some — but not all — broken toes might point in a different direction than your other toes or show a slight twist. Seek medical attention right away if your injured toe points at an odd angle or is positioned differently than the same toe on the other foot, if you see bone poking through the skin or if there’s also a deep cut or wound on the toe (even if you don’t see bone).
With most fractured toes, the pain is largely gone after four weeks, and walking should feel normal again after eight.
2022 trend: the return of natural beauty
There are many ways you can alter your appearance to express your personality or look younger. You can dye your hair, wear fake eyelashes and get acrylic nails. However, in 2022 natural beauty is all the rage. This trend focuses on enhancing your natural features. Here are some examples of actions and attitudes associated with this trend:
• Put away the flat iron and learn to love your curly hair
• Say goodbye to the curling iron and accept your straight hair
• Embrace your natural complexion and don’t artificially whiten or darken your skin
• Leave your eyebrows alone or pluck them sparingly
• Do away with fake nails
• Flaunt your natural hair color, including the gray
• Use makeup sparingly or not at all
• Choose environmentally-friendly cosmetic products
Self-love is the buzzword for this trend. This year, be kind to yourself and don’t hesitate to show the world who you really are.
Share it and you’ll feel better; Sadness can turn life to drudgery
Life does it to all of us. Disappointment, loss, or periods of loneliness can make us feel sad. How we deal with sadness can influence how well and how quickly we recover.
Psychotherapist Carol Juengersen Sheets says some people deal with it outwardly. Some just keep it inside. This can be a mistake because it lasts longer. Sadness can sap energy, zap concentration and reduce productivity.
No one wants to exhibit a sad attitude to friends and family, but letting them know what’s going on with you has its benefits. For yourself, it means that you acknowledge the pain and are working through it. You allow yourself to accept your feelings and begin to deal with them.
Sharing your grief with others is helpful because they have the opportunity to validate the situation and agree that it’s sad. It allows them to console and nurture you. They can’t make the sadness go away, but their support can help you recover. Sharing your feelings also gives you the opportunity to show that you can be strong.
Sad events can be great motivators for change and improvement in your life. They prompt you to step back and determine how you can improve your outcomes in the future.
Getting more comfortable with your grief lays the foundation for joy and true happiness in the future, according to Sheets. It can also inspire you to help others or work for a charity. Most of all, putting grief in its place helps you to start anew and become a new, wiser human.
What’s farmer’s lung?
Farmer’s lung is a potentially serious allergic disease that mainly affects farmers. Here’s what you need to know.
Farmer’s lung is a disease that’s usually caused by breathing in dust from moldy hay that contains harmful spores and bacteria. However, dust from any moldy crop, including straw, grain, and tobacco, can cause the disease.
A recent study showed that exposure to organochlorines and carbamate pesticides may also be risk factors for farmer’s lung.
Along with farmers, anyone who handles hay or grain in large quantities is at risk of developing farmer’s lung. For example, zookeepers, poultry workers, stable workers, and pet store workers can also develop the condition.
The symptoms of farmer’s lung range from very mild to more serious depending on the person’s sensitivity to mold and the amount of mold inhaled. Symptoms include:
• Dry cough
• Shortness of breath
• Muscle pain
• Rapid heart rate
• Significant weight loss
• Severe fatigue
The symptoms of farmer’s lung can last up to 12 weeks but may ease after 12 hours. However, because many of these symptoms are associated with other minor illnesses, like the common cold, many people with farmer’s lung don’t know they have it.
If you have an acute episode of farmer’s lung, avoid contact with dust as much as possible. In severe cases, you may need to receive oxygen. Your doctor may also prescribe medication to relieve your symptoms and make it easier for you to breathe. However, there’s no cure for farmer’s lung, and you may experience hypersensitivity to moldy dust for the rest of your life.
If you think you have farmer’s lung, contact a health care professional immediately.
Bikes are right for the big kid in all of us
It probably won’t be like the thrill of learning to ride your new Schwinn around the neighborhood. You were eight — it was pure freedom.
But bike riding is still fun and perfect for people of all ages. With the many new styles, it can also be perfect for seniors.
There are many kinds to choose from:
Recumbent bikes are great for people with knee, neck, or back problems. They even come with safety flags, which you need since their profiles are so low. They can be equipped with hand cycles instead of foot pedals too. They are good for roads and trails and can be folded and transported to preferred locations. Drawback: They are heavy.
Three-wheelers: Trikes aren’t just for kids. These adult-sized three-wheelers can be perfect for even those new to bike riding. They are safe, require less balance than the two-wheeled version and they usually come equipped with a basket. Ride down to the store for the milk and set the gears to go uphill.
E-bikes: Add some electric power to your pedal bike with an electric assist motor that can help you uphill or give your legs a break when you get tired. Although you won’t get the same exercise as a regular bike, you will get some. These are great for people with good balance and adequate strength, but they do go pretty fast: up to 28 miles per hour. They can be very heavy.
Researchers say that older adults get many benefits from riding: Improved brain function, preserved balance, decreased bone loss, improved mood, and relief from joint pain. Seniors who ride also keep their waist size down.