“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.”
Four ways to stay healthy through the holidays
The holiday season is all about enjoying good times and great food in the company of loved ones. Unfortunately, your usual fitness routine and eating habits are likely to be interrupted. To stay healthy during this festive time, do these four things.
1. Manage dietary choices.
While you may be tempted to sample every dish in front of you, try avoiding overeating. Remember to chew slowly and keep portion sizes reasonable. In addition, be sure to opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains as much as possible.
2. Avoid food guilt
It’s normal to indulge in desserts, cocktails, and savory snacks during the holidays. Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying the holiday foods and beverages you love.
3. Get up and move
The virtues of exercise for the mind and body can’t be overstated. Among other things, it boosts your mood, reduces your risk of disease, and helps with weight management. During the holidays, find fun ways to stay active, like walking, dancing, skiing, ice skating, etc.
4. Take a moment to relax
Remember to set aside time to recharge your batteries. The holidays can be exhausting, especially if you have to entertain guests. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to unwind, like taking a bath, reading a novel, and listening to music.
In addition, if you’re worried about your health, schedule an appointment with your doctor. For minor ailments and over-the-counter remedies, consult a pharmacist.
10 ways to combat seasonal affective disorder
Many people go through short periods of time where they feel sad or not like their usual selves. Sometimes, these mood changes begin and end when the seasons change. People may start to feel “down” when the days get shorter in the fall and winter (also called “winter blues”) and begin to feel better in the spring, with longer daylight hours.
In some cases, these mood changes are more serious and can affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities. If you have noticed significant changes in your mood and behavior whenever the seasons change, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression.
In most cases, SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression. Some people may experience depressive episodes during the spring and summer months; this is called summer-pattern SAD or summer depression and is less common.
1. Move your body
Countless studies demonstrate that regular physical activity can help combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and improve your mental health. Moving your body several times a week can also reduce stress and ease symptoms of depression. Join a group class or get a gym membership to improve your flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular capacity.
2. Stay entertained
A great way to counteract SAD symptoms and lift your spirits is to seek out fun diversions. Browse the entertainment offerings in your area and select performances that interest you. Choose dates that fit your schedule and bring along friends or family members. Surrounding yourself with good company and keeping busy are excellent ways to get through a long winter.
3. Redecorate a room
You may be able to reduce the symptoms of SAD by setting a manageable goal. This winter, consider revitalizing the decor in your bedroom or living room. On top of a fresh coat of paint, accessories like picture frames, vases, and mirrors can completely renew the look of your space. This type of project can help motivate you and provide a sense of satisfaction once completed.
4. Give yourself a new look
SAD causes feelings of despair and distress similar to those experienced during a breakup. Sometimes, refreshing your appearance can help you get out of a slump. Schedule an appointment at a salon to change your hairstyle. This may boost your self-esteem and make you smile.
5. Renew your wardrobe
SAD can impact your inclination to go out and do things. Regain your desire to leave the house by purchasing new outfits and fashionable accessories that will make you look and feel your best. You’ll likely find yourself looking for occasions to wear your new clothes.
6. Try light therapy
As the days become shorter and darker, your body produces less melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Fortunately, light therapy can be used to treat SAD. Purchase a lamp that mimics sunlight and expose yourself to it every morning for a boost of energy.
7. Escape reality
Though taking a trip is a great way to get away from it all, venturing abroad can be expensive and difficult to fit into your schedule. However, reading and playing board games are fun and inexpensive ways to take your mind off things. Talk to an employee at your local bookshop or game store for recommendations.
8. Enjoy a good meal
To look and feel your best, you need an assortment of nutrients. Therefore, you should make sure you eat well-balanced meals that’ll give you the energy you require to get through the day. If you don’t want to cook, turn to local restaurants and food delivery services for healthy dishes that will satisfy your needs.
9. Clear your mind
Regular meditation or yoga practice can positively affect your body and mind. These activities may help combat stress, reduce feelings of depression and restore your energy. If you’ve never tried yoga or meditation, consider signing up for a class near you to clear your mind and improve your sense of well-being.
10. Make sleep a priority
Getting adequate rest allows your body and mind to recuperate so you can easily take on daily tasks. You can improve your sleep hygiene by adopting an evening routine and limiting your exposure to blue light from screens before bed. In addition, if your mattress or pillow is worn out or uncomfortable, consider investing in a replacement.
Men’s razors: manual vs. electric
Given the vast selection of men’s razors available in stores, choosing one may not be easy. Whether you want to try a new model or your teenager needs to step up his shaving routine, here’s what you should know about manual and electric razors.
Blade models are the best option if you’re looking for a razor that’ll provide a high-precision shave. You must use them on damp skin and apply shaving cream to prevent skin irritation. The manual method allows you to shave hair close to your face, giving you extra-smooth skin. This option also allows you to space out your shaves more, as the hair will grow back slower than it would if you used an electric razor.
In addition, manual shaving is ideal for targeting awkward contours, and it’s a good choice if you want to shape a beard or sideburn.
An electric razor can be used on both dry and wet skin. Much faster to use than a manual razor, it reduces skin irritation and helps you avoid getting nicks and cuts. However, because it doesn’t provide as close a shave as a manual razor, you must make several passes over the same area of skin to achieve a satisfyingly close trim. Some waterproof models can be used in the shower.
Men’s razors are constantly evolving. To find the right one for you, be sure to compare features before selecting a model.
Dysphagia is a health condition that affects many seniors. Here’s what you should know about it.
People with dysphagia have difficulty swallowing. This may lead to:
• Choking when trying to swallow
• Feeling like something is stuck in the throat
• Excessive salivation
The symptoms of dysphagia can range from mild to severe and, in some cases, make swallowing virtually impossible. The inability to eat can also have significant implications, including unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition. Breathing problems may also arise.
Dysphagia can be caused by various health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lung or throat cancer. Difficulty swallowing may also occur temporarily in people who suffer from pharyngitis.
There are products available that can make mealtimes safer for people with dysphagia. In particular, some companies offer foods that are a suitable consistency for easy swallowing. Plus, specialized glasses, spoons, and straws can be purchased to assist with swallowing.
Various exercises and medications may also be prescribed to treat dysphagia.
If you’re having trouble swallowing, consult your doctor to identify the cause of the problem and find a solution.
How to overcome fall fatigue
Do you experience an annual drop in energy when autumn rolls around? If you’re wondering why you tend to feel tired at this time of year and want to fight it, here are a few things you should know.
Different people have varying reactions to the change in seasons. You may experience fall fatigue due to the following:
• Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is classified as a subset of depression. It can lead to mental health issues that may affect your ability to get out of bed.
• Reduction in sunlight. The number of daylight hours diminishes in the fall, which may reduce your intake of vitamin D. This shift can impact your body’s circadian rhythms and trigger increased melatonin production, causing fatigue and disrupting your sleep cycle.
• Daylight saving time. The body must recalibrate to the shifting of the clocks, which requires a period of adaptation for most people.
Regular physical activity can help counter fall fatigue. Here are a couple of other strategies to explore:
• Light therapy. When exposure to the sun isn’t possible, such as when you’re at work, use a lamp designed to treat SAD to reduce daytime sleepiness.
• Sleep hygiene. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evenings. Find ways to signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep, such as dimming the brightness on your screens or taking a moment to relax.
If you often wake up feeling exhausted, you may have a more serious health problem. In this case, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor.
What is endometriosis?
During a standard menstrual cycle, hormones help the endometrium, a membrane in the uterus, thicken in preparation for pregnancy. If no fertilization occurs, a portion of this mucus is eliminated through menstruation. In about five to 10 percent of women, however, this process becomes complicated by a disorder known as endometriosis.
Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue develops outside the uterus rather than inside. It attaches to the abdominal walls and nearby organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and bladder. If it’s located outside the uterus, endometrial tissue cannot be expelled through the vagina and becomes trapped within the body.
Indications of endometriosis vary significantly among women, and some don’t experience any symptoms at all. Fertility problems occur in about 40 percent of affected women. Severe menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, and painful intercourse are common signs of this disorder.
Treatment of endometriosis may involve a combination of drugs and surgery. Medication counteracts pain and restores hormone levels in many cases. However, surgical intervention may be needed to relieve pain and completely lessen the adhesions’ extent. Lifestyle changes, such as an alteration in diet or physical activity, may also mitigate symptoms.
If you have painful periods, be sure to talk to your doctor.