According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, between 20 and 30 percent of adolescents experience a major depressive episode before reaching adulthood. What’s more, suicide is the leading cause of death among American teens.
Pressure to perform in school, stigma about mental illness, unhealthy diets, lack of exercise and poor sleep hygiene can all contribute to mental health issues in teens.
Psychologists also suspect that heavy social network use may increase the incidence of clinical anxiety and depression.
Finally, it’s likely that lack of access to care plays a role in this state of affairs. Approximately 30 percent of teens affected by a mental health issue don’t get the help they need, either by choice or because they lack access to it.
What parents can do
Young people should be taught that asking for help isn’t an admission of failure or weakness. In addition, parents can do these simple things to help teens protect their mental health:
• Minimize the pressure placed on them to perform
• Spend time together as a family
• Provide a healthy diet
• Support a healthy sleep schedule
• Encourage them to get regular exercise
• Enroll them in activities that build confidence and self-esteem
Indicators of psychological distress include agitation, self-denigration, unusual moodiness, sadness and extreme fatigue. A moody teen doesn’t necessarily point to a crisis, but signs of mental illness should never be dismissed.
The benefits of gardening
Aging shouldn’t stop you from cultivating your interests. Whether you’re a long-time gardener or eager to pick up the hobby, here are some of the advantages to gardening as you get older.
Gardening is a form of aerobic exercise that strengthens major muscle groups and improves mobility. It also encourages you to spend more time outdoors where you can benefit from the sunshine and fresh air. Tending to a garden reduces stress, promotes relaxation and instills a sense of accomplishment. A vegetable or herb garden also gives you access to fresh, nutritious food.
Gardening can be a collective pastime that allows you to meet new people or spend time with old friends. Studies show that strong social ties increase longevity, lessen cognitive decline and prevent depression among older adults. If you live in a retirement home, inquire about joining or starting a gardening club to connect with residents who share your interests. You can even make gardening a family activity and an opportunity to teach your grandchildren new skills.
A balcony garden or an assortment of houseplants will allow you to continue gardening once you’ve moved from a house to an apartment or retirement home. Many plants can thrive in pots and window boxes. If you’re used to growing a vegetable garden, microgreens can be grown in even a small living space. Also, plants make great roommates — they boost your mood, beautify your home and require little upkeep.
Gardening is an activity that can be done at any age. Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
5 things to know about tinnitus
Tinnitus, which is the hearing of a sound without an external source, is a common condition affecting nearly a third of North Americans over 55. However, age-related hearing loss isn’t the only cause, and here’s what you should know.
1. It manifests in many ways. Typically described as a ringing in the ears, tinnitus can also sound like clicking, hissing, buzzing or roaring. It can also be loud or soft, low-pitched or high-pitched, continuous or intermittent and in one or both ears.
2. There are two types. In rare cases, tinnitus can be objective, meaning the noise is triggered by a physiological problem like abnormal muscle contractions in the ear region, and can be heard by a doctor during an examination. Much more frequently, however, tinnitus is subjective, meaning only the affected person can hear it.
3. It has many different causes. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying issue. The most common cause is hearing loss, either due to aging or to exposure to loud sounds. Other likely causes include earwax buildup and middle ear bone issues. More rarely, it can indicate vascular issues or a problem with the temporomandibular joint, where the lower jaw meets the skull. It can also be caused by a host of medications, so if you notice it, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
4. It can be treated. If tinnitus is due to a medication or an underlying condition that’s treatable, it’ll likely go away if the cause is dealt with. In other cases, environmental measures, such as fans, televisions, radios and white noise machines, can distract from the noise and reduce the anxiety and stress some people experience because of it. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also been shown to be effective in helping people learn to live with tinnitus.
5. Stress can make it worse. Stress is likely to increase the negative psychological effects of tinnitus. For this reason, the avoidance of stressful activities and stimulants such as caffeine is often recommended.
If you think you may have tinnitus, consult your doctor. If they fail to find a cause, you’ll be referred to an audiologist.
How to tell your loved ones you have Alzheimer’s disease
If you’re coming to terms with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you may be wondering how to share the news with your family and friends. Here are a few recommendations.
Take some time beforehand to write down your thoughts and decide what you want to say. Hearing about your diagnosis for the first time can be almost as difficult for your loved ones as it was for you. Try to predict how each person might react and prepare a response. Arrange to be in a private, relaxed setting when you reveal your diagnosis to encourage openness and understanding.
Take it slow
You don’t need to go into more detail than you’re comfortable with during the first conversation. Hopefully it’s just the beginning of an ongoing dialogue about your experience with Alzheimer’s. You also don’t want to overwhelm your loved ones with too much information. Give them time to process the diagnosis.
Encourage your family and friends to learn more about Alzheimer’s. Negative reactions or denial following the diagnosis are often due to a lack of understanding about the disease. Ask your doctor for an educational brochure or visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for more information and resources.
Sharing your diagnosis can be difficult, but the support of your loved ones will make it easier to cope with the challenges ahead.
Should you treat varicose veins?
Varices are damaged vessels in which blood tends to accumulate, often because of a loss of elasticity in the vascular tissue, causing them to become enlarged and twisted. Nearly 30 percent of all people are affected by this common condition. They typically form on the legs — in which case they’re known as varicose veins — and while they’re often thought of as a cosmetic issue, they can cause complications.
Left untreated, varicose veins will spread and worsen. Over time, they can cause skin discoloration, venous ulcers and sometimes blood clots. Fortunately, there are many treatment options, including:
• Sclerotherapy. Medication is injected in the blood vessels to shrink them.
• Laser and radiofrequency ablation. Laser or radio frequencies are used to heat and destroy the affected tissue.
• Surgery. Damaged blood vessels are removed surgically.
• Ambulatory phlebectomy. A less invasive way to remove the vessels through small incisions.
• Compression stockings. Using this special garment effectively compresses the vessels and prevents varices from worsening.
These treatments aim to destroy the affected veins, forcing blood to travel through healthy vessels. They’re generally effective, but will likely need to be repeated, as varices tend to be a chronic problem. However, lifestyle changes can reduce their severity, so don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about what habits you can adopt to increase the effectiveness of your treatments.
March is National Kidney Month
Some painkillers may harm kidneys
If you regularly take over-the-counter painkillers, especially for a long period of time, consider checking with your doctor about a kidney function test.
OTC pain and fever reducers are not dangerous. But, over time, some painkillers can have negative effects.
Some examples of painkillers that are metabolized by the kidneys are ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. But others can have an impact on kidneys too.
If you already have impaired kidney function, be absolutely sure you are following the doctor’s orders on painkillers.
If you have taken painkillers over time, you might want to ask a doctor about it.
Your doctor can order a simple blood test called a serum creatinine level. This test measures the amount of a waste product in your blood that is normally removed by your kidneys. If your kidneys are not working as well as they should, the creatinine level will be increased in your blood. The results of the serum creatinine test can be used to estimate your glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
Your GFR number tells your doctor how much kidney function you have.
Your doctor can also order a urine test for the presence of protein. Persistent protein in the urine may be an early indication of kidney damage.
Here’s how kidneys work
Every day your kidneys go about their work of removing excess fluid and waste from your blood. You probably never think about them. But you should.
In addition to filtering waste, the kidneys have several important jobs to do. Consider this: They produce the two hormones needed to make red blood cells and regulate blood pressure, and they produce the active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium for bones and other body functions.
Each kidney has millions of tiny nephrons that act as filters. Beginning about age 40, a natural loss of nephrons occurs, but because there are so many, that doesn’t cause problems unless other factors are present. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or both, some nephrons will lose their ability to filter blood.
In addition to controlling diabetes and blood pressure, you can protect your kidneys with these steps.
*Get treatment for strep throat. When streptococcus invades the kidneys of adults, it can lead to kidney problems and kidney failure in some cases.
* Know what’s in “natural herb supplements.” Some substances can work like prescription drugs.
Patients taking blood thinners should know that garlic, ginger, Ginkgo biloba, and ginseng all contain natural anticoagulants. They could cause internal bleeding in people taking blood thinners.
Warren County preparedness to combat and prevent Coronavirus
Warren County is urging residents to practice good hygiene as a way to combat and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses including Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness 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 diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick for at least 24 hours without a fever.
- 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.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 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.
With confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Virginia, it is only a matter of time before it gets to the Shenandoah Valley. Board of Supervisors Chairman Walt Mabe is asking residents to do their part to limit the spread of the disease. He noted, “Warren County Emergency Management Staff are monitoring the situation and keeping in contact with the Virginia Department of Health and Valley Health System.”
During his presentation before the Board of Supervisors, Dr. Colin Greene, Director of the Lord Fairfax Health Districted urged the public not to panic. “If you want good information, visit the CDC’s webpage or the Virginia Department of Health’s webpage on the Coronavirus. Continue to live your life, but be aware of what you need to do to avoid being sick.” Dr. Greene noted that the Virginia Department of Health is working with the local healthcare community to prepare for and, if and when it occurs locally, limit the spread of Coronavirus disease. We will work closely with healthcare providers as well as public health and safety partners to quickly identify people who may have been exposed to Coronavirus disease. We will take appropriate public health actions and work with the CDC to test people for COVID-19 as needed. If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, we will then work with the patient, their medical provider, and their family to treat the illness and isolate the individual. We are prepared to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak if it happens.
According to County Administrator Doug Stanley, “We have placed hand sanitizer stations at the entrance to our public buildings and encourage the public to use them when entering the buildings. Our staff are taking extra precautions by cleaning and disinfecting all public surfaces including counter tops, bathrooms, and door handles multiple times each day to limit the spread of germs. Staff are also cleaning personal items such as phones, keyboards, and computer mouses to reduce the potential of exposure.” Mr. Stanley noted that these are things that would be done in the event of a standard flu outbreak. “We are continuing to monitor the situation and will take additional precautions as the situation evolves.”
Additional information regarding the County’s current and ongoing efforts to combat Coronavirus can be found on the County’s website.