Summertime heat brings with it special considerations for those with heart conditions, and it’s especially important to stay hydrated and as cool as possible during these dog days.
For every degree your body’s temperature rises, your heart beats 10 BPM faster, according to Harvard Health. While a study published in 2014 said most cases of atrial fibrillation tend to occur in the winter, those with irregular heartbeats should take special precautions in the summer as well — higher temperatures can trigger AFib as your heart works harder to regulate itself.
Here are some ways to alleviate that stress:
* Stay hydrated. Dehydration is one trigger for atrial fibrillation, not to mention stroke.
* Avoid going outside between about noon and 3 p.m.
* Get in air conditioning. A fan is of little use if it’s circulating 95-degree air.
* Reduce caffeine and alcohol, as these can cause dehydration.
* Avoid exercising in the heat.
* Take a cool shower and put an ice pack under your arm or near the groin.
* Wear well-ventilated shoes.
* Take breaks. Schedule in more breaks than you normally would in order to conserve energy and prevent overheating.
Mental health: a crucial aspect of farm safety
Mental health is a growing concern for American farmers. These workers are at an increased risk of developing stress-related health issues, and they’re also more likely to commit suicide than the average citizen. In honor of this year’s National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 15 to 21), here’s some important information about the issue.
Mental health issues increase the likelihood of injuries and fatal accidents in an already dangerous workplace. Here are some of the factors that put farmers at risk.
• Long hours. Farmers are often forced to work long hours, leading to poor sleep hygiene. Lack of rest often exacerbates stress in addition to disrupting the ability to focus.
• Uncertainty. Farmers are at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable weather. In addition, fluctuating commodity prices mean that even a strong harvest doesn’t guarantee a profit will be made.
Financial uncertainty is becoming a big problem. The USDA reports that the U.S. farm debt relative to income is the highest it’s been in three decades.
• Lack of resources. Farmers need help, but there’s a lack of accessible resources. In addition, they’re unlikely to seek out the help they need, in part because of the stigma attached to mental health issues in the farming community.
While there are resources available like Farm Aid’s hotline — it saw a 109 percent increase in call volume in 2018 — there isn’t enough funding to provide concrete help to farmers.
What can be done
Awareness campaigns have sought to change the mindset around mental health in farming communities. Eliminating the stigma attached to asking for help is an important step in improving the situation. Public education about the challenges farmers face could also help raise awareness about the importance of this issue.
If you or someone you know is facing a crisis, visit the National Farmers Union Crisis Center at farmcrisis.nfu.org.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you or someone you know is in distress, call 1-800-273-8255.
Understanding ADHD: symptoms and treatment
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects between six and seven percent of people aged 18 and under. Despite its prevalence, it remains poorly understood. Here’s what you should know.
ADHD is a disorder characterized by a vast array of symptoms. Their type and intensity vary between patients, and distinguishing strong personality traits from symptoms can be difficult. In addition, the attention deficit and hyperactivity-impulsivity aspects of ADHD are separate.
Inattention symptoms include:
• Difficulty paying attention to details
• Difficulty focusing on and structuring tasks
• Tendency to forget things, especially those necessary for completing tasks (e.g. pencils and notebooks)
• Short attention span
• Easily distracted
Hyperactivity and impulsivity symptoms include:
• Inability to sit still and frequent squirming or fidgeting
• Getting up at inappropriate moments
• Talking more than others
• Interrupting conversations or intruding
• Difficulty waiting for their turn
For ADHD to be a concern, a child has to exhibit extreme or disruptive versions of the traits above. In addition, boys are much more likely to show hyperactivity symptoms than girls. Remember that while difficulties with social integration and school performance are common indicators, they’re not enough to establish a diagnosis.
A combination of medication and therapy is the most common treatment for ADHD. Given the high variability in types, there’s no universal treatment plan.
Since ADHD persists into adulthood in 30 to 50 percent of cases, promoting long-term management strategies is crucial.
Left untreated, ADHD is associated with poor academic performance, professional difficulties and higher risks for drug use and criminal behavior.
The incidence of anxiety disorders and depression is also higher in people with ADHD.
ADHD can have devastating consequences, and early treatment and management is key to helping those affected lead fulfilling lives. If you’re concerned about your child, be sure to speak to a healthcare professional.
How to increase your appetite
Have you noticed that your appetite isn’t what it used to be? A slower metabolism and decreased activity levels may mean you need fewer calories than you once did. Alternatively, certain medical issues and medications may cause your appetite to shrink. Plus, your taste buds can change as you get older, making meals you once enjoyed seem bland and unappealing.
However, though there may be perfectly legitimate reasons for the reduction in your appetite, not eating enough can lead to significant weight loss and malnutrition. Here are a few ways to make meals more appealing and to get the calories and nutrients you need.
• Use spices and herbs. Try to avoid using excessive salt and sugar to improve taste, as these can be unhealthy.
• Eat with others. Some seniors find cooking for one difficult or lose their appetite due to depression or loneliness. If you’re faced with this issue, invite friends and family members to join you for meals. Alternatively, consider planning weekly meals with a church or community group in your area.
• Pack your meals with calories. A large plate of food may seem daunting when you’re used to eating small meals. Therefore, instead of upping your portion sizes, add nutrient- and calorie-dense foods to your meals and snacks like avocado, nuts, whole milk products and olive oil.
• Embrace finger foods. Do arthritis or shaky hands make using utensils difficult? If so, choose meals that can be eaten with your hands like sandwiches, fruit and pizza.
If none of these practices help, meal replacement drinks can provide you with the calories you need to flourish. It may also be a good idea to ask your doctor about appetite-enhancing medications.
Is someone you care about suicidal?
World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual campaign that takes place globally on September 10. The aim of the event is to raise awareness about suicide with a focus on increasing public understanding of symptoms and methods of prevention.
Every 40 seconds, a person dies by suicide, and 20 times as many make an attempt. Suicide is caused by an assortment of social, psychological, cultural and genetic factors. It’s a leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in North America and in many European countries.
Signs of suicidal ideation
• Excessive sadness, anger, anxiety or moodiness
• Changes in personality
• Changes in appearance
• Withdrawal from friends and family members
• Withdrawal from activities once enjoyed
• Substance abuse
• Reckless/dangerous behaviors
• Threatening suicide (every threat should be taken seriously)
In addition, a sudden calmness after a period of distress or turmoil can sometimes indicate the person has decided to end their own life. In such cases, the individual may make preparations by giving away possessions, visiting loved ones and cleaning their home.
How to help someone who’s suicidal
If you suspect that a friend or loved one is suicidal, talk to them to assess what their intentions are. Research shows that talking about suicide doesn’t increase the likelihood that someone will take their own life. In fact, connecting with someone that cares can make all the difference.
If the person you’re concerned about threatens to kill him or herself, take it seriously. Don’t leave the individual alone and ensure they get the support they need. If the risk is immediate, call 911.
People who are suicidal and those that care about them can get support 24/7 via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Preventing childhood obesity begins at home
Did you know that obesity affects one-in-five children in the United States? Every September, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month provides a chance for Americans to address this issue and offers strategies to help overcome it.
Health issues associated with obesity
Children with obesity are more likely to have chronic health issues such as asthma, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes, among others.
They’re also more likely to be bullied and may continue to struggle with obesity as adults.
Treating and preventing obesity
Childhood obesity is both treatable and preventable. The more kids are taught to make healthy choices, the better able they are to maintain a healthy body weight. Here’s what parents can do:
• Encourage eating meals together. Studies show that when families regularly eat together, children are more likely to make healthy food choices. Eating at home also ensures that everyone eats the appropriate serving size.
• Avoid buying sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, stock the kitchen with healthy snacks like fruit, vegetables, hummus, nuts and yogurt.
• Model good behavior. Children learn by watching you, so they’re more likely to exercise and eat well if they see that you do. Make having a healthy lifestyle a priority in your family.
• Don’t put them on a diet. Restricting what your child consumes may lead to bad eating habits and low self-esteem as they get older. Offer balanced meals and snacks at regular times during the day and encourage more physical activity.
While children come in a range of shapes and sizes, obesity presents serious health risks and needs to be dealt with accordingly. If your child is overweight, be sure to consult a doctor or other health professional as soon as possible.
The 5-2-1-0 rule
To make sure everyone in your family has a healthy body shape and weight, follow the 5-2-1-0 rule. Every day, eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, have no more than two hours of screen time, get at least one hour of exercise and drink zero sugary beverages.
Lord Fairfax Health District warns residents of rabies risk
“This skunk no longer poses a threat,” stated Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene, “however, this case offers a reminder that any contact with a raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat that could result in exposure to the animal’s saliva should be considered a potential rabies exposure. This applies to humans and domestic animals, and anyone exposed should receive an immediate medical evaluation.”
The Health Department further advises:
• Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk or bat, especially if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.
• Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date. Vaccinate working barn cats as well, for their protection and yours.
• Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
• Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
• If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild animal, notify the local health department and animal control officer at once, and have the animal seen by a veterinarian.
If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.
Finally, if in doubt, or if you have a question, call the Shenandoah County Health Department at 540-459-3733.
Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/.
The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.