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Holiday Traveling

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Like many families across the country, you may be traveling this year for the holidays. It is important to make sure you are keeping your family safe and healthy. Even though traveling can be a routine-buster, it doesn’t have to be a health-buster! Here are some ways to keep up with your health while going the distance this holiday season.

1) Pack plenty of your prescription medications: Ensure that you have enough to last the duration of your trip and a few days extra in case there is an emergency. It is typically recommended that you travel with your medications inside their original bottle or packaging. This, of course, is mandatory for any air travel. Also, keep a list of drugs you take, in case of an emergency. It is also a wise idea to locate pharmacies on the travel route and at your destination, in case you need to refill a prescription.

2) Take a first aid kit: Whether traveling by air or land, having a first aid kit handy can be great in a pinch! Ensure that your kit is small enough that it can travel conveniently but still has enough supplies inside. Basic items, such as bandages, antiseptics, and antibiotic creams are useful, but don’t forget other items like antacid and over-the-counter pain meds.

3) Emergency kit if driving: In addition to a first aid kit, an emergency kit could come in handy if driving long distances is in your plans this holiday season. Heat blankets, bottled water, and food rations are all great items to keep in mind when constructing an emergency kit, along with flashlights, batteries, and a weather radio. When traveling in older automobiles, keeping spare coolant, oil, and other fluids is also a good idea.

4) Have your doctor’s contact information saved: In case of emergency or sudden onset of illness, it’s good to have your trusted physician’s contact information saved. Generally, you can at least speak to your doctor’s nurse, who will be able to advise you on what to do when illness arises, and can speak to the doctor on your behalf, in case special attention or a new prescription is needed. In the worst scenario, a local doctor can speak to your doctor about pre-existing conditions and relay potentially life-saving information.

5) Pack healthy snacks and water: When traveling, it is usually easy to get your hands on sodas and snacks from a convenience store, which can really de-rail your healthy eating, or can also put a considerable dent in your pocketbook. Pack your own snacks, such as veggie sticks, fruit, nuts, or jerky, as well as bottled water or juice.

As you travel, keep in mind that the holidays can be stressful times for everyone. Keeping a positive attitude, no matter the circumstance, can help combat stress in you and others around you. Remember that stress can cause your immune system to lower its defenses. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Eating

Friday, December 11, 2015

This time of year, it is so easy to indulge on sweets, treats, and meals heavy in calories. Between Thanksgiving, family get-togethers, and holiday parties with friends and co-workers, we usually have many opportunities to forego our good habits for gobbling up goodies. Also, it becomes more common for unhealthy treats to be within arm’s reach at work, at home, and even in the grocery store, as everyone brings out their favorite high-calorie recipes reserved for this time of year. With all of this temptation, how can one resist?

The best way to stave off temptation is by maintaining fluids. Drinking plenty of water every day helps our bodies feel fuller, which makes us want to eat less. Although water is best water, coffee, and tea can help us fill up as well. Another way to fill up on the good, before getting to the bad, is to start off with a large salad. Even if your hosts don’t have salad on the menu, you can easily construct your own for consumption before attending the event. This will make you want to skip all of the pre-meal snacks, and save room for the main course.

Brushing your teeth or using strong mouthwash not only keeps our dental hygiene fresh, but can help us avoid eating sweets and other treats. An occasional peppermint or candy cane can also do the trick, but keep in mind the sugar content of these items. Chewing gum can also be used, but the constant chewing motion can actually trick the body into digestion mode, as the chewing motion simulates mastication of food. This incessant chewing can make you feel hungrier, which could lead to overeating.

The best method to avoid holiday overeating is to limit yourself. Make it a goal to only have one treat per day. Use your self-control to combat the want to gorge yourself on empty, sugar-filled calories. When baking at home, make sure you have someone to share your goodies with, or cut the recipe down to a smaller batch.

Above all, enjoy yourself for the holidays!

The Flu and You

Thursday, December 3, 2015

This time of year, around every corner you’re bound to see advertisements for pills, shots, and tonics to either help you get over the flu or to prevent it altogether. If you missed out on getting your flu shot or simply chose not to, you may need to work on your line of defense to guard you and your family to prevent an outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC for short, has 3 actions they recommend for fighting or preventing influenza.

1. The flu shot – Pharmacies and doctor’s offices typically begin receiving the shot around October, but some areas may receive vaccines earlier or later. It is recommended that you check with your doctor or pharmacist and get the shot as soon as possible. While some locations may carry the shot all season, supplies are often limited. The shot is safe for anyone 6 months or older. Each year, the flu vaccine will most likely be different from years prior, since there are many strains of influenza. Researchers spend the whole year beforehand determining which strains will be most prominent and include them in the vaccine. If you have any concerns about receiving a flu shot, visit with your doctor so that you may express them and ask any questions you may have.

2. Take action to prevent germs – Washing your hands is always one of the best possible methods to prevent germs, including influenza, from spreading. The CDC has great guides on their website that will help you ensure that you and your loved ones are scrubbing appropriately.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but do your best to avoid people who are sick, even if it’s not necessarily the flu. Any kind of illness can lower your immune system and you may “catch” the flu when your defenses are down. If you come in contact with someone who is ill, make sure to wash your hands and ask them to cover their mouths if they sneeze or cough. 

Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. These areas are superhighways for germs to get into your body. If you are coughing or sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth with either your hands or a tissue then proceed to wash or sanitize your hands as soon as possible. Also, NEVER save tissues after they have been used; be sure to throw them away after each use. 

If someone in your home is diagnosed with the flu, try to keep them isolated to one room of the house. Be sure to launder bedding, clothing, and dishes often, and hold soiled laundry away from the body.

3. Antiviral drugs: If you or anyone in your family may have contracted the flu, visit a doctor as soon as possible. If you test positive, you will be prescribed antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics and there are some created specifically to fight the flu. The CDC recognizes antiviral medications as the most effective method of getting over influenza. They will always be prescription based, and it’s important to note that over-the-counter meds are not useful in fighting this virus. Flu-like symptoms include fever, runny/stuffy nose, chills, sore throat, aches, cough, and fatigue. Some may also have vomiting and diarrhea. If you or a loved one is experiencing two or more of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately to combat the virus as quickly as possible before complications occur. 

Each year thousands are diagnosed and beat the flu but yet others encounter complications due to the virus. Do your best to prevent getting ill by following the CDC’s guidelines above. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your preferred medical professional or your local health department for guidance.

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