Health

Just 20 Seconds Can Help Prevent the Spread

Every year, here at Emory Healthcare, we celebrate Handwashing Awareness Week.

The goal of National Handwashing Awareness Week is to decrease the spread of infectious diseases by empowering individuals through education on the importance of handwashing to help protect their loved ones and communities. By working together we can make a difference!

At each of our facilities, all of our team members practice hand hygiene and we are reminded at almost every turn via signage and educational information just how important hand hygiene is for the health and wellness of our staff, patients, families, and visitors.

By definition, hand hygiene is the cleaning of the hands using either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. “Handwashing” refers to hand cleaning using soap and water. Hands can become contaminated with bacteria during routine daily activities such as eating, coughing, changing diapers, caring for an ill loved one, or taking out the trash. Hand hygiene doesn’t get rid of all bacteria on the hands, but it can reduce the number of bacteria on the hands and prevent the spread of bacteria from one person to another, or prevent the contamination of additional surfaces.

The 6 Rules of Handwashing:

  • Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, cleaning up after your pets, or handling money.
  • Wash your hands when they’re dirty.
  • Always wash your hands before eating.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands.
  • Refrain from putting your fingers in your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid touching people and surfaces with unclean hands.

Proper Handwashing Technique:

  1. Wet hands with warm water, then use soap (preferably antibacterial).
  2. Rub your hands together, making sure to scrub all areas.
  3. Be sure to rub for a minimum of 20 seconds, or sing “Happy Birthday” to make handwashing most effective.
  4. Rinse thoroughly, then dry hands on a clean towel.
  5. Finally, be sure and turn the faucet off with the towel, not your hands, to prevent re-contamination.

Do you have other tips that help you practice good hand hygiene? If so, share them with us and our readers using the comments field below!

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Emory HealthConnection is where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Know Where to Go

Knowing where to go when you’re ill makes a big difference. But it can get confusing. Know where to go to get the right care at the right time. Your primary care doctor knows your medical history best, but the Emory Healthcare Network also includes Peachtree Immediate Care Urgent Care and CVS MinuteClinics, hundreds of primary care locations and 6 ERs throughout metro Atlanta. Get the care you need wherever you need it. See our map to find the locations closest to you.

Talk to Our Nurses

If you’re not sure if a trip to the ER is needed, call your family doctor or the Emory HealthConnection, where registered nurses can help you find a location or specialist that’s right for you. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Healthy Infused Water Recipes with a Twist

man holding fruit infused waterOne of the keys to preventing dehydration is drinking plenty of fluids, including water. While water is almost always the best drink choice, a lot of people complain that they get bored drinking plain water. While you can add purchased flavored drink mixes to water, you can also make your own flavored water by infusing it with different fruits and herbs.

Infusing water with a little flavor is really simple. Fill a pitcher with water, add thinly sliced fruits, herbs or spices, and chill in the refrigerator. You also can add sliced fresh fruit to a reusable water bottle. The combinations are endless. Some fruits work better than others. Berries tend to break down faster than hardier citrus fruits like lemons or limes. For stronger flavored water, prepare it a day ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight before drinking.

A great benefit of infusing water with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices is that you can get some added nutritional benefit. Lemons, lime, oranges, grapefruit, and berries are all excellent sources of vitamin C. Fresh ginger and fresh mint are both refreshing flavorings as well as being good for upset stomachs.

Making your own flavored water is also a good way to avoid the unnecessary added sugars, preservatives or chemicals that often are added to drink mixes or commercially available flavored waters. Eager to get started? Check out the simple infused water recipes below!

Cucumber-Infused Water

What you will need:

  • 1 cucumber
  • A strainer
  • Water and ice

For a slightly flavored-infused cucumber water, cut a cucumber up into small slices or chunks, add it to your water and cover, and let sit in the fridge overnight. Strain the mixture before drinking.

For a more flavorful cucumber-infused water, blend the cucumber and pour it into a strainer and let drip overnight. In the morning, mix the cucumber juice with a pitcher of water.

Grapefruit, Orange and Lime-Infused Water

What you will need:

  • 1/2 a grapefruit thinly sliced
  • 1 orange thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a lime thinly sliced
  • A few mint sprigs (optional)
  • Water and ice (1 quart)

Chill for a stronger flavor or serve right away for a nice light refreshment.

Pineapple, Ginger and Mint-Infused Water

Ingredients:

  • Pineapple slices (6-10)
  • Thinly sliced ginger (5 slices)
  • Mint leaves (14)
  • Ice and water (1 quart)

Chill for a stronger flavor or serve right away for a nice light refreshment.

Fruit-Infused Iced Tea

What you will need:

  • Fruit-flavored herbal tea, such as Celestial Seasonings Red or Lemon Zinger or Tazo Passion
  • Cubed pineapple
  • Sliced tangerines

To mix things up, try other fruit and herb combination ideas.

There are numerous health benefits to staying hydrated, including fresher, younger-looking skin, mental and physical energy, and hydration helps reduce the chance for ailments such as the flu, arthritis, and other health irregularities.

Feel free to share any or all of the delicious infused water recipes and health benefits of proper hydration with your loved ones.

Cheers to your health and wellness!

If you like the material above, here’s a list of other recipes for wellness.

Emory Healthcare

Staying healthy is important and at Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Need help finding a location or specialist that’s right for you? Registered nurses at Emory HealthConnection are here to help. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Top 5 Health Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

women walking in park to do yogaAs we all know, regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But because of various injuries and/or health conditions, instead of running on a treadmill or jumping rope, many people (especially those with back pain) must choose to participate in low-impact activities. If you’re someone who is impacted by musculoskeletal issues, ranging from tender joints to osteoarthritis, check out the five activity options below for healthy ways to stay active without all the wear and tear.

1. Swimming

Swimming is a great way for everyone to stay active, but it is especially well suited for those seeking a low-impact way to get or stay healthy. Stiff and sore joints, especially for those with lower back pain, can benefit from the buoyancy of water and the fact that your body bears less of its own weight when underwater. The increased resistance afforded by water (vs. air) means exercise can be even more effective in building not only strength but also your range of motion.

2. Yoga

Because the foundation of yoga is stretching, it is an ideal exercise option for those requiring low-impact options for staying fit. The slow and gradual movements associated with yoga allow the body to gracefully ease into each position and ensure joints avoid taking on the heavy impact associated with many other forms of exercise. Yoga can help you become more flexible and has a wide range of mental and physical health benefits – all while going easy on your body.

3. Walking

Walking is one of the best ways to stay active and to make a positive healthy change in your life. Get your steps in by walking indoors or outdoors – with a friend or by yourself. Using a tracking tool is another great way to challenge yourself or others, and it can even motivate you to walk more.

4. Cycling

Cycling is a fantastic low-impact way of working cardiovascular exercise into your routine. Both indoor and outdoor cycling allow you to incorporate resistance training into your workout and get the heartbeat up to burn calories, build stamina and boost your overall healthy lifestyle!

5. Tai Chi

Rooted in a combination of martial arts and meditation, tai chi provides core strengthening, balance, and aerobic benefits, along with an opportunity to get in some time for deep breathing and stress relief as well. Leveraging slow, graceful movement, tai chi removes the impact from your workout and is easy on the joints while reducing stiffness and even improving your sleep!

These are some great options for low-impact exercise. What are your other favorite low-impact exercise options?

The Wellness Center at Emory Decatur Hospital has classes and programs to help you continue living a healthy lifestyle. With a fully equipped gym, indoor pool, and mix of aqua and land classes, we can help you reach your personal health goals. Call 404-501-2222 today to join and book your free fitness assessment.

Emory Healthcare

Staying healthy is important, and at Emory Healthcare we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Need help finding a location or specialist that’s right for you? Registered nurses at Emory HealthConnection are here to help. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

5 Outdoor Safety Tips to Avoid an Emergency

woman hiking outdoors

Whether you are hiking, swimming or just enjoying activities in your own backyard, spending time outdoors with family and friends is the way we all like to enjoy time outdoors. However, we know things can change in the blink of an eye. Yes, emergencies happen quickly. Knowing where to go and what to do if the situation presents itself is important, especially when you are enjoying outdoor fun!

While many injuries turn out to be relatively minor and will heal on their own, it is essential to understand when it’s time to go to the emergency room. It could save a life.

Here’s a list of five common outdoor injuries and symptoms to look for.

Heatstroke

As temperatures rise, it’s important to remain cool, well-rested and hydrated. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures and dehydration are a lethal mix, causing your body to overheat. This can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the most serious of all – heatstroke. Heatstroke is a very serious problem that causes internal organ failure. If left untreated, it can result in death.

Seek help immediately if you experience extremely high body temperature (104 F or higher), fainting, nausea and/or vomiting, an intense headache, seizures, confusion, disorientation, rapid breathing or increased heart rate.

Head Injuries

Outdoor activities wouldn’t be complete without a few bumps and bruises. Most are harmless, resulting in minor pain or tenderness. Head injuries, though, can be tricky. Sometimes the symptoms of serious problems do not reveal themselves for several hours … or even days.

You will want to go to the hospital if after a blow to the head you experience a headache or stiff neck, sleepiness, vomiting, loss of movement in your arms or legs, or you don’t seem to be thinking straight/acting normal.

Bee and Wasp Stings

Everyone reacts differently to bee and wasp stings. Some will barely notice a sting, while others may have a life-threatening allergic reaction. Usually, there isn’t anything to worry about. The pain will go away within a few hours. Swelling from more moderate reactions will go down within a few days. But severe allergic reactions are nothing to take lightly.

Call 911 if after being stung you have difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness or fainting, or additional skin reactions such as hives.

Wrist and Elbow Fractures

Falls become more frequent as outdoor activity levels increase. Our natural tendency is to catch ourselves, causing our wrists and elbows to pay the price. Early detection and treatment of fractures can help speed the recovery process and prevent complications in the future. Head to the emergency room after a fall if you notice an obvious deformity, difficulty using the injured area, pain, swelling, warmth, bruising or redness.

Snake Bites

Most of the time, snakes are not aggressive and they will try to avoid people. Even if they do attack, many bites are not life-threatening. However, you should treat every bite as a medical emergency unless you are positive the snake was not venomous.

General symptoms of a snake bite may include bleeding from the puncture wound, severe pain, swelling and burning of the skin, blurred vision, dizziness, diarrhea, fever, fainting, increased thirst, and weakness.

Know Where to Go

Knowing where to go when you’re ill or hurt makes a big difference. But it can get confusing. Know where to go to get the right care at the right time. Your primary care doctor knows your medical history best, but the Emory Healthcare Network also includes Peachtree Immediate Care Urgent Care and CVS MinuteClinics, hundreds of primary care locations and 6 ERs throughout metro Atlanta. Get the care you need wherever you need it. See our map to find the locations closest to you.


 

 

Health Benefits of Yoga

yoga class

Developed in India thousands of years ago, yoga has become an incredibly popular form of exercise in the United States. There are more than one hundred different types of yoga, and most focus on three core elements: breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming poses (or postures) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.

You’ve probably heard yoga is good for you. Maybe you’ve even tried it and found that you walked away feeling better than when you came in. Yoga not only feels great but it’s also great for you, providing instant gratification and lasting transformation (if you stick with it!). But while you probably know that yoga can help you become more flexible, you may be surprised by the wide range of health benefits—both physical and mental—that yoga can help you achieve.

Physical Benefits

  • Builds Muscle Strength – Many yoga poses require you to support the weight of your own body in new ways, including balancing on one leg or supporting yourself with your arms. Poses such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. The standing poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abs. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose.
  • Improved Flexibility – Typically the first and most obvious benefit of yoga, improved flexibility tends to be clearly evident, even to beginners. Moving and stretching in new ways helps to increase the range of motion and lubrication, especially if you have pain in your joints and spine, which is key to performing everyday activities with ease as you continue to age.
  • Posture – When you’re stronger and more flexible, your posture improves. Most of the standing and sitting poses develop core strength because your abdominal muscles are needed to help support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you’re more likely to sit and stand tall.
  • Bone and Joint Health – It’s well known that weight-bearing exercise strengthens bones and helps ward off osteoporosis, and many postures in yoga require that you lift your own weight. Yoga also can have a significant effect on healthy joint function as certain poses promote the release of fluids while strengthening the muscles supporting vital joint systems.
  • Heart Healthy – When you regularly get your heart rate into the aerobic range, you lower your risk of heart attack. While not all yoga is aerobic, if you do it vigorously or take certain classes (like Ashtanga), it can boost your heart rate into the aerobic range.
  • Breathing – Most of us take shallow breaths and don’t give much thought to how we breathe. Because most forms of yoga involve deep breathing and attention to our breath, lung capacity often improves. This, in turn, can improve sports performance and endurance.

Mental Benefits

Aside from the array of physical benefits, yoga also has some great mental benefits. Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing help a person improve their mental well-being.

  • Stress Reduction – One of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage the devastating effects of stress. Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Yoga’s quiet, precise movements and emphasis on being in the moment can also help by taking the focus off external stressors. Many people leave yoga classes feeling less stressed than when they came in.
  • Body Awareness – Doing yoga will give you an increased awareness of your own body, as you are often called upon to make small, subtle movements to improve your alignment. Over time, this will increase your level of comfort in your own body, which can help with early detection of physical problems or ailments and allow for early preventive action.
  • Mental Calmness – Many of the breathing exercises practiced in yoga have been developed to calm and tame our seemingly endless stream of thoughts. This leads to greater concentration as you work your way through each pose—and, in most cases, a calmness that lasts the rest of the day.

If one or many of these benefits appeal to you, you should look into the various schools of yoga and determine which is right for you. The great news is that just about everyone can do it, too — body type and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style.

The Wellness Center at Emory Decatur Hospital offers yoga classes and programs that help you live in the healthiest manner possible!

Emory Healthcare

Staying healthy is important and at Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

 

 

Need help finding a location or specialist that’s right for you? Registered nurses at Emory HealthConnection are here to help. Call 404-778-7777 from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST (M-F).

Eye Care Basics: Protect Your Vision and Boost Your Health

woman getting eye examOur eyes help us navigate each day – enabling us to get our work done, connect with family or friends, and enjoy our favorite pastimes. Despite all our eyes do for us, it’s easy to overlook our eye health. Learn how the right eye care can protect your vision.

Take Care of Contact Lenses and Wear Them Correctly

Wearing contact lenses is fairly straightforward. But after a few years (or years and years) of wearing lenses, it can seem like not such a big deal to fall asleep in them or skip a few steps when cleaning them. Taking proper care of your contacts and following instructions can help keep your eyes healthy.

Be sure you:

  • Replace your contacts according to the schedule provided by your doctor or brand.
  • Replace your contact case every three months to reduce the risk of contamination or infection from a dirty or damaged case.
  • Remove contacts before showering or swimming.
  • Use a sterile solution to clean contacts, and don’t use water or saliva to rewet them.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling contacts.

Reduce Screen Time

Screen time isn’t just bad for the brain and body: It’s bad for our eyes. Considering that Americans spend approximately 10 hours a day looking at a screen, it’s important to take some simple steps to help protect your eyes.

Staring at a screen – whether it’s a computer, phone, tablet or TV – can strain the eyes from the exposure to the blue light of digital devices. Symptoms of digital eyestrain include:

  • Dry eye
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritated or itchy eyes
  • Red eyes

You can protect your eyes from digital eyestrain by:

  • Keeping screens an arms-length away
  • Limiting screen time
  • Making sure the lighting in the room is brighter than the device you’re using
  • Raising the contrast of your screen
  • Using a humidifier where you work to help keep eyes moist
  • Using a matte screen filter to cut glare
  • Wearing glasses more often

Wear Protective Eyewear

The term “protective eyewear” can bring up images of safety glasses. But, it’s so much more than that. Your sunglasses are one of your most important pieces of protective eyewear. Regularly wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays can help reduce your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and pterygium, which can cause astigmatism. You should also wear a hat to help protect your eyes.

If your job requires use of specialty eyewear, be sure you wear it regularly and safely. A simple pair of safety goggles or glasses can help protect your eyes from stray pieces of material that may cause damage to your eyes. Some sports, like basketball, football and hockey, also call for protective eyewear to help keep you or your athlete’s eyes healthy.

Get Enough Sleep

Did you know that eyes need at least five hours of sleep to rest and replenish? Sleep helps our eyes work properly and protects our vision. Not getting enough sleep may cause:

  • Dry eye
  • Eye spasms
  • Popped blood vessels

Make sure you get enough “shut eye” by going to bed at the same time and aiming for at least seven hours of sleep each night.

Get a Thorough Eye Exam Every Year

An annual eye exam is an important part of maintaining your health, even if you don’t wear glasses or contacts. A comprehensive, dilated eye exam gives your optometrist or ophthalmologist the opportunity to check the health of your eyes, and identify health conditions or complications of high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma and overall eye health. Find an optometrist or ophthalmologist near you and schedule your eye exam.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

Things Every Senior Should Discuss With Their Doctor

senior healthOne important way to maintain good health while aging is to create an open and honest relationship with your doctor. Sharing with your doctor what is important to you while also addressing your physical and personal challenges is critical to your health and safety.

Getting older doesn’t mean giving up your favorite activities. Having discussions with your loved ones and doctor about what is meaningful creates an understanding of what quality of life means to you. It is important to continue to enjoy an active lifestyle – traveling, participating in physical activities such as water aerobics, and meeting up with friends to play games like Bridge.

While it is important to maintain a good quality of life, it is also critical to make sure you are safe while doing so! Part of your discussion with your doctor should include identifying what your physical limitations are and any barriers to performing your activities of daily living. It is important to mention if you experience any falls, changes in vision, or complications from any chronic conditions such as heart, neurologic or musculoskeletal disease.

Maintaining regular wellness visits or follow-up exams with your primary care physicians gives you the opportunity to have these discussions with your doctor and open up a dialogue about what is important to you with the focus to keep you healthy and active. Talk to your doctor about what quality of like means for you so that you can create a safe way to keep doing what you love to do!

1. Osteoarthritis

Sore, stiff or painful joints are often a sign of osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis affecting older adults. Common joints affected by osteoarthritis include the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

It is important to share with your doctor if you are having pain in any of these joints to rule out other diseases that may mimic the symptoms of osteoarthritis. You may need diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray, to provide a clear picture and diagnosis of your condition.

If osteoarthritis is diagnosed, it is important for your doctor to understand how your joint pain is affecting your daily life. Working together with your primary care doctor, and possibly other specialists such as a physical therapist and/or orthopedic specialist can be instrumental to limiting your pain so that you can maximize your function and quality of life.

Therapies that you may discuss with your doctor and specialists can include, but are not limited to:

  • A healthy diet, with nutritional supplementation for healthy bones and joints
  • Medications, which may range from topical creams to over-the-counter and prescribed meds
  • Physical activity, including physical therapy and guided musculoskeletal training

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. It can strike at any age, but the risk of developing coronary heart disease increases as we age. Older individuals are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic health conditions that can lead to heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Your doctor can discuss your risk of developing heart disease. Together, you can create a plan that helps you improve your heart health, which may include:

  • Eating a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein
  • Getting physically active
  • Limiting alcohol use
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing chronic health conditions
  • Quitting smoking

3. Cancer

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 1.7 million new cancer cases in the U.S. alone in 2019. Those statistics may sound scary, but advances in screening, diagnosis, treatment, and management are empowering more individuals to survive cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million individuals in the U.S. by 2026, compared to 15.5 million in 2016.

One of the biggest risks for developing cancer is advanced age. The NCI found that the median age for a cancer diagnosis is 66 years.

You can manage your cancer risk with regular check-ups with your doctor. Today’s screening tests are effectively identifying and diagnosing cancer in its earlier stages – getting you the treatment you need for a better outcome.

Talk to your doctor about your cancer risk and what cancer screening test is right for you. If you notice any troubling symptoms, don’t wait for your annual exam – schedule an appointment today.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, as well as primary care offices, urgent cares, and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

or call us at 404-778-7777

About Dr. Footman

Eleni Footman MDEleni Footman, MD, began her studies by completing a bachelor’s degree in Health Science at the University of Florida. Following her collegiate studies, she completed two years of post-baccalaureate clinical research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a focus in Sickle Cell Disease. In 2009, she transitioned to Georgetown University School of Medicine for her medical degree. She participated in the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 2013 where she explored how end-of-life and advanced care planning was approached by Internal Medicine residents in their ambulatory clinic settings. Following this, she completed a three-year Internal Medicine residency at INOVA Fairfax Medical Campus in Fairfax, VA. She completed her medical training at New York Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell where she obtained training for her Geriatric Medicine fellowship. She now works as an outpatient Geriatrician with Emory Healthcare and as a house call physician as part of the Emory Domiciliary Care program.

Her professional interests include caring for and advocating for seniors in the clinical setting but also in the community and at the home setting with a long term professional interest in house call medicine and domiciliary care. She is very passionate about keeping seniors as functional as possible with an emphasis on fall prevention. She enjoys being an advocate and support for families and caregivers and, most importantly, aims to optimize the quality of life for each of her patients.

How Not to Get Sick: 5 Tips to Stay Healthy All Year Long

washing handsA cold or virus can knock you off your feet and keep you in bed for days at a time. Not only do you feel miserable when you’re sick, but you miss out on work, school and with your family. While you can’t avoid sickness altogether, there are a few ways you can stay healthy all year long. Read on to learn five simple tips for combatting illness and keeping you up and at ‘em.

1. Wash Your Hands Properly

Hand hygiene is one of your best defenses against getting sick. But proper handwashing may not be as straightforward as you think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer five foolproof steps to make sure you’re washing away germs and bacteria that can make you sick:

  1. Wet hands with clean, running water.
  2. Apply soap and lather the backs of hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  5. Dry hands with a clean towel or air-dry them.

Soap and water are always the best way to get rid of the germs on your hands. However, if you don’t have access to running water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is recommended.

Be sure you wash your hands after:

  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Caring for someone who is sick
  • Changing diapers
  • Touching an animal, animal food or animal waste
  • Treating a cut or wound
  • Using the toilet or helping a child go to the bathroom

And before:

  • Eating
  • Preparing food
  • Treating a cut or wound

2. Make Sure You’re Up-to-Date on All Your Vaccines

Vaccines aren’t just for children. The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases recommends that all adults follow the vaccination schedule set by the CDC to help prevent serious illnesses, such as:

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Rubella
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus
  • Whooping cough

Be sure to talk to your primary care provider to make sure you’re up-to-date on each of these vaccines and to discuss which are right for you.

3. Wipe Down Surfaces

When someone starts coughing or sneezing in your home or workplace, cleaning (to remove dirt and germs) and disinfecting (to kill the germs on surfaces or objects) common areas will help you stay healthy. Be sure to follow the instructions on your cleansers and disinfectants for full effectiveness, and maintain a regular cleaning schedule to keep germs at bay. Target areas that are touched most often, including:

  • Computer keyboards
  • Countertops
  • Desks
  • Doorknobs
  • Faucets
  • Phones
  • Remotes

4. Learn Sneezing and Coughing Etiquette

File this under gross, but true: A cough can travel at up to 50 miles per hour and have 3,000 droplets of saliva, which can contain germs, bacteria and viruses. Sneezes have about 40,000 droplets and can travel as fast as 200 miles per hour.

Help stop the spread of germs by following proper sneezing and coughing etiquette: Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hand. Instead, use a tissue to cover your mouth or nose, or use the bend of your arm to completely cover your mouth or nose. Regardless of how you sneeze or cough, be sure to wash your hands frequently if you notice you’ve been coughing or sneezing a lot.

5. Schedule Annual Screenings

Annual screenings to check for chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, are an important part of staying healthy. Scheduling a regular exam with your primary care provider also gives you the opportunity to discuss any health concerns you may have. Find a doctor near you and schedule a well visit today.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy. 

 

Social Wellness: Your Relationships Impact Your Health

social wellnessThere’s a lot of talk these days about your emotional, physical and mental wellness, but what about your social health? After all, your relationships with family and friends certainly impact your overall well-being. Think about the last time you had an argument with a loved one or were on the outs with a friend: It can make your blood pressure rise and release stress hormones in your body. All relationships have their ups and downs. But with strong communication, open-mindedness and empathy, healthy relationships will stand the test of time — and add great value to your life.

In fact, research supports the idea that people with strong social wellness (those who have healthy relationships and can successfully interact with others) enjoy many health benefits, including:

  • Boosted immune systems
  • Healthier hearts
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Longer lives
  • Stronger endocrine systems

Take the next step towards social wellness by discovering these simple ways to build healthy, lasting relationships.

1. Take Care of Yourself

It’s hard to build healthy, meaningful relationships when you feel tired or run down. That’s why the first step in boosting your social wellness is to take care of yourself. Be sure you:

Eat healthy

Proper nutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. And instead of following the latest fad diet, get back to the basics with meals and snacks that include lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy dairy and plenty of protein. Keep in mind all your protein doesn’t need to come from animals. Reach for nuts, beans, legumes or eggs for a well-rounded diet. Skip foods that are high in empty calories, sugar and saturated fats.

Get plenty of exercise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults age 18-64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, along with two days of weight-strengthening exercises.

Make time to head outdoors for a walk or run around the block or swim at a local community pool. Find something you enjoy and make exercise a habit. After all, regular physical activity can boost your energy, strengthen your muscles, boost brainpower and improve your cardiovascular health.

Make time for yourself

Self-care is more than a buzzword: It’s critical you take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others. Make room in your busy schedule for your favorite activities, whether that’s a weekly massage, a favorite show or reading a book. When you spend time doing the things you love, you’ll be better able to support others and nurture your relationships.

Disconnect from the screen

Today’s technology has put the answers to our most burning questions right at our fingertips. And social media has enabled us to connect with friends and family members around the country and even the globe. But, all that time staring at a screen can take away from relationships with your family, friends and people in your community.

It can also sometimes create feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression and eat into your productivity, which means you have less time to do the things you enjoy.

Instead of being a slave to your screen, set boundaries. Pledge to check social media only two or three times a day and keep your phone out of reach. After a few days, you’ll be surprised at how little you’ve missed.

Learn time-management skills

Time management is a great way to manage your stress and build healthy relationships with others. After all, when you’re not thinking about the to-do list that’s a mile long, you can better focus on your relationships and be present in the moment.

If you struggle with too much on your list, consider these “tried and true” time management tips:

  • Delegate tasks that others can complete.
  • Just say no. When you’re feeling overloaded, let others know. Tell them you can’t take on any more tasks right now, but ask them to check back in a day or two.
  • Prioritize your tasks by deadlines.
  • Write down all your tasks to help you stay focused.

2. Communicate

Open and respectful communication is the pillar that supports friendships. You can communicate effectively with your loved ones and friends by:

Sharing your feelings

Your support network is key to helping you through tough times. Let others know how you’re feeling or if something has upset you. Being honest about your feelings, instead of a quick “I’m fine,” can help you build meaningful relationships.

Being empathetic

A healthy relationship is a two-way street. Give your friends and family members your undivided attention and approach their problems, concerns and successes with empathy. Listen carefully to what they’re saying and ask how you can help instead of offering unsolicited advice.

3. Set Boundaries

Our social wellness isn’t measured by how many friends we have, but by meaningful connections and healthy relationships. Remember, a true friend is willing to listen to and support you, no matter what. Avoid abusive, violent or toxic people. Set boundaries with individuals that make you feel bad about yourself, and limit your interaction with negative friends, family members or neighbors.

4. Teach Your Children About Healthy Relationships

The first place your children will learn about healthy relationships is in your home. Nurture positive relationships with your children so they know the impact and value of feeling loved and appreciated, and are ready to build similar relationships with their friends and loved ones.

Let your children know you love them, offering plenty of praise and support. And when praising them, be specific. Instead of saying “Good job on your report card,” try saying “I’m so proud of how hard you worked in math. Your study habits and attention in class helped you pull your grade up.” Offer praise in times of failure, too. After all, we learn as much from our failures as we do from our successes.

5. Find New Ways to Connect

Deepen bonds with old friends and branch out to make new ones by:

  • Going for a walk together or exploring a new hiking trail
  • Joining a group that focuses on a favorite hobby, such as photography, painting or reading
  • Participating in community events
  • Signing up for a new class together
  • Trying a new restaurant
  • Volunteering in the community

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, and hundreds of primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. If you have questions or concerns about your social wellness, find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Walton

Dr. Velair WaltonVelair Walton, M.D., is a an Internal Medicine Physician at Emory St. Joseph’s Primary Care. Dr. Walton’s clinical interests include Women’s Health and Lifestyle Medicine with a strong focus on diet, exercise, and living a holistically healthy life. She also has a strong interest in chronic disease, particularly empowering patients to navigate their diagnosis through health education.

Dr. Walton is a distinguished member of the American College of Physicians serving on the Wellness Committee for the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians. In addition to her leadership roles in local community organizations such as the Athletic Fitness Association of America, she is a devoted student of the bible regularly serving in her local church.

Emergency Preparedness: Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe

Emergency Preparedness KitWe don’t like to think about it, but emergencies can strike at any time. From major disasters to health scares, it’s important to be prepared so you and your family can cope with whatever comes your way.

For some, emergency preparedness is a daunting task. To make it less overwhelming, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest breaking it down into an easy-to-remember, three-step process:

  1. Get a kit
  2. Make a plan
  3. Be informed

1. Get a Kit

Make a kit of supplies you would need in a disaster. The Department of Homeland Security recommends your emergency kit include:

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert
  • Dust masks
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights
  • Food (three-day supply of non-perishable food such as energy bars, peanut butter, nuts, canned vegetables and dried fruit)
  • Local maps
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Medication (enough to last three days)
  • Whistle
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Water (three gallons of water to last for three days for each person in your household)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Gather your materials and store them in a leak-proof bin in a safe, dry place in your home. Then, determine a set time to check the expiration dates of the food, water and supplies in your emergency kit, which you should do at least twice a year. To be sure you can remember without electronic alerts, since your electronic calendar and alerts may not work in a disaster, make these semi-annual checks coincide with other important events. One example would be to make it a routine part of your spring cleaning and New Year’s goals. These are also great times to change the batteries in your smoke detectors.

Aside from creating and maintaining your emergency kit, you might also consider wearing a medical identification bracelet or necklace to notify emergency personnel of any health conditions.

2. Make a Plan

Sit down with your friends or family members and go over what to do in case of an emergency. Be sure to discuss:

  • A fire plan: Talk about safe ways to exit the house and where everyone should meet once outside. If you have children, do a few fire drills so they can learn what the smoke alarm sounds like and where to go.
  • A tornado plan: Know where to go during a tornado warning. Discuss what the tornado sirens sound like, and the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
  • Emergency contacts: Make sure everyone knows how to get in touch in an emergency. Memorize important phone numbers since cell phones with programmed numbers may not work.
  • Fill out your phone’s emergency information: Many phones have fields you can pre-program for emergency responders with health or emergency contact information in case of an emergency. If your phone doesn’t offer pre-programmed fields, add an “ICE” contact to your contact list. “ICE” stands for “in case of an emergency” and will let emergency personnel know who to contact. You can also add a piece of paper to your wallet with pertinent information.

3. Be Informed

As you gather emergency supplies for your home and discuss communication plans with your family, you should also familiarize yourself with the disasters most likely to happen. Be sure to sign up for alerts that will keep you informed of any potential emergencies. The City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness offers several resources to help residents get prepared, including NotifyATL. This automated system sends out critical information to help keep you safe, including alerts about weather, unexpected road closures and building evacuations.

You should also consider:

  • Learning CPR and first aid basics (The Red Cross offers classes around the metropolitan area).
  • Locating the evacuation centers in your community in case you need to leave your home.
  • Reading about “Run, Hide, Fight” in the case of an active shooter.

Emory Healthcare

At Emory Healthcare, we’re here to help you find the care you need, when you need it. With more than 2,800 doctors and 300 locations, including 11 hospitals, primary care offices, urgent cares and MinuteClinics, we’re delivering specialized care across the region. Find a doctor near you to help you get and stay healthy.

About Dr. Walton

Dr. Velair WaltonVelair Walton, M.D., is a an Internal Medicine Physician at Emory St. Joseph’s Primary Care. Dr. Walton’s clinical interests include Women’s Health and Lifestyle Medicine with a strong focus on diet, exercise, and living a holistically healthy life. She also has a strong interest in chronic disease, particularly empowering patients to navigate their diagnosis through health education.

Dr. Walton is a distinguished member of the American College of Physicians serving on the Wellness Committee for the Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians. In addition to her leadership roles in local community organizations such as the Athletic Fitness Association of America, she is a devoted student of the bible regularly serving in her local church.