Thursday, January 12, 2017

Gout: The Hidden Danger of Holiday Festivities

Dr David Wagoner
Dr. Matthew Wagoner, DPM
Triad Foot Center

The holiday season is full of rich and hearty foods, drinks and parties. But over-indulging in the holiday spirit can also cause a not-so-merry gout attack.

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that typically occurs in one joint, like the ankle, heel or within the joint of the big toe. Uric acid accumulates in the joints and then crystalizes, which then causes inflammation.

If you’ve suffered from gout in the past, be sure to stay away from foods that are high in purines, like organ meats (liver and kidneys), other meats (bacon, pork, beef and lamb), game meats, anchovies, sardines, gravy and beer. These types of foods will only aid in uric acid build-up and contribute to a gout flare-up.

You are also more likely to suffer from gout if you:
  • Have a family history of gout
  • Are male
  • Are overweight
  • Consume large amounts of alcohol
  • Consume a lot of foods that are high in purines
  • Suffer from an enzyme defect where your body has trouble breaking down purines
  • Have been exposed to lead in the environment
  • Have undergone an organ transplant
  • Taking certain medicines such as diuretics, aspirin, cyclosporine, or levodopa
  • Take the vitamin niacin
If you’re suffering from gout in your foot or ankle, there are treatments available to help alleviate your pain. Changes in your diet, increasing the amount of fluids, elevation, immobilization and medications can help reduce the severity and eliminate your gout attack. But speak to a podiatrist first to determine the best route for recovery in your specific situation.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Prepare for Winter Weather and Keep Your Family Safe

Ben Wooten, MPA, CEM
Emergency Preparedness Specialist
Cone Health Emergency Management

As we move into the season of wintery weather, it is a good idea to be prepared for different scenarios that can occur. What may seem like minor inconveniences, such as losing power or being snowed in, can become quite hazardous when combined with dangerously low temperatures.

Creating a plan for these scenarios helps keep you and your family safe. It is always a good idea to have an emergency kit ready when winter weather strikes:
  • Water and nonperishable food – enough to support each family member for up to three days (including pets) 
  • Battery-operated radio and batteries 
  • A power bank to keep your mobile phone charged 
  • First aid kit 
  • Flashlight and batteries 
  • Cash (bills and change) 
  • Comfortable clothing for each family member utilizing layering and at least one change of clothes 
  • Blankets and/or sleeping bags for each family member 
  • Unique family needs like prescription medications, eye glasses, pet supplies and infant supplies 
  • Tools and materials for emergency repairs 
  • A snow shovel 
  • Fireplaces, kerosene space heaters, and other combustion-based sources of heat when used safely and vented properly 

It is also a good idea to maintain contact with your neighbors and check in on any elderly people who live nearby.

Keep an eye on the forecast for winter weather. If snow is predicted, it may be cleared or melt in a day or two. If it is ice, there is the potential for extended periods of power loss. Each scenario is different. Make sure your family is prepared for the next winter weather event

Monday, January 2, 2017

5 Effective Ways to Avoid the Stomach Flu

Melissa Morgan
Melissa G. Morgan, MSN, RN, CIC, CSPDT
System-wide Director 
Infection Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations, and 570 to 800 deaths. Norovirus is commonly referred to as “stomach flu” and is most prevalent between November and April.

Anyone can get infected with norovirus, and you can get it more than once. Norovirus is extremely infectious and can spread quickly in enclosed spaces like health care settings, daycare centers, nursing homes, cruise ships and schools.

The virus is primarily passed along by:
  • Having direct physical contact with an infected person.
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.
  • Eating or drinking contaminated foods or liquids.

Norovirus causes many people to become ill with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain each year. You can protect yourself and others by washing your hands with soap and water often. Practicing good hand hygiene is key.

Five simple and effective steps for good handwashing:
  1. Wet your hands with clean water.
  2. Lather palms, fingers, nails and backs of your hands with soap.
  3. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. 
  4. Rinse your hands with clean water.
  5. Dry your hands thoroughly with a clean paper towel.

Proper hand hygiene is like a do-it-yourself vaccine against norovirus. It is a free and easy way to keep ourselves and our families healthier and happier.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Decrease Stress in Five Minutes or Less

Kathy Clayton, LCSW
Licensed Therapist
Cone Health Employee Assistance Counseling Program

Feeling a little stressed during the holidays? Learn quick stress-relief techniques that you can do almost anywhere. And it only takes a few minutes. Kathy Clayton, a licensed therapist with the Cone Health Employee Assistance Counseling Program, demonstrates relaxation and breathing exercises to help reduce stress for a healthy, holiday season.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

An Annual Physical Exam is the Key First Step in Improving Your Health.

An annual physical exam can help you avoid chronic health problems by identifying the steps you can take to prevent them from developing.

Matt McKinney was a 41-year-old male who couldn’t remember his last annual physical exam. He didn’t think he needed one; at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he thought he was in good shape. But when he saw Hannah Kim, DO, of Cone Health Medical Group’s LeBauer HealthCare at Brassfield in January 2015, his blood test showed that McKinney had borderline high cholesterol. Kim talked with McKinney to understand his lifestyle; when she uncovered a family history of heart disease, Kim suggested that McKinney exercise more and eat better.

Risks such as high cholesterol can often be reduced through increased physical activity and diet modification.

“One of my favorite things is encouraging healthy behaviors that prevent people from getting sick,” Kim says.

She further urges adults to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, refrain from risky activities such as cigarette smoking, and avoid foods that are processed or fried. She recommends eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

“Increasing activity level and making healthy diet choices can be amazingly beneficial,” Kim says. “People can reverse bad lab test results, and they’ll feel and look better as they lose weight.”

Kim stresses the importance of an annual physical exam.

“An annual visit that keeps you healthy before you get sick is one of the most important things you can do to live a long, healthy life,” she says.

A physical exam allows your doctor to assess the total picture of your health, including blood test results, activity level, diet, blood pressure, stress levels and whether you smoke. Evaluation results provide insight into your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other conditions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly one-third of the 133 million Americans living with a chronic disease are unaware of their condition. Chronic diseases cause seven out of every 10 deaths; many of those could have been prevented were they diagnosed early. An annual physical exam can uncover and prevent potentially life-threatening conditions before your health suffers.

McKinney, he took Kim’s advice to heart. Instead of eating fast food, he packs a healthy lunch. He runs twice a week, and takes a body pump class twice a week. In 18 months, he’s lost 20 pounds and trimmed his cholesterol by 50 points. And, he says, he has more energy to play with his two sons.

“My physical was a wake-up call,” McKinney says. “I learned that treatment doesn’t always have to resort to medicine. There are ways to turn around your health by putting in some extra work.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Healthy Holiday Season: Child Safety

Dr. Whitney Haddix
Whitney Haddix
Cone Health Pediatric Teaching Service

The holidays can be stressful, especially with family visiting, a busy schedule of festive activities, and having children off of school for a long period of time. During this time of year, adults can feel overwhelmed and may be more likely to unintentionally hurt or neglect children if they don’t have an outlet. Abuse can come in many forms, including physical, emotional or as neglect. Having a support system in place can help take the pressure off the parent, and local pediatricians and primary care providers can help guide parents to local resources, such as the Family Services of the Piedmont.

Keep in mind that healthcare professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate county or state authorities.

The holidays also give adults the opportunity to spend more time with their children or children in their extended family. Understanding the signs of abuse can help you recognize red flags and bring it to the attention of someone who can help. Signs of abuse can vary depending on the type of abuse, but can include:
  1. Unexplained injuries
  2. Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance
  3. Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
  4. Social withdrawal, or a loss of interest or enthusiasm
  5. Lack of clothing or supplies to meet physical needs
  6. Lack of appropriate attention for medical, dental or psychological problems, or lack of necessary follow-up care
  7. Emotional swings that are inappropriate or out of context to the situation

If you notice any of these indicators, and you feel comfortable, talk to the child’s parent. It’s not easy to tell where the abuse is coming from, but express your concern for the safety of their family. If you are still concerned, or if the parent doesn’t seem to be worried, call a 24-hour hotline such as Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (800-422-4453).

To help prevent abuse, parents should create an open relationship with their children, and put together a support system for themselves when they need help. Unrealistic expectations can burden the child and create tension that can lead to negative interactions. There are many parenting resources that can help parents when they aren’t sure, such as

Monday, December 12, 2016

Nine Ways to Give the Gift of Wellness

Megan Norriss
Megan Norriss
Wellness Coordinator
Alamance Regional Medical Center

The holiday season is here. We all know people who are difficult to shop for, so why not give a gift to help them feel better and get a jump start on those new year’s resolutions?
  1. Digital pedometer. Staying active is so beneficial to maintaining wellness. This is a great tool to track daily, weekly, monthly and yearly progress.
  2. Lunchbox and plasticware. Bringing lunch from home guarantees thoughtful food choices.
  3. Water bottle. Choose from among the many different types of bottles to help those on your list stay hydrated and maintain optimal performance. 
  4. White noise/sleep machine. These devices can make falling and staying asleep easier. Proper rest helps the body restore itself each night.
  5. Beginning Yoga Kit. Yoga increases strength and flexibility and is good for those unable to do high impact exercise. A good kit includes a DVD, guide, mat and resistance band.
  6. Olive oil mister. Olive oil is much better for you than other oils. This device ensures that you don’t overuse it on your food. A few squirts on a salad along with a squeeze of citrus and you have a great heart-heathy dressing.
  7. Cooking utensils. Cooking at home is almost always better than eating out or getting take out. New tools can motivate the gift recipient to cook more often.
  8. Gift card for a massage. A massage is great for increasing blood flow, reducing muscle tension and helping overall relaxation. 
  9. Exercise clothes. Motivate that person who wants to exercise more by giving them something stylish to wear while getting fit.

Wellness stocking stuffers are also great. Items such as natural soaps, skin brushes, aromatherapy products, a relaxing CD or tongue scraper. Instead of giving candy, give fruit and nuts.

As the old adage states you don’t have anything if you don’t have your health. Why not give the gift of wellness this year and show your loved ones how much you really care.

Watch Jake Hochrein, MD, Chief of Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare and the Chief of the Cone Health Cardiovascular Service Line talk about why he thinks digital pedometers are a good thing.