Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Reasons to Stop Using Antibacterial Soaps

Emily O'Malley
Physician Assistant

Did you know that there are 19 ingredients in most antibacterial soaps? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does and has recently banned them from soaps and washes.

So are we at greater risk for getting sick by not using this added defense against germs? Not really. In fact, here are 5 reasons to discontinue using antibacterial soap.

  1. They are no more effective than regular soap. In 42 years of research, no evidence has been uncovered that proves antibacterial soaps are more effective. These soaps target bacteria, not viruses such as the flu. Viruses cause greater widespread illness.
  2. They may be creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Greater uses of antibiotic chemicals are causing random mutations in bacteria that allow them to survive exposure. The more often we use the chemicals, the greater and stronger the mutations.
  3. Antibacterial soaps may act as endocrine disruptors. One of the ingredients in these soaps is triclosan, which seems to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate the thyroid. This happens because triclosan resembles human hormones and can fool systems that rely on the thyroid. This can lead to infertility, advanced puberty, obesity or cancer. The body has a hard time processing triclosan. In one study on the effects of antibacterial soap, triclosan was found in the using samples of 75% of the tested subjects, demonstrating how our bodies absorb and retain the chemical.
  4. Antibacterial soaps kill good bacteria too. By reducing children’s exposure to bacteria, their immune systems have a higher chance of developing allergies such as hay fever. Exposure to bacteria at a young age is necessary for a properly functioning immune system as an adult.
  5. It is bad for the environment. Soap goes down the drain and back into the environment. Once there, it can harm algae, which make much of the world’s oxygen and are the beginning of the food chain.

The most effective way to get rid of germs by washing our hands with regular soap under running warm water for at least 20 seconds.  This new FDA ruling banning the sale of antibacterial soap does not apply to hand sanitizers, although it is recommended that you use products with at least 60 percent alcohol to be most effective. Hand sanitizers are not a replacement for soap and water, but offer protection when no soap or water are available.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Can Athlete's Foot Cause Toenail Fungus?

Dr. Matthew Wagoner

Dr. Matthew Wagoner, DPM
Triad Foot Center

Did you know that a common foot condition can contribute to toenail fungus? Watch Dr. Wagoner’s latest video explaining how Athlete’s foot might cause a fungal infection in the toenail.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Your Family Needs You and 3 Other Reasons to Get Your Mammogram

Dr. Defrancesco
Martin A. Defrancesco, MD
Encompass Women's Care

Did you know that mammography has reduced breast cancer mortality in the United States by one-third in the last 25 years? Mammograms do not prevent breast cancer. They can save lives by helping doctors discover breast cancer much earlier than other methods.

Early detection means that more women who are treated for breast cancer have a higher survivability rate and increase the chances that breast removal will not be necessary. Localized cancers can be removed without women having to undergo breast removal, or mastectomy. Need more convincing? Here are three things to know about mammograms:
  • Mammograms can save your life. Early detection of breast cancer can reduce the risk of dying by more than 30 percent. Women should start having regular mammograms when they turn 40 years old and earlier if they have a family history of the disease. Mammograms can find lumps two to three years before a woman or her provider can manually feel them.
  • There is nothing to fear from a mammogram. This is a fast and safe procedure. The whole process lasts about 20 minutes with minimal discomfort. There is exposure to a small amount of radiation during the process, but these levels fall well within the safe limits of the body’s tolerability.
  • Breast cancer increases with age. The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman over the age of 50. Other risks include:
    • The density of your breast.
    • Your family history.
    • Being post-menopausal.
    • Never having had a child or your first was born after the age of 30.
    • Never having breastfed.
One complaint from women about mammograms and the reason they may avoid them is breast compression. Although it is uncomfortable, here are why breasts are compressed during the screening:
  • Radiation from the machine can be reduced by decreasing the breast’s thickness.
  • It prevents movement that reduces blurriness and the chance for false positives.
  • It separates the breast tissue and may expose hiding lesions.
  • It provides uniformity to the breast’s thickness.
  • It increases detail by allowing the imaging device to get as close as possible to the breast.

Every woman needs a mammogram screening. Breast cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in North Carolina. Each year more than 8,500 women are diagnosed and over one in eight die from the disease. Many of these cases may be diagnosed earlier with regular mammography screenings.

Unfortunately, many women cannot afford a regular screening so their risk factors for breast cancer increases. If you cannot afford a mammography, it is crucial to seek out assistance from organizations such as the Cone Health Mammography Scholarship Fund, which provides screening mammograms to hundreds of women each year who otherwise would not be able to afford them. This scholarship is made possible through the Women’s Only 5K Walk & Run, a fundraiser held each year on the first Saturday in October.

Monday, September 19, 2016

5 Ways Germs Spread and How to Stop Them

Dr. Kate Tabori
Family Medicine

Germs. They are nasty little creatures that can make us all very sick. In fact, Americans spend nearly $5 billion each year on illness caused by germs.

Germs lie in wait on surfaces, having been left there by something or someone that is infected. Our hands come in contact with the surface and we then touch our eye, mouth or nose, allowing the germs to enter our bodies, making us ill.

Here are five ways they can be spread:
  1. From your nose, mouth or eyes – Sneezing, coughing or rubbing the eyes can cause germs to spread to others.
  2. Food – Germs from raw foods can be transferred to uncooked foods, such as salads. While the raw food is cooked, killing the germs, the salad is not and can make you sick.
  3. Animals – We love them, but animals are very germy creatures.
  4. Dirty hands – You can become sick when someone is preparing food with dirty hands, typically from not washing them after using the restroom.
  5. Children – Dirty diapers, coughs that aren’t covered, and runny noses spread many germs, especially if the child is ill.

So what are we to do? It’s really quite simple. Washing our hands with regular soap under warm running water is one of the best ways to prevent illness and the spread of germs to others. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following steps:
  • Wet your hands with running water and soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub well for 20 seconds.
  • Remember to clean your wrists, backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dryer.

It is recommended that you should always:
  • Wash your hands often during cold and flu season.
  • Wash your hands while preparing food. Be especially careful to wash before and after preparing poultry, raw eggs, meat or seafood.
  • Wash your hands after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • Wash your hands often while caring for someone who is sick. 
  • Wash your hands before and after you treat a cut or wound.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
Hand washing is one of the best ways to keep yourself from getting being sick. It is especially helpful during cold and flu season when we are more likely to be around others who are spreading germs. Take the time and wash your hands regularly. You, and those around you, deserve it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Getting a Good Night’s Rest for Kids

Spencer Beasley, FNP
Piedmont Pediatrics

Getting the proper amount of sleep plays a major role in your child’s performance in school, as well as their entire well-being.  To ensure a good night’s sleep for younger, school-aged children, parents should create a ‘getting-ready-for-bed’ routine before the child’s bedtime, and hold them to it.  This would involve turning off the television, video games and other stimulating activities, and beginning to bathe, brush teeth and change into pajamas.  Activities such as reading a book or listening to soothing music or sounds may also help kids calm down before bed.

Children and adolescents that don’t get enough sleep may experience difficulty focusing, difficulty staying awake, decreased physical and mental performance, increased stress and mood swings. Overall, a lack of sleep leads to an increased risk of obesity and illness, but with increased extracurricular activities, after school jobs and more demanding course loads, maintaining healthy sleep routines can often be difficult. Parents are encouraged to help their children develop routines that incorporate enough time for school, sports and sleep.

Children and adolescents should be getting at least eight hours of sleep every night, although teens and very young children would benefit from getting ten hours of sleep. Kids who are unable to get into a healthy sleep routine may be suffering from an actual sleep disorder. Fortunately, Cone Health has an exceptional network of family nurse practitioners, pediatricians, family medicine specialists and other related healthcare professionals dedicated to making sure children in the community are healthy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

10 Tips For Selecting the Right Running Shoes

Kathryn Egerton, DPM
Triad Foot Center
Kathryn Egerton, DPM

With a host of great 5-kilometer runs around the corner, including the Oct. 1 Women’s Only 5K Walk & Run, people are hitting the trails to be ready.

Before you take to the pavement, make sure you are protecting your feet and ankles with the proper footwear.

Selecting the right shoe is critical in preventing injury. Here are 10 tips for selecting running shoes and getting the most out of them.

1. Get the right type of shoe for your running style. If you plan to run mostly on pavement or sidewalks, choose shoes that are light and flexible for repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces. Trail running shoes are designed for traction, stability and underfoot protection on uneven surfaces. They also offer additional ankle support.

2. Consider a gait analysis to be sure you’re getting the right type of shoe for your specific running form and gait. A podiatrist can perform a highly individualized, technically precise analysis.

Try your shoes on at an athletic shoe store. Don’t order your running shoes online unless you already know how they fit and feel. Shoe sizes vary widely between different manufacturers, and in many cases, small changes between shoe styles can mean the difference between comfort and calluses.

4. Shop for shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Feet naturally swell slightly during the day, and feet lengthen during a run.

5. Try them out before buying. When trying on shoes, take a light jog in the store with them on to make sure they feel good while running. Be aware if the shoe is rubbing the toes or toenails, as this could cause toenail injuries when running longer. The shoes should not “flop” on the feet or rub the backs of the ankles.

6. Look for support—especially if you are an avid runner. It’s a good idea to have an orthotic custom-fitted to your feet to ensure the proper support is given and that your form is balanced to prevent injury.

7. You want a shoe that bends in the right places. Pick one that bends right behind the toe area, not at the arch. A proper shoe shouldn’t be flimsy enough to easily twist from side to side and you shouldn’t be able to pinch the back sides of the heel inward – it should be firm.

8. Be safe. If you run in the evenings or at night, get a running shoe with reflective surfaces on the front and back of the shoe to alert other people on trails, sidewalks or roads of your approach.

9. Consider buying more than one pair. Replace your running shoes every 350 to 500 miles. If you run every day, invest in multiple pairs of running shoes so you always have a dry pair that has had time to rebound in the cushioning.

10. Don’t forget about your socks! Ill-fitting socks are one of the primary causes of blisters. Wet socks and cotton socks cause blistering as well and don’t allow moisture to be pulled away from the skin. Look for form-fitting socks made of synthetic materials that wick moisture away from the skin.

Risks of running without properly fitted shoes include:
  • Ligament strains
  • Stress fractures
  • Shin splints
  • Runner’s toe
  • Black toenails and other toenail conditions
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Muscle cramping
  • Flattening of the arch
  • Blisters
  • Calluses
  • Heel fissures
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Neuromas

The right shoes can help you avoid these risks. A few simple tips can help you select the perfect pair that keeps you on track for your favorite 5Ks.

Be sure to sign up for the Women’s Only to show your support of breast cancer screening.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Summer’s Over Already? 5 Things to Help Reduce School Anxieties

Sarah Solomon

It’s a been a long wonderful summer with good times and great memories. Now is the time when many kids begin to make adjustments as they transition back into the school year.

Over 1.5 million students in North Carolina will return to the classroom this fall, each one with their own anxieties. These concerns can range from issues such as:
  • Which teacher will I have?
  • Will he or she be strict?
  • Will I be in class with any of my friends?
  • Will my clothes look OK?
  • Who will sit with me at lunch?
  • What if I don’t get to the bus on time?

Although these worries are completely normal, it doesn’t make the stress related to them any less. What can we, as parents or guardians of school age children do to help make the summer to school year transition a little more stress free? Here are five things we can do to help our student make the transition from summer to school year.

  1. Take care of basic needs. Fears tend to become overwhelming when we are tired or hungry. Keep your student on a consistent routine of meals, snacks and sleep. Make sure they are receiving good nutritional foods and at least eight hours of sleep.
  2. Ask your student to share their feelings. If you see them showing signs of stress or fretting, ask them to describe how they are feeling. Reassure them that these feelings are normal and that every other student going back to school feels the same way. Set up a regular time to talk to your student without distractions so they can verbalize how they are feeling.
  3. Make a plan. Instead of just reassuring your student that bad things will not happen, challenge them to think of ways to problem solve. Teach them to ask questions such as “what is the worst that can happen” or “how would I handle this situation if it occurs.” A prepared student is a more successful student.
  4. Focus on the positive. Focus their attention on the exciting parts of school. Ask them what they are most excited about or are most looking forward to. Again, redirect them from the anxiety towards the excitement.
  5. Watch your own behavior. As parents or guardians of students, we too feel anxious about the start of school. How will this change our daily routine? Will my child get picked on? Will they have the right teacher that can best foster their learning style?  Children take many cues from their parents. When discussing school, be cheerful and attentive. Share positive stories of your own school experiences.

As the school year rolls along and everyone gets settled in to the routine, anxiety and worry should begin to subside. Until then, praise your child for their bravery, ask pointed questions about how they handled their anxiety situations and listen intently to them discuss their day.