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July 31, 2017

Everyday Happiness

Last week, I wrote about the connection between happiness and our physical health. Plenty of studies show the connection between positive emotions like happiness, joy, gratitude, and peace and our biological systems. Upbeat folks, in general, are healthier. They have less cardiovascular disease, better immune systems, fewer aches and pains, and live longer. At the end of the day, everybody just wants to be happy. Self-help books and articles abound about how to pursue happiness and somehow reach a Zen-like state on a regular basis. Some of these notions are not realistic and may even be counteractive. New research (and a bit of common sense) points toward a more genuine approach to everyday living and achieving a happiness balance that benefits the body, mind, and soul. Authentic Happiness, The Happiness Solution, The Art of Happiness, and Happiness Now! are just a few of the books out there promising formulas and techniques for lasting fulfillment, everyday happiness, and joy. Happiness is now becoming an industry with motivational speakers, books, blogs, research, and therapists. While intentions are good, the message of everyday happiness may not be as beneficial as some initially thought. Wanting to be happy can make you less happy reports researcher Iris Mauss, an assistant professor in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. Focusing on happiness appears to have a self-defeating quality. When people are really working at being happy, they set unrealistic, unattainable higher standards. Mauss’s research shows that this ultimately leads to greater discontent, which in turn lowers levels of happiness and well-being. In some cases, the overemphasis on happiness leads to more depressive symptoms. Researcher Lahnna Catalino notes that the pursuit of happiness appears to be a delicate art. She and her colleagues likewise conclude that people who obsess about happiness are more likely to see their happiness quotient plummet. Catalino’s research, however, suggests that people who regularly seek out positivity as they arrange their everyday lives are happier. That is, people who figure out how to fit in bits of pleasantry in their normal, everyday lives and enjoy those moments are more content. Understanding and defining happiness is also important. Many folks misunderstand happiness and assume it is great joy, being in fantastic mood and lovin’ life all the time. Experts, however, say that this is not realistic. Humans have a wide range of emotions that are crucial for motivation, safety, creativity, and more. For example, being displeased with your performance at work or school can be a motivator to work harder or try something new. Being anxious in an unsafe situation may prompt you to get a move on and skedaddle. It does not make sense to try to be happy in all situations. In fact, people who exhibit inappropriate happiness are more likely to be neurotic. So if happiness is not mountaintop experiences every day or trying to make every minute a joyous one, what is it then? Happiness can be anything that is pleasant. For some, this is a quiet cup of coffee in the morning before the kids get up. For others, it is a social gathering with friends once a week. Yet others may define it as playing soccer, painting, cooking, or gardening. For years, one of my everyday happy moments was lunch with my coworkers. It was a 20-minute break from the grind, a time to kick back, laugh a bit, and enjoy friends. Moreover, anybody who knows me can testify that I consider my pot of tea every morning to be pure joy! How can you incorporate more happiness? Happiness researchers offer these suggestions: Let go of extreme ideas of happiness. It is not realistic to feel joy, contentment, gratitude, and peace every second of the day. Some days really are stressful. Some days are truly incredible. Some days (many days) are vanilla – you know nothing bad but nothing-super fantastic. Figure out what sparks joy. Reflect on activities, moments, and situations that give you joy, contentment, or simply put a smile on your face. Research shows that most people gain the most enjoyment by connecting with loved ones or doing something physical. Schedule enjoyment into your day, week, and month. Once you know what sparks joy, put it on the calendar. If you like running or walking with a friend, call or text and make a date. If you love reading, carve out 20 minutes to escape with that novel. If you would much rather drink your first cup of joe alone in the morning, wake up 10 minutes before the rest of the household. Finally, pursue happiness for the right reasons. Yes, it is good for your health but it is also good for your relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. June Gruber of UC Berkeley writes, “True happiness, it seems, comes from fostering kindness toward others – and yourself.” Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator for UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or article suggestions, contact her at 585-335-4327 or ... Read More

July 27, 2017

Ronald McDonald House Charities Awards Mini Grant to UR Medicine Noyes Health

UR Medicine | Noyes Health’s Mental Health and Wellness Services will receive a $988 “mini grant” from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester (RMHCR) to fund the purchase of play therapy dollhouses and a sand table. The “mini grant” is part of the organization’s Community Grant program, which supports projects and programs that improve the physical and behavioral health of children in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario and Wayne counties. “We thank the Ronald McDonald House Charities grant making committee for understanding how valuable these tools are,” says Dr. Robert Whelpley, director of Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Services. “These therapy toys will help our youngest clients express themselves and work through whatever is bothering them in a non-threatening and comforting way with our staff. A mini grant can make a big difference!” UR Medicine |Noyes Health is a diverse and comprehensive non-profit healthcare system serving all of Livingston County and parts of Steuben, Allegany and Ontario counties in New York State. The system includes Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, in Dansville, Noyes Health Services in Geneseo, Noyes Kidney and Dialysis Center in Geneseo, and Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Services in Dansville. Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, a full-service, 67-bed community hospital with an After Hours Clinic and the only 24-hour Emergency Department in Livingston County, is accredited by the Joint Commission. The hospital is located off Interstate 390, Exit 4. For more information about UR Medicine | Noyes Health, ... Read More

July 24, 2017

Happiness and Health

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence “The pursuit of happiness” – an interesting phrase used by the founders of this country in the Declaration of Independence. Happiness was not a right but rather the pursuit, the chase, the hunt, the search of happiness was the right endowed by the creator. Our forefathers believed the pursuit of happiness was as important as life and liberty. The Book of Proverbs written and compiled sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries BC contains the verse “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” In recent times, the beautiful Ingrid Bergman said, “Happiness is good health and a bad memory.” Throughout the centuries, humans have realized that happiness is tied to a good life, physical, and mental health. With advances in the understanding of brain function and cellular biology, science is now confirming that indeed there is a link between our happiness and health. Happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer. Cardiovascular Health A 2005 study in Neurobiology of Aging found happiness predicts a lower heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers collected various saliva and blood samples to test for stress reactions and hormones. People who reported greater happiness had lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Patients with lower cortisol levels have lower blood pressure and heart rates, which equals better cardiovascular health. Over time being happy pays off. The European Heart Journal published a Canadian study in 2010. The study followed nearly 2,000 Canadians over ten years. The results were astonishing as increased happiness was protective against coronary heart disease over the course of ten years. Immune System A 2003 study in the Psychosomatic Medicine assessed 334 healthy people for positive versus negative emotions. These folks were then given nasal drops with a cold virus and monitored in quarantine for the development of the common cold. Two findings: 1) those with positive emotions had a greater resistance to colds and 2) even if they developed a cold, the happy people reported fewer symptoms. In 2006, a study found that people with better moods actually have higher antibody responses, a sign of a robust immune system. While more research is needed, it appears that positive emotions like being happy and content work at the cellular level and directly affect our health. Not So Many Ouchies In a 2001 Journal of Research in Personality study, researchers concluded, “positive affectivity (happiness) emerged as a significant predictor of good health.” In the study, they rated emotional states of patients. Five weeks later researchers asked participants how much they experienced muscle strain, dizziness, heartburn, and the like over the 5-week period. The happiest people actually became healthier over the weeks while the unhappy participants reported being sicker. Longevity Some of the most convincing evidence that happiness affects health comes from longevity studies. In 2000, University of Kentucky researchers conducted an interesting study. They examined autobiographical essays written by 180 Catholic nuns decades earlier when the women first arrived at the convent. They looked for positive expressions of feelings like amusement, contentment, gratitude, and love. In the end, the happiest-seeming nuns lived an amazing 7-10 years longer than the least happy. A 2011 National Academy of Sciences report suggests similar results. In that study, almost 4,000 English adults ages 52-79 reported how happy, excited, and content they were multiple times in a single day. They found happier people were 35 percent less likely to die over the course of about five years than their unhappier counterparts. Yet another study published in 2010 in Health Psychology followed almost 7,000 people for almost 30 years. They found people more satisfied with life at the beginning were less likely to die during the course of the study. In years past, scientists believed that being healthy lead to happiness. It now appears that being happy to begin with plays a major role in our physical and mental health. Of course, happiness by itself is not the cure all. Other factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, substance use, and geographical location all play a role. At this point, however, a myriad of studies confirm a strong link between health and happiness. Next week, we will look at how to pursue happiness at any age. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator for UR Medicine Noyes Health. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, contact her at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 20, 2017

UR Medicine | Noyes Health Receives $6.3 million in NYS Health Care Transformation Grants

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced June 18 that UR Medicine | Noyes Health in Dansville, N.Y. will receive a $6.3 million grant to integrate the healthcare system’s electronic medical records with UR Medicine’s EPIC system, allowing seamless access and exchange of patient information among all system providers. The grant is part of the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program which supports projects that are part of an overall plan to create financially sustainable systems of care. The funds are intended to reduce health care costs and improve outcomes by expanding access to inpatient, primary, preventative and other ambulatory care services as part of regionally integrated health care delivery systems. UR Medicine affiliate Jones Memorial Hospital is receiving a similar grant of $5.7 million. For UR Medicine, the grants help to reinforce the health network’s efforts to create a collaborative health system among Rochester and hospitals in Livingston, Northern Steuben and Allegany counties. “We are grateful to our legislators for providing us with this necessary funding,” says Amy Pollard, UR Medicine | Noyes Health CEO, “The system integration will enable our providers to share important information more efficiently, allowing them to collaborate more effectively on a treatment plan and get patients the information they need more quickly.” “These grants help to close the gap between what’s needed by those we serve and what’s affordable based on our operations. This funding will help us build an infrastructure that works better for patients and providers, and furthers our efforts to address daunting behavioral health challenges,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of UR Medicine. “I want to thank Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for their support in helping us facilitate a broad, comprehensive delivery system transformation plan across several systems in a manner that ensures that these hospitals remain the cornerstone of local health care by strengthening services for patients across the Finger Lakes and the Southern Tier.” UR Medicine |Noyes Health is a diverse and comprehensive healthcare system, which includes Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital, a 67-bed facility in Dansville, Noyes Health Services in Geneseo, Noyes Kidney and Dialysis Center in Geneseo, and Noyes Mental Health and Wellness Services in Dansville. Noyes Health is accredited by the Joint Commission and serves all of Livingston County and parts of Steuben, Allegany and Ontario Counties. Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital is a community hospital and the only Emergency Department in Livingston County, located off Interstate 390, Exit 4. For more information about Noyes Health, ... Read More

July 18, 2017

Third annual Kyle J Button Memorial Golf Tournament

The Foundation for Noyes Health is hosting the third annual Kyle J. Button Memorial Golf Tournament on Saturday, August 5 at Brae Burn Golf Course. An afternoon of golf will be followed by a party under the tent at Scovill’s with dinner, raffles and a live auction. Golfers tee off at 12 p.m. and evening festivities will start at 6 p.m. Limited golf spots are available at $90 per person for golf, a gift bag, snacks on the course, the post-tournament dinner with a drink coupon and party. Post-tournament party tickets are available at $25 per person and include dinner, a drink coupon, mini-golf, and a chance to win raffle items and bid in the live auction. Auction items include: • VIP Buffalo Bills Suite tickets for (4) donated by Batavia Downs • VIP Buffalo Sabres tickets for (4) • NY Yankees tickets (2) • Thurman Thomas Jersey and autographed football • 100 gallons of propane from Valley Fuel • Apple Watch • Yeti Cooler • Large Screen TV • Gunlocke deluxe office chair, and more! To register for golf or the post-tournament party, send a check made out to the Foundation for Noyes Health to the attention of Jon Shay, 9384 Main Street, Dansville, NY 14437. Tickets for the post-tournament party are also available for purchase online through the Noyes Health Facebook page or the Dansville NY events page at Or email ... Read More

July 15, 2017

Sauerkraut, Kombucha, and Kimchi, oh my!

Growing up in a Slavic household, I was no stranger to sauerkraut. The tangy, fermented cabbage dish was a dinnertime staple especially through the winter months. About ten years ago, our family tried another fermented cabbage dish, kimchi. A young man from South Korea introduced us to the spicy, slightly fishy side dish. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha (a fizzy fermented tea), yogurt, and sourdough bread have gained a lot of attention over the past decade. However, the popularity of these foodstuffs goes beyond taste and grocery story marketing. They are getting a lot of press in the scientific world as researchers discover that the good for you bacteria present in fermented foods may help with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and possibly mental health. Fermented foods have been in the human diet for thousands of years. Wine, beer, yogurt, pickled vegetables, and sausages like salami (made the old-fashioned way) have been household staples around the globe for centuries. Fermentation is the conversion of a carbohydrate such as sugar into an acid or alcohol. While the process can occur naturally without any intervention, most fermented foods are produced by adding yeast or bacteria to change sugar to alcohol or lactic acid. Beer is made by taking a grain such as barley, germinating and drying it, and then pulping it into a mash. The mash is mixed with hot water and some fermentation begins. Yeast is then added. The yeast “eats” the mash sugar and converts it to carbon dioxide and alcohol. Wine is made in a similar fashion. Yogurt, on the other hand, is made by adding a number of special bacteria, such as L. acidophilus and L. bulgaricus to milk. The bacteria convert the dairy sugar to lactic acid, eventually creating yogurt. The fermentation process increases shelf life, creates new tastes and textures, and produces beneficial compounds. During dairy fermentation, many helpful compounds are produced or increased such as vitamin B-12, folic acid, and biotin. The mineral concentration of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc are nearly 50% higher in yogurt than in milk. Yogurt is also an excellent source of “good for you” bacteria or probiotics. A probiotic is any live microorganism that when consumed in adequate amounts offers some sort of health benefit. Various clinical studies indicate that the ingestion of yogurt and other fermented dairy products (kefir, skyr, cheese) is significantly associated with decreased disease. The strongest evidence is the use of the bacteria found in yogurt for the treatment of diarrhea (especially caused by antibiotics.) Further studies in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, found decreases in bladder cancer, cardiovascular disease, and periondontitis among those with higher fermented dairy intake. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed strong associations between the consumption of fermented dairy foods and weight maintenance. Extensive studies also show a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and overall mortality for frequent yogurt eaters. Similarly, evidence is accumulating for the benefits of kimchi. A 2013 study found that fermented kimchi has anti-diabetic and anti-obesity benefits. Peptides and other compounds created in the fermentation process are being investigated for their possible beneficial effects on hypertension, clots, the immune system and more. One theory called the hygiene or diversity hypothesis proposes that bacterial exposure is essential for the normal development of the immune system and brain function. A 2017 report in the Current Opinion in Biotechnology, therefore, suggests, “Consumption of fermented foods may provide an indirect means of counteracting the hygienic, sanitized Western diet and lifestyle.” Moreover, while we are a long way off from prescribing fermented foods for depression and other mental health issues, a 2014 analysis in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology indicates that there is ample justification for further research into gut-brain health. Authors of the study submit that fermented foods have the potential to influence brain health due to probiotics that magnify antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Our ancestors perfected the production of various fermented fare over the centuries and made it part of their daily dietary life. Due to the increase in processed foods, the diversity and amount of fermented foods decreased over the last century. Those numbers are increasing once again as science confirms the health benefits of humble foods like sauerkraut! Here are some helpful hints as you consider adding fermented foods into your diet: Speak with your doctor if you have a compromised immune system. Fermented foods may not be recommended for certain conditions as they could be carcinogenic or contain high levels of sodium or sugar. Eat and drink fermented foods as part of a healthy diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Read ingredient and nutrition labels. For example, to reap any benefit from yogurt, it must contain live cultures. Eat plain, low-fat yogurt and add fresh or frozen fruit to sweeten. Many commercially fermented foods have added sugars, salt, and are pasteurized. As a result, they have little to no nutritional or probiotic benefits. Look for non-pasteurized options with live cultures. Examples of fermented foods include: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, yogurt, kefir, skyr, pickles, olives, natto (forms the base of miso used in Japanese cooking), and red wine. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

July 10, 2017

The Joys of Reading

I have always loved books. Yep, I was the nerdy kid wearing reading glasses by sixth grade due to eyestrain. My folks did not have to beg me to read. Long before school summer reading assignments were mandatory, my mom dropped me off at the library where I devoured novels all summer long. I still love reading. I read for work. I read for pleasure. I belong to a book club. Despite being a bookworm at heart, I admit, I am distracted by technology. Especially during the workday, I find myself pulled by email, Facebook posts, texts, phone calls, and several screens on the computer. At night, it is easy to turn on the TV and mindlessly watch dramas and reality shows. The frenetic pace and constant imagery and sound leaves me feeling disjointed, disappointed, and tense. Neuroscience is now looking at this phenomenon and confirming that the cyber world not only adds stress but also limits our brainpower and social skills. To remedy this, many suggest good old-fashioned reading. For people who make reading a regular part of their lives, there are numerous benefits. Reading, however, is not an easy sell these days. 65% of U.S. households have three or more TVs. The number of minutes per week the average child watches TV is 1,480. That is over 24 hours or one whole day a week spent in front of a TV. Add to these numbers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices and it is not an exaggeration to say that technology is a huge part of our daily lives. The constant influx of abbreviated, fast-paced information ultimately effects pathways in the brain. Studies indicate that preschoolers who have a TV in the bedroom have a weaker understanding of other people’s feelings and emotions, which can lead to disruptive behaviors. This also held true for children in households where the TV was on in the background throughout the day. However, children are not the only ones affected by tech. A study presented in 2016 by the University of Virginia in conjunction with the University of British Columbia found that adults using smartphones are more likely to be distracted. The results suggest that even people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD may experience some of the disorder's symptoms, including distraction, difficulty focusing and getting bored easily when trying to focus, fidgeting, having trouble sitting still, difficulty doing quiet tasks and activities, and restlessness. "The findings simply suggest that our constant digital stimulation may be contributing to an increasingly problematic deficit of attention in modern society," said Kostadin Kushlev, a psychology research scientist at the University of Virginia. Conversely, a 2014 Emory University study published in the journal Brain Connectivity, found that becoming engrossed in a novel improves brain function. Reading fiction, in particular, improves a reader’s empathy level and ability to imagine. Reading stories, whether it is Cat in the Hat or Moby Dick, requires several parts of the brain to work all at the same time. Using all these sections of the noggin at once increases the number of pathways and connections. All that activity leads to a better understanding of people and the world. It also improves memory, comprehension, and concentration. Here are a few more benefits of reading: Relaxation. Reading allows you to escape the day’s worries and stresses. Tuning out the world and getting engrossed in a story and its characters occupies the mind and helps relax the body. Sharp brain over the lifetime. Reading benefits young and old with increased knowledge, vocabulary, and focus. Students, who read more, score higher on reading tests and tests of general intelligence. People who read over their lifetime experience slower mental decline. A 2013 study published in Neurology concludes that frequent cognitive (mental) activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline. Lead author, Robert S. Wilson, states, “We shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.” Bottom line, Wilson and other researchers, recommend reading, puzzles, and other brain activities from childhood through the elder years in order to keep the brain sharper for longer. Better Sleep. Reading a real book with paper pages helps you relax and therefore, sleep better. Tablets, phones, computers, and TV can actually hurt your sleep because the screen light signals the brain that it is time to wake up. Reading an actual book in bed under dim light is the best bet for unwinding. It is FREE and there is something for everyone! One of the great joys of living in NY is the free library system. Talk about low-budget entertainment! Local libraries have books, eBooks, audio books, and more on every subject imaginable. Whether you enjoy poetry, the classics, westerns, romance, or fantasy, there is something sure to spark your imagination and curiosity. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

June 30, 2017

Shoe Sense

Like many women, I have a love hate relationship with my shoe collection. I love the beauty of high heel shoes, the trendy look of wedges, and the freedom of flip-flops. However, I hate how my feet feel after even a half hour of wearing any of the aforementioned. As a “mature” woman, I mainly wear sensible shoes with low heels, good arch support, and roomy toe areas. The high heels still come out but only for special occasions. The pain and discomfort are simply not worth it. Furthermore, the long-term foot health issues are definitely not worth it. Now that summer is here, we are all wearing a variety of shoes from flip-flops at the lake to stilettos at weddings and parties. Learning the worst offenders and greatest champions in the shoe world is important for preventing injury and chronic foot and joint issues. Poor footwear can cause everything from nerve damage and hammertoes to bunions and calluses. Worst Offenders Stilettos. The word stiletto is Italian for a knife or dagger with a long slender blade and needle-like point. Therefore, we are walking in something primarily intended as a stabbing weapon! Walking on long, slender heels causes problems. NY podiatrist, Hillary Brenner, says, "The weight is pinpointed on one area…that makes you wobble like you're walking on stilts." The result is that you are more likely to trip and sprain your ankle. Ballet flats. While you might not trip in ballet flats, you are still at risk for injury. Brenner compares these dainty shoes to walking on cardboard. There is no arch support and as a result, the feet do not function properly. This can lead to knee, hip, and back problems as well as a painful foot condition called plantar fasciitis. Flip-flops. Andrew Shapiro, DPM, a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association says, “Women are wearing flip-flops as everyday shoes. They are meant for the beach and the pool, not for everyday walking. They don’t give you any arch support.” Shapiro goes on to explain that people run, jump, and play in flip-flops. Because you are essentially barefoot, the feet are then very prone to scrapes, cuts, bruising, broken toes, and strained ankles. In addition, due to lack of support, chronic problems such as tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are common among regular wearers. Pointy-toed Pumps. If you look at the shape of your foot and then the shape of a pointy-toed shoe, it is not hard to imagine why this causes problems. These beauties cause metatarsalgia – an acute pain in the ball of the foot that can become chronic. Furthermore, hammertoes and an inflammation of the nerve between the toes called neuroma can occur. Neuroma commonly occurs between the third and fourth toes (but can happen between any of them). The pinched, inflamed nerve causes pain and burning. Typical treatments for this condition include injections, physical therapy, or even surgery. Shoe Champions The obvious shoe champions are well-designed, well-fitted athletic shoes. If work requires something a bit dressier, Shapiro recommends either a dressy flat with good arch support and well-fitted heel or a pump with no more than a 1-1.5 inch heel. No matter the shoe, you want arch support, a low heel, a wider toe box, and preferably a lace or buckle closure to ensure good fit and support. Harvard Health offers the following advice for shoe shopping: Wait until the afternoon to shop for shoes — your feet naturally expand with use during the day and may swell in hot weather. Wear the same type of socks that you intend to wear with the shoes. Have the salesperson measure both of your feet — and get measured every time you buy new shoes. If one foot is larger or wider than the other, buy a size that fits the larger foot. Stand in the shoes. Make sure you have at least a quarter- to a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Walk around in the shoes to determine how they feel. Is there enough room at the balls of the feet? Do the heels fit snugly, or do they pinch or slip off? Don't rationalize that the shoes just need to be "broken in" or that they'll stretch with time. Find shoes that fit from the start. Trust your own comfort level rather than a shoe's size or description. Sizes vary from one manufacturer to another. And no matter how comfortable an advertisement claims those shoes are, you're the real judge. Feel the inside of the shoes to see if they have any tags, seams, or other material that might irritate your feet or cause blisters. Turn the shoes over and examine the soles. Are they sturdy enough to provide protection from sharp objects? Do they provide any cushioning? Also, take the sole test as you walk around the shoe store: do the soles cushion against impact? Try to walk on hard surfaces as well as carpet to see how the shoes feel. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

June 22, 2017

Talking About Ticks

Outdoor living season is here and we are all outside more on a regular basis. However, just as we are more active in the summer, so are little critters such as ticks. Ticks are particularly problematic as they are very small, hitch rides easily, and spread disease such as Lyme disease. The number of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. has tripled since the 1990s and the number of counties in the Northeast and Upper Midwest considered high-risk for Lyme has increased by more than 300 percent, reports Rebecca Eisen, Ph.D. a research biologist at the CDC. The NY counties at highest risk for Lyme disease are generally downstate but the incident rate in upstate NY counties is increasing. According to the CDC, people get more tick bites and tickborne diseases from May to July than any other time of year. It is, therefore, important to take steps to protect yourself and loved ones (including pets) during this season as well as the warm months until snow flies. Ticks are tiny 8-legged creatures that can be very hard to see. Deer ticks, which carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, are especially small. The young nymphs are only the size of a poppy seed and the adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed. Whether you work outdoors, enjoy your yard, hike in the woods, camp, or hunt, it is important to protect yourself from getting a tick bite. The CDC and NIH make the following recommendations: Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when possible. Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin. Treat dogs and cats for ticks. Dogs and cats are very susceptible to tick bites and to some tickborne diseases. They may also bring ticks into your home. Tick collars, sprays, shampoos, or monthly “top spot” medications help protect against ticks. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks. Remove any ticks right away. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, add extra time. In addition, you may want to create a tick-safe zone to reduce ticks in your yard. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station offers these simple landscaping ideas to help reduce tick populations: Remove leaf litter. Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns. Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas. Mow the lawn frequently. Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents). Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees. Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences. Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide. If you find a tick attached to your skin, do not panic. Remove ticks easily with the following technique: Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers. It is a good idea to keep the tick in a dry jar or sealed plastic bag and save it in the freezer for testing in case you develop symptoms of infection. Avoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible – not waiting for it to detach. Then monitor yourself or others for symptoms of infection for 30 days after the removal of the tick. Symptoms of infection are general flu-like symptoms, headache, fever, and in the case of Lyme disease, may include a rash that is at least 2 inches in diameter and expands over time. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have article suggestions or questions, contact Lorraine at or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

June 16, 2017

School is Out, Playtime is In

Don’t you miss that end of the school year feeling? No more pencils, no more books…you know the rhyme. Pure joy as you walk out of that school and know that for the next two months, you have total freedom! For most kiddos, the biggest concern is figuring out what to do with all that extra free time. Some will be super active and others will take it easy on the couch. While lazing around watching TV or playing video games may seem attractive, studies link couch potato behavior with weight gain and poor health. As our nation’s obesity rates continue to rise among school-age children, pediatricians and health experts are suggesting limiting all types of screen time and encouraging active, fun play. A 2007 American Journal of Public Health study reported that the body mass indexes (BMI – weight to height ratio) of more than 5,000 kindergartners and first graders increased by almost twice as much during summer break as compared with the school year. The combination of readily available food and sedentary behavior take their toll. Currently in Livingston County, there are school districts where 37% of the children are either overweight or obese. Nationwide, we are seeing a rise in type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in our youth because of the obesity epidemic. Keeping this in mind, summer is a great time to hit the reset button. As summer vacation starts, there is an opportunity to talk about the daily schedule – that is how much screen time, outdoor play time, friend time, and reading time. The key to getting your children and grandchildren to exercise more is to, not call it exercise! Instead, call it what it is, play time! Good-old fashioned play will naturally result in exercise and activity. Here are a few tips for incorporating more movement into your kiddo’s daily life this summer: Limit screen time. The American Pediatric Association issued the following guidelines for parents: 1) Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms. 2) Limit entertainment screen time to less than two hours per day. 3) For children under two, discourage screen media exposure. Play as a family. If you tend to turn on the TV, Netflix, or watch videos in the evening, try a new routine. After dinnertime, take the whole family outside, play kickball, shoot some hoops, throw a Frisbee, or take the dog for a walk. Studies show that children, whose parents are active, tend to be more active themselves. Create some schedule and structure. While summer is meant to be downtime from the rigid schedule of the school year, some structure is still needed to prevent couch time temptation. Consider day camps, scheduled playdates, or simply a loose daily schedule for simple chores, outdoor play, and indoor quiet time. Keep a stash of toys. Parents need not spend a bundle. Often outdoor play toys can be found at garage sales or second hand shops for a reasonable price. Classic toys like kick balls, racquets, jump ropes, hula-hoops, bean toss games, and such will provide hours of fun and a variety of activity options throughout the summer. Play with other families. Just as some adults are extroverts and enjoy the company of others on a regular basis, so do some children. As the summer progresses, children may miss their friends from school. Inviting friends and families over for a game night or tag at the local park will provide much needed interaction for parents and children alike. Involve children in chores. Everyday chores keep kiddos active as well. Requiring children to do a small number of daily chores teaches responsibility, keeps the child active, and helps the household to stay in order. Depending on the age, a child can pick up toys, water the garden, weed, vacuum, dust, wash the dishes, paint, or clean cupboards. Be prepared for rainy days. Rain happens but with a little forethought, children can still be active. Musical chairs, dancing, games like Twister , or creating forts out of couch cushions and sheets are fantastic, creative ways to be active even on the rainiest of days. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at UR Medicine Noyes Health in Dansville, NY. If you have questions or ideas for future articles, please contact Lorraine at or (585)335-4327. ... Read More