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January 13, 2017

The Potential of Plants

Recently, I was chatting it up with a colleague about the virtues of chocolate. Much of the conversation was tongue and cheek as we sought to justify our ingestion of the most incredible substance on earth. At some point, my co-worker said, "and doesn't chocolate have flavonoids? - those are supposed to be good for us, right?" This exchange reminded me of similar dialogues with folks about the benefits of red wine. "It has that resveratrol stuff - that's good, right?" Yes, but what exactly are flavonoids, resveratrol, caretenoids, and isoflavones? They are phytonutrients, naturally occurring chemicals in plants. The word phyto is Greek for plant. So the word phytonutrient simply means plant nutrition. The phrases phytonutrient or phytochemical mean the same thing - natural compounds that come from fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, seeds, nuts or other plant matter. Some researchers estimate there are 10,000 or more phytonutrients. These chemical compounds protect plants from disease and the environment. . Basically, they help keep plants healthy. They are also the chemicals that give fruits and veggies their color, odor, and strong flavors. Traditionally, medicinal plants have been used all over the world. The ancient Chinese used herbs for healing as far back as 2800 BC. Hippocrates and Aristotle (460-322 BC) introduced herbal medicine from India and Egypt to Europe and the gold standard for over 1,500 years was the Greek physicians Dioscorides' book De Materia Medica. This book, written sometime between 50 and 70 AD, was basically a pharmacy book of herbs and plants. Fast forward to the 19th and 20th centuries and scientists discovered specific medicinal and pesticidal properties in plants - for example, morphine for pain and pyrethriods for pesticides. It was not until the 1980s, however, that laboratories started identifying phytochemicals that might be used as medicines. What they have discovered is that the same chemicals that keep plants healthy in the great outdoors seem to prevent and fight disease in humans as well. According to a 2013 article in the journal, Today's Dietitian, research strongly suggests that consuming foods rich in phytochemicals provides health benefits. Numerous studies indicate an association between consuming higher levels of phytochemicals through the ingestion of more fruits and vegetables . Bottom line, folks who eat a largely plant-based diet tend to have lower cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, and fewer age related declines in mental and physical abilities. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) laboratory studies have shown that phytochemicals have the potential to: Stimulate the immune system Block substances we eat, drink, and breathe from becoming carcinogens Reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely Prevents DNA damage and help with DNA repair Reduce the kind of oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer Slow the growth rate of cancer cells Trigger damaged cells to commit suicide before they can reproduce Help to regulate hormones. What does this mean for your next trip to the grocery store? Overall, it means load up with vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and beans. To give you an idea of specific foods and their possible benefits, the CDC compiled a list of the top phytonutrients, their food source, and proposed benefits. Beta-carotene - found in pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, cantaloupe, apricots and all dark leafy greens like spinach or broccoli. Potential benefits include: improved immune system, vision, skin and bone health. Lycopene - found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, red peppers, and watermelon. This is beneficial for prostate cancer prevention and heart health. Lutein - found in all greens as well as Brussels sprouts and artichokes. Believed to be good for eye health, cancer, and heart health. Resveratrol - found in red wine, peanuts, and grapes. Studies indicate this is particularly good for heart health, cancer, lung health, and in the reducing inflammation. Anthocyanidins - found in blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, red onions, red potatoes, and red radishes. These red and purple foods have the potential to improve blood vessel health. Isoflavones - found in soybeans and soy products. Studies show that this phytonutrient alleviates menopausal symptoms, may reduce breast cancer risk, lowers cholesterol, and improves joint health and inflammation. While it is too early to "prescribe" an exact dose of one type of food as medicine for any given illness, the research is now perfectly clear that the consumption of fruits and vegetables is crucial for human health. The vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber in a varied diet rich in everything from berries to broccoli is going to be beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other chronic diseases. And yes, chocolate lovers, cocoa is rich in phytonutrients but keep in mind dark chocolate is richer in these miracle chemicals than milk chocolate! For more information about phytonutrients, visit: American Institute for Cancer Research - www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/elements_phytochemicals.html CDC - http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/what-are-phytochemicals Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

January 9, 2017

National Blood Donor Month

Clara Barton founded the first Chapter of the American Red Cross in Dansville, NY in 1881. Today, her legacy is honored through a beautiful home on Elizabeth Street, donated by the Noyes family. Perhaps the greatest way we can honor Clara, however, is through the gift of life – blood donation. January is National Blood Donor Month. It is a time when blood organizations like the American Red Cross pay tribute to the nearly 11 million people who give blood each year, and encourage others to start off the New Year right by donating blood. According to James Love, executive director of the Greater Rochester American Red Cross chapter, “the need for blood is especially high around the time of the holidays.” Traditionally, January has been a challenging time for blood donation because of cold and snowy weather and busy post-holiday schedules. Regardless of the weather or convenience, hospital patients nationwide need about 44,000 blood donations daily for cancer care, surgeries, and the treatment of serious diseases and trauma. To break down that number down further, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Unfortunately, that blood cannot be manufactured. It must be donated. Although an estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood at any given time, less than 10% of eligible individuals actually donate each year. Why don’t people donate? The most common reasons cited include: “Never thought about it” and “I don’t like needles.” The number one reason people do donate – they “want to help others.” Indeed, donating blood helps every hospital in the U.S. The American Red Cross alone provides blood for approximately 2,600 hospitals. Donors play a vital role in keeping our communities healthy and donating is easy. According to redcrossblood.org, getting blood from donors to the hospitals is a 5-step process. Step 1 – The Donation The actual blood donation takes about 10-12 minutes. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about an hour and 15 minutes. Donor registers Health history and mini physical (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and hemoglobin level) are completed. About 1 pint of blood and several small test tubes are collected from each donor. (The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in his or her body.) The bag, test tubes and the donor record are labeled with an identical bar code label to keep track of the donation The donation is stored in iced coolers until it is transported to a Red Cross center Step 2 – Processing Donated blood is scanned into a computer database Most blood is spun in centrifuges to separate the transfusable components – red cells, platelets, and plasma The primary components like plasma, can be further manufactured into components such as cryoprecipitate also known as cyro (a frozen blood product prepared from plasma.) Red cells are then leuko-reduced (white blood cells removed in order to use the blood for transfusion) Single donor platelets are leuko-reduced and bacterially tested. Test tubes are sent for testing. Step 3 – Testing Steps 2 and 3 take place at the same time The test tubes are received in one of three Red Cross National Testing Laboratories A dozen tests are performed on each unit of donated blood – to establish the blood type and test for infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. Test results are transferred electronically to the manufacturing facility within 24 hours If a test result is positive, the unit is discarded and the donor is notified. Test results are confidential and are only shared with the donor, except as may be required by law Step 4 – Storage When test results are received, units suitable for transfusion are labeled and stored Red Cells are stored in refrigerators at 6ºC for up to 42 days Platelets are stored at room temperature in agitators for up to five days Plasma and cryo are frozen and stored in freezers for up to one year Step 5 – Distribution Blood is available to be shipped to hospitals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days or about 6 times per year and can donate platelets as few as 7days apart, but a maximum of 24 times per year. For about 8 hours of time per year, you can give the gift of life by donating blood. It is a great way to volunteer and help your community. To find a local blood drive or American Red Cross donation center, contact the Greater Rochester Chapter of the American Red Cross at 50 Prince Street, Rochester, NY 14607, Phone: (585) 241-4400 or the Clara Barton Chapter #1, 57 Elizabeth Street, Dansville, NY 14437, Phone: (585) 335-3500. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

January 7, 2017

Dansville Cancer Center Means Shorter Trips for Thousands of Patients

DANSVILLE, N.Y. -- The Myers Cancer Center at Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, Livingston County, is a 4,500 square foot, two-story facility more than a year in the making. A fundraising campaign helped pay for the $5.8 million treatment center, with a large donation coming from Ann and Carl Myers. "Ann and Carl stepped up to the plate and just said, 'We want to do everything we can to offer cancer services to the people who live around us.' Their gift of $2 million to help us get this project started was absolutely wonderful," said Amy Pollard, Noyes Health president and CEO. To read the full article and watch the video from Time Warner News about The Myers Center Center, please use the link below. http://www.twcnews.com/nys/rochester/news/2017/01/5/myers-cancer-center-noyes-memorial-hospital-dansville-livingston-county.html... Read More

January 2, 2017

Let’s Run Around Like Kids Again!

I was the awkward, uncoordinated, gawky girl in gym class. I vividly recall standing against the gymnasium wall. The teacher would almost always ask the two most athletic girls to be captains and pick teams. Well, no surprise, I was inevitably chosen second to last. Apparently, there was one other girl who had more issues with eye hand coordination than moi. Gym class was all about throwing a ball, catching a ball, hitting a ball, understanding where to throw the ball…just a tad challenging for this girl. Every year, however, there was a bright shining moment – square dancing. As the other kids moaned and groaned about the dance unit, I was in my glory. For two magnificent weeks, there was music, movement, and rhythm. I am thankful for those few weeks every year because it taught me that being active can look a lot of different ways. As an adult, I have come to appreciate free weights, stability balls, Pilates, and aerobics. But most of all, I just love walking. Simply putting one foot in front of the other keeps me fit and happy. As an adult, I have pondered the disconnect between traditional organized sports versus a healthy and active lifestyle. Lessons of perseverance, diligence, commitment, and teamwork are incredible by- products of team sports. Unfortunately, the message of life long health is often lost in the structured world of training to win. When organized sport ends, you are supposed to magically hit the gym, embrace a healthy lifestyle, and stay fit. Statistics indicate this is not the case. Even elite college athletes are becoming couch potatoes after their competitive years are done. Many indicate they lack the internal motivation to keep moving without a training schedule. And so the obesity epidemic with its ensuing chronic diseases continues to plague the western world. 35% of American adults and nearly 17% of teens are overweight. Almost a quarter of us do not engage in any leisure time physical activity and only 20% meet the U.S. aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines. What if we got back to basics and made running, playing, and walking outside part of our daily routine starting at a young age? What if every kid and adult simply moved each day? What if we made it fun and social? That is what one teacher in Scotland asked. The result is a program taking off throughout the UK and parts of Europe called the Daily Mile. Elaine Wyllie, head teacher (now retired) of St. Ninians school in Scotland, started the program four years ago. As the story goes, a volunteer commented to Wyllie that the children were unfit. Wyllie asked a group of 11-year-olds to run a mile. She was aghast as students struggled to finish. The idea for a daily walk, jog, or run was born. She designed a program that was non-competitive, social, and fun. The basic premise is this – once a day at whatever time the teacher chooses, the class goes outside and runs, jogs, or walks for 15 minutes. All children are included and do it in their school clothes. Kiddos are encouraged to talk and socialize along the way. It happens outside in almost all weather. Schools map out a path or track; the students and teacher then do 5-10 laps depending on its length. There is no equipment, no set-up, and no need to warm up or cool down. Every child no matter their weight, fitness level, or ability is included. So how far can kiddos go in 15 minutes? In the 4-7 year old group, 50% run 1 mile, 25% more than a mile, and 25% less than a mile. In the 8-11 age group, 50% run a mile, 40% more than a mile, and 10% less than a mile. The obesity epidemic is complicated and multi-faceted. Nutrition, technology use, stress, and genetics all play a role. The simplicity of the Daily Mile, however, is already showing promising results in the UK. Early scientific studies show that the level of obesity at St Ninian’s School is around 45% less than the national average. In addition, anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers suggests that the fresh air activity results in renewed energy and better concentration in the class room. To sort out all the variables and determine the validity of the program, Colin Moran, an academic from the University of Stirling, is leading a study. His research team is comparing schools in the Stirling area to see if the reported benefits can be linked to the daily mile. Running, jogging, or walking 15 minutes per day may not be the complete answer to the obesity epidemic but it may very well be a big piece of the wellness pie. I, for one, plan on including it my New Year routine although I may throw in a little dancing too! To learn more about everyday exercise, try these websites: The Daily Mile - www.thedailymile.co.uk CDC - www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity National Institute on Aging - https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/exercise-physical-activity/introduction Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

December 26, 2016

Relief from Holiday Heartburn

Cookies and lattes and dips oh my….my upset tummy that is. This time of year brings on bouts of heartburn and acid indigestion. But it is hard to say no when Grandma’s famous lasagna or Aunt Susie’s triple chocolate peppermint cake is staring you down from the buffet table. The uncomfortable truth, however, is that fatty roasts, casseroles, gravies, spicy dips, and sugar-laden desserts, can cause our systems to revolt and say, “Too much!” And to top it off, anxiety and stress can worsen heartburn symptoms. If this happens to you, you are not alone. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, more than 60 million American experience heartburn at least once a month. Heartburn is mild to severe pain in the chest that brings on a burning or tightening sensation. It usually occurs after eating a meal and can be worse when you bend over or lie down. Heartburn can often be treated with medications like antacids but you can take charge of your health and possibly ward off heartburn all together. As you go through this holiday season and the New Year, there are a number of things you can do to alleviate your symptoms and perhaps prevent bigger problems in the future. Harvard Medical Publications and the Mayo Clinic offer the following advice: Eat smaller meals, but more often. A full stomach puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a valve-like muscle that keeps stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. Eat in a slow, relaxed manner. Wolfing down your food fills your stomach faster, putting more pressure on the LES. Remain upright after meals. Lying down increases pressure on the LES, which makes acid reflux more likely. Avoid late-night eating. Eating a meal or snack within three hours of lying down to sleep can worsen reflux and heartburn symptoms. Leave enough time for the stomach to clear out. Don't exercise immediately after meals. Give your stomach time to empty; wait a couple of hours after eating before exercising. Tilt your torso with a bed wedge. Raising your torso up a bit with a wedge-shaped cushion reduces the pressure on the LES and may ease nighttime heartburn. Wedges are available from medical supply companies. Don't just prop your head and shoulders up with pillows, which can actually worsen reflux. Stay away from carbonated beverages. They cause belching, which promotes reflux of stomach acid. Find the foods that trigger your symptoms and avoid them. Some foods and drinks increase acid secretion, delay stomach emptying, or loosen the LES — conditions that set the stage for heartburn. Common offenders include fatty or fried foods, spicy foods, citrus, tomatoes, garlic, milk, coffee, tea, cola, peppermint, chocolate and alcohol. Chew sugarless gum after a meal. Chewing gum promotes salivation, which neutralizes acid, soothes the esophagus, and washes acid back down to the stomach. Avoid peppermint flavors, which may trigger heartburn. Check your medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the medications you take could worsen acid reflux or inflame the esophagus. For example, tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline loosen the LES and tetracyclines such as doxycycline can cause esophageal inflammation. Lose weight if you need to. Excess pounds put pressure on your abdomen, pushing your stomach, and causing acid to back up into your esophagus. Avoid tightfitting clothing. Tight clothes put pressure on your abdomen and the LES. Avoid smoking. Smoking decreases the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly. Heartburn is a common digestive condition, however, if you have symptoms twice a week or more, it may be gastroesophagel reflux disease (GERD). Acid reflux occurs when the muscle in charge of closing your esophagus after food passes to the stomach becomes weak or does not close properly. As a result, stomach acid can move backward into you esophagus. GERD is chronic form of acid reflux, meaning it occurs more than twice a week and causes swelling in the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include: heartburn, sour or bitter taste in the mouth, feeling like the contents of the stomach have come back up the throat or mouth, chest pain, dry cough, asthma, trouble swallowing, hoarseness or laryngitis, especially in the morning, sore throat or the need to clear the throat, dental erosions, and feeling that there is a "lump in the throat." If left untreated, GERD can cause: bleeding, ulcers, and scarring. One final note regarding heartburn – it is often mistaken for a heart attack. If your heartburn changes or gets worse and is accompanied by difficulty breathing or pain in your arm or jaw, call 911 immediately. These may be signs of a heart attack. The following websites offer more information about heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD: Mayo Clinic - http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/basics/definition/con-20025201 Harvard Medical Publications - http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/gerd-heartburn-and-more Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

December 19, 2016

The Gift of Hugs

My mom is a hugger. Through the years, countless people have told me, “Your mom gives the best hugs.” You see when mom hugs, it isn’t one of those delicate, just touch the shoulders and lean in hugs; it is a full-blown, wrap you up in my arms and hold on tight hug. It is an “I am not letting you go until you relax in my arms” hug. When you get done with a Grandma Margo hug, you can’t help but feel better. Something about those arms encircling you and not letting go communicates love, support, and kindness. Not only do you feel loved, you actually feel better physically after you’ve been held tight by this 83 year old woman. Her hugs are therapeutic to her family, friends, and strangers. I have never seen my mom be introduced to someone new and just shake hands. She always says, “Come here, I’m a hugger,” as she holds her arms out and steps forward to embrace what will now be one more friend. Humans were made to hug, love, and live in community. Research long ago confirmed that social ties were crucial for everything from doing well in school to living longer. Now we have evidence that hugs in particular are good for our emotional and physical well-being. In the United States, we tend to be a bit stand-offish. We tend to save our hugs for family and close friends; and even then, due to hectic schedules or living alone, we may not receive an honest to goodness hug for days. Handshakes with an occasional pat on the back are the norm in the work world. In other cultures, however, touch and hugs are much more common. Back in the 1960s, psychologist Sidney Jourard studied the conversations of two friends in different parts of the world as they sat at café together. Each group of friends was studied for the same amount of time in each of the different countries. In England, the two friends touched each other zero times. In the U.S., they touched each other two times. But in France, the number went up to 110 times per hour and in Puerto Rico, the number reached an astounding 180 touches per hour! What we now know, is that this disparity in touching is not just a curious cultural difference. It is actually part of a bigger health picture. Here are just some of the latest findings regarding hugs: Hugs Protect Against Stress and Infection Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University tested whether hugs act as a form of social support, protecting stressed people from getting sick. The team tracked how many hugs 404 individuals received each day for 14 days. At the end of that time, the participants were intentionally exposed to a common cold virus and monitored in quarantine to assess infection and signs of illness. They found that those people with greater perceived social support and increased number of hugs were less likely to become ill and if they did, the symptoms were less severe. Hugging Reduces Anxiety and Stress Tiffany Field, psychologist at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, School of Medicine theorizes that hugging triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps us bond with one another, relaxes us, and lowers blood pressure. She explains that hugging or cuddling with someone stimulates pressure receptors under your skin. This triggers the vagus nerve (the longest cranial nerve in our body reaching from deep within our trunk to the brain). This nerve then signals the release the hormone oxytocin also known as the love or bonding hormone. Oxytocin is known to increase levels of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, which according to Field may be why it has calming effects. All that to say, hugging triggers a series of events in our body that lead to the release of several hormones all associated with calmness and better mood regulation. Hugging Can Lower Your Heart Rate and Blood Pressure Stress increases our heart rates and blood pressure; and stress over a long period of time can lead to chronic disease. A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study suggests that hugging your partner could actually reduce heart rate and blood pressure. The study found that couples who enjoy more cuddling may have lower physiological stress responses, reducing their risk of heart and other diseases. The study looked at warm-contact groups (those who hugged and cuddled) and no-contact groups. The warm-contact group heart rates and blood pressure were lower even when they were in conflict. On behalf of the Noyes Health team, I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with hugs, laughter, joy, and good health. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

December 19, 2016

Cancer Center Sneak Peek

COMMUNITY INVITED TO A “SNEAK PEEK” OF WILMOT CANCER INSTITUTE’S ANN AND CARL MYERS CANCER CENTER UR Medicine’s Noyes Health, Jones Memorial Hospital and Wilmot Cancer Institute are hosting an informal “sneak peek” of the new Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center. Tours of the nearly completed facility, located at on the Noyes Health campus at 111 Clara Barton Street in Dansville, will be offered on in two sessions on Thursday, January 5: from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The “sneak peek” of the new facility is an opportunity to ask questions and learn about the services that will be available to cancer patients and their caregivers. Attendees should park in the north lot of Noyes Memorial Hospital and enter the building through hospital outpatient registration, then follow posted signs to the Cancer Center entrance. The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center is collaboration among Wilmot Cancer Institute, Jones Memorial Hospital, and Noyes Health. It will serve as a hub for oncology services, and it includes medical oncology services at Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville and a radiation oncology clinic in Hornell. The Myers Cancer Center will provide patients in Livingston, Steuben and Allegany Counties more convenient access to comprehensive state-of-the art cancer care. “This community has been so supportive of the cancer center project from the beginning,” says Noyes Health CEO Amy Pollard. “We wanted to make sure people have an opportunity to see the results of their efforts. “ “The Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center brings the best in cancer care closer to where our patients live and work,” adds Eva Benedict, CEO of Jones Memorial Hospital. “It will allow cancer patients in this region to focus on getting well rather than on the stress of traveling to and from treatment.” “The opening of the Ann and Carl Myers Cancer Center reflects the community’s investment not just in the construction of this building, but also in transforming cancer care across the region,” says Jonathan W. Friedberg, M.D., MMSc, director of Wilmot Cancer Institute. “We are excited to provide a sneak peek at this new facility and what it will offer.” Established with a $2 million gift from Ann and Carl Myers, the project features a 4,500-square-foot lower level addition housing a radiation oncology clinic, and a 2,300-square-foot medical oncology clinic featuring three exam rooms and five chemotherapy/infusion chairs on the first floor. The regional cancer center will also provide patients with access to services including advanced diagnostic testing, clinical trials, outpatient palliative care, and Wilmot Cancer Institute’s Judy DiMarzo Cancer Survivorship Program. For more information, please call 585-335-4323. ... Read More

December 8, 2016

Toy Safety

The year was 1968 and for Christmas, I received my favorite game, KerPlunk. I loved that game. It and pick-up sticks were my go-to activities. Both time-tested beloved games required skinny, pointed, sharp sticks and the one, small marbles. Not exactly child friendly! I can definitely remember those sharp sticks being used as weapons in our house. My sisters and I would poke (stab) each other and you know how it goes, someone always got hurt (usually me as I was the youngest.) This is nothing new under the sun. My own children, now in their 20s, recently revealed the misuse of toy parts…think Legos becoming missiles aimed at the other sibling. What has changed are the standards for the toy industry. Those standards have changed over the years in response to childhood injuries and deaths due to unsafe toys. Consider that even with improved standards, 188,400 children under the age of 15 years were seen in emergency departments for toy-related injuries in the year 2011; that is 516 children every day. According to Safekids.org, more than a third of those injured were children 5 and under. Choking is a particular risk for kids ages 3 or younger because they tend to put objects in their mouths. Standards in the last two decades have improved. As of 1995, any toys made in or imported to the United States must comply with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Being aware of the safety standards is important, but perhaps more important is a parent’s judgement and supervision. When choosing a toy, consider the child’s temperament, habits, and behaviors. Consider the child’s age and development and always read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it is right for the little one. In addition, parents or caregivers should supervise play and watch out for unsafe use of the toy or choking hazards. Remember age levels for toys are determined by safety factors not the child’s intelligence or maturity. This means that even if your child is “advanced,” the toy still might not be safe for him or her due to physical size or dexterity. Kidshealth.org offers the following age-specific guidelines for choosing the right toys: For Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Toys should be large enough — at least 1¼ inches (3 centimeters) in diameter and 2¼ inches (6 centimeters) in length — so that they can't be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe. A small-parts tester, or choke tube, can determine if a toy is too small. These tubes are designed to be about the same diameter as a child's windpipe. If an object fits inside the tube, then it's too small for a young child. If you can't find a choke tube, a toilet paper roll can be used for the same purpose. Avoid marbles, coins, balls, and games with balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less because they can become lodged in the throat above the windpipe and restrict breathing. Battery-operated toys should have battery cases that secure with screws so that kids cannot pry them open. Batteries and battery fluid pose serious risks, including choking, internal bleeding, and chemical burns. When checking a toy for a baby or toddler, make sure it's unbreakable and strong enough to withstand chewing. Also, make sure it doesn't have: sharp ends or small parts like eyes, wheels, or buttons that can be pulled loose small ends that can extend into the back of the mouth strings longer than 7 inches (18 centimeters) parts that could become pinch points for small fingers Most riding toys can be used once a child is able to sit up well while unsupported - but check with the manufacturer's recommendation. Riding toys like rocking horses and wagons should come with safety harnesses or straps and be stable and secure enough to prevent tipping. Stuffed animals and other toys that are sold or given away at carnivals, fairs, and in vending machines are not required to meet safety standards. Check carnival toys carefully for loose parts and sharp edges before giving them to your infant. For Grade-Schoolers Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and inline skates should never be used without helmets that meet current safety standards and other recommended safety gear, like hand, wrist and shin guards. Look for CPSC or Snell certification on the labels. Nets should be well constructed and firmly attached to the rim so that they don't become strangulation hazards. Toy darts or arrows should have soft tips or suction cups at the end, not hard points. Toy guns should be brightly colored so they cannot be mistaken for real weapons, and kids should be taught to never point darts, arrows, or guns at anyone. BB guns or pellet rifles should not be given to kids under the age of 16. Electric toys should be labeled UL, meaning they meet safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories. The following websites offer more in-depth information about toy safety: Consumer Product Safety Commission – https://www.cpsc.gov/safety-education/safety-guides/toys/ Kids Health – http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/safe-toys.html Safe Kids Worldwide – https://www.safekids.org/safetytips/field_risks/toy-safety Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

December 2, 2016

Holiday Wellness

The day after Thanksgiving has always been designated as Christmas tree day in our household. From the time the kiddos were wee little ones, we bundled up everyone, headed out to the hills of Springwater, and cut down our Christmas tree at our friend’s tree farm. The tree was then set up in the corner of the living room, lights put on, and ornaments hung. Of course, some years were more idyllic than others….think children crying from one too many snowballs in the face, dad getting more than a tad irritated with the tree and unwieldly tree stand, and kitty cats toppling thoroughly decorated trees (not once but twice!). And of course, those were all small issues compared to the years when Grandma had cancer or Dad had a heart attack. Those were the years when we all tried to hold it together, put on a happy face, and trudge through the holidays. The reality is not every holiday season is a Hallmark movie with beautiful people, houses, and decorations and with relationships that all work out in the end. Life brings with it certain stressors and the holiday season can add to them with parties, shopping, baking, wrapping, cleaning, entertaining, and expectations; not to mention finances and families. Even in the best of years, there is bound to be stress as we try to fit everything in. No matter what life is bringing you this holiday season, managing stress and staying healthy is crucial to your mental and physical well-being. Taking some time for relaxation and keeping it all in perspective is the key to not only surviving the holidays but perhaps really enjoying them as well. The American Psychological Association and the Mayo Clinic have the following tips for coping with holiday stress: Be Realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. Families grow and change over time. Being flexible with traditions and creating new traditions together makes for a happier holiday for everyone. Stick to your budget. Decide on your food and gift budget ahead of time and stick to it. If you don’t, not only will December be stressful but January will as well when the credit card bill lands in your mailbox. Take a bit of time to relax. Make some time for yourself. Fitting in a 15-20 minute catnap, taking a quiet walk by yourself, or listening to some great music may be just enough to clear your mind before you tackle the next project. Don’t stuff your feelings but reach out. If someone close to you has recently died, you can’t be with loved ones, or the holidays are the anniversary of something traumatic, acknowledge those feelings. It is OK and perfectly normal to feel sadness and grief. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it is the holidays. That being said, often the best antidote is reaching out. If you feel lonely and isolated, seek out community, religious, or social events. Consider volunteering. Helping others is frequently a great way to lift your spirits. NOTE: If you feel persistently sad or anxious for an extended period of time, speak with your physician. If you feel that you may harm yourself or others, call 911. Learn to say no. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. Plan ahead and keep a calendar so you don’t overschedule. To learn more about stress management and the holidays, try these websites: American Psychological Association at http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-season.aspx or the Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544. Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at lwichtowski@noyeshealth.org or 585-335-4327. ... Read More

November 28, 2016

Understanding Pre-Diabetes

With November being National Diabetes month, I hope you have read the past three weeks of articles about diabetes, and have become more familiar with the condition and the tools and education available. At this point, some of you may be feeling “safe” from this condition. So my question this week is; what do you know about Pre-diabetes? According to the Centers for Disease Control, pre-diabetes affects 86 million individuals with only 10% of these individuals are aware that they are pre-diabetic with 51% of pre-diabetics over the age of 65 years. Pre-diabetes is not a new disease. This condition has been around a long time under different names; Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG). With pre-diabetes, fasting blood sugars are elevated somewhat, 100mg – 125mg. This range of blood sugar is not high enough to put the person in the diabetes category. It is also important to note that there may not be any signs or symptoms that the individual is having a problem. Pre-diabetes is just that, a condition where the system of the metabolism of glucose is challenged, and there is the good news! By making small lifestyle changes, 50 – 58% of those with pre-diabetes will be able to avoid the diabetes diagnosis. This is one reason that the name, Pre-diabetes was adopted. In the past when an individual was told they had IGT or IFG, they were typically not advised of the relationship to diabetes, and were seldom motivated to make the lifestyle changes necessary to ward off diabetes. To those of you reading this, where do you go from here to learn if you are among the 86 million with pre-diabetes? First, start with your risk factors for diabetes. You are at risk if you have a history of diabetes in your family or ladies, if you had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy. You are at risk if you are overweight, have high blood pressure or blood fats and lead a sedentary lifestyle. You are at risk if your ethnicity is African American, Native American, Latino or Pacific Islander. Second, pre-diabetes is diagnosed with a HgA1c between 5.7-6.4 or fasting blood sugar between 100mg – 125mg. Talk to your Health Care Provider to find out if either of these tests has been done and what was the result? Education is available and may be closer than you think. Learn about some simple changes in lifestyle you can make that will go a long way to preventing diabetes from getting a hold on you. A weight loss of only 7% of your current weight is an excellent start along with a slow increase in activity. With the cold weather and snow coming, try walking on the commercials only of one hour of TV. By the end of the show you will have gotten about 25-30 minutes of exercise! If your blood pressure and blood fats; cholesterol, triglycerides are up, work with your physician and registered dietitian to get them down. Remember, diabetes, once diagnosed, does not go away. Take the steps today to be proactive, learn about your health and if you are one of the 79 million with pre-diabetes, see what you can do to be among the 50% - 58% who will not go on to become diabetics. The Diabetes Self-Management Program at Noyes Health is recognized by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and is staffed with an RN CDE and RN Health Educator. The program is available in Geneseo, Dansville, Hornell and four area Health Care Provider offices. Call 585-335-4355 for additional information. Nancy M. Johnsen RN, CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator and Community Health Education Coordinator and Coordinator of the Diabetes Education Program at Noyes Health. ... Read More

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