13 Oct

How Screen Time Affects Mental Health

By AdventHealth — With more of us than ever working remotely because of the pandemic, Zoom meetings and virtual training sessions have become part of our daily routines. We see our colleagues two-dimensionally and even socialize with our friends on our screens rather than face-to-face. With screen time rapidly increasing in our world, what are the effects on our brains? We’re here to provide helpful information with support from Murtaza Syed, MD, board-certified psychiatrist, and expert on mental health.

 Where’s My Phone?

 A study in 2018 showed that American adults spent between two and four hours per day on their devices, which added up to about 2,600 taps, swipes, touches and types per day. When the pandemic hit in 2020, those numbers went up exponentially given the need to replace in-person work and play with virtual alternatives.

The study also indicated that 73% of adults experience anxiety, even a mild state of panic, when they can’t find their phone, because we’ve become so entwined with our digital lives. Smartphones allow us to carry all of our social media addictions with us 24/7, so we always have these connections at our fingertips.

Dr. Syed says, “While smartphones and other devices provide great benefits to our society, including during the pandemic, those benefits also come at a great cost to our mental health. Overuse of devices is connected to increased levels of anxiety, depression, poor sleep and increased risk of car accidents.”

Dopamine and Social Reward

Dopamine is a brain chemical that is linked to motivation. It’s released when we taste something delicious, after we exercise and when we have positive social interactions.

“Dopamine basically rewards us for behaviors that benefit and motivate us to do them again,” says Dr. Syed. “The reward pathways become active when either anticipating or experiencing rewarding events. Every time a stimulus response results in a reward, those associations get cemented in our brains so we want to keep doing them. Whenever we receive a ‘like,’ or a kind comment on something we post on social media, we feel a sense of validation that isn’t always healthy.”

Since positive social experiences release dopamine, those experiences are transferred to the virtual world through our devices and social media platforms. Each text message, email and “like” on Facebook or Instagram becomes a positive social stimulus where we keep craving more.

Dr. Syed explains, “While all of this may seem harmless on the surface, these cravings for virtual stimuli set us up for screen addictions and take the place of healthier, face-to-face interactions with friends and loved ones, time spent outdoors and doing other things.”

Effects of Too Much Screen Time

Sleep Deprivation

The amount of time you spend on your devices impacts how much sleep you’re getting. “The blue light emitted from your screen interferes with the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Using your devices before bedtime makes it more difficult to fall asleep,” explains Dr. Syed.

Cutting out unnecessary screen time and refraining from using your devices around bedtime are good solutions for better sleep.

Impaired Social Skills

Even though we’re using our devices largely to socialize, we’re still doing it alone and separate from others. Having fewer real-life interactions leads to less practice, more social anxiety and loneliness.

Weakened Emotional Judgment

Too much screen time affects your ability to register and process emotions. Desensitization to violent content, for example, is a concerning side effect of weakened emotional judgment. Exposure to violent media content can also increase aggression levels and affect one’s level of empathy.

Strain on Your Eyes and Body

Spending long hours staring at a screen takes a real toll on your body, especially your eyes. “Too much screen time not only strains your eyes and dries them out, but can also lead to stress on the retina and affects visual acuity,” says Dr. Syed.

Also, being constantly hunched over to look at our devices impacts your posture and can cause stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulders.

Lower Self-Esteem

Too much time spent in the virtual world can have a negative impact on how you perceive yourself. The time you lose that could have been spent on forming relationships with others, discovering passions, honing your skills and experiencing new things leads to a weakened sense of self-identity and confidence.

“We often compare ourselves to others through social media. This does nothing but decrease our own self-worth because what we see others post on social media is far from a reflection of their true character and lifestyle. It’s important to remember that others’ online profiles are a curated snapshot — not a full picture of real life’s imperfections and challenges,” says Dr. Syed.

Healthy Alternatives for a Whole Life

If you think you’re spending too much time in front of your screens beyond what is necessary for work, there are some simple changes you can make to lessen your devices’ hold on you.

Optimizing your environment by keeping your smartphone out of your bedroom, designating the dining table as a screen-free zone and seeking other activities to relax are easy ways to eliminate temptation and teach yourself healthier avenues to experience life.

–AdventHealth; photo supplied

This article was originally published on the AdventHealth website

14 Jul

Keeping Your Kids Safe Around Water

By AdventHealth … Spending time in a swimming pool, at the beach or playing in water is a fun way to beat the heat and keep kids active during the hot summer months.

But, unfortunately, with water comes risk. And active adult supervision is critical to avoiding trouble.

“Many times, near-drowning occurs in the middle of a crowd,” explains Sara Kirby, MD, board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physician and Medical Director at AdventHealth Tampa’s Pediatric Emergency Room.

Dr. Kirby explains that assumptions are dangerous; if all adults assume someone is watching the children, it’s possible that no one actually is.

“Make sure small children are no more than an arm’s-length away at all times and there is an adult assigned to watch older children playing. Use a bracelet or lanyard to designate who is responsible for watching that shift,” she advises.

If you incorporate these helpful tips, you and your family can enjoy water fun while also lowering your risk for a water-related accident.

Tips for Parents

Follow these important safety guidelines to ensure your kids don’t have an accident around water.

1. Always swim in areas that are monitored and avoid taking the plunge in ponds or canals that don’t have a lifeguard and could have hazardous wildlife
2. Be mindful when young children are in the bathtub and never leave them unsupervised; it doesn’t take a lot of water to have a near-drowning incident
3. Enroll in a CPR class and keep the number of your local Emergency Medical Service saved in your phone
4. Enroll kids in swimming lessons to teach them how to be comfortable and not panic in the water
5. If you go boating, make sure that you have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for every passenger on board
6. Install a secure gate around your pool or spa at home to make sure kids don’t wander into the area without an adult
7. Make sure that whenever they’re swimming, children are actively supervised

Tips for Children

Teach your kids these water safety habits to help them be safe when they’re enjoying the summer sun.

1. Always swim with a buddy so you’re never alone if you need help
2. Unless a grown-up says it’s okay, never jump or dive into a body of water; it’s safer to wade in if you don’t know how deep it is
3. Have fun, but don’t roughhouse when you’re swimming; jumping on top of someone or pushing them down isn’t nice, and it could lead to a scary situation
4. Know what to do if something goes wrong: tell an adult and call for help right away

Remember — although swimming pools are where most of the submersion injuries that come into the emergency room occur, it only takes an inch of water for a child to drown. Keep an eye on little ones and follow these safety precautions, and you can significantly reduce the chances of something going wrong.

–photo supplied

This article was originally published on AdventHealth’s website.

22 Jun

How Playing a Sport Can Improve Your Mental Health

By AdventHealth — It seems obvious that getting regular physical activity helps you stay physically fit. But you may be surprised to learn about the more subtle ways that staying active can also benefit your mental and emotional health.

When you get your body moving, you’re able to also:

Boost Your Mood

You’ll feel this effect immediately. When you’re physically active, your brain releases chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. And when you participate in a team or group sport, you’ll also get the added benefit of positive social interaction.

Reduce Depression and Stress

When you’re immersed in a fun physical activity or team sport, you may find yourself totally distracted from the stressors and challenges of daily life. This temporary respite from stress can help you avoid getting bogged down by negative thoughts. What’s more, when you’re exercising, your body produces endorphins, which are a natural mood booster that can fight stress and depression. It’s endorphins that leave you feeling empowered, relaxed and optimistic after a good workout.

The best news: This benefit impacts active people of all ages. Research has found that teens who participate in sports often have fewer feelings of depression and stress, as well as improved mental health.

Improve Your Sleep

Exercise can improve your quality of sleep by helping you fall asleep more quickly and deepening the quality of your sleep. In turn, sleeping better can improve your mood and mental function the following day.

Keep Your Mind Sharp

Sports can help improve your concentration and keep you mentally sharp as you age. Participating in a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise for 30 minutes or longer at least three times a week can improve mental abilities, including critical thinking, learning and using good judgment.

Increase Your Self-Confidence

Scoring that goal in your soccer match can give you more than just a boost on the field. As you build your strength, skills and stamina through physical activity, this can also lead to improved self-image in all areas of your life.

Grow Leadership and Team-Building Skills

Participating in sports has been shown to improve leadership skills. In fact, studies show that teens who participate in sports are more likely to exhibit leadership qualities than those who don’t, and they’re more likely to adopt a healthy team mindset in their future workplace.

Get Active to Improve Your State of Mind

If you already take time regularly to get moving, keep it up. Your whole health is better because of it. If you don’t already have a physical activity you enjoy, consider joining a local recreational league. You’ll meet new people, improve your physical fitness and boost your mental health.

For more information on improving your mental health, check out these 5 Self-Care Tips .

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

–photo supplied

This article was originally published on the AdventHealth website.

15 Jun

How to Boost Kids’ Mental Health Through Food and Activity Choices

By AdventHealth –The benefits of healthy nutrition and exercise reach far beyond physical appearance, especially when it comes to kids. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), children who exercise regularly and eat healthfully are likely to:

  • Feel good about themselves, their bodies and their abilities
  • Cope with stress in a healthy way
  • Regulate their emotions better
  • Have improved self-esteem

Eating healthy foods and maintaining regular physical activity can also help prevent chronic illnesses that could come later in life, like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, while protecting against common childhood illnesses.

Of course, it can be very challenging as a parent to find ways to incorporate healthy foods into your kids’ lunches and make sure they’re exercising, especially if they’re in school for most of the day.

We want to help find ways for families to make the healthy choice a little easier in this busy world. Here are ways to positively impact your child’s mental health through small diet and exercise changes.

Meal Plan as a Family

Before you head to the grocery store, take a few minutes each week to sit down with your family and brainstorm some healthy meals.

Start With the Familiar

In this brainstorm, your kids may put in a pitch for the familiar, like mac and cheese or pizza, but starting with meals like these can actually be helpful. When you’re introducing kids to new foods, it’s best to take it slowly by taking something they already like and tweaking it to make it healthier.

Whole-wheat macaroni or thin-crust pizza (bonus for replacing the crust with cauliflower) are small steps on the path to healthier eating. Also, when kids help pick the meals, they’re more likely to try new foods, even the healthier ones.

Prepare Food Together

If kids are getting involved in planning and buying food, it only makes sense for them to start learning about how it actually gets made. Cooking also provides opportunities to show children how food is grown. Starting a garden or even growing a small herb in a pot to put in a dish can spark a child’s interest.

Think About Habits, Not Diets

Ultimately, the goal is to make healthy nutrition a habit, like brushing your teeth. There’s no one path that works to get there.

AdventHealth for Children Dietitian Christopher Schnell explains, “A growing amount of evidence is showing a link between eating pattern and mental health or mood. Eating patterns that are similar to a Mediterranean diet may have positive effects towards mood and stress related disorders. Daily intake of a variety of foods including legumes, fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds should be included.”

In general, shop for these foods:

  • Fruit
  • Healthy protein
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

And try to stay away from:

  • Butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy
  • High-fat dairy products
  • Processed foods
  • Red and/or processed meat
  • Refined grains (non-whole grains that are missing one or more key parts of the grain, like white flour and white rice)
  • Sweets and desserts

It’s not as if these foods are, by themselves, harmful. But a diet centered around them can be, so try to help your children adopt healthy habits early on.

Get Outside

When you and the kids have free time, take a quick walk or bicycle ride around your yard or neighborhood. Instead of filling time with a television show or video game, encourage physical activity.

If you have swings, a trampoline or playground equipment, let your children play and use up some energy. Or, invest in some inexpensive equipment, such as hula hoops, exercise balls, a Frisbee or jump ropes.

Schedule Longer Exercise Sessions

In addition to short breaks, try to schedule a longer activity break in your family’s daily routine, perhaps after their school day is done. Each family member should aim for at least 60 minutes of activity every day. Keep in mind, you can break this time up into smaller segments.

Here are some ideas for keeping your kids active for longer stretches:

Set Up a Schedule for Chores

Vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, mowing the lawn and taking out the trash are all ways to keep kids busy. Schedule age-appropriate chores for each member of your family at least once a week. Not only will you keep your kids active, but you’ll enjoy a clean house as well.

Practice Sports

If you have athletes in your family — or your kids play a sport as a hobby — encourage them to practice drills, such as running or lifting weights.

Watch Your Words

Talking about weight and healthy eating can be a minefield. Thinking ahead of time about the words you’ll use can mean the difference between an optimistic discussion about achieving health and a negatively focused talk about weight. The words you use now will matter a lot to your child’s mental health now and in the future.

Here are three words it’s best to find replacements for:

  • Weight: In general, it’s best to talk about eating in terms of health, not weight. Weight can add negative emotions like shame, which can make kids and teens retreat into unhealthy habits.
  • Diet: When nutritionists and doctors talk about a diet, they usually mean the kinds of foods a person usually eats. But many people talk about diets in terms of foods to avoid to lose weight or help treat or avoid certain diseases. These sorts of restrictive diets are difficult to maintain over time. It’s better to talk about the health goals children should aim for.
  • Restriction: Children respond better to positive reinforcement than rules about what they “can’t” eat. If you substitute unhealthy foods with healthier options — like fruit-infused water instead of soda — the “can’t” foods will slowly get phased out naturally.

For more tips to help support your child’s mental health, click here. For more information or to schedule an appointment with our weight and wellness team, visit AdventHealth for Children: Weight and Wellness.

–photo supplied

This article was originally published on AdventHealth’s website

01 Jun

Helping Your Child Navigate Unhealthy Relationships

By AdventHealth — Growing up is hard. Most everyone who has been through adolescence would agree that being a teenager has its ups and downs. When we look at the mental health of our kids, their friendships and relationships play important roles. Unhealthy friendships can lower your child’s self-esteem, cause irrational behaviors and lead to misunderstandings, but they can also be learning opportunities when handled appropriately.

With this in mind, we asked Dr. Elizondo Vega , our adolescent medicine physician, to explain what parents can be on the lookout for when it comes to who their children are spending time with — both in person and online.

Is there a pattern when it comes to where unhealthy relationships are forming?

“The newest pattern that we are seeing is that of online friendships. Technology has been such as blessing, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, for allowing teens to stay connected.  Healthy friendships can be maintained by technology, particularly when using real-time face-to-face communication platforms, like FaceTime,” Dr. Elizondo Vega explains.

However, some teens are gravitating towards various messaging apps, usually because of a common interest such as art or video games, where they ultimately end up networking with strangers.

“Parents can try to facilitate opportunities for their kids to connect with peers in the local community through school, sports, religious organizations or other youth development activities to possibly avert some of the potential negative consequences associated with online relationships.”

Parents can also try to limit screen time and their child’s phone use. What works for one family may not work for another, but setting a cutoff time for electronics could be a good place to start, such as no phones or computers/tablets after 8 pm. It’s also important to keep tabs on what your child has access to online. For the appropriate age groups, parental control features on smart phone apps may come in handy.

What warning signs of an unhealthy relationship should parents be watching for?

“One red flag that a relationship may be unhealthy is if your child’s friend is too controlling, not allowing your child to befriend others and monopolizing your child’s time.”

While it is normal, particularly for younger adolescents, to have someone they call a “best” friend, it is still important that each child in the relationship have the freedom to spend time with others and pursue their own interests, as well as the opportunity to spend time alone or with family.

“Other red flags that your child may be in an unhealthy relationship might include peers using your child for their own benefit (invitations, tickets, popularity) or regularly making fun of or criticizing your child.”

With romantic relationships, what warning signs should parents be watching for?

“In romantic relationships, it is also critical to ensure that the significant other is not attempting to monopolize your teen’s time. While the two may be ‘head over heels’ for one another and want to spend a lot of time together, a romantic partner that gets angry if your teen spends time with others or exhibits jealousy regularly are likely signs of an unhealthy romantic relationship.”

Similarly, if your teen’s significant other is monitoring your teen’s phone activity or whereabouts constantly, this may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship that could even lead to intimate partner violence.

“Another general good rule of thumb is to ensure that your teen only dates others who are very close in age, perhaps within a one-to-two-year age difference, at most. There are just too many developmental differences between an early adolescent and a late adolescent that could result in misunderstanding, undue pressure or power differentials.”

There’s more information about promoting healthy teen relationships provided here by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In what ways can negative relationships impact a child’s mental health?

“Unhealthy relationships can lead to a lot of self-doubt but can also be opportunities for growth. These are the sorts of life stressors that help children learn to set their own standards for self-worth, as opposed to allowing themselves to be defined by others.”

“Regular communication and oversight by parents and other trusted adults can help ensure that children and teens navigate the complexities of unhealthy relationships safely while learning from the experiences. While each person needs to protect themselves from the emotional fallout of unhealthy relationships, these sorts of life experiences are also opportunities to practice grace, compassion and forgiveness.”

Keep the door of communication open so your child feels comfortable sharing with you, whether it’s something positive or not. Remember to ask questions about friends, their plans, who they will be with, etc. Depending on your child’s age, you could ask them to text or call you when they get to their destination, notify you if plans change, and set a curfew.

While some relationships need to be severed for the physical and/or emotional safety of a child or teen, sometimes relationships can be repaired by learning to see things from someone else’s perspective, giving people a second chance, having open communication and realizing that someone who is being hurtful may be going through something themselves.

Getting to know your child’s friends and who they spend time with can help you to stay aware of their surroundings. “One of the best things you can do to understand and support your child’s friendships is to connect with the parents of their friends. This way, you can all feel more comfortable knowing who they are spending their time with.”

Support for Your Child

At AdventHealth for Children, we’re here to support you and your family through every stage of your child’s life. For mental health resources, visit RaceForMentalHealth.com. To learn more about the services we offer, please visit AdventHealth for Children.

–photo supplied

This article was originally published on AdventHealth website

21 Jan

Ken Bacon Named President and CEO for AdventHealth’s Multi-State Division

By AdventHealth – Altamonte Springs, Florida… Ken Bacon who currently serves as group president for the Denver Metro Group of Centura Health, has been named president and CEO for AdventHealth’s Multi-State Division, effective March 1. Bacon is also a member of the Littleton Church.

As one of AdventHealth’s joint operating agreement, The Denver Metro Group includes the five AdventHealth hospitals which make up the organization’s Rocky Mountain Region, as well as three CommonSpirit Health hospitals. In addition to his group president role, Bacon serves as the regional CEO for AdventHealth’s Rocky Mountain Region.

In his new role, Bacon will oversee the strategic direction, development and expansion of the entire division, which spans five regions comprised of 20 campuses across eight states.

“Ken is a seasoned and collaborative leader who consistently rallies his team around a common vision,” said Terry Shaw, president/CEO for AdventHealth. “He’s driven by our mission and with his extensive experience, I have full confidence that Ken will continue to help AdventHealth deliver faith-based, whole-person care across our Multi-State Division.”

Bacon began his career at Ernst and Young before joining AdventHealth in 1991, where he quickly advanced in the organization. He served in various leadership roles including president/CEO for Littleton Adventist Hospital. Additionally, Bacon helped to lead the development and opening of Parker Adventist Hospital where he served as president/CEO.

As regional CEO for AdventHealth’s Mid-America Region, Bacon oversaw the opening of a new emergency department and outpatient campus in South Overland Park. He was part of the team that helped to bring Ransom Memorial Hospital into an agreement with AdventHealth. The hospital is now known as AdventHealth Ottawa.

“I have been privileged to work with incredible teams throughout my career and feel honored to be asked to serve in this role. I look forward to engaging with the teams that make up the Multi-State Division and getting to know the communities in which we are called to extend the healing ministry of Christ,” said Bacon.

Bacon earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and management from Union College, located in Lincoln, Nebraska. He received his certified public accountant license in 1990 and went on to earn a master’s degree in business administration from Texas State University. Bacon has consistently been an active member of his community, serving on multiple boards throughout his career, including the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the Adventist Community Services board in the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Mid-America Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Bacon and his wife of 26 years, DeAnna, have three children: Paul, Mark and Olivia. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, camping, golfing and riding his motorcycle from time to time.

–AdventHealth news; photo supplied

16 Nov

Coping Tips for Parents and Kids During the Holiday Season

By Advent Health…So far this year, coronavirus has altered almost every aspect of our lives — from work, to school and socializing. And that will likely include the holiday season as well, as we continue to follow social distancing guidelines recommended by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to curb the spread of the virus. This is especially important if you or your loved ones are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19.

While we continue to learn to adapt to life with coronavirus, the holidays are a special time for many families, and it can be hard when long-held traditions must change. As you begin making your holiday plans, here are some ways to help yourself and your kids cope with whatever the season brings.

Talk With Your Kids

You’ve probably already had many conversations with your children about coronavirus — whether about the illness it causes, school or dorm closings, missed birthday parties or canceled summer plans. But even if you’ve had these types of conversations before, try to remember that many kids look forward to the holidays all year. Although your children may have adapted to other changes, it could take them some time to accept that coronavirus will affect yet another tradition.

Be Honest

It can be hard to break the news that you won’t be traveling to Grandma’s house this year, spending time with favorite cousins or visiting Santa at the mall. But in these times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for your children to know that they can trust you to tell the truth. It’s OK to not have all the answers, but share what you do know openly and honestly, in a way they can understand.

Focus on the Positive

Talk about the things you’ll do as a family for the holidays — and how you can feel gratitude for what you do have — even if you can’t celebrate in the usual way. Let your children come up with some new ideas for holiday fun. And make a list of the family traditions you can hold on to, such as cooking favorite meals, singing holiday songs, watching holiday movies or putting up decorations.

Give Them Space for Their Feelings

No matter their age, your children may feel disappointed or angry when holiday plans change. Be empathetic — let them know that these feelings are normal, and that you feel disappointed, too. It’s OK if they want to sulk for a day or two as they process their feelings.

Be Prepared to Repeat Yourself

Some children, especially young ones, may ask you the same question over and over. This may be a way for them to understand what’s happening and process things that are difficult.

Be Available

Let your kids know that you’re always there to answer any questions or concerns they might have about coronavirus or how to keep it from spreading.

Go Virtual

For many of us, the holidays are the one time a year when we can count on seeing family and close friends, often over a shared meal. If travel restrictions or social distancing make it impossible to be with your loved ones this year, move the celebration to the virtual world. With a little help from technology, you can spend time and have a meal with your family, even if you’re not all in the same room.

To plan a virtual family dinner, find a time that works for everyone and set a menu. While you don’t all have to eat the exact same meal, it can help you feel connected — and it can be a fun way to share recipes.

Involve your children in finding recipes and planning the menu. Older kids can help cook, too. At the allotted dinner time, fire up your devices and sit down “together” to enjoy your creations.

Of course, a virtual celebration isn’t limited to dinner. You can also connect with family or friends virtually to play games, watch movies, or share other holiday traditions and celebrations.

Find New Ways to Celebrate

Family traditions can be hard to let go. But discovering new ways to celebrate may make this year’s holidays more meaningful than ever. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Give to Others

The holidays are traditionally a time for giving, and helping others is a good way for your kids to concentrate on something besides what they can’t do. Ask them for their ideas about how to help others during the pandemic and find ways to give back to the community. No matter the age of your children, there’s a way to get involved.

You might check in on an elderly neighbor or relative, make cards for frontline workers, choose presents for needy families, or donate time or items to charity. If you’d like to say thank you to the staff of AdventHealth, visit our page to find ways to make a difference.

Find a New Holiday Activity

If you usually spend time traveling or with relatives during the holidays, use that extra time to try a new activity together — and make that a holiday tradition. Play board games or do puzzles, take a family hike, cook holiday foods from another culture, have a scavenger hunt, or make your own holiday decorations. Get creative and let your kids come up with ideas, too.

Send a Handmade Greeting

Use this time to encourage your kids to pen cards and letters to family and friends. For those who are alone during the holidays, finding a handmade card or letter in their mailbox could really brighten their day.

Stay Safe If You Do Travel

The CDC encourages those at increased risk, including older adults and people with medical conditions, as well as others in their households, to consider their risk level before traveling. Remember, even if you follow all precautions and guidelines, travel may increase your chances of contracting coronavirus and spreading it to others.

If you do decide to visit with family this holiday season, it’s important to do some research and take precautions before you travel. The CDC recommends checking the number of COVID-19 cases in the last seven days in any state you’ll be traveling to. If cases are on the rise in that area, it could mean that coronavirus is spreading in your destination.

–This article was originally published on the Advent Health website  Photo by UnSplash

22 Sep

Take Flu Seriously — It Could Be Lifesaving

By AdventHealth – Orlando, Florida …As we prepare to welcome the holiday season, in whatever capacity that may look like this year, beware of an unwanted guest set on spoiling the fun: seasonal flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu cases are currently low, but as we get further into the year, that could change. The flu vaccine lowers your likelihood of catching the flu, and makes it much easier to endure if you do happen to catch it.

Everybody over age six months should get their flu shot every flu season. So if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet for the 2020–2021 season, get it now. As the season ramps up, you need to be protected.

Flu Vaccines

Flu vaccines, which change each year to cover the main circulating strains, are generally about 50 to 60 percent effective. To some people, this may sound like a coin toss, but in reality, that is a very effective vaccine.

AdventHealth experts like to say that getting a flu shot is like wearing a seatbelt. It won’t prevent all episodes of influenza, but it will reduce the severity, and the chance of complications and death.

Impacts of Influenza

The hallmark of influenza — which is spread through coughing, sneezing and other human contact — is the sudden onset of high fever, along with a cough, chills and body aches.

Most people feel like they wake up in the morning feeling perfectly fine, and by the end of the day you’re spiking a fever and feel like you got hit by a metaphorical truck.

In some situations, flu can worsen into pneumonia, and, rarely, lead to death. A few groups are more vulnerable to flu complications, especially adults over 65, very young children, pregnant women and people with underlying illnesses. But there are exceptions, and sometimes active, young and otherwise healthy people can feel the worst of it.

It’s rare, but there are those cases where a child or an adult will die, even though they were healthy and had no reason to have complications. The best way to protect yourself against this serious infection is to get the vaccine.

And the benefit of the vaccine is twofold: not only will you lower your own chances of getting sick, you’ll reduce the risk of passing the virus onto others which may be the best gift of all.

The more people who are vaccinated, the more protected our public will be at work, in your family and in our community.

Get Vaccinated

While its best to get vaccinated before flu season starts, a shot is better late than never. Vaccines are available with multiple AdventHealth primary care physicians and at Centra Care Urgent Care locations.

–photo by UnSplash

***This article was orginally published on the AdventHealth website