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Why Shoveling Snow Could Have Dire Consequences

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Don't risk your health. Hire a strapping youth to shovel your driveway.

An amazing thing happens in the winter when it snows. People who haven’t budged from their chair all year suddenly leap out of it, grab their shovels and head outdoors to shovel the snow off their steps and driveways and/or to tackle a huge icy berm.

Unfortunately, sometimes their actions precipitate a visit to the doctor or emergency room due to a variety of issues including everything from back pain to heart attacks. Most of the time these issues don’t  have to happen because there are ways to shovel snow that make a visit to the local emergency room far less likely due to serious health concerns.

There are people who justifiably should not touch a snow shovel or should use common sense when they go out to shovel the cold white flakes off the stairs and driveway. Anyone who has had a heart attack, people with a history of any type of heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels and/or people who are permanent “couch potatoes” should consider paying someone to do the shoveling because shoveling snow results in a strenuous workout.

If you’re stuck with the job, however, here are some tips to help safeguard your health and avoid back injuries.
First off, keep yourself hydrated; warm up by walking a few minutes or stretching before digging your shovel into the snow. This pre-shoveling procedure is important for the work ahead.

Shoveling snow isn’t a walk in the park. Begin slowly and find a shovel that’s meant for moving snow, not planting flowers. The older, heavier metal shovels may work better in some snow conditions but they aren’t the best for your back. A smaller blade is better not only on your back but on your heart. Remember that to be safe means going slower, not faster. Shoveling faster and faster to get the work done takes a huge toll on the heart, which is the most vital muscle in your body.

Because shoveling heavy snow takes its toll experts suggest people balance their body weight and then bend their knees to actually dig the shovel into the snow.  If people tighten their stomach muscles at the same time they bend their knees this is far more effective. Don’t attempt to throw too much snow at the same time because this results in many back injuries.

Remember, it’s your back and heart that take the toll of shoveling incorrectly or trying to shovel it too fast. Slow down, stay hydrated and shovel the snow in smaller scoops. Your body will appreciate it!
Remember, Mountains Community Hospital is here to help. For our help call (909) 336-3651. “We Care!”

Holiday Indigestion: Annoying or a Sign of Something More Serious?

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Don't let holiday indigestion get the best of you.

Anyone over 50 years old will undoubtedly remember the commercial that started,

“You ate too much, you ate too fast!”

Well, with today’s rushed society people often eat too fast and/or too much and that can lead to a case of indigestion that truly isn’t funny!  And during the holiday season, the likelihood of triggering a serious case of indigestion is even more likely.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are many symptoms of indigestion but they can affect people in completely different ways. That being said, some of the more common signs can include feeling full when you haven’t eaten much, pain in the upper abdomen between the bottom of the breastbone and the naval and/or burning in the upper abdomen.

While indigestion is not a disease it does cause millions of people great discomfort on a daily basis although many people get indigestion far less frequently. For most people the discomfort is manageable but some people with indigestion can be affected to the point where they feel they’re about to vomit.

While many cases of heartburn and indigestion are fairly mild, indigestion can be caused by a condition in the digestive track such as a peptic ulcer, cancer or GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease). Many people don’t realize there’s a difference between heartburn and indigestion but there is. Heartburn is generally described as a pain or burning feeling in the center of the chest that may spread to other body parts.

While over-the-counter medicines may provide some help for both indigestion and heartburn, and while mild indigestion is generally not considered serious, there are situations where it is best to seek medical advice. Some of the reasons to seek out immediate medical care can include vomiting, jaundice or yellow coloring of the skin and/or black, tarry stools. Also, it’s advisable to seek medical attention for any symptoms that last over two weeks.

For cases of serious or recurrent indigestion doctors can use a wide variety of tests to diagnose the problem including blood, breath and stool tests, and an upper endoscopy with accompanying biopsies.

Seek immediate attention if you have shortness of breath, sweating or chest pain that radiates to the jaw, neck or arm because these could be signs of a heart problem or even a heart attack rather than indigestion or heartburn.
While there may be many reasons people get indigestion and/or heartburn some relief usually occurs with some lifestyle changes. Decreasing stress and losing weight may help some sufferers considerably. Doctors may prescribe antacids, prescription drugs and/or antibiotics to treat the symptoms and provide relief.
For information contact your Mountains Community Hospital physician.

Did Santa Bring You a Cold for the Holiday? You’re Not Alone!

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If you get a nasty cold this holiday season you’re not alone because almost one billion people worldwide will have a cold similar to yours and at about the same time.

“The holidays” are fun, hectic and exciting but they can also be so much fun that people’s resistance is lowered and the next thing they know they have a holiday cold to beat all colds. While the holiday season is the most hectic time of year for many people there are ways to avoid getting sick, which often is the end result of a weakened immune system brought on by too much holiday play or stress, or both.

Unfortunately, while cures have been found for countless illnesses, a cure for the common cold remains elusive. With most people experiencing two to four colds per year this illness can result in thousands of lost days of work as well as misery for those who are experiencing them.

Still no cure yet for the common cold. So how should you handle it?

According to an article written by family physician, Dr. Rallie McAllister in The Paramus Post, taking the herb Echinacea and/or zinc may help prevent colds, a subject long debated in the medical world.

Referring to astudy conducted at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, Dr. McAllister notes that cold suffers who used 13.3 milligrams of zinc lozenges every two to three hours cut the length of their symptoms in half compared to those who took placebo lozenges. Like the herb Echinacea, zinc appears to raise the body’s immune system by keeping the cold virus from latching onto cells in the respiratory track. The article stated that people who took Echinacea before the onset of a cold  have a better chance of avoiding one because researchers believe it not only helps the body’s immune system but it reportedly can help reduce the symptoms by several days if the person comes down with a cold.

Colds are spread by germs from person to person by sneezing or shaking hands with someone who has, or is about to unknowingly get a cold. They can also be spread by people blowing their nose into a tissue, covering a sneeze or touching their nose. Children, of course, are great “incubators” for cold viruses. Dr. McAllister said that as early as an hour after cold viruses have infected the lining of a nose and throat the cells begin to release chemicals and these chemicals swell the mucus membranes which then leads to nasal congestion and stuffiness. Voila! You have a cold!

Remember, your Mountains Community Hospital physician is always available and the hospital’s website, www.mchcares.com has valuable information on a variety of topics to help keep you and your family safe.

Turns Out, Laughter Really Can Be The Best Medicine!

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This holiday season, give laughter a try.

Give Laughter a Try this Holiday Season

The old saying that “Laughter is the Best Medicine” may be very true and during the holidays it’s an important saying to remember. Laughter and a sense of humor truly can be considered lifesavers when stress sets in and seems overwhelming.

Between all the racing around, the cooking, wrapping gifts, long lines at every store it’s easy to lose patience at the grocery store, the shopping center, the mall or trying to find a decent parking spot. However, keeping a sense of humor can help and researchers have evidence that laughter and perspective can help relieve stress.

Unfortunately, the holidays are built-in stress producers and one of the biggest reasons is that many people have unrealistic expectations. The issue is that people want their holiday(s) to be perfect with the perfect gift, the perfect food, the perfect decorations and the perfect people to sit around the perfect table. Sciencedaily.com has the “perfect” suggestion. Don’t count on perfection because you’re setting yourself up for stress and oftentimes, disappointment, which can lead to a whole variety of problems including resentment, anger and depression.

If the roast or turkey is overcooked, will your family or friends be mad? Will they abandon you as a hopeless host or hostess? Not likely! If you feel too pressured, take a few moments, sit down and relax and catch your breath. This may be difficult to do, but let other people help. If Aunt Sally doesn’t mash the potatoes like you do, that’s okay. It’s not worth the stress you’ll create for yourself by having to have everything “perfect.” Think of the funny stories you can tell your friends about incidents or small accidents or misunderstandings that occur around the holiday table or tree. Some of the funniest family stories that are told and retold annually revolve around holiday “events.” Look for them…..they’re always there and laughing at them is a great stress reliever. Try not to take yourself too seriously!

Laughter not only helps relieve stress for you, it can relieve it for others as well. Laughter is a shared reaction to incidents and it’s best when it’s shared with other people because laughing really is contagious. Laughter can diffuse a difficult situation, an argument or disagreement and don’t forget to laugh at yourself occasionally. During this holiday season try to watch a funny holiday movie, one that will make you laugh and isn’t too sentimental.

If you find yourself overwhelmed and depressed during the holidays be sure to discuss the issue with your Mountains Community Hospital physician. He or she can help guide you to a better healthier life.

Things You Can Do to Avoid the Holiday Flu!

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Have you caught your annual holiday cold or flu yet? If not, here are a few suggestions on how to help yourself when you’re feeling awful.

The “flu” and “cold” season can mean big profits for the drug industry but research is showing more people are turning to a more natural way to either prevent or at least help eliminate the most severe symptoms by purchasing and using “over the counter” supplements. These supplements should never be purchased for children!

Always remember whenever taking a drug or any kind that a cold and the flu are very different organisms and they will respond differently to medications: natural or man-made. Just a warning: the flu kills over 30,000 people a year according to Webmd.com.

There are some things that people can do to help their symptoms. Although the “case is still out” on Vitamin C, for most people who take a one gram dose each day, it does help prevent colds. Some studies show that it can even help diminish the length of a cold so don’t be afraid to try taking it.

Although millions of people swear by taking Zinc during a cold the “jury is out” on its effectiveness. If you’re going to take it start as soon as your symptoms show up. Take them every two or three hours and take lozenges with nine to 24 milligrams each. Take zinc for as short a period of time as possible.

Garlic is another interesting supplement that people swear by and it is proven to stimulate the immune system. It’s best when it’s taken raw, crushed or minced but people who are taking blood thinners should be very cautious about using it.

Of course, the single best line of defense against seasonal flu’s is a flu shot. A flu shot is fast, easy, very safe, (though there are exceptions – consult with your doctor), and available at a number of locations. Call MCH at (909) 336-3651 for more information. Hopefully, you’ve already gotten your flu shot, or perhaps you are one of those people who believe that getting one will give you the flu? Rest assured, that won’t happen so go ahead, get your flu shot. It will go a long way toward making sure you (a) don’t get the flu or (b) if you do you won’t feel nearly as bad as you would if you hadn’t gotten one.

Did you know that each year about 50 million Americans get various forms of the flu? However difficult the flu can be it is overshadowed by colds. About one billion Americans will get a cold this year and many of those, of course, are children who pass it along to playmates, school-mates or their families.

Remember, seek advice from your MCH physician about the use of supplements, and getting a flu shot if you have any concerns or reservations. or any serious medical “issues.” For information call (909) 336-3651.

From Age 40-70: Tests You Should Have!

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There are a number of screening tests you could have to ensure you are healthy.

As human’s age their health requirements change and the tests and procedures they need can often help prolong their lives. Early diagnosis and treatment of any condition can often make the difference between life or death and it offers a “footprint” or “plan” for the patient to follow along with advice and support from their physician.

The staff at Mountains Community Hospital reminds everyone that as people age they will need to have tests and procedures they did not require in their younger years. It’s part of getting older.

A good diet and exercise program are an important part of staying as healthy as possible. Getting enough sleep at any age is vital. Without restorative sleep it takes a toll on many of the body’s systems and it affects an older person’s reactions and reflexes.

Women and Men 35 and Over

Adults who 35 and older should have their thyroid checked and get repeat tests done every five years. The aging process, accompanied by untreated thyroid problems, can be the cause of a number of problems, particularly in women.

Women and Men Over 40

Women over 40 should get an annual mammogram to check for breast cancer. Women with a history of breast cancer in their family should get their first mammogram before their 40th birthday.

Men as well as women can get breast cancer so men should give themselves a “once over” in the mirror to check for discoloration or other “abnormal” issues around their breasts.

Women and Men Over 50

Aging adults need to monitor their blood pressure. If untreated, high blood pressure can harm the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys. Get tested! This is a killer!

People over 50 need to get a fasting blood sugar test at least once every three years.  While may laboratory tests must be ordered by your physician, that isn’t necessary for a cholesterol profile of blood sugar. Contact the MCH Laboratory (436-3140) for a complete list of other self-referred test that are available.

Women need to make sure they continue having pap smears and pelvic exams.

Men over 50 should have a prostate screening for colon cancer. Annual PSA tests and digital rectal exams are important for men starting at age 50.

Men and Women need to have their eyes checked every one to two years. As people age their eyesight slowly changes.

Skin cancer is another significant concern for adults over 50.  Ask your doctor to perform a visual exam during you next routine office visit.  Skin cancer can often be present in areas of the body that you cannot see on you own.

Men and Women 60 and Over

An estimated 60 percent of people over 60-years-old have some type of hearing loss. It is important for aging adults to have a hearing test at least once every three years.

The National Osteoporosis is Foundation recommends that all women over 65 have a bone mineral density test. As we age, falling becomes increasingly common, especially among women. Changes in bone density is often the cause.

Both men and women should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly. High cholesterol levels are a major cause of both heart attacks and strokes.

One area that is often neglected is dental health. Men and women need to see their dentist regularly to safeguard agains gum disease, mouth cancer and other conditions that are more prevalent among aging adults.

The bottom line is, age increases your susceptibility to a variety of ailments and conditions that probably were of little or no concern when you were younger.  One of the hardest things we all have to face is the fact that we are growing older and are not as invincible as we once were.  Responsible fitness and common sense can really and truly prolong your life.

The Magic of Ultrasound

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Although human beings can’t hear the sound waves emitted by ultrasound machines the process has revolutionized the practice of medicine since it was first developed for use on cattle and horses many decades ago.

Ultrasound is now used in many fields, typically to allow the medical world to “see inside” a body and locate a problem. However the sound waves can penetrate solid objects such as plastic as part of the welding process used in many products…

Ultrasound has been used by radiologists and sonographers to image the human body for at least 50 years and has become one of the most widely used diagnostic tools in modern medicine. Today a pregnant woman and her physician have the opportunity to use ultrasound to see the child in-utero, which is nearly always an exciting experience. Routinely pregnant women will often have an ultrasound before their twenty-fourth. One of the reasons physicians encourage an early ultrasound is because if they detect an abnormality that can prove fatal to either the baby or the mother, or both, the pregnancy can be terminated if necessary to save the mother’s life.

However, ultrasounds can also show physicians of any specialty where a problem might lie and it gives the doctor the ability to focus directly on the problem. Ultrasounds, otherwise known as medical ultrasonography, can be used to visualize muscles, tendons as well as internal organs.

One of the biggest advantages to the technology is that, comparatively speaking, it is fairly inexpensive and portable, particularly compared to much heavier and equipment such as MRI machines. Portable ultrasound machines have had a big impact on the ability of the medical world to diagnose a condition because they can be taken just about anywhere to help serve their patient’s needs.

When ultrasound machines first hit the market it revolutionized medicine in some ways and ultrasounds have become quite common not only for pregnancies but for diagnosing many different conditions. As used by skilled technicians today’s ultrasound procedures are quite safe when done properly, particularly when compared with some other procedures that have the capacity to cause cancer. Although the procedure is considered safe it should not be repeated too often because there are scientific studies that show it may have harmful side effects if done too frequently.

Ultrasound pulses can be used to break up kidney and gall stones. Procedures of this sort are referred to as “focused ultrasound surgery” because they focus on a particular problem. The devices can also be used for teeth cleaning in dental offices, for use in treating cancer, Liposuction and removing varicose veins.

Ultrasonic cleaners can sparkle your jewelry, clean lenses as well as surgical and dental equipment.

Ultrasounds are used extensively at Mountains Community Hospital and make a big difference in patient’s lives everyday.