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Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate Independence Day

The 4th of July is a wonderful time to spend with family and friends enjoying our freedoms.  Independence Day has been celebrated as the birth of the United States from 1776 until the present day, but wasn’t a national holiday until 1941.  As we head into the holiday weekend, it is great to celebrate this holiday with family events and outings, concerts, parades, and of course fireworks.
For more interesting facts and info on the 4th of July, see the article on the History Channel’s website with videos and fun facts.

The family gathering of choice tends to be the traditional barbeque.  Whether at the beach, park, or the backyard; families and friends gather for food, drinks, and activities.  Keeping your health in mind tends to fall to the wayside with the selection of hot dogs, desserts, and snacks.  But staying healthy doesn’t have to be a chore.  Here are some helpful tips and ideas to keep your 4th of July a little healthier.

1)  Drink Plenty of Water. Staying hydrated on a hot summer day is always difficult.  Water will aid in digestion and calorie burn as well as helping with the heat.  If you’re active, be sure to drink before and after any activity to prevent heat exhaustion or sun stroke.

2)  Use Whole Wheat Breads and buns. White breads are less healthy than their whole wheat counterparts.

3)  Grill Lean Meats. Have a variety of leaner meats on the grill along with the traditional hot dogs etc.

4)  Practice Portion Control. Make an effort to limit how much of each food you eat.  Sometimes making a variety of sized burgers will offer more manageable options and help prevent over eating.

5)  Grill Veggies and eat more of them. Fill your plate with more veggies than heavier foods such as meats and chips.

6)  Don’t Skip Meals. Not eating until that one large meal can have negative effects on your sugar and energy levels.  This may also cause you to over eat during that one large meal due to hunger.  Keeping your normal routine and eating throughout the day will help keep your metabolism active and working to burn calories.

7)  Stay Active. Keeping active will assist with calorie burn and keep your body burning fat instead of absorbing it.  From simple activities like walking and dancing, to more active ones like playing yard games or biking; will keep the calorie burn high and reduce weight gain.

8)  Use Alcohol Responsibly. Alcohol is present at many gatherings and events.  Be aware of your intake and be sure to drink water along with those beverages to prevent dehydration.  If you will be consuming alcohol, arrange for a designated driver.

9)  Keep Foods Covered/Refrigerated. Wasps, ants, and bees may be attracted to your food and can cause irritation and or serious allergic reactions.  And if some foods require to be refrigerated, don’t leave them out too long to prevent foodborne illness.  US FDA suggests never leaving food out more than one hour in temperatures around 90 degrees.

10)  Wear Sunscreen and Move to the Shade Often. UV rays can be very damaging to your skin and cause early signs of aging as well as many skin disorders or cancer.  For prolonged exposure, be sure to use a minimum sun screen of SPF 15 and re apply as directed on the packaging.

11)  Check Medications. Some medications may cause a sun-sensitizing reaction.  Check your medications to be aware of this as well as just making sure you have any prescription medications that you need throughout the day.

No one wants to end the day feeling unhealthy or run down for the rest of the weekend.  Follow some of these tips and keep your holiday weekend fun and energy filled.  From everyone at Upstate HomeCare, The Best for Getting Better; have a very healthy and happy 4th of July!

Sources:

http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence-Day.shtml

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th

http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/04/tips-for-a-healthy-and-happy-4th-of-july/

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=82131

Enjoy the Summer!


Having difficulty getting around?  Don’t let the lack of mobility completely stop your chances with activities this summer.  With expanded awareness of mobility challenges, events have become more accessible than ever.   Here at Upstate HomeCare we offer a variety of useful products to assist you every step of the way.

Mobility aids vary greatly depending on your specific needs.  We carry an assortment of canes including offset canes and quad canes.  We even carry a collapsing cane if you have limited space on that road trip.  With some of the rough walkways or paths, these canes make hiking and camping much safer.  There are many venues and events that have paved pathways which are great for our Walkers and Rollaters too.  We even have baskets and attachable bags for those goodies you’ll find at the weekend craft fairs or art festivals.  If craft shows and festivals aren’t your thing, check out the musical acts and venues.  They are wheelchair accessible and we offer cushions for those longer shows and other accessories for our many wheelchairs.  There is generally more going on during the summer, take advantage of what we offer to keep up with everything going on.Wheelchair access

Here are many summer activities available:

  • Hiking/Nature Trails or Zoos
  • Flea Markets
  • Craft Shows
  • Concerts/Performances
  • Flying Kites
  • Swimming
  • Outdoor Party/BBQ
  • Yard Games
  • Gardening
  • Fishing
  • Golf/Miniature Golf
  • Outdoor Movie Screenings
  • Fireworks
  • Traveling

In upstate NY the summer is a wonderful time to spend outdoors, but please do so safely.  Feel free to contact us with any questions regarding any of our products and offerings as we continue to be The Best For Getting Better.

Lung Function Testing

Respiratory Health and Care is a major part of the services we offer at Upstate HomeCare.  In addition to our highly trained and qualified respiratory therapists, we strive to offer up-to-date training and information relating to these services and your respiratory health.  Our friends at Visiting Nurse Service recently recorded an educational video that does a wonderful job discussing Pulmonary Function Tests.

These noninvasive diagnostic tests are used in order to determine lung volumes, capacities, rates of flow, and gas exchange.  This measurable feedback can then be used by your doctor to help diagnose certain lung disorders.  In this video a physician from UR Medicine, Dr. Battaglia, presents an engaging and informative presentation about lung function testing and what results mean for patients.

We currently offer the following Respiratory Services here at Upstate HomeCare:

  • Oxygen
    • Stationary
    • Portable
    • Light Weight Systems
    • Conserving Devices
    • Travel Oxygen
  • Noninvasive Ventilation
  • CPAP
  • Compressors – Small & Large
  • Suction Pumps
  • Ventilators
  • Apnea Monitors
  • Oximetries

For more information in regards to Pulmonary Function Tests, please take a look at the following online resources:

Manage Your Allergies this Spring

With the End of Winter Comes Spring Allergies

Is winter finally over? Those with allergies are the first to know.  With the spring thaw comes the first allergies from pollen as April showers bring us those May flowers.  The pollen from trees, grass, weeds and flowers saturate the air along with dust mites found in our homes.  Due to the moisture in the ground from melted snow, we may find an increase in mold in our basements and garages with the temperature increasing.  Allergies have a detrimental effect on our day to day activities as well as our quality of sleep at night.

Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of allergies vary but mainly include sneezing, a runny nose, postnasal drip, watery and itchy eyes, and congestion.  This is caused by the over production of histamine in our bodies that dilate the blood vessels to increase blood flow to the affected region; resulting in an inflammatory system response.  There is a wide range of actions we can take to avoid the worse of the spring time allergies including nutrition, medication, and adjusting our environment.

Nutrition Can Help

Nutrition is a good place to start since it includes natural ways to limit allergic reactions.  Try the following vitamins to help manage your body’s reaction to allergies.

  • Omega-3 Fats.  Adding Omega-3 Fats to your diet helps decrease inflammation in mucus membranes.  Omega-3 also helps decrease the production of inflammatory chemicals in our bodies.  Salmon, sardines, or mackerel are good sources of Omega-3.
  • Vitamin C. As an antioxidant, Vitamin C is a natural anti-histamine and has various anti-inflammatory qualities which can lower the irritation associated with allergies.
  • Bioflavonoids.  Found in green tea, these chemicals work with vitamin C and can lower the swelling of mucus membranes and help to decrease inflammation.
  • Magnesium.  Magnesium effects the upper airways such as the muscle cells surrounding the bronchial tubes.  Foods such as grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes contain ample amounts and will help relax those muscles to improve airflow.

OTC Medication Options

Although a healthy diet may not be enough, there are many medications that can help with allergies.  It is important to know the pros and cons of each one along with any side-effects.  Be sure to read labels thoroughly and consult your physician when using with any other medications.  There are three kinds of OTC medications available, although they are generally intended for the short term versus long term relief.

  • Topical Nasal Sprays
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines

Also keep in mind that prolonged use of some of these OTC drugs can have undesirable repercussions.  Nasal decongestant overuse can result in a disorder called rhinitis medicamentosa which causes the rebounding nasal congestion to return worse than normal each time the medication wears off.  Oral decongestants can also have side-effects including nervousness, elevated blood pressure, or heart palpitations.

Being aware of the effects of your medications is very important, especially if they make you drowsy.

Environmental

Lastly, managing your environment and keeping an eye on the pollen count can be the most effective way to minimize your allergies.  If you’ll be working outdoors, consider wearing a mask and take non-drowsy medication early prior to the allergy symptoms.  If you have a smartphone, there are apps that can give you daily pollen updates.  Although outdoor elements may cause many of your allergies, there are ways to reduce the causes within your home.  Be sure to change furnace filters early spring and there are even HEPA filters you can purchase for your vacuum.  Dust mites and mold can get kicked up easily during those spring cleaning days.

Consult a Specialist

Finally, the best solution is to see an allergist and find out what it is you’re allergic to.  Then you can use the appropriate OTC or prescription medication along with targeted pre-emptive efforts to limit your exposure to those allergens.  No one wants to be cooped up when the nice spring weather is here.  With some effort, you can keep allergies under control and minimize your symptoms.

For more info:

Take the Seasonal Allergies WebMD Quiz here:  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/rm-quiz-seasonal-allergies

For more info on treating allergies, check out WebMDs video:  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/indoor-outdoor-relief-14/video-decongestants-vs-antihistamines

Sources:

http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/general-health-2/the-5-best-nutrients-to-combat-summer-allergies

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/5-ways-to-beat-spring-allergies

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/spring-allergies

Daylight Savings Time

On March 9th we begin Daylight Savings Time.  Be sure to set your clocks forward an hour prior to going to bed Saturday night.  Benjamin Franklin first proposed the idea of DST in 1784 when he wrote An Economical Project for the Journal of Paris; but it wasn’t implemented until1895 in Germany.  His article discussed the cost of fuel for oil lamps as well as working while it was dark, and sleeping while it was day.  Those issues are still important today with our energy footprint.  This time change is also what allows us to have those nice long summer nights, however the shift can be hard to adjust to if you lose an hour of sleep.  Sleep deprivation affects many aspects of our lives and should be avoided whenever possible.  Here are some effects in the short term:

  • Decreased Performance and Alertness
  • Memory and Cognitive Impairment
  • Stress Relationships
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Occupational Injury
  • Automobile Injury

The time change being on the weekend helps to minimize these effects, but planning ahead and adjusting for the loss of time will help to prevent them.  On Sunday morning, we spring from 2:00 am to 3:00 am.  In Ben Franklin’s words:  “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”

WebMD (resource for short term effects of sleep deprivation)

Wikipedia (resource for the history of DST and for more information)

Valentine’s Day & American Heart Month!

This February 14th is celebrated by many countries as Valentine’s Day in honor of Saint Valentine.  In the 18th century the holiday became associated with romantic love when the exchange of letters, flowers, and confectionery became popular.  Although many myths surround Valentine’s Day, the true origins are still uncertain.  One of the popular myths is of St. Valentine as a martyr who helped imprisoned soldiers.  It is rumored that he fell in love with his jailor’s daughter resulting in the first love letter signed “From your Valentine.”

Did you know:

  • 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year?
  • More than 40,000 American’s work at chocolate companies?
  • 448 million Dollars is spent on candy the week prior to February 14th?
  • 58 million pounds of chocolate is bought during Valentine’s week?
  • 36 million heart shaped chocolate boxes are sold for the holiday?

Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to show your love for another by staying on top of their health and your own.  With candy and alcohol and fancy dinners at the top of the list, it is important to be responsible and stay healthy.  What better way to show your love than to want to be with and have your loved ones around you always and in good health.  Besides, at the core of Valentine’s Day is the human heart.

February is American Heart Month and using the holiday to be heart friendly is a great idea.  It is important to be aware of any conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  Preparing a healthy meal for Valentine’s Day can be a great alternative to going out and having a heavy meal that you have no control over.  Serve food lower in salt and fat content, provide more fruits and vegetables, and make less sugary sweets for an overall healthy Valentine’s Day meal.  Limit your alcohol intake and try to avoid secondhand smoke.  Take care of your heart and help reduce heart disease.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in America.  If you have heart disease, monitoring your blood pressure can be a great preventative measure.  Upstate HomeCare offers many products to assist with this and our trained staff can advise you on their use and other preventative measures to reduce heart attack and stroke.  Let’s keep Valentine’s Day a heart friendly holiday and continue to reduce heart disease across America.

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 190,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.  This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity

Resources:

For more information on heart disease, click here for the CDC’s website information.