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Benefits of Social Media

Health Care and Social Media

Social Media has taken such a foothold in our society that it should be noted what the benefits  have become in regards to the health industry.  Issues such as the Ebola outbreak, ALS bucket challenge, and suicide discussions; have all been at the forefront of social media.  With more than 67 percent of physicians on social media for professional purposes as reported by the Federation of State Medical Boards, the beneficial uses are abundant.  Not only are large campaigns and international health news finding their way on social media, but individual users are finding broad audiences to search for answers to health questions and/or fellow survivors or patients of certain ailments.


National health news is a major topic on social media.  With the speed at which information travels via these networks, health news spreads faster than ever before.  Incidents like the Boston Marathon Bombing in April of 2013, used to take days to reach as many people compared to the hours it took to reach millions of Americans and the world.  The reach of the news is only part of the picture however.  Health professionals and rescue personnel were then able to respond much faster and were more prepared for the aftermath.  Nearby hospitals already knew when people would be coming in without having to wait for a news broadcast on TV or radio.  Incidents like the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria used to only show up on the nightly news or as a footnote on some health websites.  Now the CDC and the World Health Organization, along with other similar sites; post detailed information on their social networks clarifying the situation and informing the public of precautions being taken.  With the ability to follow these organizations without having to manually search for their sites on a regular basis, health professionals receive updates and important posts automatically.

Charities and Health Causes

Recently, the ALS Association created a fund raising and awareness campaign called the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”  Traditionally these associations have relied on walks, events, and media efforts to spread the word and raise much needed funds for their cause.  This recent effort by the ALS Association has spread across social media unlike campaigns of the past raising traffic to ALS related websites and raising over 41 million dollars so far.  Social Media makes campaigns like these work and other health organizations will be looking for similar ways to raise awareness.  Even the more traditional walks and events now reach more followers and possible donors through videos, events, and photos; posted to the several social media outlets.  Charities using social media have seen an increase by approximately 40% in their fundraising campaigns, a study by Charity Dynamics and Blackbaud found.  National charities post news on breakthroughs and events regularly on their social networks spreading the news as fast as possible and driving as much traffic and potential donors to their sites.

Personal Impact

The impact Social Media can have on a personal level tends to be overlooked.  Serious health issues such as depression and other mental health illnesses are extremely difficult to face.  Coping with a terminal illness or disability has always been very difficult resulting in depression or other ailments.  The deaths of celebrities such as Heath Ledger and now Robin Williams, bring to the forefront in the media the terrible results of serious depression and other mental illnesses.  Social Media has become a place where those dealing with those illnesses can talk to each other and their health care professionals without the anxiety or pressure of setting up appointments or worrying about the right time to bring their issues up in conversation.  Physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists have begun creating separate accounts on social media specifically to address their patients and the growing need for faster methods of communication.  The ability to connect with others with similar questions or needs has never been as easy as it is now with Social Media.

The Next Level

In the past, Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter appeared to be more of a fad and was for the younger generation for sharing photos with friends, without much use for professional networks.  Today it appears things are changing and Social Media is maturing in a way that can be very beneficial to our health care industry.  By connecting world health concerns and news with health professionals globally; greater strides can be achieved in research and studies of modern health issues.  Individuals can stay in contact with their personal care physicians and support groups more often resulting in proper support or diagnosis when needed.  And with advanced methods of fund raising and awareness building, charities can raise the funds necessary to provide their support and services to the health issues we continue to face.   Social Media is here to stay, but the impact on health care looks bright and rewarding.


USNEWS:  Health Care Harnesses Social Media

ALS Association Ice Bucket Challenge

World Health Organization

Blackbaud and Charity Dynamics Study

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Healthy Insect Repellent Tips

Natural Protection from Insects

August is often the warmest month of summer with the highest humidity.  Before school starts up again, many families spend time outdoors.  Exposure to insects, primarily mosquitoes, is much higher during the humid months and can be very frustrating.  Although insect bites may not be life threatening to a majority of people, bites have the most impact on children and the elderly.  Some insects can also carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus.  Taking appropriate measures to prevent bites will keep you safe.  It is very easy to purchase off the shelf chemicals and sprays to try and keep the bugs away, but there are also many natural and safer ways to try.

What are Mosquitoes attracted to?

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to attract more mosquitoes than others?  Mosquitoes use scent primarily to find their victims.  Even though each of us has a distinct smell, about 400 different compounds make up our human scent.  Of those compounds, approximately 30 have masking traits that work similar to those chemicals in repellents.  Reversely, some of those compounds will act as attractants for mosquitoes and make someone a mosquito magnet.  Aside from our natural odor; Carbon Dioxide, Lactic Acid, and Floral or Fruity fragrances will also attract them.  WE have more lactic acid build up for instance, following strenuous physical activity.  From a distance they will also look for shaded places and foliage or darker colors versus bright ones.  Finally, their favorite time is dawn and dusk.

Natural Repellents

It’s relatively easy to make your own repellents.  However you can also purchase natural repellents online at many sites.  See Below.  Although they may be natural, the oils used in natural repellents may not be a healthy choice depending on the person.  Be sure to test oils on your skin in small amounts to see if you may be allergic or have any reactions to them.  Here is a list of natural oils that can be used in making your own insect repellents:

  • Citronella Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Cedar Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Geranium Oil

Natural repellents generally need to be reapplied more often than chemical ones, approximately every 2 hours.  Some of these oils can also be applied to fabrics and hung nearby to repel mosquitoes from the area in general instead of wearing them.

In the Long Run

Prevention is the best thing to reduce the effect of insects.  There are many things you can try around your home.   Mosquitoes thrive in standing water and hide in tall grasses sheltered from the wind or breeze.  Periodically replace water in bird baths, and empty standing water or pooling water around your yard or home.  Many plants offer protection from certain pests as well.  Basil contains oils that can help repel flies and mosquitoes.  Lemon Balm also has a repelling aroma, although it can spread quickly when not confined to a pot.  Catnip has a strong repellant for mosquitoes and some studies say it is more effective than DEET.  Marigolds may not repel mosquitoes well, but they repel many other garden pests.  Peppermint is also naturally distasteful to most insects.  Citronella can grow to be quite large and has a natural bug repellant, however there are plants sold labeled as “citronella scented” but have no repelling effects.  Be sure windows have screens to prevent access to your indoor environments.  Even a simple fan can help prevent mosquitoes from buzzing around you.  Citronella candles or burning oil can also be used outdoors to help.  Although not always popular, a bat house to attract the natural predator for mosquitoes considering they can consume up to 400 mosquitoes in an evening.

Have a Bug Free August

Any one solution generally isn’t the only one you can rely on.  Simplest means are the most effective such as wearing light long sleeved clothing and using a fan to keep bugs from being able to land.  Since Dawn or dusk are the most active times for insects, once the sun sets or rises, you can roll up your sleeves and enjoy the day or night.

Natural Insect Repellents:

Burt’s Bees Insect Repellent

REPEL Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus Repellent

Herbal Armor Insect Repellent


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!


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.


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:

For more info on treating allergies, check out WebMDs video: