Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Staying Safe and Healthy for the Holidays

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is right around the corner. With the holidays comes a lot of food, drinking, and sickness. Staying healthy for the holidays is far easier said than done, but there are some tips experts say can help. 

One of the main priorities experts say can help you to stay healthy is to prioritize fighting off germs. Disinfectant wipes as well as hand washing can help with this. Keyboards are dirtier than toilets and can carry a lot of harmful bacteria like E. Coli. If you work in an office with shared equipment, it is important to keep it clean! It is also a great month for getting vaccines and doctor checkups to make sure you are clear of viruses.
Working out and controlling portion sizes are great ways to stay healthy for the holidays, as well as any day. 

Given the holidays have a lot of unhealthy and tempting foods, it is hard to say no. If you have a lot of leftovers, you can save some of them in your freezer for down the road. Holiday foods are packed with a lot of fat and calories. Research from the Calorie Control Council states that the average amount of calories in a standard holiday meal is 4,500! That’s more than double your daily intake. Maybe with that in mind, all those desserts, casseroles and gravy won’t be as tempting.

As for working out, it can be hard to find motivation. It is cold outside, and I find myself in the winter feeling more fatigued and tired than usual. Not everyone has access to a gym either. For the best minimal exercise, you could take the stairs instead of the elevator. Getting up to take breaks to walk around the complex or the office is another good way to stay active. Diet and drinking a lot of water helps to feel better as well. A short 15-minute walk here and there adds up in the long run. If you do have access to the gym, weights and cardio are a good way to build up muscle and lose fat. Any cardio throughout the day helps!

Another way to stay healthy during the holidays is to stay warm. Wear layers and if you have a heater, ensure it is working properly. Clean out fireplaces as well as chimneys and it never hurts to have a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector on hand.

If you decide to do a road trip somewhere colder, make sure you have all the proper materials for your car as well as an emergency kit. Being stranded in the snow could be a nightmare if you aren’t prepared. A typical emergency kit for the winter should include a flashlight, cell phone, food and water, blankets, first-aid kit as well as medicine, cat litter or sand for ice, batteries, and maybe winter tire chains.

For further information on more elaborate holiday health and safety, follow this link:


Happy holidays and safe travels!

Written by Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic is a very serious issue currently going on in the US, as well as other places in the world. In 2014 alone, drug overdoses was the leading cause of accidental death. That means more people died from drug overdose than they did in car accidents and other causes. Drugs classified under the opioid category include prescription pain killers such as oxycodone and morphine.

A lot of people take them to relieve pain, but a handful of people get too dependent on the drug. For many who get heavily addicted, that becomes all they think about. They neglect family and their routine because of the drugs. Opioids such as oxycodone is so powerful it can knock out the user. There was an incident a couple months back where a child told her bus driver her parents didn’t wake up in the morning. The bus driver called the cops who found out the parents over dosed and died. Many more similar articles are coming out which shows that this is becoming more serious of an issue.

According to 2014 statistics, 23% of people who were prescribed these medications became addicted. In the year of 2014 alone, 47,055 lethal overdoses occurred. Out of that 47, 055, prescription pain reliever deaths resulted in 18, 893. Statistics have yet to be given for 2016, but so far, it is not looking good. To add more mayhem, prescriptions being given have tripled over the past 20 years.

Earlier in the year, the Obama administration was taking measures to try and prevent this issue. Their measures include intensive outpatient programs for treatment, increasing intake of patient numbers for medications used to combat the addiction, and creating programs that give more access to health care treatments and educational opportunities for awareness. Many rehabilitation facilities already exist for people heavily dependent on drugs and alcohol.

I sure hope this situation becomes less frequent and people turn to their loved ones for support rather than pain killers. There are many alternatives to pain killers (such as the ways listed above), as well as other ways to take out frustrations (such as working out, punching bags, etc…). For MHC Healthcare, the behavioral health services provide substance abuse assessment and treatment for those suffering from the addiction.

For more information about MHC Healthcare, follow this link: http://mhchealthcare.org/

For a more thorough understanding of the epidemic and ways to combat it, follow this link: http://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/

Written by Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Monday, November 7, 2016

Alzheimer's Awareness

November is Alzheimer’s awareness month. Alzheimer’s is a serious disease that can develop as the brain gets older. Our goal is to make readers aware of what the disease is, how it is treated, symptoms, and what to do if you or someone you know may have it. 

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that messes with memory, behavior, and the way we think. Typically, Alzheimer’s takes a while to develop, but over time, it starts to get worse. People with Alzheimer’s can easily forget what day it is, forget anniversaries, relatives, where they are, etc. Where Alzheimer’s is usually associated with aging, there is also early onset Alzheimer's. This can happen between 40s and 50s. 

In the beginning stage, the memory loss isn’t as severe. When Alzheimer’s reaches later stages, conversations are hard to hold and it may be difficult to get the person to respond to you. According to statistics, people who develop Alzheimer’s usually live, on average, eight years once the signs become apparent to others, though some have lived significantly longer. Scarily enough, statistics also state that Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in our country. 

Is there a cure?

Unfortunately, there currently is no cure for the disease. However, there are treatments available. All treatments have the power to do is slow the progression of the stages and help patients to feel better and live better. 

What are the signs to watch out for?

There are ten major signs to watch out for when it comes to Alzheimer’s:

  • First, memory loss that causes issues in daily routine is important to remember. A common sign for this is when the person asks for the same type of information continuously. 
  • The next sign is when complications arise in planning and problem solving. 
  • They can also become confused on what time it is as well as where they are. 
  • Difficulty completing tasks that are familiar to them regardless of where they are.
  • Problems with words in speaking or writing that they never had issues with.
  • Finding it hard to understand visual images such as color or contrast which creates problems driving.
  • Having a hard time replacing steps and misplacing objects.
  • Poor judgment. 
  • Withdrawing themselves from work and social activities. 
  • Changes in their mood as well as their personality.

If you happen to notice these signs either for yourself or someone you know, it is good to take a trip to the doctor’s office. The doctor can detect it early and give you the best treatment to give relief of symptoms. This helps to prolong independence. 

Age, family history, and genetics play a huge role in Alzheimer’s. It is always a good idea to ask your parents or other relatives about family history. Even if you feel you don’t have any symptoms, it is great to inform your doctor and to have it on file for future appointments. Remember, not everyone gets Alzheimer’s. However, it is still important to get regular checkups. 

Thank you for reading! If you want more information on Alzheimer’s disease, follow this link:

Written by Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Breast Cancer: Facts, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments, Prevention

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Many women are diagnosed annually with breast cancer, however, men also have a chance of developing it. This article will explain what breast cancer is, what it does, how it is treated, and ways readers can take preparation to lower their chances of developing the cancer.

What is breast cancer and what does it do?

Breast cancer happens when cells in the breast form a group of cancerous cells which can end up invading the surrounding tissue or spread to other areas of the body. There are times the cell growth goes awry and creates new cells that the body does not need as well as old and damaged cells not going away as they should. As a result, cells build up causing lumps. Breast cancer occurs when a cancerous tumor emerges. 

What are the symptoms or early signs that I may have breast cancer?

  • Breast tenderness or notice of lumps
  • Larger pores in the skin of the breast or a change in texture of skin
  • Non explainable change in size or shape
  • Swelling of breast
  • Unexplained shrinkage
  • Discharge

Naturally, with any of the symptoms, it is a good idea to take a trip to the doctors office. 1 in 8 women are diagnosed to have breast cancer. Odds are 10% more likely if there is a family history.

What happens during the diagnosis?

In order to get diagnosed, there are typically five different ways or steps that the doctor may take. One is a mammogram, which is an x-ray taken to see if there is anything strange going on in the tissue. Another method is taking an ultrasound. This uses sound waves that do not damage the tissue and cannot be heard by human ears. A third method is an MRI. For an MRI, tissue is scanned which makes detailed pictures of activity in areas of the breast. A biopsy can also be done. During a biopsy for breast cancer, tissue is removed and sometimes fluid as well. This is done for examination of the infected cells and are sent for testing. Lastly, additional lab tests may be order for further verification. 

What treatments exist for breast cancer?

The treatments that currently exist for breast cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy (uses drugs to block growth of cancer cells), and lastly is nutrition as well as physical therapy. It is very important to get follow up care after treatment. This helps the doctor to determine if treatment worked as it should have, or if the patient needs more care.

How can I prevent breast cancer?

There is no definite way to prevent breast cancer. However, there is speculation that you can take steps early to hopefully prevent it. Whether or not these are true or false remains to be proven. Ways that are speculated to help are:

  • Limit alcohol use, as research says the more you drink, the more you increase your chances
  • Do not smoke - evidence shows there is a strong link between breast cancer risk and smoking
  • Weight control - researches say being overweight and obese increases chances
  • Be physically active - a healthy way is said to prevent risk of breast cancer
  • Breast feeding is also speculated to play a role in the prevention of breast cancer
  • Limiting dosage and duration of hormone therapy
  • Avoiding exposure to radiation and pollution caused by the environment

For even greater information about breast cancer as well as myths and FAQs, visit the following link: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/about-breast-cancer

As always, stay safe and have a fantastic October!

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Zika Virus Awareness

The Zika virus is a virus that is rapidly growing. The main carriers for the virus are infected mosquitoes. While these mosquitoes can be active at night, they are primarily out during the day which is why it is important to wear bug spray and find out ways to ward off those pesky insects.

What is the Zika virus exactly?

The Zika virus is known for causing birth defects. As mentioned above, the virus was originally spread by mosquitoes who would pass it on through aggressive biting. Once someone is infected, they can also pass it on to their partner through sex. The virus causes birth defects by entering the fetus and infecting it. It is also associated with other pregnancy issues.

What are the symptoms?

If someone is infected, statistics show one in five with the virus will actually show symptoms. Symptoms associated with the virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and can also show red marks in the white part of the eye. The virus can cause flu-symptoms as well which typically last a few days up to a little over a week. Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments for the virus. Researchers are currently testing vaccines, but they are not yet obtainable.

For babies who are affected with the virus, they will have a stunted head growth which can cause tremendous brain damage and has a good chance resulting in a still birth or a miscarriage. As a result, there are quite a few countries telling pregnant women they should not travel to other countries known to have the virus. Researchers say that as of September 15, 2016, 750 women in the U.S. had confirmed they had the virus. As of September 21, 2016, more than 3,300 travelers had cases of the ZIKA virus. A very small handful was sexually transmitted. 

How can I protect myself and help to spread awareness?
  • Use insect repellent that is EPA-registered
  • Protect your skin by using long sleeved clothing and long pants
  • Staying in places that have air conditioning as well as windows and doors with screens is safe
  • Do not keep standing water in or around the home
  • Share this information with people you know 
  • If you have been to any of the countries known to have the virus, get a checkup with your doctor

The following link will hopefully be useful and shows all the countries currently battling the virus: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/active-countries.html

For those traveling, stay safe and be sure to carry insect repellent! The virus is said to spread even more this upcoming year.

Learn more about the Zika Virus here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/index.html

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Farm Safety

From MHC Healthcare's humble beginning in 1957 as a health center serving migrant farm workers in rural Marana, farming is integral to who we are as an organization. This past week, September 18-24, was Farm Safety and Health Week. There are a lot of hazardous materials when entering farmland, and is easy to miss. While Farm Safety Week has come and gone, this information still needs to be circulated. This article will show all the different hazards, how to stay safe, and how to ensure a visit to the farm will not cause health problems.

Some examples of the various dangers on the farm include:

  • Chemicals as well as pesticides
  • Highway Traffic
  • Toxic gas
  • Tractors
  • Livestock
  • Machinery as well as equipment
  • Tools
  • Piles of Manure
  • Wells
  • And many more
The biggest risk factors for injuries are usually children under 15 and adults who are over 65. The main culprit for injuries would be machinery. Seat belts when riding on tractors, as well as goggles and other protective clothing, can help in reducing injuries. Unfortunately, given farms are typically far from the cities, the ability to get to the hospitals in case of an emergency is not likely to happen.

How can I improve my farm safety as well as spread awareness to others?

Researching farming hazards, preparing for proper medical equipment in case of an emergency such as a fire, tractor accident, electric shock, and chemical safety is a great place to start. Be very cautious if you have elderly or children with you in case hazardous equipment or chemicals are nearby. The following are ways you can help to reduce injuries on the farm:
  • Thoroughly read the instructor’s manual for machinery and equipment as well as labels
  • Do a routine checkup on equipment to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary
  • Be sure to discuss safety procedures with the farm workers
  • After maintenance, ensure that guards on the equipment are replaced
  • Take precautionary measures to prevent injuries from silos and grain storage bins
  • Know that methane gas as well as carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia can form in silos and manure pits that are unventilated and that they can poison workers as well as explode.
  • Always take advantage of safety equipment
Following these safety guidelines can hopefully ensure safety of farm workers as well as those living on the farms and people who come to tour the farmland.

For more information on agricultural health and safety as well as other information, check out the following link: http://agsafety.osu.edu/

Have a great September and thank you for reading!

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

Friday, September 9, 2016

Thyroid Cancer Awareness

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness month. Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland helps regulate hormones that help the way we use our energy as well as help our body to function normally. Exposure to radiation can increase the chances of getting cancer, so this means head, neck and chest x-rays. The unfortunate truth is that, even if treated, thyroid cancer always has a chance of creeping back.

Thyroid cancer has the following symptoms:
  • Pain in the neck and ears
  • Trouble breathing as well as wheezing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Frequent cough that is not related to illness
  • Troubles swallowing
  • Lump and/or swelling in the neck (the most common symptom)
If you know anyone with the symptoms listed above or if you have symptoms yourself, call your doctor. Where it could easily be something minor, it is best if the doctor finds what is causing the symptoms sooner than later.

Doctors determine that a patient has thyroid cancer by running a biopsy and finding cancerous cells. They remove a small piece of thyroid tissue and then send it for observation. In some situations, results may be unclear which lead to more serious procedures. For treatment, the patient has to go through surgery and radioactive iodine. A suggested way of helping cope with cancer is by joining cancer support groups.

There are many risk factors associated with thyroid cancer and the following are the most common:
  • Age plays a vital role
  • Females have a higher risk, but men can get thyroid cancer too
  • Family history
  • Radiation treatments
This article is meant to spread awareness to thyroid cancer. On a final note, if you or anyone you know has a family history of MTC (medullary thyroid cancer), it is best to get a genetic test to detect specific genes that carry the mutation found with the cancer. The earlier one gets help, the cancer can actually be prevented.

For more information on thyroid cancer awareness, check out the following link:

To find out more about MHC, check out the following link:

Wishing everyone a fantastic September and great start to the school year!

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer