Category Archives: Health Tips

Know Your Numbers and Have a Clear Vision for 2020

Bruce Ricker, D.O. recommends taking preventative steps to improve your long-term health

There’s an old saying that “Hindsight is 2020!” In the year 2020, health care professionals can almost predict the future as well. “Understanding your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers can prevent serious conditions in the future like heart attacks and strokes. We do routine exams and encourage everyone to know their numbers,” says Mount Ayr Medical Clinic physician Bruce Ricker, D.O. “It’s just like changing the oil in your car. Preventative maintenance means it will last longer. The same goes for our health.”

Although most adults these days know the dangers of being overweight, or smoking, or drinking too much, not everyone sticks with the lifestyle modifications that are required to make a lasting change. “A great start is tracking your numbers,” says Dr. Ricker. “Even better is working with a health coach. It’s free for Mount Ayr Medical Clinic patients and can be invaluable. We used to tell people about their numbers, and they’d understand the importance of keeping track of their sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But over time, they would migrate back to their old habits. With a health coach, they stay on track. If someone is checking up on you, you’re not as likely to cheat.” Dr. Ricker added that he’s convinced the biggest reason for the improvement in his diabetes patients is the health coaches. “I’ve been preaching the same thing for years. But these coaches are like personal trainers. They keep people accountable. They make sure you’ve filled your prescription or are keeping a food log. And they provide support groups and counseling. I’ve seen huge progress compared to what we’ve seen in the past.”

According to Dr. Ricker, an important number that every adult needs to know is “30”. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day, is just as critical as eating a healthy diet. “In rural communities, many of us grew up on farms where the work was all done by hand. Now farming requires less physical activity.” He’s glad to see many younger people placing more emphasis on staying fit to be healthy. “I see lots of people running in 5Ks, using the hiking trails, and even using the hospital hallways for walking. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It just has to become a part of your daily routine.” A balanced diet that is primarily plant based is another good predictor of long-term health. Dr. Ricker admits that it’s sometimes difficult to find a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in rural areas, especially during the winter. “But in many ways, we’re blessed. People can raise vegetables in their own gardens and freeze to eat year-round!” Knowing your numbers, eating well, and exercising often aren’t new concepts in healthcare. But they’re great reminders of what to focus on in 2020. 

Call to make an appointment for your annual physical and better understand your numbers 641-464-4470 and check out these free wellness tools.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Awareness Month

During Brain Injury Awareness Month, Ringgold County Hospital is focused on preventing Tramatic Brain Injuries (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or injury to the head. Roughly 50% of trauma related visits to the Ringgold County Emergency Room in 2018 were due to motor vehicle accidents, some involving TBI. Although not all head injuries result in a TBI, it is important to be evaluated by a health care provider if you experience common symptoms like headache, dizziness, blurred vision, or difficulty concentrating. Severity of injury may range from a mild, short-term change in mental status or consciousness to an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury. Concussions are the most common form of TBI, and are considered a mild injury. 

There are many ways to reduce the chances of a traumatic brain injury. Be sure to:

  1. Wear a seat belt every time you drive – or ride – in a motor vehicle
  2. Minimize distractions while driving and put your phone away
  3. Use caution while driving in adverse weather conditions – slow down and brake sooner
  4. Choose not to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – arrange another ride
  5. Make living and play areas safer for children
    •  Install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open window
    •  Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around
  6. Wear a helmet, or appropriate headgear, when you or your children:
    • Ride a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or use an all-terrain vehicle
    • Play a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing
    • Use in-line skates or ride a skateboard
    • Bat and run bases in baseball or softball
    • Ride a horse
    • Ski or snowboard
  7. Prevent falls for older adults:
    • Talk to your doctor to evaluate your risk for falling, and ask them about specific things you can do to reduce your risk for a fall
    • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy – this should include prescription medicines, over-the counter medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins
    • Have your eyes checked at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed
    • Do strength and balance exercises to make your legs stronger and improve your balance

 

 

The Great American Smokeout

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It takes time, and a plan. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Let the Great American Smokeout event on November 15 be your day to start your journey toward a smoke-free life. You’ll be joining thousands of smokers across the country in taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing your cancer risk. Plus, the American Cancer Society can help you access the resources and support you need to quit.

Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term – at any age. You can increase your chances of success with help. See your healthcare provider at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic, or call Quitline Iowa, a FREE service for Iowans to connect with a coach. 1-800- QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). Or visit quitlineiowa.org.

 

Antibiotics: What You Need To Know

If you have an infection, it is important to know whether it is caused by bacteria or a virus. Most upper respiratory tract infections such as colds, flu, most coughs, and sore throats are caused by viruses and cannot be treated with antibiotics. If a bacterial infection is to blame, bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, and the body’s immune system can usually kill them. Our white blood cells attack harmful bacteria and, even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much, and some help is needed; this is where antibiotics are useful. Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. If antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly, there is a risk that the bacteria will become resistant – the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium. 

How do antibiotics work?
The first antibiotic was penicillin. Such penicillin related antibiotics as ampicillin, amoxicillin, and benzylpenicillin are widely used today to treat a variety of infections. Although there are a number of different types of antibiotics, they all work in one of two ways:
• A bactericidal antibiotic (penicillin, for instance) kills the bacteria; these drugs usually interfere with either the formation of the bacterium’s cell wall or its cell contents.
• A bacteriostatic stops bacteria from multiplying.

Reactions to antibiotics can be very serious, and sometimes fatal.
Antibiotics should be used with extreme caution for the following individuals:
• Anyone with reduced liver or kidney function
• Anyone who is pregnant
• Anyone who is breastfeeding

Common Side Effects
• Diarrhea
• Feeling sick
• Fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina

Rare side effects of antibiotics:
• Formation of kidney stones (when taking sulphonamides)
• Abnormal blood clotting (when taking some cephalosporins)
• Sensitivity to sunlight (when taking tetracyclines)
• Blood disorders (when taking trimethoprim)

Allergy
Some patients may develop an allergic reaction to antibiotics – especially penicillins. Anyone who has an allergic reaction to an antibiotic must tell their doctor and/or pharmacist. Side effects might include:

  • a rash
  • swelling of the tongue and face
  • difficulty breathing 

Interactions
Individuals taking an antibiotic, should not take other medicines or herbal remedies without speaking with a doctor first. OTC (over the counter, non-prescription) medicines might also interact with antibiotics. Penicillins, cephalosporins, and some other antibiotics can undermine the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. If the antibiotic has caused diarrhea/vomiting, the absorption of contraceptives may also be disrupted. Anyone taking these drugs should consider taking additional contraceptive precautions.

How to use
Antibiotics are usually taken by mouth (orally); however, they can also be administered by injection or applied directly to the affected part of the body. Most antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours. It is important to complete the whole course of medication to prevent the infection from coming back. Stopping the medication before the end of the course means that there is a higher chance the bacteria will become resistant to future treatments.

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Ready, Set, Back to School!

As we approach the end of August, many parents are preparing for another school year for their children. The beginning of school is a perfect time to set the stage for the upcoming year and to create new healthy habits for the entire family. Below are simple tips to get you going on the right foot.

Start the day off right.
Eating breakfast as a family is a perfect time to bond and spend quality time together while also preparing a healthy breakfast. Eggs with whole grain toast, fruit and yogurt, or whole grain unsweetened cereal with milk and berries are several great choices. Beginning the day with a meal consisting of protein and fiber, a winning combination of nutrients, will help the entire family feel satisfied until lunch.

Nix the added sugar.
The American Heart Association suggests that children and teens ages 2-18 limit added sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons (or approximately 25 grams) per day. Kids who eat foods high in added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods. Added sugar provides no nutritional benefits and is found in a wide range of food from cookies, ketchup, salad dressings, sugar sweetened cereals, smoothies, to sweetened yogurts. The major culprit of added sugar, however, is soda and sugary drinks including iced tea and fruit punch. Sugary drinks, often called “liquid calories,” provide no health benefits.

Swap juice for whole fruit.
Feed children whole fruit instead of juice. The fruit is rich in fiber and its high-water content helps keep the calories low. It’s easy to guzzle down too many calories from juice without even realizing it. A pint of orange juice, for example, contains around 225 calories. This is the equivalent to 2-3 cups of mixed berries. Most people wouldn’t think twice about drinking the pint of juice but few would eat three cups of berries in one sitting.

Pack a healthy snack.
If you are packing snacks, it’s a perfect opportunity to include at least one fruit and veggie. Smart snacks include fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, baby carrots with hummus, roasted edamame, and of course a bottle of water. Nuts or nut butter squeeze packs are also great choices if a school allows nuts; if not, they are a great go-to snack when kids get home.

Skip the white food (unless it’s cauliflower or white beans).
White bread including bagels, white rice, and white pasta are refined grains and are easy to overeat. Because they contain virtually no fiber, we don’t feel satisfied after eating them. Introducing kids to healthier alternatives including quinoa, whole grain pasta, and brown rice helps them get into the habit of enjoying these grains. No need to cut out starch entirely. Choosing the healthier ones is a far better alternative.