The Great American Smoke Out

Each year, the American Cancer Society hosts the Great American Smoke out on the third Thursday in November.  The Great American Smoke out is an opportunity for people who smoke, to make a plan to quit and commit to a smoke-free and healthier life.  The smoke out starts with one day, but it has the intention of providing individuals with the motivation to quit smoking for good.  Use this date to quit altogether or to make a plan to quit.  The Great American Smoke out event not only is the challenge for individuals to stop smoking but also help people with tools that they can use to help them quit and stay that way.

A deadly and tough to kick addiction, nicotine in cigarettes is one of the strongest additions one can have.  Quitting is not easy for many who smoke.  Like other health improvement plans, one needs the commitment and a plan to make that commitment realized.  There are many quitting methods, such as prescription medications and counseling support.  It is always recommended to consult your health care advisor for information and support.  Having support is a proven way to be successful.

The Great American Smoke out began in the 1970’s when smoking and second hand smoke were very common.  In 1970 at an event in Randolph, MA, people were asked to give up cigarettes for one day and donate the money they saved to a high school scholarship fund.  In 1974 in Monticello, MN another don’t smoke day was spearheaded.  The movement caught on and in 1976 the CA American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million people to quit for the day.  The Smoke out went nation-wide in 1977.  Since then, a lot has changed.  Public view of smoking has changed.  Many public places and work spaces began the move towards a smoke free environment.  Today, very few buildings allow smoking inside. 

Today, less than 16% of Americans smoke.  However over 37 million Americans still smoke.  Each year close to half a million people die from illness caused by smoking.  Smoking is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.

Changing attitudes have helped reduce the number of deaths and illness.  Improving your health and quitting smoking go hand in hand. 

Learn more at www.cancer.org.

Posted in General Information /Health Topics /Human Interest /

ASK THE EXPERT // Healthy Lungs

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.  Many times what helps a movement, is just the simple part of getting the word out.  The American Lung Association’s Lung Force initiative is uniting women, men and caregivers to stand together in the fight against lung cancer. It is only with critical awareness that we can turn the tide against this life threatening disease. 

We take our lungs for granted.  Our bodies have natural defense systems to protect our lungs.  But the ALA suggests some ways to keep your lungs healthy.

1. Don’t Smoke—This is the major cause of lung cancer and COPD.  Cigarette smoke narrows the air ways in the lungs and causes chronic inflammation (swelling) in the lung.  If you smoke, quit.  Its never too late to benefit from quitting.

2. Avoid Exposure to Outdoor Air Pollution—Air quality can vary from day to day.  Knowing how this can affect your health and implementing useful strategies to minimize prolonged exposure can help keep you (and your family) well.  For example, the recent smoke from wild fires is one example of outdoor air pollution.

3. Prevent Infections—This is as simple as practicing good hygiene.  Wash your hands to prevent unwanted germs.  Avoid crowed places during cold and flu season.  Good oral hygiene is important, too.  Talk to your doctor about getting an influenza vaccination, pneumonia vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccine if it is the right thing for you.  These are effective tools to prevent severe illness. 

4. Get Regular Check-ups—Prevention and early detection of any illness is a strong way to avoid and fight disease. 

5. Exercise—It doesn’t matter your age or ability, being physically active can keep your lungs healthy.  Mild to moderate exercise not only can make you feel better, it can make a big difference in your overall health.

6. Breathe—Breathing exercises and deep breathing can help with your overall lung health.

Learn more at:  www.lung.org, rush.edu

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The Tooth Brush – A History

October is National Oral Hygiene Month

The modern toothbrush was invented in 1938.  Early forms of a “tooth brush” date to 3000 BC.  Ancient people used a “chew stick”,  a stick that someone would chew on until it became frayed.  The sticks were rubbed against the teeth.

The bristle toothbrush was invented in the mid 1400’s in China.  With handles of bamboo or bone, the bristles were usually taken from an animal with coarse hair.  Boar bristles were often used.  With the invention of plastics in the late 1930’s, nylon bristles were introduced.  The first commercial tooth brush was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.  Disciplined oral hygiene became more of a practice in the 1940’s.  This was due to the disciplined hygiene habits of WWII soldiers.

The first American to patent a toothbrush was H. N. Wadsworth, (patent #18,653) on Nov. 7, 1857.  One of the first electric toothbrushes to hit the American market was in 1960. It was marketed by the Squibb company under the name Broxodent.toothbrush

Sources: loc.gov, colgate.com and history.com

 

Posted in Fun Facts /General Information /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

Ask the Expert

October is National Oral Hygiene Month

Dental

We take note of what dental hygienists do and raise awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene and oral health.

It does not matter what age you are, oral hygiene is very important to your overall health. The following are five issues that dental hygienists address: Periodontal Disease, Teeth Whitening, General Oral Care, Cavities and Inflammation

Everyone loves a clean mouth. So, here are the basic steps to keep it clean and healthy!

Floss Daily – There are places a tooth brush just can’t reach.

Brush Twice Daily – Morning and night, brush for two minutes to prevent cavities and gum disease.

Rinse with Mouth Wash – Not only does this keep your mouth clean, it does wonders for your breath.

Question: What is the connection between oral health and overall health?

The mouth is loaded with bacteria. Most of it is harmless, but your mouth is an entry point for your respiratory and digestive systems. Sometimes, harmful bacteria can enter your system and cause disease.

⇒ The body’s natural defense system is strong. Most the time this defense system and good oral hygiene are enough to keep harmful bacteria at bay. But, if you don’t practice good oral hygiene, bacteria can reach high levels causing infections in your mouth that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

⇒ Various diseases such as Endocarditis, Cardiovascular Disease and Pneumonia have been linked to poor oral hygiene.

⇒ Conditions that might affect your overall oral health can include: Diabetes, Osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. Diabetes can put your gums at risk, Osteoporosis can cause weakening of the jaw bone and tooth loss and Alzheimer’s disease can diminish the ability for one to maintain their own oral hygiene.

Eating a healthy diet and limiting added sugar is also helpful. Avoiding tobacco use will also increase the general health of your gums and mouth. Don’t forget to keep a regular schedule of visiting your dentist and oral hygienist. Contacting your oral health professional as soon as you see a problem will help keep a small problem from getting bigger.

 

*Sources: mayoclinic.org, adha.org, nationaltoday.com

 

Posted in General Information /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

How to help break the stigma of mental illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but what do we mean by mental health?

As discussed in an article by the The Mayo Clinic*, “Mental health is the overall wellness of how you think, regulate your feelings and behave.”

At times, physical illness, environmental stresses or a change in one’s personal situation can cause a disruption or interference with individual thought process and mental functioning. This is what can cause our mental wellness to be compromised.  Being aware of changes and recognizing signs that someone might be experiencing challenges with their mental health is helpful for all involved.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Openly talk about mental health – Break the stigma about talking about mental health issues.   Common and treatable, more people suffer from mental health then you may be aware.

Educate yourself – There are plenty of resources accessible to learn more about specific types of mental illnesses, treatments and support.  Talk to your health professional, visit the library or online resources.

Be aware of the language you use – The language we choose to use matters. Do not use insulting terms (ex. “Crazy” or “Psycho”). Identify the person first, not the illness. (ex. My brother who struggles with OCD vs. My OCD brother).

Show compassion towards those with mental illness – Be supportive to people with mental health conditions. Check in frequently, provide support and encouragement.

Speak up against the stigma – Be positive.  Don’t sit by idly as others pass judgements or speak in a derogatory manner.

 

Great resources to educate yourself about mental health:

www.nami.org

www.thedepressionproject.com

www.mayoclinic.org

www.mentalhealthmn.org

www.mn.gov

www.nimh.nih.gov

Sources: https://www.centracare.com/blog/2019/may/break-the-stigma/
*https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/mental-health/art-20044098

 

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Signs You Should Check On A Loved One’s Mental Health

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month – What better time to touch base with a friend, neighbor or family member who might be experiencing stress in their life.  The path to obtaining the help one might need starts with the recognition that there is an issue, open and honest discussion and reaching out to those appropriate providers who can help with treatment towards improved well being.

Below are some of the most common signs that someone might be experiencing challenges with their mental and/or physical health.  It is always recommended to seek out professional help and consultation.  Consulting  your primary care team is a great place to start.

1. Becoming socially withdrawn

2. Experiencing difficult life events

3. Reckless behavior

4. Changes in sleeping habits or experiencing difficulties sleeping

5. Changes in eating habits

6. They constantly express being “busy” or overwhelmed by things

7. They are acting out of character

8. They are emotionally distant

9. Loss of concentration and/or ability to focus

10. Excessive worrying or fear

11. Changes in libido or sexual drive

12. Physical ailments without an obvious cause, examples:   headaches, stomach aches and elusive body “aches and pains”

13. Losing interest in leisure activities

14. Prolonged feelings of irritability

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To learn more about the signs of mental health and to find resources about mental health:

National Alliance on Mental Illness

The Depression Project

 

 

Posted in General Information /global interest /Health Topics /Uncategorized /

May is…

National Mental Health Awareness Month

May-is-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month-blog

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. This year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) if focusing on the message that no person experiencing mental health challenges should feel alone. There is a large percentage of individuals experiencing mental health concerns that will be coming to the forefront due to the many pressures and stresses of the pandemic. Mental health awareness is important and needs to be addressed and improved for all.

The American Psychiatric Association reports that close to half of people with mental illness do not receive treatment. Fearing stigma, prejudice and possible discrimination, many fear they will lose their jobs, friends and will just be treated differently. Stigma and prejudice usually come from lack of knowledge about mental illness, misinformation and inaccurate media representations. Many have a negative view even though they might know about the medical factors and general nature of some mental health disorders. Stigma comes in many forms and it can be public, self or institutional.

The most important message is that stigma and discrimination can contribute to the reduced likelihood of someone getting treatment. Low self-esteem, loss of hope, difficulties with social relationships are all gateways to difficulties at home and work and the likelihood of getting and maintaining treatment.

Open, honest discussion, showing compassion and educating oneself about mental illness goes a long way to crushing the stigma. This opens up opportunities for those suffering to be more receptive to treatment and a healthier life.

Many organizations offer education and training on identifying how to address the issues of mental illness and the stigma that can come with it. Seeking out help from a mental health professional is key to diagnosing mental health conditions. A psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker or other mental health professional along with your primary care doctor can be involved with diagnostic assessments and referrals for treatment.

 

*Learn more at: psychiatry.org, nami.org, mayoclinic.org

 

Posted in General Information /Health Topics /Human Interest /