Tag Archives: seasons

In Case of Emergency: FAST

Vantage Point: Act FAST

Due to its beauty, 4 distinct seasons, diverse recreation opportunities, and 300-plus days a year of sunshine, North Central Washington is a paradise to many. Living here helps to promote a healthy lifestyle and positive attitude.

For several years, North Central Washington has also been known for the inevitability of summer wildfires. And last year, with the towns of Carlton and Pateros burning, and this year, with the town of Wenatchee on fire, it’s put a whole new meaning on how devastating, scarring, and unpredictable wildfires can be and how important it is to act fast when one occurs. The same can be said for a stroke.

A stroke is an often unrecognized, true emergency, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Strokes are the second-leading cause of death for people 60 years or older worldwide, the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of serious long-term adult disability.

Strokes can happen to anyone, at any time, regardless of race, sex, or age. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, smoking, diabetes, poor circulation, inactivity, obesity, and family history. You can learn more by visiting the National Stroke Association’s Stroke Awareness website, but the best action you can take is to get regular checkups with your primary care doctor, so together you can formulate your own prevention plan.

There are two types of strokes, ischemic and hemorrhagic, and during a stroke, 2 million brain cells die every minute, increasing risk of permanent brain damage and disability. Therefore, recognizing symptoms and acting fast to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities. The sooner you call 911, the better chance there is of recovery. So remember, “FAST” stands for:

  • Face, look for an uneven smile.
  • Arms, check to see if one arm is weak or unable to move.
  • Speech, listen for slurred speech or inability to speak.
  • Time, call 911 at the first sign.

Like natural disasters, many times, health concerns such as strokes come with no warning or time to prepare, so it’s important to have adequate health insurance coverage. Our expert and local customer service representatives are always here to help our members understand all their health insurance benefits, especially in the case of an emergency, so they can worry less and focus on what is most important, enjoying the North Central Washington good life.

Shannon Sims is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. She has four adult sons and two grandsons. During her time off, she performs as part of a rodeo drill team on her horse, Skeeter.

Best Sports for Asthma

Athletic with Asthma

You can’t keep your kids with asthma from being active, but you can help them choose the right activities.

While football can be a rough sport, it is actually one of the best sports for those with asthma. The many breaks between downs let you rest and can reduce the chances of an attack.

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis is one of the greatest running backs of all time. He was diagnosed with asthma at 15, after passing out at a high school football practice. He went on to play for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame, then in the NFL for 13 seasons. He was named NFL Rookie of the Year and won a Super Bowl in 2006.

A recent study found that walking 3 times a week for 3 weeks improved asthma control, and overall fitness.

Yoga is great for asthma because it requires good breath control. One study found that some who did yoga 2.5 hour a week for 10 weeks could cut down on their meds.

Baseball’s spurts of running with plenty of down time gives kids exercise without raising their breathing rate for too long, making it great for asthma sufferers.

Golf, with its delayed activity, is good if you struggle catching your breath, and the focus it requires is great for your mind. Just beware of outdoor allergens!

Tennis and other racquet sports let you exercise with regular rests and water breaks.

Swimming is the ideal activity for those with asthma because you breathe in warm wet air the whole time, and being horizontal can help loosen and clear your lungs.

As a kid, Amy Van Dyken’s couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs because her asthma was so bad. At just 6 years old, she took up swimming when her doctor told her breathing humid air might help her lungs. Swimming was hard at first, but with the help of her meds and support from her family and friends, Amy swam her way to 4 gold medals at the Athens Olympics and another 2 at Sydney’s.

The important thing to remember though is that your asthma should never hold you back from going after your dreams.

Look at Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who broke into track-and-field star, even though she had asthma. She is a four-time Olympian with 3 gold medals. She was diagnosed as a freshman at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). In an interview with Sports Illustrated, she said, “I finally learned I had to respect asthma as much as I would an opponent.”

Knowing your triggers, using your meds and action plan, and working with your doctor can make amazing things possible.

Blood Sugar Maintenance

Tips for Managing Your Blood Sugar

Stress and Your Blood Sugar

Everyday stress can make your diabetes  worse by triggering hormones that change blood sugar. Plus, when you’re stressed out, you’re less likely to practice good self-care.

According to Livestrong, stress causes blood glucose to rise by releasing two hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase your glucose in order to help reduce your stress.

Stress can make you emotional, which for many people can lead to binge eating. People usually turn to foods filled with sugar and carbohydrates for comfort, which raise your blood sugar.

To cope with stress and reduce its impact, try to:

  • Breathe deeply. Practice breathing slowly and deeply at least once a day to calm yourself.
  • Move more. Even simple exercises like a quick walk or dancing around the living room can make you feel better.
  • Focus on the positive. Find something you enjoy that takes your mind off whatever is causing your stress.
  • Practice good self-care. Eat right, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.

Move More

Outdoor play helps keep your blood sugar in check. It’s also a great way to have fun with your friends and family.

Do something you love or would like to try. Here are some ideas to get you started!

  • Go fishing at a local lake.
  • Try hiking in a nearby state park.
  • Plant a family garden in your backyard.
  • Ride your bike through your neighborhood.
  • Go roller skating, walking, or running with a friend.
  • Play a backyard sport like basketball or catch with your family.

Remember to check your blood sugar before starting. You might need to eat an extra snack if it’s too low.

If you’re leaving home, pack testing gear, meds, extra snacks, and water. Wear your medical ID bracelet and bring contact numbers and a copy of your emergency plan.

Diabetes shouldn’t stop you from having fun. Just plan ahead so you have what you need, and always take a break right away if you start feeling dizzy.

Planning Ahead

You can never be too prepared with your diabetes. Take time to pack a diabetes emergency kit now before an emergency strikes. Here are some important items for packing the perfect kit:

  • A 3-day supply of:
    • Medicines, marked with their name and correct dose
    • Insulin
    • Insulin pump
    • Lancets
    • Syringes
  • Extra batteries
  • Alcohol wipes for cleaning the injection area
  • A cooler for storing insulin and meds
  • Flashlight, in case you lose power
  • Medical ID bracelet to help first responders quickly know your needs. Your tag should have:
    • Your name
    • Diabetes, insulin pump, or insulin dependent
    • Known allergies
    • Medicines
    • Emergency contact numbers
  • A list of your meds and doses
  • A blood sugar log to help you keep track of your numbers in an emergency
  • Drinks and snacks like water, juice, fruit cups, and hard candies
  • Your doctor’s name and contact information
  • Emergency contact information with cell and work phone numbers, emails, and home addresses

Be sure to update your kit with new meds and supplies as things change. Also, mark on your calendar when your supplies and meds will expire.

There is no better time than now!

Wintertime Worries and Falling

Falling and SAD in the Winter

The air is getting crisper and unfortunately, the sun shines less and less. Before we know it, snowflakes and ice will begin to fall. These wintery mixes can compromise both our balance and mental health. Both falling and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can come with the winter weather.

Falling

Each year, more than 300,000 injuries result from falls. Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush around. Be especially careful getting into and out of your car by holding onto the door or framework for support.

If you must carry things, try to distribute the weight evenly and carry them below waist level, to help keep your center of gravity low. Go down icy stairs sideways.

Take short, flat-footed steps with your feet slightly farther apart than normal with your hands out of your pockets. Keep your eyes on the ground in front of you.

Wear boots or shoes with good traction. Rubber soles are better than plastic or leather. If you wear heels, wear wedges of no more than 2 inches. Once you’re inside, wipe and dry your shoes off to prevent creating slippery conditions inside too.

If you do lose your footing, try to fall so your thighs, hips, then shoulders hit the ground in that order, to keep your arms from taking all your body weight and possibly breaking. Tuck and bend your back and head toward your chest to keep from smacking your head.

SAD

A person suffering from SAD usually experiences depression and unexplained fatigue throughout the winter, while his or her symptoms disappear with the return of spring.

The reasons for developing SAD are still largely unknown, although experts believe it’s somehow triggered by decreased exposure to sunlight.

The symptoms are very similar to depression, but someone with SAD will experience these changes in mood and behavior in a regular, seasonal pattern.

A person with SAD or depression may have a few or all of the symptoms, like loss of energy, changes in mood, trouble concentrating, appetite changes, and weight gain.

Once you’re diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants for just the months you need them. Another option is light therapy. Light therapy uses a special light panel or box that mimics the light from the sun.

Managing Allergies with Tech

Managing Allergies & Asthma with Technology

Tracking the weather and your allergies can be an important part of managing allergies and asthma. Avoid living in a bubble with these helpful phone apps that make staying in touch with Mother Nature easy and fun.

Managing Allergies with Apps

WebMD Allergy

This allergy app is like having a meteorologist in your pocket. It gives you daily weather and pollen forecasts, tells you what allergens are in the air, and can even notify you when allergens reach a certain level. This free app is only for iPhones.

Allergy Alert

Not only can you check your local forecast and your area’s pollen levels, you can also track your symptoms over time to see how they change. Then you can get tips for managing your allergies. This app is free for Android and Apple users.

Managing Allergies & Asthma with Apps

RxmindMe Prescription

Life is busy. With a crazy day-to-day schedule, how in the world can you keep track of all your meds? RxmindMe offers friendly reminders of what meds to take, and you can even snap pictures of your pills to prevent mix-ups. It also lets you create reminders for weekly appointments and refills, so you never miss your doctor or a dose again. This free app is only for iPhones.