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HealthPerks Newsletter for July 2014

Avoid Summer Emergencies

Summer is finally in full swing, and that means more outdoor activities, pool parties picnics and barbecues, kids playing outside late into the evening... It's all part of the appeal of summer. Unfortunately, it also means more emergency room visits. In fact, 40% of all ER visits occur between May and August, and accidents are the primary cause.

Help protect yourself and your family from accidents this summer by following a few precautions. Just a few extra minutes of care can mean the difference between a carefree summer and a trip to the ER that could derail you for weeks.

  • Respect the power of the sun. Using a SPF of 30 or higher to protect against sunburn is a good start. But heat stroke, the most serious form of heart injury, is a risk for everybody over age 50, young children, and even healthy young athletes. Take frequent breaks from the sun, drink plenty of water, and never leave a young child or pet alone in a car, which can quickly heat to 120 degrees or more.

  • Helmets and safety gear aren’t just for kids.Adults are more likely to fall when biking, riding a scooter, or skateboarding, but less likely to wear appropriate protection. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85% -- so make sure everyone in your family has easy access to one.

  • Beat the bugs by wearing a DEET-based repellent. It will help keep you safe from ticks carrying Lyme disease and mosquitoes that may transmit the West Nile virus.

  • Guard against falls and home mishaps. Summer time home repairs result in thousands of falls and accidents every year. Wear appropriate shoes and clothing to protect against power tool burns and broken toes caused by dropped tools. Anchor ladders securely, and have someone “spotting” you at all times. Tape bulky power cords down to avoid tripping.

  • Enjoy water activities responsibly. Anybody using a motorized watercraft should be wearing a life jacket – or have easy access to one. Never swim alone, and always observe posted warnings. Remember that it’s possible to drown in just a few inches of water, so maintain vigilance at all time..

Of course, no matter what precautions you take, accidents and serious illnesses can occur at any time. When you suspect a medical problem is critical or life-threatening, call 9-1-1 immediately. Any injuries from car accidents, smoke inhalation, near drowning, or poisonous substances require immediate emergency treatment as well. When in doubt, don't wait: call 9-1-1.

For more tips on dealing with emergencies and getting appropriate treatment, download our free tipsheet

A helpful guide on what to bring when visiting the Emergency Room

We’re halfway through 2014 – Is your health on track?

At the beginning of the year, we are excited to start the year off right, and through the spring we may tend to slack off on our health a little while we bask in the return to good weather. With summer officially here, now is the best time to recommit to your good health.

Use the warmer months to get outside and enhance your activity level. If you haven't been to the doctor recently, make sure you set-up an appointment with your primary care physician for a standard check-up. During this appointment, use the time to discuss your current health, and potential health risks. Don't forget to ask about any screenings you may need.

For women, this may be a pap test, mammogram, and annual blood test for cholesterol. For men, make sure you talk to your physician about your prostate cancer risk, and get an annual blood test. Hearing loss can also affect men over the age of 60, so you may want to ask for a hearing test. In addition, you’ll want to make sure you pencil in the following this summer:

Skin test
At the height of summer, good skin health should be top of mind. It's important to have a skin/mole check each year to make sure you aren’t at risk for skin cancer. Do an at home scan monthly to be sure that there haven't been any changes to the shape or color of moles. And, don't forget to load up on the SPF every day!

Teeth cleaning
You should see a dental professional twice each year for a standard exam and teeth cleaning. The summer is a great time to get that taken care of.

Sleep habits
During the summer heat, you may have trouble sleeping. Make sure it doesn't become a bigger issue by talking with you physician about your sleep habits, including your risk for sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea. The Sleep Program at El Camino Hospital offers sleep studies to individuals suffering from sleep disorders. Call 408-866-4070 for more information.

Blood glucose test for diabetes
With all the summer activities, comes summer BBQs and lots of rich food. Ask your doctor for a blood glucose test, if you haven't been tested recently. Diabetes is very treatable when caught early.

Bone density
About one in two women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Get your bone density checked, and work with your doctor to develop a care plan if you have low bone density. Call 650-940-7050 to book your bone density test today. Physician referral required.

As your partner in good health, a referral to a primary care physician or specialist is just a phone call away! Call 800-216-5556 to speak to one of our health line representatives today.

Seniors: Are Your Nutritional Needs Changing?

As you age, your body's nutritional needs continue to change, just as they have been since the day you were born. There are several things you can do to make sure you are continuing to get the nutrients your body needs, especially as your appetite may be decreasing or your taste buds changing.

Focusing on "eating the rainbow" is a good way to make sure that you are getting a variety of nutrients from various fruits and vegetables. The red and orange foods, such as red bell peppers and oranges are high in vitamin C, which is a key player in preventing bone loss. Green foods, such as spinach, peas, and collard greens are high in iron (which you can also find in animal sources). Dark blue and black fruits and vegetables like wild rice or black beans contain high level of antioxidants.

Many adults notice that they feel thirsty less often than they had previously. This does not mean you do not need as much water as you used to drink! You may be showing signs of dehydration in other ways, and it is important that you continue to drink water. This will help food move through your system easily. Your body needs six to eight cups of liquid every day, and most of that should come from plain water.

Focusing on having a well rounded and nutrient dense diet will help you stay at a healthy body weight, avoid developing health risks from a poor nutrition, and maintain a comfortable energy level.

For more advice on how to improve your nutrition as you age, schedule an appointment with an El Camino Hospital Registered Dietitian. Remember, HealthPerks members are eligible for one free 30-minute consultation. To schedule an appointment, call 650-940-7210.

Men: Is Your Weight Hurting Your Hips & Knees

For older adults, especially the aging baby boomer generation, knee or hip replacements are fairly common these days. Around 500,000 knee replacement surgeries and over 175,000 hip replacement surgeries are performed each year. In the past, rheumatoid arthritis was the cause of most joint replacement surgeries. Today, osteoarthritis - which is generally caused by trauma or overuse due to lifestyle and activity - is the leading reason.

Joint replacements are on the rise these days, not only because the surgeries offered are much less invasive than they were previously, but also because older adults are more apt to seek out the surgeries so as not to interrupt the active lifestyles that they’ve become accustomed to.

Another more sinister reason linked to the rise in knee and hip replacements is obesity - and in fact, it's a primary reason that knee replacements are actually rising faster than hip replacements. Ninety-five percent of the increase in demand for knee replacement surgeries is due to weight problems. What's more, younger generations are starting to seek out these surgeries because of this reason. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are key in weight loss and reducing the risk of joint damage.

he good news is, after a joint replacement surgery most patients will see a major improvement in their mobility and pain relief. With the right doctors and the right post-surgery rehabilitation, patients can generally return to the quality of life they had before the joint deterioration. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active with the help of a new joint can help prevent or delay further problems or replacements.

For some pointers on maintaining bone and joint health, download our free tipsheet.

Learn more about the latest in hip and knee replacements by watching a short video.

Healthy Tips

1 minute:
Trim your fingernails to a healthy length, germs love to live under your too-long fingernails. If you really love your long nails, dig them into a bar of semi-soft soap twice a day!

5 minutes:
Park your car further from the doors to your office or the grocery store. The average adult is supposed to take 10,000 steps a day, add a few extras on your way into work or during errands. 

15 minutes:
Make sure your sneakers fit well! The right shoe will help you fend off overuse injuries. Also, if your shoes don’t hurt, those extra steps to the office doors won't be painful.

30 minutes:
Research shows that if you eat three well rounded meals a day with two to three low calorie snacks in-between can make your metabolism more efficient and help keep you (or get you on your way to) a healthy body weight.

Cowboy Caviar

Enjoy this healthy summer salad recipe: Cowboy Caviar

Image of a Cowboy Caviar and Tortilla Chips - click to download recipe

Download Recipe

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