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HealthPerks Newsletter for March 2014

Minding Your Mental Health

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 25% of all Americans over the age of 18 will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. From anxiety and addiction to post-partum depression and bipolar disorder, treatable mental health conditions are often overlooked, ignored, or misdiagnosed. In fact, less than 40% of adults get the help they need to treat their mental disorders. Untreated depression and anxiety are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., and can even increase the risk of serious illness and other diseases.

Mental health disorders in children are also a growing concern. Nearly 8% of the children age 9-17 experience a major depression episode in any given year, and 15% will suffer from depression before the age of 18. Nearly half of them won’t receive any treatment, putting them at a greatly increased risk for suicide, chronic behavioral problems, and school drop-out. Depression and anxiety may be particularly difficult to detect in adolescents because so many of the symptoms can be dismissed as normal teenage emotions, including:

  • Irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection
  • Vocal outbursts or crying
  • Impaired thinking or difficult concentrating
  • Social withdrawal
  • Ongoing feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite changes

The stigma surrounding mental health disorders is improving, and there are more resources than ever to provide help. But many people continue to ignore the signs or seek appropriate treatment, and therefore continue to suffer needlessly.

If you or a loved one are experiencing new or increasing mood or behavior issues, there are many options for getting the help you need. El Camino Hospital provides extensive behavior health services, as well as many specific programs, including:

  • ASPIRE (After-School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education), an 8-week after school program for students aged 13-18 experiencing significant depression and/or anxiety symptoms.
  • MOMS (Maternal Outreach Mood Services), a 6-8 week counseling program for expecting or new mothers experiencing pregnancy-related mood symptoms. This can include depression, anxiety, rapidly changing mood and/or disturbing thoughts.
  • OATS (Older Adult Transitions Services), an 8-12 week program for adults age 55+ with mood symptoms that often can accompany life changes.
  • Addiction Services, an 8 week, evening-only intensive program that provides individualized care to those 18 and older with substance abuse conditions.

Learn more about these programs and other behavioral health services offered by El Camino Hospital.

Be Skin-Aware, Year-Round

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and it’s still on the rise. In fact, one out of every five Americans can expect to develop skin cancer during his or her lifetime. Protecting your skin means using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher year-round, avoiding the sun when possible, covering up with a hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, and of course avoiding tanning booths completely.

Skin cancer, when detected and treated early, is the most curable form of cancer. An annual skin screening with a dermatologist is the best way to ensure that any skin changes are promptly diagnosed and properly treated. If you have any of the factors that put you at increased risk for skin cancer, an annual skin screening is particularly important:

  • Light skin
  • Skin that burns easily
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Blond or red hair
  • Skin that freckles
  • A large number of moles
  • History of sunburns or indoor tanning
  • Family history of skin cancer

No matter what your risk factors, a regular skin screening should be part of your health care routine. El Camino Hospital can provide you with a referral to a dermatologist. Call 800-216-5556 or click here (and search by specialty).

New: Learn Your Heart Health Risk

Are you at risk for heart disease? Knowing the answer to that could help save your life. Some of the factors that increase your cardiovascular risk can’t be controlled, but many others can be managed or even eliminated with lifestyle and behavior changes. That’s why it’s so important to understand your risk profile, and take steps to improve your heart health.

El Camino Hospital has made it easy to evaluate your heart health with our Heart Health Profiler. This online risk assessment is free, and takes just 10 minutes to complete. Once you’ve answered all of the questions, you’ll get a report with some important indicators about your heart health. We encourage you to review this report with your doctor, and discuss appropriate steps to reducing your risk or helping maintain your health.

No matter what your age or condition, there are steps you can take to improve your heart health today. Start right now by learning more about your heart risk with the Heart Health Profiler.

Take Assessment Now

Men: Weekend Warrior Wellness

Frisbee in the park. The company softball team. Training for a 5K. Hiking with the family. No matter what activities you’ll be embracing this spring, it pays to take a little time to protect yourself against injuries or worsening chronic conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10,000 people visit the ER every day for sports and exercise related injuries. And if you’ve slacked off a bit with your fitness and activity level over the winter, it’s even more important to take a few precautions now to stay pain and injury free. Try a few of these tips to keep you in fighting shape throughout the summer and beyond:

  • Be realistic. Once you’ve passed your 30th birthday, you need to use some common sense before you jump into a new sport or activity. Make sure your overall fitness level is high enough to withstand the rigors of a new activity, and ease into it slowly.

  • Show some restraint. Being sedentary all week, then pushing yourself to extremes over the weekend is a recipe for disaster. Take a little time during the week to work on your fitness, strength and flexibility and you’ll perform much better at your weekend activities. And setting some limits on how much you do during the weekend will help ensure you can return week after week.

  • Warm up properly. A painful sprain can sideline you for weeks. While sprains can occur anytime, you can reduce your risk by taking five minutes to stretch and warm up your muscle prior to getting into full action.

  • Use proper technique. Whether you’re taking up running for the first time, learning to play tennis, or trying new equipment at the gym, maintaining the proper form and technique is important to preventing injuries. Take a lesson or invest in a training session or two to ensure that you understand the mechanics behind the movements.

  • Listen to your body. If you feel sudden or intense pain – stop! If you have an injury that appears to be minor, try the RICE method: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If you experience major swelling, are unable to put weight on the injured limb, or have severe pain or pain that doesn’t subside within 48 hours, get immediate medical attention. And if you have any chest pain or fullness, shortness of breath, or dizziness that last more than a few minutes, call 9-1-1.

  • Protect your head. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are serious concerns with cycling, mountain climbing, and contact sports. Always wear headgear that is specifically approved for your activity or sport. And if you sustain a blow to the head, don’t resume activity until a concussion has been ruled out.

To learn more about sports injuries and treatments, click here.

Get tips on protecting your bones and joints here.

And remember, before beginning any new exercise or sports routine, you should visit your doctor for a routine physical. For a referral to an El Camino Hospital physician, click here or call 800-216-5556.

Seniors: Are you getting the right screenings?

As we age, we know keeping a watchful eye on our health is a priority. But do you know what to do to stay healthy? The United States Preventive Services Task Force has put together the following recommendations for helping seniors manage their health. These are simple medical tests that can be done or ordered when you visit your regular doctor. Your doctor may recommend additional tests based on your personal health profile.

  • Blood pressure. You could be one of millions of Americans who have high blood pressure and don't know it. Get your blood pressure checked by your doctor at least once a year.

  • Colon cancer screening test. A Colonoscopy is just one of several tests that can be performed to look for colon cancer. A colonoscopy should be done every 10 years beginning at age 50. You may need to have a colonoscopy earlier and more frequently if you have risk factors. Talk to your doctor to see what's best for you.

  • For women, a breast exam and mammogram. Breast cancer risk increases with age. Therefore, it's especially important for you to get that annual mammogram and doctor's breast exam. A mammogram is recommended every one to two years starting at age 40.

  • For women, a pelvic exam and pap smear. An annual pelvic exam can detect cervical cancer or vaginal cancer, and are recommended every three years. A pelvic exam can also detect a host of other conditions that may affect your health and quality of life, such as incontinence.

  • Protecting your eyes. Eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma, are common with age. Your eyes should be checked every 2 years until age 60 and then yearly after that. Screening can preserve and maximize your vision. Go more often if you have vision problems or risk factors for eye problems.

  • Hearing test. Approximately 30% of people over age 60 have some hearing loss, most of which is treatable. Get a hearing test at least once every three years.

  • Protect your bones. Osteoporosis is a dangerous but preventable and treatable disease. Ask your doctor for a bone density test.

  • Cholesterol screening. High cholesterol levels are a major cause of heart attacks and strokes. The good news is that high cholesterol levels can be treated by diet and medication. Consider an advanced lipid test, which will provide you with information regarding your risk.

  • Vaccinations. Seniors over the age of 65 should get a pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia. Anyone over age 50 should get an annual flu shot. A tetanus booster is recommended every 10 years.

  • Skin Cancer Screening. Remember this: Although the majority of your sun exposure occurred before age 18, skin cancers can take 20 years or more to develop. Luckily, most skin cancers are curable. The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening. Ask your doctor to check your skin for unusual moles or skin changes once a year.

Silicon Valley Primary Care offers a senior health program that delivers comprehensive and personalized care. Longer appointment times, same day appointments, and specialized transitional care help ensure seniors get the unique care they deserve. For an appointment call 650-962-4360.

Are You Taking Time for Your Health?

Spring forward with a few quick tips that will help keep you and your family safe and healthy!

1 minute tip: Sunscreen can lose it’s effectiveness over time or when exposed to high temperatures. Play it safe by purchasing a new supply (SPF 30 or higher) on your next shopping trip. Be sure to discard anything that’s past it’s expiration date or more than three years old.

5 minute tip: Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test to make sure they are working properly.

15 minute tip: Before going to a restaurant, check their website for nutritional information. You might be shocked by what you see, but you’ll definitely be prepared to make better choices.

30 minute tip: Scan the labels of the food you have in your pantry to see how much added sugar you are consuming. Vow to eliminate or reduce consumption of products that are high in added sugar by replacing them with more nutritious and satisfying alternatives, such as fresh fruit.

No Bake Cocoa Nibs Energy Bites

Try this recipe for healthy cocoa energy bites.

Image of Cocoa Nibs - click to download recipe

Download Recipe

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