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Stay well: What to know about strep throat, norovirus, colds and the flu

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Feb 4, 2016 5:02:36 PM

AdobeStock_41366093-864968-edited.jpegIn recent blog articles, we’ve talked about the difference between colds and the flu and how to deal with these common winter ailments. But winter sickness can also present itself in the form of strep throat and norovirus. 

Strep throat is a bacterial infection.

Anyone is at risk, but it’s most often seen in school-age children. Like colds and the flu, strep throat is spread from one person to another via contact with saliva or fluids from the nose. That makes it easy to share with other household members.

Symptoms – sometimes mild, sometimes severe – start to develop within two to five days. Call your health care provider if you or your child feel:

  • Chills.
  • Fever (it can appear suddenly and is usually highest on the second day).
  • Pain when swallowing.
  • Generally “sick,” with a headache, nausea, or loss of appetite.

Your throat may be red, with white spots, and your neck glands may be tender and swollen. In some cases, strep throat causes a rash on the neck and chest or over the entire body. 

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Topics: Wellness

What is the DASH Diet and how does it reduce your blood pressure?

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Feb 2, 2016 3:00:38 PM

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Looking for a diet that can not only help you lose weight but lower your blood pressure? The DASH diet is for you. It also helps reduce cholesterol and other fats in your bloodstream. And here’s the best part: it’s sensible and simple – good nutrition, no punishment. So what is the DASH diet?

Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

This is actually the way we all should be eating. If you’re thinking “ugh, low-salt diet,” you’re wrong. The DASH diet promotes foods high in potassium, magnesium and calcium that work together to reduce your blood pressure. It also emphasizes foods which are naturally low in salt, saturated fats and cholesterol.

What is the DASH diet? Lots of choices.

You’ll eat lots of tasty fruits and veggies (including avocados) plus moderate amounts of:

  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
  • Whole grains
  • Fish, poultry, lean meats, eggs or egg substitutes
  • Beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Heart-healthy olive oil and canola-based fats

Sweets are OK, too, in limited quantities of course. You’ll also want to limit alcohol and avoid sugary beverages and prepared foods and condiments high in sodium and/or fat.

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Topics: Wellness

What you need to know to prevent ear infections

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 28, 2016 2:19:41 PM

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Ear infections can happen to anyone, although they’re more common in children. It is important to get treatment right away for an acute ear infection, to lower the chance of the infection becoming chronic – an infection that won’t go away completely or keeps coming back. 

A chronic ear infection occurs behind the eardrum and may include swelling, fluid or a bacterial infection. It isn’t life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable.

What causes ear infection?

The middle ear produces fluid, which is drained from the ear to the back of the throat by the Eustachian tube. The Eustachian tube in one or both ears can become blocked, allowing fluid to build up and infection to set in. A child’s Eustachian tubes are more susceptible than an adult’s, because they are shorter, narrower, and more horizontal.

Acute ear infections are more common but chronic infections can be more dangerous. Repeated or lingering infections can cause a number of serious problems or even permanent damage to the ear or the nearby bones. The more ear infections you or your child has, the greater the risk of permanent hearing loss. In children, hearing loss – even if not permanent – can lead to slower speech and language development. Damage to the inner ear can also cause problems with balance in children and adults.

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Topics: Wellness

Hypothermia prevention: How to dress for cold weather in Minnesota

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 26, 2016 2:39:30 PM

AdobeStock_72274394.jpegWinter is back... which means the weather can quickly change from mild temps to extreme cold. Minnesotans are used to it, but that doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. It’s crucial to pay attention to how you dress for cold weather, for hypothermia prevention and to avoid frostbite. It doesn’t have to be -25o for these problems to affect you.

Hypothermia is serious.

The term “hypothermia” means your body is too cold – lower than 95oF (35oC). You can lose the ability to think and move. This can happen so gradually you don’t realize what’s happening to you, or that things have worsened to the point that you need emergency treatment. That’s why hypothermia prevention can be life-critical. You’re at risk in cold weather if you:

  • Don’t wear adequate protective clothing.
  • Wear wet clothing, especially when it’s windy.
  • Fall into a body of water.
  • Are exercising heavily.
  • Are not eating enough or staying hydrated.

Certain people are more vulnerable to hypothermia – those who are:

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Topics: Wellness

Healthy eating for kids: 10 tips for picky eaters

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 21, 2016 4:27:12 PM

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Any parent can tell you about the frustrations of trying to get their children to eat right. Kids may be afraid to try new foods, go on “food jags” where they’ll eat only one thing, or simply refuse to eat whatever you serve. While picky eating phases are normal, experts say you can take steps to improve healthy eating for kids – even when they’re being a tough audience.

The process of fostering healthy eating for kids emphasizes nutritious food and beverage choices, regular meal and snack times, and a positive atmosphere at meal times.

These 10 tips will help:

  1. Start teaching your child to accept new tastes when they’re just six months old, by introducing a variety of baby foods. This is a particularly good time to promote green vegetables.
  2. Let your child decide what they like to eat or not. Enforcing the common “at least taste it” rule can backfire. Eventually, they’ll get tired of eating only one thing, and their tastes will change as they grow anyway. You might have to offer a new food eight to ten times before your kids will eat it.
  3. Let your child decide how hungry they are. If they eat less at one meal, they’ll eat more at another. But don’t sabotage scheduled meal times by offering sugary snacks in between.
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Topics: Wellness

15 healthy habits for weight loss in the new year

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 19, 2016 3:41:09 PM

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For many of us, losing weight is an ongoing battle. We are often our own worst enemy, thanks to poor eating habits. Since habits are something we do unconsciously, we have to make a deliberate effort to adopt healthy habits, instead.

It’s worth the effort, because healthy habits can help you lose weight. Here are 15 things you can do to break old habit: 

  1. Think about why you eat. "Comfort" snacking and mindless eating in front of the TV or at your desk are common causes of overeating.
  2. Eat more slowly, so you can notice when your feel full. Dine with others and chat as you eat. Take smaller bites, and set your fork down after each one.
  3. Read nutrition labels to learn which foods are actually healthier.
  4. Get rid of sugary and fat-lade snacks, or move them to out-of-sight, difficult-to-reach locations.
  5. Replace those unhealthy foods with fruit on the counter and bite-size veggies in the fridge, ready to grab when you need a snack. Keep healthy snacks with you when you’re on the go.
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Topics: Wellness

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder and how can I manage it?

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 14, 2016 3:50:50 PM

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A lot of people crack jokes about how depressing cold and cloudy days can be. But for some people, it’s not funny. They suffer from something called SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is real, and it can be a significant problem for some individuals. What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a type of depression that usually occurs in winter, when it’s gloomy — especially in locations where nights are long. Some people become depressed in summer months instead, though this is less common. As with other types of depression, SAD affects women more often than men. You may first notice it when you’re in your teens or after you reach adulthood.

In some people, Seasonal Affective Disorder can turn into long-term depression or bi-polar disorder. It may also lead to thoughts of suicide.

Seasonal Affective Disorder diagnosis

While SAD is a real condition, there is no test to definitively diagnose it. You and your health care provider will have to work together, looking for common symptoms of depression such as:

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Topics: Wellness

Why am I cold all the time?: Common causes of cold intolerance

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 12, 2016 4:43:50 PM

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Why am I cold all the time? If you just can’t seem to get warm, you might be unusually sensitive to cold temperatures or a cold environment. This is a condition called cold intolerance. It can occur if you’re very thin and don’t have enough body fat to stay warm, especially if you’re a woman.

Cold intolerance can also indicate a metabolic or other health problem such as:

  • General poor health.
  • Severe chronic illness.
  • Anemia.
  • Anorexia nervosa.
  • Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid).
  • Problems with your hypothalamus (the part of your brain that controls body temperature and other functions).

Or, you might suffer from a problem relating to your blood vessels, such as Raynaud’s phenomenon. This condition causes blood vessel spasms, blocking blood flow to your ears, nose, fingers and toes. These areas become white, then turn blue, then turn red as they warm again. Attacks can be triggered by cold temperatures and also strong emotions, and they can last anywhere from a few minutes to hours.

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Topics: Wellness

What is the difference between a cold and the flu

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 8, 2016 11:22:26 AM

woman-698946_640.jpgEvery year, we hear from patients who want to know the difference between a cold and the flu. It can certainly be confusing. Both colds and flu are common, they’re both caused by a virus (although it's not the same one), and they also have some symptoms in common. When you know the signs, though, it’s easier to distinguish the difference between a cold and the flu.

The common cold

It’s not unusual to get a cold three or more times a year. It might start with a scratchy feeling in your throat and you might develop a fever around 100o or 101o, but the primary symptoms of a cold are all nasal:

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing

You should feel well again within a week.

The flu

Formally known as influenza, this is a more serious health problem than a simple cold. Older adults and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable, more so than you might think. One major difference between a cold and the flu is that influenza kills about 36,000 Americans every year.

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Topics: Wellness

Nine tips to help you lose baby weight after pregnancy

Posted by Ridgeview Staff on Jan 5, 2016 1:44:07 PM

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If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to manage your weight gain. Once you deliver your baby, it will be just as important to lose those extra pounds — but you need to do it wisely. These nine tips will help you lose baby weight in a healthy way.

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Topics: Women's Health

Medical and health information presented here is intended to be general in nature, and should not be viewed as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult with a health care professional for all matters relating to personal medical and health care issues. In case of an emergency, please call 911. 

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