Healthy Myths vs. Facts

Jiuseppe M Russo RD, CD-N, Clinical Dietitian Manager, Hebrew Health Care

Warm Weather vs. Cold Weather
Myth: When engaging in outdoor recreation, you only need to worry about drinking enough water only during warm weather sports and activities.
Fact: Outdoor winter activities require at least as much water as outdoor activities during the rest of the year. Your body loses fluids when inhaling cold winter air, particularly during days when humidity is low and air is crisp and dry.

What about Fruit Juice?
Myth: Drinking fruit juice is a good way to meet the majority of your body’s fluid requirements as long as it is 100% juice.
Fact: While it’s true that fruit juice has high water content, the calories can add up quickly making it poor choice as a hydrating beverage. Try diluting a few ounces of your favorite fruit juice plenty of water or making a spritzer by adding a few ounces of fruit juice or nectar to a tall glass of seltzer.

Bottled Water Safety
Myth: Bottled water is safer than tap water.
Fact: Most bottled waters are safe, but it depends on where the water comes from, how it’s treated and whether or not it is tainted. In fact, an estimated 25% or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle – sometimes treated, sometimes not. A recent survey by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that out of 103 brands of water tested, one-third contained significant contamination. If you’re buying bottled water, choose a major brand from a store that sells a lot of water. Once you drink from a bottle, refrigerate it, and finish it within one or two days.

Reusing Water Bottles
Myth: There’s nothing wrong with rinsing out and reusing plastic water bottles.
Fact: Reusing and refilling empty water bottles seems like a responsible practice since it helps reduce wasteful discarding of plastic. However, according to the International Bottled Water Association, these bottles, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are intended for onetime use. Over time, the plastic loses its integrity and develop cracks of leaks. In addition, they are difficult to wash and dry due to a narrow neck. If not properly sanitized, they could harbor bacteria. It’s true that water is not the most likely environment for bacteria to grow in, but since water bottles come in contact with the mouth, particles of food mixed with saliva could flow back into the bottle where-under the right conditions, such as warm temperatures or even room temperature-bacteria could thrive. If you want to be environmentally conscious, purchase a reusable water bottle sold in bike shop or outdoors/sporting goods stores.

INFLUENZA 101

By Marichelle B. Cirunay, BSN,RN Infection Preventionist, Hebrew Health Care

Symptoms?

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)

  • A cough and/or sore throat

  • A runny or stuffy nose

  • Headaches and/or body aches

  • Chills

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Prevention?

* VACCINATION

Do I have the flu or a cold?

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Your health care provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

When should I seek emergency medical attention?

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips

  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

  • Sudden dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Severe or persistent vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with the flu, you should stay home and follow your health care provider’s recommendations. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription medications to ease flu symptoms and help you feel better faster.

  • You can treat flu symptoms with and without medication.

  • Over-the-counter medications may relieve some flu symptoms but will not make you less contagious.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe antiviral medications to make your illness milder and prevent serious complications.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics if your flu has progressed to a bacterial infection.

Are there ways to treat the flu or its symptoms without medication?

You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:

  • Getting plenty of rest

  • Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated

  • Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever

  • Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier

  • Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat

  • Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills

Dehydration in the Elderly

Dehydration in the elderly is a very common, it happens when the body has lost too much fluid and electrolytes. Severe dehydration in the elderly can be deadly. Seniors who are the most prone to dehydration are those who do not drink a lot of water or who perspire heavily. Also, some medications or illnesses may cause dehydration.

Below are some signs of mild dehydration:
•Extreme thirst
•Dry mouth, dry tongue with thick saliva
•Headaches
•Difficulty passing urine or constipation
•Dizziness that becomes worse on standing
•Weakness
•Sleepiness
•Urinary tract infections
•Cramping in arms or legs
•Dry, warm skin
•Flushed face
•Fever
•Irritability
•Depression

Possible treatments:
•Drinking lots of fluids
•Consuming food and drink with sodium and potassium to restore electrolyte balance:

Symptoms of moderate to severe dehydration:
•Signs and symptoms of mild dehydration become worse
•Confusion
•Lethargy
•Poor skin elasticity
•Decreased consciousness/ fainting
•Lack urine output
•Shrunken eyes
•Moist, cool extremities (arms, legs, etc.)
•Severe muscle contractions in the arms, legs, stomach, back
•Rapid and faint pulse
•Low blood pressure
•Rapid breathing
•Convulsions
•Bloated stomach
•Heart failure

Possible Treatments:
•Severe dehydration is a medical emergency and should be treated at the hospital
•Replenishment of water and electrolytes through intravenous therapy or oral rehydration therapy (solution of salts and sugars taken by mouth; this treatment is most often for dehydration caused by excessive diarrhea)

Some tips to avoid dehydration:
•Have an appropriate amount of fluids daily (usually between 6-8 glasses of water will be adequate unless exercise or other strenuous activity is completed or in hot climates)
•Encouraging drinking through using smaller glasses or smaller portions (a third of a glass) in a cup can be less overwhelming for some seniors
•Check body weight regularly, fluctuations of 2-3 lbs per day may indicate irregular fluid intake
•Avoid being in the hot sun for long periods and ensure extra hydration for longer exposure
•Keep a water bottle on hand and try to drink often
•Broths or soups (contain sodium); fruit juice, soft fruits, vegetables (contains potassium) as part of general diet.

The Importance of UV Safety

July is one of the hottest summer months, where many people go to the beach, have outdoor parties, lay out at their pools, or have barbeques. July is also UV Safety Month.

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States? The main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays can also damage your eyes and cause wrinkles and blotchy skin. Anyone is at risk for skin cancer; however the risks are higher for individuals with white or light skin with freckles, those with blond or red hair, or have blue or green eyes.

There are many ways to prevent skin cancer, such as staying out of the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm and wearing sunscreen with a SPF of 15 or higher. If you are outside make sure you wear long sleeves and a hat to protect exposed skin from UV rays.

Americans Engage in Unhealthy Behaviors to Manage Stress

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), too many Americans engage in unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating, poor diet choices, using alcohol or smoking to help deal with stress. While common, these unhealthy coping methods may give temporary relief from stress, but actually cause more damage in the long run.

Unhealthy ways of coping with stress
The health consequences of chronic stress are made worse when stress is managed in unhealthy ways. If you practice any of these unhealthy behaviors, it is recommended that you cut back or eliminate these behaviors and adopt healthier strategies to manage stress.

Emotional eating – According to the latest Stress in America survey conducted by the APA, twenty-eight percent of Americans say they turn to food to help alleviate stress or help deal with problems. Comfort eaters report higher levels of stress than average and exhibit higher levels of all of the most common symptoms of stress, including fatigue, lack of energy, nervousness, irritability, and trouble sleeping.
Additionally, comfort eaters are twice as likely as the average American to be obese.

Using alcohol – Using alcohol to deal with stress is never a good idea. Using alcohol, like the use of any drug, can lead to problems of abuse or dependence. If you regularly use alcohol to relieve stress there is a risk that you will require more and more alcohol to get the stress-relieving affect you are seeking. Additionally, using alcohol doesn’t help you think more clearly or problem-solve effectively to find solutions to the problem that is creating the stress in the first place.

Smoking – Just as with emotional eating and using alcohol, smoking does not help solve your problem, it only hides it. The cause of your problem remains. And, the relief from smoking only lasts a short time. Soon your stress returns and you will feel the need to smoke another cigarette. Additionally, smoking actually causes more stress than it relieves. According to the American Heart Association, smoking is the single most alterable risk factor contributing to early death in the U.S.