Monday, December 26, 2011
Diabetics can take steps to avoid foot problems in the winter
Diabetics are at risk for having reduced blood flow to the lower extremities, and the cold weather compounds this problem. The dry weather from being inside also makes the skin more susceptible to drying and cracking. Also, diabetics have decreased sensation to the lower extremities, which makes for a decreased awareness of issues that may be of concern.
Fortunately, there are steps that diabetics can take during the winter to minimize foot problems:
• Many people use heating pads and warming blankets. Because of the decreased sensation or neuropathy of diabetes, these devices can cause significant foot injuries and should be avoided. If they are used, the temperature of such devices should be checked with the elbow as the sensation is not decreased as it is in the fingers and toes.
• Winter shoes should be checked for proper fit to avoid tightness, which can lead to foot injuries. Clean, dry socks made of natural fiber such as cotton should be worn to reduce irritation.
• Moisturizing can help comfort and exfoliate rough skin, and prevent skin cracking.
• Feet should be patted dry and not rubbed after bathing or showering.
• As with any time of year, diabetics need to be cautious when trimming nails to avoid cutting them too short. If you must clip, work on toes that have been soaked in warm water for a few minutes and are softer. Hard dry nails can split, and lead to problems.
• Routine exercise can be difficult during the winter months, but it is important for diabetics because it increases circulation. Lack of exercise and activity can cause havoc with blood glucose levels, and extra weight is not good for your feet.
• It is also important for diabetics to avoid going barefoot in the house – use a good-fitting pair of slippers.
• Diabetics should check their feet daily, especially after being outside and exposed to the cold. Pay particular attention to any changes in color and shape, cuts, swelling and infected toenails. In the event that a sore develops that doesn't heal in a couple of days, or you have tingling in your feet that doesn't stop or have no feeling in your feet, call your doctor for an appointment. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to larger health issues later.
Mark Tramontozzi, MD, is the Medical Director of the Backus Wound Care and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center, which is located in the Backus Outpatient Care Center on Salem Turnpike in Norwich. This column should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Dr. Tramontozzi or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, December 19, 2011
New smoking class to help people kick the habit
I couldn’t agree more. It certainly seems logical — smoking leads to a wide range of complications that can lead to lost time at work.
But how do we begin the fundamental task of getting healthier? Here are some startling statistics:
We all know that smoking contributes to a multitude of health problems.
The state Department of Public Health issued a fact sheet entitled, “A Quick Look at Smoking In Connecticut” revealing some staggering statistics:
• More than 450,000 adults in Connecticut smoke cigarettes, which translates into 17% of adults — 18.9% of men and 15.2% of women, according to the state Department of Public Health.
• Even more startling is what we found in eastern Connecticut. A community health needs assessment telephone survey conducted by a national research firm on behalf of Backus revealed that nearly have of the region’s adults have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.
• Approximately 40% of those who answered the telephone survey are regular smokers.
Since 2012 is almost upon us, it’s the perfect time to make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking once and for all.
Backus Hospital is sponsoring the highly successful American Lung Association smoking cessation program entitled, “Freedom From Smoking.”
Led by certified facilitator Annette McDonald, a Respiratory Therapist at Backus, the seven-week sessions start Tuesday, Jan. 10 and run until Feb. 24 (Week 4 is Quit Week so there is a second session that week on Thursday, Feb. 2). They are held at the Backus Outpatient Care Center on Salem Turnpike in Norwich from 6-8 p.m.
Participants must pay $50, but they receive the $50 back if they attend all eight sessions. We did this because our past experiences with smoking cessation classes show that if there is a monetary stake, the chances of completing the program are much higher. Any money that is not refunded goes toward the course materials for participants.
For more information, or to register for the program, call 860-889-8331, ext 6381.
Let’s all do our part to improve the economy — and our region’s health — by quitting smoking in 2012.
Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator at the The William W. Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at email@example.com
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Carpal tunnel syndrome is costly but treatable
In addition to the pain it inflicts, carpal tunnel syndrome is also a leading cause of people missing work. It results in millions of dollars in workers’ compensation costs each year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
It is most common in people who perform repetitive motions of the hand and wrist, especially those who do a lot of typing. Sewing, driving, use of tools, playing musical instruments and some sports can also cause pressure on the median nerve, which ultimately causes the numbness, weakness and tingling of the hands and fingers associated with this syndrome.
There are ways to reduce the chances of acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, your doctor might recommend an occupational therapist or ergonomic expert who can observe your working conditions and habits and make recommendations on usage and placement of equipment, such as your mouse pad or keyboard.
If you do have carpal tunnel syndrome, treatment can include medications, wearing splints, physical therapy and hot and cold compresses. However, if these treatments do not help, surgery should be considered.
Endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery is an effective, low-risk procedure. Technology has progressed to the point where it can be completed in 6-10 minutes, with no hospital stay.
Using an endoscope with a camera attached, the surgeon guides the tube through a small incision in the wrist. The surgeon is able to see structures in the wrist and cut the transverse carpal ligament, which releases the pressure on the median nerve.
This minimally invasive technique is just as effective as traditional open surgery. Its benefits include less pain and faster recovery times.
Thomas Cherry, MD, of Backus Physician Services, specializes in cosmetic and hand surgeries. This column should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. To contact Dr. Cherry, call 860-425-5300. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Dr. Cherry or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Healthcare can be an alphabet soup
We amused ourselves by devising names for that long-anticipated goal of Registered Nurse: RN came to be known as Real Nuts, Really Nosy, Rotten Neighbors, Respectable Nerds, Roasted Nuts, Reacts Negatively, Respects Nobody or Rusty Nails.
Our friends in medical school were striving to be MDs, or Mentally Developing.
Then there are the diseases. That opened up a whole new world of acronyms. For example, COPD, which stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, became Can Order Pizza Delivery. Coronary Artery Disease, CAD, was an easy one: Cats Attack Dogs. Short of Breath already had a great acronym: SOB. So what do you think DJD stands for? Degenerative Joint Disease really means Delicious Jelly Donuts.
If someone tells you that you have CHF, they may mean Congestive Heart Failure, but you know in reality you Can’t Hide Flatus.
Working in the hospital setting brought another set of acronyms and code words to decipher. For example, RRT means Rapid Response Team, but I was so accustomed to re-naming it, I called it Really Rotten Teeth. When “Code 8” was paged overhead, I wondered what happened to Codes 1 through 7.
Then we came into the age of email and texting abbreviations...don’t get me started on that...LOL!Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator at the The William W. Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at email@example.com