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Wellness Wednesday: Teens and the meningococcal vaccine

Mercy Health System

Why does my child need meningococcal vaccine?

meningococcalMeningococcal vaccines help protect against the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. These infections don’t happen very often, but can be very dangerous when they do. Meningococcal disease refers to any illness that is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by these bacteria include infections of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). Even if they get treatment, about 1 in 10 people with meningococcal disease will die from it.

Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person. The bacteria that cause this infection can spread when people have close or lengthy contact with someone’s saliva, like through kissing or coughing, especially if they are living in the same place. Teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease can…

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Wellness Wednesday: Vaccinate to protect your family

Mercy Health System

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The importance of vaccination has been debated back and forth over the last decade, with some parents deciding to forgo vaccinating their children. For some, it is concerns about side effects; others think since many of these diseases appear to be eradicated, why bother? Well, the reason we see less and less of these communicable diseases is because of vaccination.

Diseases are becoming rare due to vaccinations

VaccinesSome diseases (like polio and diphtheria) have become very rare in the U.S., largely because we have been vaccinating against them. However, this isn’t true everywhere in the world.

Only one disease—smallpox—has been totally erased from the planet. Polio no longer occurs in the U.S., but it is still paralyzing children in several African countries. More than 350,000 cases of measles were reported from around the world in 2011, with outbreaks in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and Europe. In that same…

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Wellness Wednesday: Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer

Mercy Health System

img1Did you know? Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? Yet most skin cancers can be prevented.

Every year, there are 63,000 new cases of and 9,000 deaths from melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Ultraviolet (UV) exposure is the most common cause of skin cancer. A new CDC study shows that the majority of Americans are not using sunscreen regularly to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

In fact, fewer than 15% of men and fewer than 30% of women reported using sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when outside for more than 1 hour. Many women report that they regularly use sunscreen on their faces but not on other exposed skin.

Mom-sunscreenWhat is important to remember is that the sun produces dangerous UV rays, whether it’s sunny or a cloudy day.

UV rays, which can penetrate cloud cover, damage the DNA of…

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Wellness Wednesday: Keeping Yourself Healthy

Mercy Health System

Two separate recent studies suggest that being married may improve the likelihood of surviving a heart attack and may also help you beat cancer.

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It is possible that the reason for this is that married folks have a significant other nagging … er, I mean strongly encouraging … them to go to the doctor on a regular basis and get a checkup.

Preventive care and early detection are key to maintaining and continuing a healthy lifestyle as you age. Finding cancers early, learning about diseases or conditions at an early stage, gives you a better chance of doing something about it.

The best way to proactively keep yourself healthy is to take care of your body. So whether you have a spouse to ‘encourage’ you or not, there are some steps you can take to get in shape and keep healthy.

Be physically active.

Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, playing team sports, and…

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Wellness Wednesday: Safety First, Last and Always

Mercy Health System

It’s June. And that means backyard barbecues, pool parties and kids home for the summer …which makes it the perfect time to talk about safety!

Warning SignJune is National Safety Month. That doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules of safety during the other 11 months of the year. It just means it’s time for us to focus on what it means to practice proper safety methods in everything we do, every day of the year.

During the summer, that means practicing sun and fun safety. Here are some summer safety tips:

Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and seek shade. You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade or shelter before you need relief from the sun. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when in the shade.

Keep children and pets safe. Do not leave pets or children in…

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Wellness Wednesday: Healthy Aging

Mercy Health System

Logos2May is Older Americans Month. People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many older adults live active and healthy lives. But there’s no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change. Though there are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age, it is important to understand what to expect. Some changes may just be part of normal aging, while others may be a warning sign of a medical problem. It is important to know the difference, and to let your healthcare provider know if you have any concerns.

As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower, and your heart might become bigger.  Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. To promote heart…

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Wellness Wednesday: Indoor Tanning is Not a Safe Option

Mercy Health System

SolariumMany people believe that using a tanning bed, booth or sunlamp is safer than tanning outside in the sun. But the truth is that just like sun tanning, indoor tanning also exposes users to two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays, UVA and UVB, which can lead to skin cancer.

UV rays can damage the actual DNA of skin cells, which is what is believed to lead to skin cancer. They also damage the skin, causing wrinkles, rashes and dark spots. And tanning is particularly dangerous for the young. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who begin tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. This may be due to greater use of indoor tanning among those who begin tanning at earlier ages.

Every time you tan, whether indoors or at the…

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Wellness Wednesday: Environmental Wellness

Mercy Health System

April-earthday2With Earth Day approaching, this week’s Wellness Wednesday column will focus on environmental wellness.

Environmental wellness refers to your relationship with your immediate surroundings and expanding to nature and the world around you. It refers to becoming aware that we are all a part of nature and recognizing that we need to take steps towards maintaining a lifestyle that maximizes harmony with the earth’s nature environment. It’s also to gain an understanding how your behavior and interactions affects and impacts your surrounding environment.

Relax. This isn’t about hugging trees, holding hands and singing Kumbayah.

But unless NASA finds a practical way for humans to get to and live on another planet—without being left behind like Matt Damon—Earth is our only home. And we need to take care of it in order for it to provide what we need to survive.

It stands to reason that if our surroundings are clean…

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Wellness Wednesday: Eating Healthier, Getting Regular Screenings and Knowing Your Numbers Are Keys to Wellness

Mercy Health System

vegetables-varietyMom was right when she told us to eat all of our veggies and listen to what our doctors tell us to do to maintain our good health. But, according to recent studies Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it seems that many of us are not taking mom’s advice to heart.

According to the CDC, at least 88 percent of Americans failed to meet daily intake recommendations for total vegetables (this includes dark green and orange veggies) and three-quarters of Americans don’t eat the two to four recommended daily servings of fruit.

That’s why, during National Nutrition Month, Mercy Health System would like to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones by reminding you of the importance of eating healthier and getting regular health screenings.

The federal government has published recommended dietary guidelines. These guidelines are designed to promote general health and reduce the risk of…

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