How to Detect and Prevent Skin Cancer

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and a great time to learn about strategies to detect and prevent skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with 1 in 5 Americans developing it in their lifetime. Fortunately, when diagnosed and treated early, skin cancer can almost always be cured.

Skin Cancer Basics

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It can affect people of all colors and races, but is more likely to occur in those with fair skin. The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Both cancers are highly curable, though if left untreated, can cause serious damage and disfigurement. Melanoma is the third most common—and deadliest—skin cancer. Melanoma generally develops in a mole or appears as a new dark spot on the skin.

The majority of skin cancers develop due to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light is a type of radiation produced by the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. It is invisible to the human eye, but can penetrate and damage skin cells. Minimizing exposure to harmful UV rays is key in skin cancer prevention.

Reduce Your Risk

Stay out of the sun as much as possible.

The sun’s rays are strongest between 10am and 2pm, so seek shade during these hours or protect your skin with clothing. Consider wearing long sleeves, pants, sunglasses and a wide brim hat. Be especially aware if you’re near water, sand, or snow. These surfaces can reflect and intensify the damaging effects of the sun.

Always wear sunscreen.

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what the weather is like. If you’re spending time outdoors, it’s important to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply it every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat.

Check your skin regularly for changes.

Check out this infographic from the American Academy of Dermatology for how to spot signs of skin cancer. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment.

Infographic: How to Spot Skin Cancer

Posted in Health Information and Tips

Help End Distracted Driving

distracted driving awareness - man holding cell phone while driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.” This April, let’s educate ourselves on the hazards of distracted driving and learn how to make the roads safer for everyone.

Driving safely requires your full attention and awareness of the road. Sending a quick text might seem harmless, but accidents happen in a split second. Texting, talking on the phone, talking to passengers, or changing the music are all distractions that take your attention away from the task at hand. Engaging in these behaviors while driving leads to delayed braking times, missed traffic signals and an increased risk of crashing. When you’re in the driver’s seat, it’s critical not to get sidetracked by these extraneous activities.

Commit to being an attentive driver.

In honor of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Safety Council is urging us all to take the Just Drive pledge:

I pledge to Just Drive for my own safety and for others with whom I share the roads. I choose to not drive distracted in any way – I will not:

  • Have a phone conversation – handheld, hands-free, or via Bluetooth
  • Text or send Snapchats
  • Use voice-to-text features in my vehicle’s dashboard system
  • Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media
  • Check or send emails
  • Take selfies or film videos
  • Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion)
  • Call or message someone else when I know they are driving

Visit the NSC site to officially take the pledge »

Taking the pledge is a great first step in tackling the issue of distracted driving, but how else can we initiate change? Choose to be a voice in your community. Support local laws and educate those around you on the dangers of driving distracted. If you’re a parent, make sure your teen driver understands the importance of being an attentive driver and encourage them to spread the word amongst their peers. We all have a role to play in the fight to save lives by ending distracted driving.

Posted in Health Information and Tips

Make Heart Health a Priority

February is American Heart Month, and the perfect time to make your heart health a priority.

Did you know that heart disease accounts for a whopping 1 in 4 deaths in the United States? It’s currently the leading cause of death for both men and women. As a country, we must start taking heart health seriously.

No matter what your age, you can reduce your risk of heart disease through simple lifestyle changes and by managing existing medical conditions with appropriate treatment. For a healthy heart, follow the advice below:

Quit Smoking! (Or, if you don’t smoke, don’t start!)

Smoking causes real damage to your heart and blood vessels. To reduce your risk of developing and dying from heart disease, avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. No matter how much or how long you’ve smoked, quitting will benefit you and can even help reverse heart damage. Need help quitting? Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW quitline (1-800-784-8669) for free resources and assistance.

Keep your blood pressure under control.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to coronary artery disease, an enlarged left heart and heart failure. It is a leading cause of both heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure can occur with no signs or symptoms so it’s a good idea to have your blood pressure checked annually. Follow these healthy lifestyle choices to help keep your blood pressure under control:

  • Limit the amount of salt and alcohol in your diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage stress.

Depending on your overall health, your doctor may also recommend medication to lower blood pressure.

Know the symptoms of a heart attack.

According to the CDC, the five major symptoms of a heart attack are:

  1. Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  2. Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  3. Chest pain or discomfort
  4. Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  5. Shortness of breath

If you are experiencing these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. The sooner emergency treatment begins, the higher your chances of survival.

Posted in Health Information and Tips

Donate Blood this January

donate blood


Our new year’s resolutions often look inward and focus on personal improvement. Lose weight. Exercise more. Get organized. But what if this year, we looked outward instead? How can we, as individuals, positively impact our communities in 2017?

One simple way is to donate blood.

Every January, the American Red Cross celebrates National Blood Donor Month and this year, their mission is even more critical. Several cities across the country are facing emergency blood shortages. Complex therapies such as chemotherapy, heart surgeries and organ transplants require a large amount of blood and blood products. A shortage in our nation’s blood supply can delay urgent medical care for our community’s most vulnerable patients. Donating blood is a simple, life-saving act. It takes less than 1 hour and a single donation can help up to 3 people

If you’re able to donate blood, now is the time to do so. Below, we’ve outlined the blood donor eligibility requirements, tips to prepare for your appointment and how to find a blood drive near you.

Blood and Platelet Donors Must:

  • Be in good general health and feeling well*
  • Be at least 17-years-old in most states, or 16-years-old with parental consent if allowed by state law – see more information for 16-year-old donors »
  • Weigh at least 110 lbs

Other aspects of your health history will be discussed prior to blood collection. Your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and hemoglobin are also measured beforehand. If you have specific questions about eligibility, the Red Cross offers in-depth information on donor Eligibility Criteria by Topic.

Tips to prepare for your appointment:

  • Eat a healthy, low-fat meal
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Stay hydrated
  • Bring your donor card, driver’s license or two other forms of identification
  • Bring the names of any medications you are taking
  • Wear clothing with sleeves that can be lifted above the elbow

Click here to find a blood drive near you »

Posted in Health Information and Tips

Drive Safely this Holiday Season

impaired driving prevention

December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

During the holiday season, incidents of drunk and drugged driving occur more frequently and pose a threat to everyone on the road. To keep our streets safe this December, let’s educate ourselves on impaired driving prevention and hold ourselves — and those around us — accountable. Below, we’ve outlined basic tips and knowledge to help you avoid preventable tragedies.

Understand the many ways in which alcohol affects driving ability.

Consuming alcohol reduces a driver’s capacity to make sound and responsible decisions. It makes concentration difficult and impairs basic comprehension and coordination. On the road, a driver needs to quickly interpret signs, signals and situations in order to react safely. Under the influence of alcohol, this is simply not possible. In addition, alcohol reduces visual acuity and impairs the ability to judge distance and depth perception. Learn more about the effects of alcohol intoxication on driving from the CDC.

Plan ahead.

If you plan on drinking, also plan for a sober ride home. Designate a non-drinking driver when with a group, or consider calling a cab or ride-sharing app at the end of the night. It’s dangerous and irresponsible to get behind the wheel.

Help others get home safely.

Don’t let friends drive drunk. If you’re faced with a situation where someone who’s impaired tries to drive, MAAD offers these helpful tips to stop them:

  • Be as non-confrontational as possible
  • Suggest alternative ways they can get home, or that they sleep over
  • Enlist a friend for moral support; it’s more difficult to say “no” to two (or three or four) people
  • Talk slowly and explain that you don’t want them to drive because you care
  • If possible, take the person’s keys
Posted in Health Information and Tips

How to Prevent Diabetes


Today, 1 in 11 Americans has diabetes, and an estimated 86 million more are at risk of developing it. The disease can cause serious health complications and is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. In an effort to raise awareness and understanding of this all-too-common disease, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recognizes November as American Diabetes Month. We’re joining in on the cause and focusing on how to prevent diabetes.

While there is no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease usually diagnosed in children and young adults), there are lifestyle choices you can make to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes. Before we get into these prevention tips, let’s learn a bit more about Type 2 diabetes.

Understanding Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of cases in the United States, and is caused when the body does not produce or use insulin properly. Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes and having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes). Some people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose (sugar) with healthy eating and being active; others may require oral medications or insulin, especially as the disease progresses. Type 2 diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as older adults (American Diabetes Association).

You can prevent diabetes by…

  1. Getting enough exercise.

    Exercise is key in preventing many diseases, and diabetes is no exception. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. An easy way to remember this is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. In addition to aerobic exercise, incorporate resistance training for strong bones and muscles. The combination of aerobics and strength training will help you lose weight, lower blood sugar and increase your sensitivity to insulin.
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight.

    If you are overweight or obese, you are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight can affect your body’s ability to produce and use insulin, as well as cause high blood pressure. Take the necessary steps to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. In addition to the exercise tips discussed above, try the following diet tips:

    • Choose whole grains
    • Limit red meat
    • Avoid trans fats
    • Skip sugary drinks
  3. Not smoking.

    Need another reason to quit smoking? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “smokers are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk.”

We hope these tips help. Let’s all stay active and eat right to prevent diabetes.

Posted in Health Information and Tips

Protect yourself and others with a Flu Shot

For most of us, the flu is a mild, albeit miserable, respiratory illness that lasts a few days. The symptoms — fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches — are unpleasant, but we recover and get back to our daily routines. For those with compromised or weaker immune systems, however, the flu can cause severe, life-threatening complications. Young children, adults 65+, pregnant women and people with certain chronic illnesses are all at a higher risk of developing scary complications such as pneumonia, organ-failure, sepsis or worsening of an existing condition.

What can we do to protect those at risk? It’s simple: get a flu shot.

By doing so, you are not only protecting yourself, but also those around you. Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that spreads person to person through droplets when we cough, sneeze or talk. You can infect someone up to 6 feet away, and spread the virus without realizing you have it. According to the CDC, “most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick,” and children can spread the virus for even longer.

Flu is contagious and not all of us have the immune system to fight it. Do your part and protect the most vulnerable by getting vaccinated today. The more people who get vaccinated, the harder it is for the flu to spread.

It’s as easy as a flu shot to keep yourself and your community healthy.



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	<div class= Posted in Health Information and Tips

Choose Whole Grains for your Health

September is Whole Grains Month! Learn why it’s important to choose whole grains.

Packed with fiber, protein, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, whole grains offer amazing nutritional benefits. Studies show that a diet rich in whole grains can lower your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. A grain is considered whole when it contains bran, germ, and endosperm in its natural proportions. Some examples include:

choose whole grains bread

  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa
  • Whole Wheat bread, pasta, or crackers
  • Wild Rice

Refined grains — such as white rice, white flour and white bread — are milled, a process which removes the bran and germ to extend shelf life and improve texture. Unfortunately, this refining process also “strips away more than half of wheat’s B vitamins, 90 percent of the vitamin E, and virtually all of the fiber” (Harvard School of Public Health). The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that at least half the grains you eat are whole. So, how can you incorporate those healthy whole grains into your diet?

5 Easy Ways to Choose Whole Grains

  1. Start your day off with whole grains by eating oatmeal or buckwheat pancakes for breakfast.
  2. Add quinoa or wheat berries to your salads.
  3. Cook soups with barley or soba noodles.
  4. Snack on popcorn. It’s a whole grain and can be a healthy snack if you cut back on added salt and butter.
  5. Making a sandwich? Build it on a whole grain pita or slices of sprouted grain bread.
Posted in Health Information and Tips

Why you should prioritize your child’s Back-to-School Physical

School Physical, Omni-MedYour child’s back-to-school physical may seem like just another item on your To Do list, but it is so important! This annual check-in provides the chance to:

  • Help you understand and track your child’s medical history.
  • Access your child’s progress and general health.
  • Address any underlying emotional, developmental, and/or social issues.
  • Prepare your child to safely play sports.

Curious about what, exactly, a physical entails? First, the doctor will check your child’s eyes, ears, throat, lungs, and abdomen. They will also check in about injuries, nutrition, training, exercise, and attitudes toward school and exams, as well as ensure that all vaccines are up to date. When your child becomes a teenager, the doctor will discuss sex, drugs, alcohol, and unsafe activities.

But remember: the doctor should not be the only one asking questions! Make sure to check in about:

  1. How well you child is growing. Are they getting proper nutrition? The right amount of exercise?
  2. How to identify if your child has a learning disability.
  3. Upcoming issues or developmental milestones to watch out for.

If your child is interested in playing a sport, they will likely be required to get a sports physical. You, your child, and your child’s doctor need to discuss:

  • The basics of the sport and how much energy it will require.
  • What position your child will play.
  • Your child’s size, and whether they can safely play the sport in question.
  • Common injuries to be aware of.
  • The required protective gear.
  • How to safely play the chosen sport — and how to make the sport safer!
Posted in Health Information and Tips

4th of July Fireworks Safety Tips

Fireworks Safety, Omni-MedJuly 4th is fun, and the fireworks displays are beautiful, but this holiday sends thousands and thousands of people to the ER every year: In 2014 alone, emergency rooms reported:

  • 10,500 injuries from fireworks.
  • 7,000 injuries from fireworks in the 1-month period around July 4th.
  • 11 deaths due to fireworks.
  • That 1,200 of these injuries were to the eyes, and happened due to sparklers (1,400), firecrackers (1,400), and bottle rockets (100).
  • That men comprised 74% of the injuries; women 26%.
  • That 4% of the injuries happened to children under 15 years of age.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to let the pros do it. But if you can’t imagine July 4th without lighting a few fireworks at home, here are are the Dos and Nevers of fireworks safety:

DO:

  1. Point the fireworks away from people, places, and things.
  2. Keep water nearby in case anything happens, and put water on spent fireworks.
  3. Make sure whoever is lighting fireworks off is wearing safety glasses.
  4. Light one firework at a time.
  5. Use fireworks in wide areas, and on dirt or cement if possible.

NEVER:

  1. Point fireworks at a person, even as a joke.
  2. Relight a firework that didn’t go off.
  3. Drink while handling or lighting fireworks.
  4. Buy or use fireworks that come in brown bags, as they could be illegal or dangerous.
  5. Light fireworks in dry grass.

Another “Do” is to have a first aid kit on hand in case an accident does happen. You should have the following in your first aid kit:

  • Sterile saline: For cleaning eyes and/or affected areas.
  • Sterile wraps: For wrapping the the wound while on way to get care.
  • Aloe vera: Helpful for treating and alleviating pain from minor burns.
  • Blunt scissors: For cutting clothing off the affected area.
  • Blanket: For smothering a fire.

Remember to always stay safe when using fireworks. Most importantly HAVE FUN!

Posted in Health Information and Tips