News

Flu Complications: The Importance of Immunizations

The flu is much more than an illness that simply leaves you bedridden for a few days. In some cases, it can lead to hospitalization and even death; in fact, estimates by the Centers for Disease Control say that flu-related hospitalizations since 2010 number in the hundreds of thousands.

With numbers like those, the importance of immunizations is obvious.

What is The Flu?

Influenza is a respiratory infection that can cause moderate to severe health complications – from ear infections to pneumonia while triggering other severe issues such as inflammation of the heart and multi-organ failure. Typical flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea, particularly in children

How Does The Flu Vaccine Work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body that protect against infections caused by the disease. Vaccines are available both by injection and nasal spray, although the CDC recommends not using the nasal spray as protection against the flu in 2016-17.

There are two types of flu vaccines available, trivalent and quadrivalent. Trivalent vaccines are so named because they consist of three components, and includes a high-dose shot that’s approved for people 65 and over. Quadrivalent vaccines consist of four components.

Trivalent vaccines are considered more traditional and protect against the H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and an influenza B virus. Quadrivalent vaccines protect against an additional B virus.

Who Should Get The Flu Vaccine?

The CDC recommends that everyone six months or older should get an annual flu shot. The vaccination is important for everyone, but especially so for those who are at high risk for influenza complications – including pregnant women, older adults, and young children.

Also, certain chronic medical conditions can increase your risk of serious flu complications, such as asthma, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory complications, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and kidney or liver disease.

Why Should I Get A Flu Shot Every Year?

The flu virus changes every year, and new vaccines designed to keep with those changes are released annually. Last year’s vaccine might not protect you from this year’s virus, while antibodies produced by your immune system decline over time.

Who Shouldn’t Be Vaccinated?

You should check with your physician before getting the flu vaccine if you’re allergic to eggs (most flu vaccines contain a small amount of egg protein), or if you’ve had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccine.

When Should I Get The Vaccine?

You should get immunized as soon after the latest flu vaccine becomes available, which is typically in early fall. But vaccinations are usually offered as long as viruses are circulating. Most flu seasons usually peak in January and even later.

The bottom line is that the flu shot is the single best way to protect yourself from the flu and potentially serious complications that come with it. And flu shots are now widely available – including at pharmacies – and don’t require an appointment.

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7 Ways to Tame COPD Flare-Ups in Winter Months

If you’re a COPD sufferer whose symptoms are worse in the winter, you’re not alone. Studies show that the number of patients needing treatment for COPD exacerbations is twice as high in the winter as during the summer.

Why is this so? One reason is that cold weather affects the lungs by causing dramatic changes to the respiratory system. For some individuals, breathing cold, dry air forces their body to produce more shifts in temperature and moisture in the airway because there is a greater volume of air that needs to be warmed and humidified.

No matter the exact cause, the bottom line is that COPD sufferers need to take extra precaution in the winter to avoid serious flare-ups – not the least of which is avoiding the frigid air as much as possible. Here are some strategies:

  • Always Cover Your Nose and Mouth

Covering your nose and mouth while outdoors in the winter is essential if you’re a COPD sufferer. A scarf works well, as does a painter’s mask. At the least, cup your hands and use them to cover your nose and mouth.

  • Get Flu and Pneumonia Shots
    Viruses and infections will make your COPD symptoms worse. Make sure you get a flu shot annually and consult with your physician about getting a pneumonia shot.
  • Wash Your Hands
    Your mother was right – you need to wash your hands! Seriously, a strong defense against germs and COPD symptoms is a high standard of hygiene. Carefully wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. It’s even more important when you’re in public places.
  • Stay hydrated
    Drinking plenty of water will make it easier for you to breathe, especially if you have a respiratory infection.
  • Avoid People Who Are Sick
    It’s sometimes easier said than done, particularly in a workplace (or if you work with and around children), but it’s important to avoid sick people whenever possible. If you do catch a cold or the flu, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
  • Add Humidity To Your Air
    Keeping your home from becoming too dry during the winter months is also essential if you suffer from COPD. Use a humidifier and clean it every other day to keep it functioning at its optimal level.
  • Avoid Smoke and Fumes
    This is an important strategy at any time of the year, but take extra caution in the winter if you’re heating your home with a fireplace, kerosene, or by other means. Lung irritants such as wood smoke can cause COPD exacerbations.

How to Know That You’re Having a Flare-Up

There are numerous signs that indicate when you’re having a COPD flare-up:

  • Your shortness of breath is suddenly worse and you experience wheezing.
  • You’re coughing more – with or without mucus.
  • If you have mucus, the amount or color may change.
  • You have a fever.
  • You suddenly feel very tired.
  • You become confused or depressed.

No matter what your symptoms are, it’s always important to see your doctor when they get worse. Prevention strategies combined with prompt action will help you stay healthy throughout the winter months.

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Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital celebrates 10 years of helping patients with serious respiratory conditions

(photo) Dr. David York, a pulmonary and critical care physician, and Diane Joralmon, a respiratory manager at Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital in Post Falls help patients achieve better breathing outcomes.

The beep worried Linda Sprenger.

As she drove her husband, Mike, to their home in Moscow — *Beep!* — from North Idaho Advanced Care Hospital in Post Falls, thoughts began to weigh on her mind. What if the machine stops working? *Beep!* What if the machine stops working and Mike stops breathing? *Beep!*

Linda got home. The white knuckle drive was over. But a new stress of caring for her husband of 28 years was just emerging. Mike has ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. He now relies on a ventilator to keep him alive.

“It’s scary,” said Linda. “I don’t have a huge amount of people to take care of him. You’re alone and you’ve got this machine and you’re looking at it every time it makes a sound.”

Not that it’s much consolation, but Linda isn’t alone. Every day, an average of 15 Americans are newly diagnosed with ALS — more than 5,600 people per year. As many as 30,000 Americans may currently be affected by ALS. Annually, ALS is responsible for two deaths per 100,000 people. The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years from time of diagnosis.

Mike, 51, has had the disease for five years. He can’t speak or move without the assistance of a wheelchair. Yet he is able to text messages, and they celebrated the birth of their first grandchild on Christmas Eve.

“He’s doing really well,” said Linda. “I am so grateful.”

Last August, the couple experienced a scare when Mike got pneumonia. He was own to Spokane for a tracheotomy. Eventually he was transferred to Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital as part of his recovery. He spent 35 days at the Post Falls hospital.

“It was one of the most amazing hospitals I have ever been in,” said Linda. “They were with us 24 hour hours a day and they really cared for us.”

The hospital, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary on Feb. 17, provides long-term acute and critical care services to patients throughout the Inland Northwest who are recovering from serious illnesses or injuries. To date, Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital has served more than 4,000 patients. Often these individuals need care for medically complex conditions such as trauma, infectious diseases, wound healing, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and amputations, and respiratory failure.

“They provided all the training I needed,” said Linda. “I know how the machine works, how to clean it and when to call a technician.”

For ALS patients, respiratory issues become a matter of life and death.

“Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen passing from the lungs into the body’s bloodstream,” explained Dr. Kevin Strait, Medical Director of Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital. “Oxygen-rich blood is needed to help the body’s organs – such as the heart and brain – function properly. Respiratory failure also can occur if a patient’s lungs can’t remove carbon dioxide from the blood. Carbon dioxide is a waste gas that also can harm a body’s organs.”

The 40-bed facility, at 600 Cecil in Post Falls, features all private patient rooms, and an 8-bed high- observation critical care unit.

Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital is the first hospital in Idaho, and the fifth in the nation to receive the Joint Commission’s disease-specific certification for Respiratory Failure. The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization, accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

All patient rooms include cardiac monitoring equipment and mechanical ventilators. The hospital also features a 2,590-square-foot therapy gym with private therapy rooms and a heated aquatic therapy pool.

By MARC STEWART – Coeur d’Alene Press

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Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital helps patients recover from serious health issues

(photo) John Bierne nearly died from kidney failure, liver failure and congestive heart failure. He spent several months at Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital in Post Falls, recovering and rehabilitating. Photo by Marc Stewart.

John Bierne looks and feels like a new man.

The Twin Lakes Village resident nearly died from kidney failure, liver failure and congestive heart failure — at 39 years of age.

“I was 456 pounds,” said Bierne. “I kept gaining weight and I wasn’t feeling right. My breathing was off. I had sleep apnea. I should have gone to the doctor months earlier and gotten some simple blood work done.”

Instead, Bierne continued to make poor health choices and worked long hours as a project manager for a local construction company to help provide for his wife, Theresa, and their 3-year-old daughter, Kylie.

It all caught up with him March 19, 2015. Bierne collapsed while visiting his mother’s house. When paramedics arrived he wasn’t breathing. They managed to resuscitate him and get him to the hospital — where he hovered near death in the intensive care unit for weeks.

“The doctors told my family that I had about a 1 percent chance of living,” he said. “I’ve been told I coded several times, but I didn’t die. I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember collapsing or being in the hospital.”

Doctors drained 131 pounds of uid from Bierne’s body, much of it around his lungs. They also discovered he had an enlarged heart and that his kidneys weren’t getting enough oxygen.

“I was prepared to be on dialysis the rest of my life,” he said. “I knew my life was going to be different from that point on.”

Bierne spent a month in the hospital, then was transferred to Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital in Post Falls to begin a long and difficult road of recovery.

Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital provides long-term acute and critical care services to patients throughout the Inland Northwest who are recovering from serious illnesses or injuries. Bierne had severe problems to contend with, given his weight and organs in severe distress.

“When I first saw John, he looked pretty rough,” said Kate Smead, lead therapist at Northern Advanced Care. “He was a big guy and he was hooked up to a ventilator with all kinds of tubes going in and out of his body. I wasn’t sure what he was going to be able to do.”

Diane Joralmon, respiratory therapy manager at Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital, said Bierne’s breathing quickly improved, but he faced long-term health challenges.

“He had trouble sitting up and he was on oxygen,” said Joralmon. “He did well with the lung therapy and responded to it. He’s feisty.”

John was weaned off the ventilator and began breathing on his own. However, one of his most pressing health issues was a nasty bedsore. Despite steadily increasing his mobility and strength once he reached Northern Idaho Advanced Care, months of lying in bed had taken its toll and his skin and muscles had deteriorated into a horrific state.

“John had a stage 4 pressure ulcer,” said Morgan Pitschka, wound management specialist at the hospital. “He was so sick, he couldn’t be moved. This led to a substantial bedsore. He basically had a gaping wound that would eventually require plastic surgery. ”

Treating his wound was delicate and required using negative pressure with a device that vacuums the injured area and treats it with medical foam. In addition, he was given a matrix of protein supplements to help his body build new tissue.

Bierne healed quickly with continuous supervision and care from his medical team. In short order, he was up and out of bed, ready for the next challenge. The medical team picked up on his macho attitude and used it as a motivator.

“I treated him like I was his drill sergeant and his friend,” said Smead, who designed his physical therapy sessions. “I gave him a hard time. I pushed him. Whereas other patients need to be treated with kid gloves, John needed somebody who wouldn’t back down when he got down or didn’t want to do something.”

Bierne spent about three months in Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital.

Despite the grim prognosis, he never believed he would die and tackled his rehabilitation with a vengeance. If he was asked to take 60 steps on the first day, he went for 180 steps. If he was told to go 10 minutes on the treadmill, he went 20…

Today, the 6-foot-1 man is 255 pounds and his caregivers at Northern Idaho Advanced Care Hospital describe him as looking “fantastic” and “amazing.” His kidneys are now functioning normally and his liver has bounced back. He exercises regularly and eats nutritiously. He was even able to go elk hunting in the fall — something that surprised his caregivers.

“I’ve been an athlete all of my life,” he said. “Death never entered my mind. I just took it day by day. I wanted to do more every day and keep improving. I am so grateful to everyone at Northern Advanced Care Hospital. They really saved my life.”

By MARC STEWART – Coeur d’Alene Press

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10 Ways to Help Those Who Are in the Hospital

Many of us know someone who will spend this time of year in a hospital, whether it’s a friend, neighbor, or family member. While they would obviously rather be home with family, there are many things you can do to bring them cheer while making their hospital stay more positive and meaningful.

Here’s a look at some of the ways you can bolster a patient’s spirits while providing comfort during days otherwise filled with doctor visits, treatment, preparing or recovering from surgery, and more.

1. Spend Time with Them

There’s probably nothing more important that you can do for a patient than spending time with them. Your presence will help the time go by more quickly for them while easing their anxieties and fears. And remember, laughter helps the healing process, so don’t leave your sense of humor at home.

2. Give Gifts

Gift-giving can be a great source of joy, and giving gifts to a friend or family member who’s in the hospital is no exception. It’s best if you give a gift that they can use such as an e-book reader or iPad. Another great idea is to give gifts to their family members, such as hospital parking passes, or a few nights stay at a local motel if they’re from out of town.

3. Help with Things at Home

While your friend is in the hospital, things at his or her home may be left undone – such as taking out the trash, getting the mail, feeding their pets, or watching their kids. You can even run their errands and take their children to lessons, sporting events, and school or seasonal parties.

4. Decorate their Room

You can make their hospital room more enjoyable by stringing colorful lights and supplying other festive decorations. You can also gift wrap the door with colorful paper and ribbons, or hang cards around the room.

5. Bring them Treats

Homemade cookies, baked goods and other treats can help lift a patient’s spirits.

6. Skype         

If a patient has a close friend or family member who lives far away, you can set up a Skype visit between the two.

7. Read to Children

Sharing read-aloud stories is a great way to lift the spirits of hospital-bound children.

8. Watch Movies

You can watch movies on a variety of digital devices these days, so schedule a movie-watching session with your hospitalized friend. Humorous movies will especially help lift their spirits.

9. Be a Listener

Most patients have plenty that they want to talk about when they’re in the hospital because, for many of them, being there is a new experience. You’ll help them feel better if you allow them to share their experiences without overdoing it with your stories and concerns.

10. Give the Gift of Music

Do you have a musical talent? Or, a group of friends who you like to play music with you? With the hospital’s permission, of course, you could sing in your friend’s hospital room or ask the floor nurse if you can play a mini-concert in the hallway for all patients on the floor.

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American Stroke Association Recommends In-Patient Rehab For Stroke Recovery

Over 750,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States, and quality physical therapy and rehabilitation are vital after the stroke to manage residual disability. Studies show that in-patient rehabilitation facilities are more effective in treating patients recovering from strokes.

In May, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) released guidelines for rehabilitation after a stroke. The ASA strongly recommends that patients receive treatment at an in-patient rehabilitation facility (IRF) whenever possible. Treatment in an IRF produces enhanced functional outcomes with a shorter length of stay than treatment at other facilities, such as a nursing home.

Why are in-patient facilities more beneficial to stroke patients? The AHA and ASA agree that there are a variety of reasons:

Extensive Rehab

A patient in an IRF receives at least three hours a day of rehabilitation from physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Nurses are available around the clock, and doctors usually visit on a daily basis. Being treated by a team approach also helps the patient understand the importance of their rehabilitation during the early recovery period from their stroke. Also, patients benefit most from the comprehensive, goal-oriented rehabilitation programs that IRFs provide.

The fact that stroke patients have better overall outcomes and rehabilitation success in IRFs than in other facilities has been proven in studies for at least a decade. A 2006 study showed that IRF patients at the six-month mark of recovery had fewer ADL (activities of daily living) difficulties than patients treated in other facilities, as well as better functional improvements overall. Additionally, patients who suffered severe motor disabilities experienced better overall recovery and function through treatment in an in-patient facility.

Newest Technology and Equipment

IRFs often have access to the latest technology and equipment used in stroke recovery therapy. An example of new technology includes constraint-induced movement therapy, which is a way of forcing intensive skilled use of upper limbs that have been weakened by a stroke.

Aftercare

IRF staff members are trained to assist both the stroke patient and his or her caregivers in developing a structured program for when the patient returns home.

  •   This includes education about making changes in the home so that it’s safer, such as minimizing fall risks.
  •   Education and training on how to safely use assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchair, and canes.
  •   An individually-tailored exercise program so patients can safely continue their cardiovascular and overall fitness after their formal rehabilitation is complete.

The bottom line, experts say, is that a patient recovering from a stroke can fulfill their potential through a coordinated effort between a diverse team of professionals – such as that found at an in-patient rehabilitation facility – as well as the patient, their family, and caregivers.

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Is Your Healthcare Provider Joint Commission Accredited?

Choosing the right healthcare provider for you and your family isn’t something to be taken lightly. After all, you’re seeking the best quality care and highest patient safety you can find for you and your loved ones.

One way that you can ensure the provider you choose meets the highest standards is by checking if it has Joint Commission accreditation. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits thousands of healthcare organizations in America. It’s independent, non-profit, and the nation’s oldest and largest accrediting (and standards setting) body in health care.

What is The Joint Commission?

The Joint Commission consists of a 32-member Board of Commissioners made up of physicians, nurses, administrators, quality experts, educators, and a consumer advocate. It employs approximately 1,000 people in its surveyor force and at its offices in Illinois and Washington D.C.

Joint Commission accreditation can be earned by a wide variety of healthcare organizations, including nursing homes, hospitals, doctor’s offices, providers of home care services, and behavioral health treatment facilities. A healthcare organization must undergo a survey at least every three years to earn The Joint Commission’s highest standard – the Gold Seal of Approval.

The Benefits of Joint Commission Accreditation

Choosing a provider that has Joint Commission accreditation not only ensures that you’re choosing one that’s meeting the highest quality and patient safety standards, but also one that provides many benefits:    

 

  • Community Commitment
    An organization that has earned accreditation from The Joint Commission is committed to providing the highest quality healthcare services.
  • Strong Patient Safety Efforts
    Joint Commission-accredited facilities place patient safety and quality of care issues at the forefront
  • Improved Quality of Care
    Joint Commission standards focus on strategies that help healthcare organizations improve their safety and quality of care on a continuous basis. These standards reduce the risk of error or low-quality care.
  • Professional Advice and Counsel
    Joint Commission surveyors are experienced professionals trained to provide expert advice and education during their on-site survey at a healthcare facility.
  • Highly Trained Staff
    Joint Commission-accredited facilities can attract qualified, quality personnel who prefer to work with an accredited organization. Also, accredited organizations provide opportunities for staff to develop their knowledge and skills.
  • Recognized by Insurers
    Accreditation is a prerequisite to eligibility for insurance reimbursements in some markets, as well as for participation in managed care plans or contract bidding.

 

Choosing a healthcare organization that has earned accreditation by The Joint Commission is the best choice for you and your family for many reasons. You’ll feel confident in knowing that you’ll be getting the kind of quality, safety-first care that meets the highest standards.

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National Caregiver Month: Take Care to Give Care

Perhaps no one understands the challenges of caregiving more than a caregiver. Sure, that seems obvious, but caregiving is a unique occupation that includes its share of rewards, but also its share of physical and mental stress.

November is National Caregiver Month and this year’s theme is “Take Care to Give Care.” It addresses caregiving’s challenges and the need for caregivers to take care of themselves while taking care of others.

How can you, as a caregiver of someone who is in an inpatient rehabilitation facility or long-term acute care hospital, ensure that you’re meeting your own physical and mental needs? Here are some tips:

  • Don’t Always Put Yourself ‘Last’
    The list of caregiving responsibilities can be long, indeed, from managing medications to monitoring your patient’s progress, and it can be easy to forget about your personal needs – sometimes to the point of sacrificing your own health. That’s why it’s helpful to set personal health goals such as making a commitment to be physically active a certain number of days per week or establishing a consistent sleep routine.
  • Proper Nutrition is Vital
    It’s important to maintain your strength, energy, and stamina to meet the demands of your day-to-day duties, while also strengthening your immune system. A great way to do this is by making sure you’re getting proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy diet.
  • Understand How the Stress of Caregiving Impacts Your Health
    Research has shown that one out of five caregivers say that they have sacrificed their physical health while performing their occupational duties. Caregivers, whether family caregivers or those who provide care in a professional setting, have on average more health and emotional problems than people in most other occupations. For example, caregivers are twice as likely to suffer depression and are at increased risk for many other chronic conditions.
  • Rest. Recharge. Respite.
    You may feel that there’s not enough time to rest and recharge your batteries. But doing so is vital, especially when you consider that caregivers are at a higher risk of health issues due to chronic stress. Take advantage of every opportunity to re-energize and give your mind and body a break.
  • Seek Support From Other Caregivers
    Take time to find out about caregiving resources in your community. A caregiver support group can provide problem-solving strategies but also validation and encouragement. It can also be a place to develop meaningful relationships.
  • Accept Help
    It can be easy to put all the burden on your shoulders while believing that you shouldn’t have to ask for help. But create a list of ways that others can help and don’t be afraid to ask, or accept, their help.
  • Focus on What You Can Do
    There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ caregiver, and it’s important to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can at any given moment or situation. Focus on the positives and believe that you’re making the best decisions.

 

 

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Getting Through the Holidays With a Hospitalized Loved One

There are many reasons to love the holidays – whether it’s traditions, spending time with family and other loved ones, and a variety fun, rewarding activities. But it’s no secret that they can also be a time of stress, and if you’re a caregiver or family member of someone who’s in an inpatient rehab or long-term acute care hospital, the extra stress can add up in a hurry.

It can be easy to get overwhelmed this time of the year and slip into unhealthy habits such as overeating, skipping exercise, and getting less sleep. The following tips can help you deal with the stress and keep yourself on track until things return to “normal.”

Be mindful

Take stock and acknowledge all of your emotions throughout the day – fear, frustration, sadness, joy, etc. Remember, these emotions are perfectly normal, and there’s no need to overreact to any of them. Just acknowledge each moment (and thought) rather than letting your mind focus only on your growing to-do list.

Recognize the signs

More specifically, recognize the signs of burnout and stress. Prolonged stress drains your energy and motivation to provide the proper care and attention to patients and loved ones. And a good sign that you’re burned out is when you feel as if nothing you do as a caregiver will make a difference.

Prioritize

You know your calendar is going to full this time of the season as you juggle the duties of your family and your role as a caregiver. Prioritizing enables you to decide what obligations and traditions are expendable and those that aren’t.

Don’t neglect self-care

As a caregiver, you know that you must sometimes put the needs of others before your own but neglecting your self-care can exacerbate stress. Make sure that you’re getting proper exercise, proper sleep, that you’re participating in fun activities, and that you’re not overloading on sugary foods that can precede an emotional crash.

Seek support

Whether it’s through online message boards or support groups, it’s always a good idea to rely on others to help you carry the load. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help – both for yourself and those under your care. You can enlist the services of a home-cleaning business, or ask a friend about running errands for you. Remember there are only so many hours in a day and those hours can become limited during the holiday season.

Embrace new traditions

If long-held family traditions such as preparing, cooking, and serving large holiday meals are too much for you don’t be afraid to start new traditions, like eating out at a favorite restaurant instead. Or, you can also give the gift of time rather than give costly presents. Simplifying your holiday activities is a good strategy to reduce your levels of stress. You’ll still enjoy the spirit of the season while choosing the activities that are most meaningful to you and your family.

What are your hot buttons?

The holidays can stir up toxic activities or relatives that create more stress or unhappy memories. You may want to avoid certain places, events, and people – or, at the least, develop quick exit strategies.

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Treating Complications Caused by Diabetes at Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals

Diabetes is a disorder where either the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells in the body do not recognize the insulin. Often times, diabetes can be treated with exercise, a healthy diet and medication. But, complications can develop.

To understand diabetes, you first need to understand the role of insulin in your body. When you eat, your body turns your food into sugar, also called glucose. At that point, the pancreas releases insulin to open the body’s cells to allow the sugar to enter so it can be used for energy.

But with diabetes, the system doesn’t work.

Without insulin, the sugar stays and builds up in the blood. So the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. If left untreated, problems can develop with the skin, eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.

Long-term acute care hospitals specialize in treating patients who may have more than one serious medical condition. Diabetes may be one of the conditions or may exacerbate existing conditions.

A common complication of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage. According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.  

Diabetic neuropathy often damages nerves in the legs or feet. Depending upon the affected nerves, symptoms can range from tingling, pain or numbness in the body’s limbs to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels.

Because neuropathy can cause a lack of feeling in the limbs, especially the feet, injuries such as cuts can go unnoticed.

This can become serious. Not only does a person not feel if a foot becomes injured, but now if it is injured, the risk of infection is higher because diabetes restricts blood flow to the area. An infection can cause tissue to die and spread to the bone if not monitored properly.

Wound care treatments usually are provided to patients under these circumstances at long-term acute care hospitals. However, diabetic patients remain under close observation for other possible complications while being treated at the hospital as well.

Typically medical services at long-term acute care hospitals are tailored to the individual needs of patients. Many patients have more than one medical condition that needs to be treated at the same time – ranging from wound care and infectious diseases to strokes, respiratory failure or cardiovascular disease. Staff at long-term acute care hospitals take all that into account so the most effective care is provided to help patients heal.

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