Up at Night?

A sleep disorder may be to blame.

Is Mr. Sandman ignoring you? Many people have trouble sleeping from time to time, but if the problem is lingering night after night, you may have a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders are conditions that affect how well and how much you sleep.

Struggling through the day with less sleep isn’t the answer – insufficient sleep is a serious problem that can take a toll on nearly every aspect of your daily life. Research has linked sleep deprivation to car accidents, relationship issues, poor job performance, work-related injuries, memory lapses and mood disorders. Studies also suggest sleep disorders may contribute to health problems such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Poor bedtime habits, such as coffee too late in the afternoon, eating heavy foods before bed or falling asleep with the TV on could be to blame. However, sometimes medical problems that disrupt your sleep cycle are the culprit.

When to call the doctor

There are steps you can take to combat sleep disorders on your own, but some situations require medical attention. Call your doctor if you snore loudly or gasp during sleep, if you think a medical condition is keeping you up at night, if you’re tired all the time or if you fall asleep during daytime activities. Your doctor can recommend a sleep study to get you back to snoozing well.

Sleep studies analyze your body’s sleep patterns throughout the night. This involves the placement of special sensors that record the activity of your heart, lungs, brain and muscles during the study. The sensors also monitor the air flow from your nose and mouth, as well as the level of oxygen in your blood.

Most sleep disorders are easily treated and can greatly improve your quality of life. Sleep studies are usually covered by insurance as an outpatient procedure and is completed with a short stay in the sleep lab.

Make a Splash with Good Water Safety

There’s nothing like a dip to beat summer’s heat. Good water safety practices ensure a good time for all at the water’s edge. Whether pool, beach or even a hot tub, a good offense is the best defense. Learning how to swim is the best way to keep you and your family safe. These tips from the American Red Cross will also help you make water safety a priority:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not let anyone swim alone, even when there’s a lifeguard.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water, and do not trust a child’s life to another child.
  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets around water, but don’t rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules and enforce them. Set limits based on ability. Ban play around drains and suction fittings. Forbid breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you don’t plan on swimming, be careful around natural bodies of water like rivers and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents and underwater hazards can make a fall into the water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. It impairs judgment, balance and coordination and affects swimming and diving skills.

For other tips to enjoy the water while remaining safe, please talk to your Culbertson healthcare provider.

Heading Off Heat Stroke

When the weather heats up, things can get really fun outside, but it’s important to be aware there’s a very real risk, too. Heat stroke claims lives every year, and it’s preventable. When physical activity in hot weather and prolonged exposure to high temperatures cause the body temperature to reach 104°F, heat stroke occurs. Medications, health issues and age can all increase risk – the very young and old are especially vulnerable.

Cramps may be the first sign, but many symptoms can warn of heat stroke. Here’s what to watch for:

  • High body temperature
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • No sweating
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Flushing (red skin)
  • Racing heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • Headache
  • Passing out (or even coma)

Lack of treatment can mean serious complications or even death. You can prevent heat stroke with a few precautions, especially in the hottest part of the day:

  • Wear lightweight, loose and light-colored clothes.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Know whether your medicine makes you more prone.
  • Avoid strenuous activity outside.
  • Take it easy if you have a health issue that puts you at risk.
  • Don’t leave children (or anyone) in parked cars.

For other tips on preventing heat stroke, speak to your Culbertson healthcare provider.

A Shot of Sunscreen

Look around… find five people. One of them has or will have skin cancer in his/her life. Make sure it’s not you or your kids – be smart and you can still have fun in the sun. Make sunscreen a must when you step outside, much like seatbelts in cars. Aim for an SPF of 15 or higher, and look for what’s called broad-spectrum sunscreen – one that protects from ultraviolet radiation rays (both UVA and UVB). This should be clearly marked on the label.

A few easy keys to good sunscreen application:

  • Apply to all exposed skin.
  • Don’t be stingy – use an ounce (a shot glass) of sunscreen every application.
  • Hit the most-missed spots: neck, scalp, around eyes, lips, ears, hands and feet.
  • Reapply – at least every two hours (and more often if swimming or sweating).
  • Get the right product – waterproof, sweatproof, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, spray, lotion, stick. Finding the right one ensures it sticks with you and does the job.

And remember summertime is critical, but it’s not the only time you need sunscreen. The sun’s out there 365 days a year, so be smart!

Bike Safety

Use your head; wear a helmet. Bike accidents account for most sports-related emergencies for kids ages 5 to 14. Many can be prevented with a helmet. Having one that fits properly is just as important as wearing it.

  • Look up – if you see the bottom rim, it fits.
  • Check your ears – if the straps form a “V” under your ears when buckled, it fits.
  • Open your mouth – if the helmet hugs your head when you open your mouth, it fits.

Simple Safety Tips

  • Wear bright-colored clothing.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Never ride with headphones.
  • Use a backpack to carry items.
  • Ride with a friend.
  • Make sure someone knows where you’re going.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Use lights at night.

Rules of the Road

  • Look both ways before crossing traffic.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals – just like other vehicles.
  • Follow lane markings – don’t turn left from the right lane or go straight in a “right turn only.”
  • Scan the road behind you – look over your shoulder without losing balance or swerving. Consider using rear-view mirrors.
  • Keep both hands ready for braking.
  • Use hand signals to advise others of your intentions.
  • Choose the best way to turn left – like an auto: signal to move into the left turn lane, then turn left; like a pedestrian, ride straight to the far-side crosswalk, then walk your bike across.
  • Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Watch for road hazards – like sewer grates, gravel, ice, sand or debris. Cross railroad tracks at right angles.

Building a First Aid Toolbox for Summer

child playing at the beach

It’s nearly summer! Time for fun at the beach, the playground and the ball field… and unfortunately, also time for bug bites, cuts, scrapes and sunburn. To make sure your children enjoy summer as safely as possible, stock your first aid toolbox so you’re ready for anything summer can dish out. Keep it in your car so it’s always available and consider stocking separate kits for each family vehicle. If you haven’t checked your kit recently, be sure you have plenty of the most-used items, like adhesive bandages, and that none of the medications have expired. Replace and replenish as necessary.

Starting from scratch? We’ve put together a list of things to keep stocked and handy. Naturally, if your child has special medical considerations, such as severe allergies or a chronic illness, you’ll also want to make sure you’re equipped to handle those situations. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure. Ready-made first aid kits are available too. Check to see what items are included, and be prepared to add items as needed.

Start with this list and customize to fit your family’s needs:

  • Gauze, tape, adhesive bandage assortment
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Benadryl
  • EpiPen (for those with a history of severe allergic reactions)
  • Extra prescription medications, such as an inhaler, where needed
  • Ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen. (If you have a child young enough to require liquid, make sure you have it in that form, along with tablets for older children.)
  • Dramamine
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray
  • Hydrocortisone ointment
  • Baby wipes (handy for quick clean-ups for any age)
  • Lip balm
  • Alcohol wipes
  • ACE bandage
  • Small scissors
  • Tweezers

Get a New Lease on Life with Lifeline

The Lifeline service at Culbertson Memorial Hospital takes “phone a friend” to new levels and puts help at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

“It has nothing to do with getting older and everything to do with putting your mind at ease,” says Program Coordinator Donna Walters. “It doesn’t matter your age. We even have a 9-year-old who can use it if he needs to get help for his Mom.”

Maybe you’re suffering from multiple sclerosis, but your spouse is still working and not at home with you. Or you’re a 101-year-old great aunt who still lives in her home. You may be recovering from surgery or simply a concerned relative. Whoever you are, Lifeline is here for you. “It helps when you realize it’s not just for you – it’s also for your family and for your own peace of mind,” Walters says. “They need to know you can get help even when they’re not there.”

Having help at hand is as simple as wearing a wireless pendant or wristband. The push of a button connects you to a highly trained Lifeline associate who accesses your profile and gets you the help you need fast. “So often I hear they don’t want to bother people,” says Walters. “They don’t want to bother their families; they don’t want to bother Lifeline at two in the morning. But that’s why they’re there. Think of it as giving people a job, by paying them for a service.” You need them, and they need you.

The service is currently available in Schuyler, Fulton, Cass and Brown Counties but will go wherever it’s needed. Part of Lifeline’s beauty is its convenience – you can wear it anywhere, even out of the house, and it automatically reconnects when you’re back at home. Give yourself and your loved ones peace of mind today. No doctor’s order is required; simply call 217-322-5259, to learn about the various options and to set up your Lifeline today.

Could it be allergies?

Girl with tissue

If your child seems to have the never-ending sniffles all spring, you might begin to wonder if the real problem could be seasonal allergies.

Warmer weather tends to signal the end of the most intensive cold season, but if your child has a cold that seems to go on and on, the problem may be more than a cold.

As many as 40 percent of children have hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. If one or both parents have allergies, their children are more likely to develop them as well, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

How to tell if it’s a cold or allergies? If your child develops cold-like symptoms every year at the same time, you should suspect seasonal allergies, according to kidshealth.org. Some of the common symptoms to watch for include sneezing, itchy nose, itchy throat, nasal congestion, coughing and itchy or watery eyes. Clear nasal discharge is more often a sign of allergy, while a thick yellow or greenish discharge is typically a cold. Some children will also have wheezing and shortness of breath, in which case their allergies may have triggered asthma.

Seasonal allergies usually develop by the age of 10 and peak in the early 20s. Symptoms may disappear at some point in adulthood.

The FDA suggests keeping children with seasonal allergies inside when pollen counts are highest. In the spring, pollen levels are usually highest in the evening. Sunny and windy days are especially difficult for pollen allergy sufferers. Keeping the windows closed in your home and vehicle and running the air conditioner can help.

If symptoms are especially troublesome and over-the-counter medications are not enough, see your healthcare professional so your child can be tested to confirm whether allergies are the culprit. Newer drugs are available to offer relief and without causing the extreme sleepiness that was common with previous medications.