Importance of Folic Acid in Pregnant and Expected Women

College of DuPage Nursing Student Laila Haque shared with Healthy Lombard that Folic Acid, or vitamin B9, is an important vitamin for those who are planning to become pregnant, currently pregnant, or breastfeeding. Folic acid helps in the early fetal development of the neural tube. It has been studied and proven to prevent fatal birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly, both these diseases come with a shortened lifespan.

When to Start Taking Folic Acid

The Centers for Disease Control (2020) recommends that all women of reproductive age take 400 mcg of folic acid each day, regardless of pregnancy status. This recommendation is increased to 4,000mcg once a woman is planning to become pregnant and throughout their first trimester of pregnancy.

Foods High in Folic Acid

Vitamin supplements are a great way to ensure you reach your daily goal for folic acid intake, you may also consume foods such as edamame, lentils, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, avocado, mangos, and lettuce. Read more

Five Ways to Help you Shovel Snow

College of DuPage Nursing Student  Abigale Janouch is thinking ahead as she shares that some think winter is beautiful while others dread those cold snowy days. Snow can be beautiful, but it’s also a pain to shovel. Those who do shovel, shudder at the thought of the feeling of that burning sensation you get in your legs, arms, and back. Shoveling snow is an intense exercise and takes a lot of energy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2020), a 185-pound person can expect to burn about 266 calories after just a half-hour of shoveling. Shoveling snow does come with health risks, however.

Since we do not shovel snow in ideal weather, rather in cold, windy, and icy weather, the weather may be one of the most dangerous aspects of shoveling. When the temperature drops below freezing, your heart works harder to maintain body heat.

The mix of the extreme weather and intense exercise puts too added stress on the heart and may trigger a heart attack. Those who have high blood pressure or a past history of heart disease are at an increased risk of having a heart attack when exercising intensely. It is, therefore, advisable to discuss whether or not shoveling snow is a good idea before heading out into the cold to perform this strenuous exercise. Read more

Masks and COVID19 Prevention

photo by  Sharon McCutcheon @sharonmccutcheon on UnsplashCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Danielle McKay wrote for Healthy Lombard that wearing the appropriate mask can decrease the spread of COVID19. The CDC website outlines how to select the right mask and how to wear the mask properly.

How to select a mask

When selecting a mask make sure the mask has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. The mask should completely cover the nose and mouth. Lastly, the mask should fit snugly against the sides of your face with no gaps. Gaiters and face shields are still being evaluated for their effectiveness and their effectiveness is unknown at this time.

How to wear a mask

The mask should not be worn around the neck, on the forehead, under the nose, only on the nose, on the chin, dangling from one ear or on the arm. N95 masks are recommended for medical professionals. N95 masks with valves do not protect those around you. The valves are closed when the breather breathes in and opens when the breather breathes out. This allows unfiltered air and droplets to escape. Chin-Hong said that anyone wearing a valve mask would need to wear a surgical mask or cloth mask to cover it. Read more

Does your lifestyle affect your circadian rhythm?

College of DuPage Nursing Student Alyssa Spingola asks, “What is a circadian rhythm?”  Your personal circadian rhythm is like an internal 24-hour clock that is affected and adjusted by your outside surroundings. It is controlled by the light and dark of the day and night. If this cycle is altered you will experience difficulties with sleeping, the ability to stay awake, or a decreased quality of sleep.

Nursing students and medical professionals experience this shift in their circadian rhythm throughout their careers. This is due to the ever-changing world and schedules they have to adjust each week. There are many studies trying to look at the internal effect it is having on our body systems as well. These systems include neurological, cardiac, and endocrine systems.

How are your body and circadian rhythm affected?

If we think about nursing students and newly licensed nurses, they are often put on the night shifts or rotating shifts. This means that they are now forced to be awake when their bodies are used to being asleep and quickly have to change back to days from week to week. They have seen sleep disturbances, physiological impact, health issues, nutrition, and general functioning issues. These symptoms and effects will be different from person to person, but they are all showing the effects of your circadian rhythm is changed. These symptoms may be seen as fatigue, mood alterations, obesity, diabetes, and difficulty concentrating. We want to make sure our medical professionals are at the top of their ability to be able to help the community. However, this can be very difficult when trying to adjust to the new way of work schedules. Read more

FLU SHOTS AND THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

photo by Caleb WoodsLinda Fu, MD, MS, a general pediatrician at Children’s National and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Hyunbo Holly Kim, MD, a pediatrician at Children’s National wrote for “Rise and Shine” that getting a flu shot might not be at the top of your mind these days, but with the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, flu shots are more important than ever. To help you better understand why Drs. Linda Fu and Holly Kim answer some questions about the flu, the shot, and the relationship between flu and COVID-19.

Why should I get a flu shot this year?

While it has always been important for everyone ages 6 months and up to get the flu shot, it is arguably even more important this year given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Flu and COVID-19 cause similar symptoms and if your child is unlucky enough to catch both at the same time, they could have a worse course of the illness as their body tries to fight both. Besides both viruses causing lung issues and breathing problems, in rare cases, both the flu and COVID viruses can cause life-threatening, sudden heart attacks.

Another reason for your child to get the flu shot is to help them avoid trips to the doctor’s office. While doctor’s offices are cleaning more and using masks and gloves to keep you and your family safe, it may give you peace of mind to have fewer reasons to make a visit. Read more

How to Promote Children’s Mental Health During the Pandemic

Photo by Julian Wan on UnsplashCollege of DuPage Nursing Student Gabby Macenis shared with Healthy Lombard that in the age of social distancing, the transition for children can be especially difficult with the lack of social interaction, physical activity, and confusion. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020) mentions specific difficulties that children may face during the pandemic such as a routine change, disruption of their learning and health care, missing events, and safety insecurity. Their daily routines have changed by having to distance from family members, online-learning, and missing how events like birthdays are celebrated.

It can be challenging for children to understand why they are unable to do their previous activities, so the CDC has provided resources to help parents explain the coronavirus to their children. For example, they have provided printable door hangers to remind children, and even adults, to bring their mask, wash their hands, and socially distance at six feet. These are great resources to keep around the home to remind the children of ways to prevent the spread.

It is also helpful to have a conversation about how to promote understanding of this topic. The CDC recommends that conversations begin with the child’s concerns; what they are concerned about or how to wear a mask and end on a positive note by asking them what they are looking forward to in the future. This type of conversation provides parents with the opportunity to further understand the child’s worries and misconceptions. Moreover, open dialogue allows for everyone to be on the same page and to ease stress. Read more

Free Flu Vaccine Voucher Program

As we all know, it’s critically important that we all get a flu vaccine this fall, as early as possible.  While the flu vaccine is broadly available for free under most insurance, too often uninsured families forgo vaccination due to cost.   

So Karen Doyle, Director of Development & Communications at DuPage Health Coalition shared that their program for the uninsured is now live and accepting requests.  This project will provide thousands of free flu vaccines to the community members who need them most, made possible through generous funding support from the DuPage County Board.

 

To make this process easier, here is a link to their website (English and Spanish) where people can request a voucher and get more information about the program. https://accessdupage.org/flu/

Read more

Protect Yourself While Eating Out!

A neon OPEN sign glowing red in the window of a restaurant.College of DuPage Nursing Student Jhenevie Oca shared with Healthy Lombard that  COVID-19 has changed the daily routine for many people. While the safest thing to do during this unprecedented time would be to stay at home, it can be difficult to completely avoid going out. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself in a restaurant or while grocery shopping.

 

Plan your trip ahead of time. 

Eating out is a luxury that many people take for granted. While it is necessary to take precautions to prevent exposure to the virus, Yelp! has a wonderful app for efficiency when planning your next trip to a restaurant. Through the app or website domain, the viewer can see the  “COVID-19 Updates” at each restaurant. The restaurant may list all the precautions they are taking. Some examples may include electronic QR menus, contactless payments, mask requirements, etc. Many restaurants will also list if they are available for indoor seating, outdoor seating only, or takeout only. Also, a critical advantage to using this app are the reviews from the customers themselves. Many reviews list their experience and will be honest about how well the restaurant abides by COVID-19 guidelines. Since there are no profits gained from this review, the viewer is able to get an accurate idea of how well the restaurant is really doing.

 

Curbside pickup

Fortunately, many stores and restaurants have made curbside pickup available. This is beneficial for those who are still anxious about going into public places, or those that are immunocompromised and would like to lessen their exposure. This is especially helpful when grocery shopping. Many large grocery stores like Walmart, Target, Jewel-Osco, and others provide the option to shop online and opt for curbside pickup. Simply adding all of the selected items to your virtual cart, setting a pickup time or reservation, and then placing your order is all that is required to get your groceries. Upon arrival, someone from the store will bring your items to your car to make the experience exposure-free. Read more

Action Alert to Fight Obesity

In recent months, a clear connection has emerged between obesity and COVID-19 severity. Obesity and its related conditions, such as diabetes and sleep apnea, can worsen symptoms of COVID-19 and lead to complications requiring hospitalization. Despite this fact, congressional leadership is failing to pass legislation that will improve access to obesity care.

Now more than ever, access to obesity treatments and services is crucial! In responding to COVID-19, the federal government must take steps to expand access to obesity care, one of which is passing the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). If passed, this critical legislation will give older Americans on Medicare greater access to diverse services, treatments, and providers and also open up the door for other public and private health plans to cover these services.

WHY IT’S URGENT: If the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act does not pass this year, the bill will need to be re-introduced in early 2021, and efforts to grow support must start over again. We cannot afford this given the current COVID-19 pandemic. Read more