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National Diabetes Month

National Diabetes Month is observed every November to draw attention to diabetes and its effect on millions of Americans. More than 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with this disease and millions more have it — but don’t know it.
Diabetes is a disease that affects a person’s blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels. Diabetes causes the blood glucose to be too high.
With type 1 diabetes, your body doesn’t make insulin. With the more common type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well.
Diabetes is taking a heavy toll on this country’s health. It’s the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations (other than injury related) and new cases of blindness among adults. It can cause nerve damage, heart disease and stroke.
You may not realize that…
  • People with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for a heart attack or stroke.
  • Diabetes causes nearly 50% of all cases of kidney failure.
  • More than half of all amputations in adults occur in people with diabetes.
  • More than half a million American adults have advanced diabetic retinopathy, greatly increasing their risk for severe vision loss.
  • About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that causes pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.
Beyond the medical challenges of diabetes, there’s a huge financial cost. The total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States last year was $327 billion.
Symptoms of this disease can be so mild that they may not be noticed. Report any of these symptoms to your health care provider:
  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands and/or feet (type 2)
You can take steps to help prevent diabetes:
  • Ask your health care provider if you should be checked for diabetes. A simple blood test – called the A1C test – can show whether you have diabetes or are at risk for developing the disease.
  • Be physically active every day.
  • Keep yourself at a desirable weight. If you are overweight, even a small weight loss can help decrease your risk for diabetes.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Cut down on sweets and high-fat foods.
  • Don’t go longer than four or five hours without eating.
  • Enjoy healthy snacks when hungry.
  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Limit foods high in sugar and fat.
  • Avoid regular soda and sweetened beverages.
By making important lifestyle changes now, you may be able to alter the course of your long-term health. If you already have diabetes, your goal should be to have your blood sugar under optimal control – that is, in the range that will keep you feeling well and help prevent complications.

This Thursday, the Oshkosh YMCA is offering a Lifelong Learning Event on Diabetes for ages 55+. Join Aurora Health Care Nurse Practitioner, Michelle J. Medvecz, to learn about Diabetes including risk factors, prevention and management. Program includes FREE lunch and presentation! 


Turkey Trot for a Cause

The 10th annual Festival Foods Turkey Trot will take place on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018.  The Turkey Trot offers two events – a five mile run and a two mile run or walk – to accommodate participants of all ages and abilities. Attendees enjoy upbeat music, high quality long-sleeved t-shirts and free Festival Foods pumpkin pies at the finish line that they can take home and enjoy with their family.

The event also features a Dog Jog, in which four-legged family members are allowed to participate. The Dog Jog will start at the back of the 2-mile event and will follow the 2-mile route.  No dogs are allowed on the 5-mile route.  Please only bring dogs that are well-behaved and used to being around other dogs and people.  The dog should be kept on a leash that is shorter than six feet, and no retractable leashes, which may be hazardous in a crowd.  All dogs must be registered with an accompanying adult or child. The cost to register a dog is $5, however your furry family member will receive a Turkey Trot bandana and dog treat coupon.

Registration is now open and available by visiting www.festivalfoodsturkeytrot.com.  Shirts and bibs can be picked up at the Oshkosh Arena, 1212 S. Main Street, between 2-6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 21 and beginning at 6:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  The Trot starts promptly at 8:00 a.m. and there are two different start lines. Be sure you are in the correct area to ensure you are on the right course. The 2-mile walk begins at the corner of Main Street and 14th Ave and the 5-mile run begins at the corner of Main Street and 11th Ave. Detailed maps for the Oshkosh Turkey Trot can be found on the Turkey Trot website. 

The Turkey Trot benefits the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA in communities Festival Foods serves. Both organizations provide volunteers in return for monetary proceeds.  Volunteer positions are available at the Oshkosh Arena on Wednesday before the race from 2-6 p.m. and on Thursday morning before the race from 6:00-8:30 a.m.  Volunteers are also needed during the race along the route and also at the water station across in Menomonee Park.  To register for a volunteer position, people can log on to www.festivalfoodsturkeytrot.com and click on “Volunteer” under the Oshkosh location. In the past ten years, the Turkey Trot has donated more than $2,245,000 to participating communities.

Here are the top 10 reasons everyone should participate in the 2018 Festival Foods Turkey Trot:
  1. It’s Fun!
  2. You get to support two amazing charities in Oshkosh – the Oshkosh Boys & Girls Club and the Oshkosh Community YMCA!
  3. You receive a free Turkey Trot t-shirt for volunteering or participating!
  4. You receive a free Pumpkin Pie for participating in the 2-mile or 5-mile event!
  5. Even your dog can get some exercise in the “Dog Jog”!
  6. Start your day off right – with exercise! A 150 pound person will burn approximately 562 calories by running the 5-mile run and a 150 pound person will burn approximately 159 calories walking 3.0 miles per hour during the 2-mile walk.
  7. Relieve holiday stress!
  8. Celebrate your racing accomplishments with the most delicious post-race meal ever!
  9. Start a new, healthy family tradition!
  10. Give back to your community!

If you have questions specific to how you can get involved in Oshkosh, contact local race director, Molly Yatso-Butz at molly.butz@aurora.org.

Driver Safety and Readiness

Deciding whether a family member or friend should continue driving is a very difficult decision.  Driving requires three levels of skills – operational, tactical and strategic.  Different diagnoses will have different problems with these skills.  Aurora Health Care Oshkosh offers a Driver Readiness Program that will take the guesswork out of your decision. The program offers a clinic evaluation that’s performed by an Occupational Therapist and will test strength, vision, memory, thinking, reaction time, attention skills, coordination and cognition.  The Driver Readiness Program is more in depth than the standard DMV testing. Angie Ihrig, Occupational Therapist with Aurora Health Care Center Oshkosh says the Driver Readiness Program started at Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh in May 2017.  “We saw an ongoing need and there is nothing around the area like this.”

Occupational Therapists use standardized assessments to identify cognitive impairments that could put the driver at a higher risk for having accidents or collisions.  Driving simulators are used to check the driver’s reaction time and responses to challenging road conditions and traffic situations, while being in a safe environment. Ihrig explains, “The occupational therapist educates the patient on some compensatory strategies, things they should consider if they want to keep driving, such as avoiding nighttime driving for depth perception issues, and parking strategies.”

Different diagnosis can impact a person’s ability to drive. Here are some diagnoses and their impairment risk behind the wheel:
  • Parkinson’s medications have side effects that may impair visual, cognitive and motor skills while driving.
  • People affected by Alzheimer’s disease may have difficulty with strategic abilities such as finding a route.
  • Those with frontotemporal dementia make tactical errors due to impaired hazard perception.
  • People with other types of dementia may have difficulties with motor symptoms, having deficits in operating a motor vehicle.

If warranted, a Behavior and Condition Report is filled out for the Department of Transportation after the evaluation and recommendations are made to the referring physician.  The physician ultimately decides if a driver’s license remains appropriate for the patient and what, or if any action should be taken. “The OT can recommend restrictions – restrictive license such as no night driving, driving within certain radius of home, no interstate or highway driving, etc.  Driving school/rehabilitation driving can also be recommended,” adds Ihrig.

Ihrig adds, “This program is done with a physician referral to Occupational Therapy for a driving evaluation. Most insurance plans do cover the evaluation and it’s all done in the clinic. If we do feel a behind the wheel test is warranted, we will recommend that to the physician during their follow up.  The evaluation is sent to the physician and provides objective data to the patient, physician and family members.  You can’t take someone's license away because they are elderly, there needs to be objective findings.”

The Driver Readiness Program can also assist people who had an accident or injury and want to get back to work. “This program can help young people who have some residual deficits from being injured or a condition that affects their driving. We problem-solve with them and work with them to safely get back to driving,” explains Ihrig.

If you feel you or a loved one could benefit from the Driver Readiness Program, ask your primary health care provider if there is one offered in your local area. 

National Physical Therapy Month

October is National Physical Therapy Month. The month long celebration is used to increase awareness of the valuable role physical therapists and physical therapy assistants can play in assisting people with decreased pain, improved mobility, and improved lifestyles. Ben Benesh, Physical Therapist at Aurora Health Care states, “Physical therapy is a conservative approach to treat patient ailments. It’s an alternative approach to surgery or pharmaceuticals. Physical therapy can improve musculoskeletal and neurological functions.”  A physical therapist can help with arthritis, back pain, fitness, knee pain, obesity, osteoporosis, overuse injuries, shoulder pain, stroke rehabilitation, sprains, strains, fractures, and much more. 

A physical therapist is someone who applies research and proven techniques to help restore motion to a patient.  All physical therapists have a graduate degree – either a master’s degree or a clinical doctorate – from an accredited physical therapy program. They are then required to complete a national and state licensure examination. Physical therapists can provide care for people in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices, schools, outpatient clinics, sports and fitness facilities, nursing homes and work settings.  “The role of a physical therapist is to reduce pain and restore functional mobility.  Physical therapists are experts in movement that specialize in musculoskeletal injuries,” explains Benesh.  “Physical therapy assistants are the only other licensed health care providers that render physical therapy services under the supervision of a physical therapist.” Physical therapy assistants also complete clinical education through an associate degree program and also have to pass a state and national licensure examination.  Physical therapy assistants often provide services such as therapeutic exercise, functional training, deep soft tissue massage, and physical modalities such as electrotherapy and ultrasound.
Everyone can benefit from physical therapy.  Aging adults can use physical therapy programs for fall risk management, improved balance and increased strength.  “Osteoarthritis, specific to the knee and shoulder, a physical therapist can have a great impact without surgical intervention,” states Benesh.  The American Physical Therapy Association states that people are often referred to a physical therapist for rehabilitation from a major medical trauma or surgery, however research suggests that treatment by a physical therapist is often equally effective, and cheaper, than surgery and prescription drugs.  Most states allow a patient to make an appointment with a physical therapist without a direct referral from their physician.  “If the patient is not a good candidate for physical therapy, the physical therapist would refer the patient on to the appropriate health care professional,” explains Benesh.

Benesh concludes, “People should consider having a physical therapist like they have any other health care provider such as a dentist, primary care physician or chiropractor.”  To learn more about how physical therapy can benefit you, contact your local health care provider.

Breast Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities and health systems to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a disease in which cells become abnormal and form more cells in an uncontrolled way. The cancer begins in the tissue that makes up the breast and the cancer cells may form a mass called a tumor; however, not all tumors are cancerous. The most common types of cancer are ductal and lobular. Ductal carcinoma is cancer that begins in the ducts and grows into surrounding tissues.  About 80 percent of all breast cancers are this type. Lobular carcinoma is cancer that begins in lobules and grows into surrounding tissues.

Men and women should know what their breasts normally look and feel like so they can report any unusual changes to their doctor.  Breast cancer symptoms include: a lump in or near your breast or under your arm; thick or firm tissue in or near your breast or under your arm; a change in the size or shape or your breast; nipple discharge (not breast milk); nipple changes, such as nipple inversion; and/or changes to your breast skin.

Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, as exercise boosts the immune system and helps keep people at a healthy weight.  Thirty minutes of exercise per day can begin to lower risk of breast cancer.  A nutritious, low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can also help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.  High-fat diets increase risk because fat triggers estrogen production which can fuel tumor growth. Recent research has also confirmed that smoking is a contributor for developing breast cancer, as is secondhand smoke.  Stress can also play a role in developing some cancers.  In 2012, research studies showed that factors such as traumatic events and losses can alter a person’s immune system functions, and when immune systems are altered, cancer cells may have a greater opportunity to get establish themselves in the body. The research also showed that how a person handles the stress can also play a role.

The American College of Radiology recommends women receive a baseline mammogram at the age of 40 and continue to do so every year as long as they are in good health. Breast cancer screening looks for signs of cancer before the symptoms begin. Screening can help with early detection, when the change for successful treatment is best. A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. A clinical breast exam is when the doctor looks at and feels the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual. These are typically done when a women receives her annual exam.

Current treatment options for breast cancer vary depending on the stage of the cancer, the size of the tumor, type of breast cancer you have, whether or not you have reached menopause, and a person’s general health.  Surgery is the most common treatment, as the goal of surgery is to remove all cancer from the breast. Some women will need to undergo a lumpectomy, in which only the cancer is removed, not the breast. Others will have to undergo a mastectomy, where the entire breast is removed. Other forms of treatments typically combined with surgery include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy. 

Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh offers Breast tomosynthesis or 3D mammography which is a computerized imaging technology that can be added to traditional digital mammography. It creates image slices of the breast. The use of tomosynthesis helps the radiologist resolve the difficulty of detecting small, early malignancies in the more dense, more complex breast, particularly in younger patients. In addition, the use of tomosynthesis has shown to decrease the call-back of patients for questionable findings in such breasts seen on screening exams.

If you or someone you know has just finished treatments for breast cancer, the LIVESTRONG™ program at the Oshkosh YMCA is an excellent resource. LIVESTRONG™ at the YMCA is a FREE twelve-week, small group program designed specifically for adult cancer survivors.  The program fulfills the need of supporting cancer survivors who find themselves in the transition between cancer treatment and feeling physically and emotionally strong enough to return to their normal life or their “new normal”. The program is conducted at the YMCA to emphasize that LIVESTRONG™ is about health, not disease. For more information about the LIVESTRONG™ at the YMCA program, call the Oshkosh YMCA or visit the Livestrong website at www.livestrong.org.

Fighting Back Against Parkinson's Disease

Having Parkinson's Disease looks different on everyone who has it, and each person's FIGHT looks different as well. Some take harder punches from this disease than others. That said, reminding a person with any disease of any severity that hope is always available to them is one of the greatest things you can do for them.

It’s not a question of will; it’s a question of faith. When you have faith, you have hope, and hope gives you courage. Courage enables you to put forth perhaps the greatest effort, the greatest fight, you’ve ever been called to put forth. 

"If you fight, this may be the day you can button your shirt. And I’d call that a win," says Sherri Woodbridge, a 15-year Parkinson's Disease Survivor.


Did you know that being active and exercising is one the most important keys to living well with Parkinson's Disease and can improve strength, balance, stability, posture, prevention of falls, memory, attitude, and more? The Oshkosh Community YMCA is fighting back against Parkinson’s Disease and holding onto hope with our NEW Parkinson's Disease Management Program and support groups!

Earlier this year we started a program called Persevering with Parkinson's Disease. We were overwhelmed with the response and it's truly hard to put it into words how PROUD and MOVED we are with progress of the members and participants. The PASSION, STRENGTH and DETERMINATION these fighters have in beyond inspiring.

(Persevering with Parkinson's Participants Spring 2018)

We are exciting to be expanding the program and are now offering a NEW addition to the program, Rock Steady Boxing! Rock Steady Boxing is a program that gives people with Parkinson’s disease hope by improving their quality of life through a non-contact boxing-based fitness curriculum. The program has been a knock-out so far and we cannot wait to see each fighter build their strength and HOPE. 

Our hope is to fight back against Parkinson's and do our part to spread HOPE throughout the Parkinson's Community. Questions? Please reach out to Rich Roehrick at richroehrick@oshkoshymca.org.

Learn more about our Parkinson's Programs HERE.
See our full Rock Steady Boxing flyer HERE.

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with the Oshkosh Community YMCA

October is here, and the fall season is well underway in Wisconsin! As much as we would love to hang on to hot summer days and the smell of fresh cut grass - those days are slowly fading away. Fall is an exciting season of CHANGE. The temperatures start to drop, and the colors start to morph from vibrant greens to rich yellows, reds and oranges. Even the foods and smells change! Sweet and savory fall foods fill the aisles of grocery stores and there is pumpkin spice everywhere you look! (We are hungry just thinking about it!)

Fall is also the perfect time for you to make a change too! Halloween candy, a Thanksgiving feast and Christmas cookies are coming. Now is a great time to get a jumpstart on your health and wellness journey before the holidays hit. Don't wait until the new year to make a resolution - make a commitment to yourself now, to adopt a healthier, happier lifestyle. 

Here are 10 reasons you will "fall" in love with the Oshkosh Y, and why now is a great time to join the Y community:


The culture of the Oshkosh Y is one-of-a-kind. From the first time you step into our doors, you will feel welcome. A big part of that culture is led and due to our amazing, caring and incredible crew and Y staff. You are not another number at the Y - you are a member and in a lot of cases, our friend! Our members drive all that we do - It's all for YOU.


We have an awesome membership promotion in October and you don't want to miss it! If you've been considering joining the Y - now is the perfect time to "Pay the Day" and SAVE BIG! Join the Oshkosh Y anytime between October 1-15 and the joiner fee is adjusted to the day you join! Just $1 on October 1, $2 on October 2 and so on...you get the idea! The sooner you join, the more you save. Stop in to see what everyone is raving about and then JOIN the Oshkosh Y today! Visit our website for more information HERE.  


As an Oshkosh Y member, you get access to not one, not two, but THREE amazing facilities - plus thousands of other Ys around the country! Each of our three locations is unique in its own way and offers a large variety of programs and events!

  • Our 20th Ave Y offers two gymnasiums, an indoor soccer area, an ice arena, a climbing wall, an Olympic size pool, a family pool with zero depth entry, a slide and MORE!

  • Our BRAND NEW state-of-the-art Downtown Y has four exercise studios (including a Hot Yoga studio!), a brand-new Health & Wellness area equipped with new, top-of-the-line equipment and machines, an intergenerational room and MORE!

  • Our Tennis Center offers four full courts for Tennis or Pickleball, lessons, leagues and more!

  • By joining the Y, you also have nationwide access to thousands of Ys across the country. Whether you’re on vacation or heading across the country on a business trip, your membership goes with you. Across the country, you can enjoy the benefits of nationwide membership.

It gets even BETTER...


The Oshkosh Y offers over 165 group exercise classes each week, most of which are FREE for members! YES! You read that right. Want options and variety? We've got you covered! We also have a rock-star staff of nationally certified instructors that teach a large variety of classes. Had a stressful week? Let your stress melt away at a hot yoga. Love high-intensity cardio? Try a HIIT class or Contact Kickboxing! Love to swim and be in the water? Try a power current class.

Our classes are for ALL levels of experience too. From newbies to old-timers, everyone is welcome and encouraged to do their best! Check out our list of classes HERE.


The Y has come to be known as place to work out, but we are so much more than that! As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, we strengthen our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We aim to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. We also provide classes and workshops for developing new skills and developing healthy habits. 

Sure, the Oshkosh Y has a gym (In fact, we have multiple really, really nice ones!)  - but it's not who we are. We are a community, a cause. A place where you can meet new people and make lifelong friends, a place where you can come to socialize, gather and work on your health and wellness. We are a place where families come to connect, strengthen their bond and have FUN. 


Have a few littles at home but still want to get in a workout? No problem! The Oshkosh Y has drop-in child care! It's affordable and the kids get to laugh, learn and play while you work it out! At our 20th Ave Y, the kids can go to our Family Prime Time Center. It has a full play area with tubes and slides, books, an air hockey table and more! We also have a family zero-depth entry pool with a splash area and slide! At our Downtown Y, the kids can play games, do arts and crafts or color in our Intergenerational Room. 

Speaking of kids, we also have multiple summer camps for kids ages 4-16, a before and after school program and a Kids Day Out Program for when school is closed and you can't get off of work!  


The Oshkosh Y is a place for strengthening families.  We offer a large variety of family-friendly activities, events and opportunities including Family and Bingo Nights, Youth Lock-Ins and more! We also offer birthday party packages so you can celebrate as a family too. Come check out what we have to offer and get unplugged as a family. Experience what true family togetherness feels like again. 


The Oshkosh Y is a great place to meet new friends, gather and socialize. We have multiple areas including our lounges, our cafe and our intergenerational room where we encourage our members to sit down relax and enjoy each other's company!

A lot of our members have been coming to the Y for years and have developed lifelong friendships. It's like they say...friends who work out together, stay together! So many of our members have found their "tribe" at the Y. Groups of similar-minded and focused individuals that PUSH each other to do their best! 


Goggle up and make a splash in one of our three pools! Whether you want to have fun with the family or swim laps for exercise, we've got you covered. We offer swim lessons for all ages, family swim, competitive swimming, private lessons, water fitness classes and MORE! We also offer adaptive swim programs for kids with special needs.

The 20th Avenue YMCA boasts an eight-lane, 25-yard, competitive lap pool as well as a warm-water family fun pool. The Family Pool includes a water slide, zero-depth entry, a lazy river current, and water spouting gadgets! The NEW Downtown YMCA is home to a four-lane, 25-yard lap pool, as well as a 3-3.5 foot family pool great for teaching swimming lessons. The pool also includes a large lazy river with the option to turn on spouting water.

71% of the world is water and children are 100% curious! Swimming is more than a recreational activity.  It is a potentially life-saving skill! Our NEW and improved swim lesson program was built around water safety and teaching people of all ages and levels lifelong water safety skills.


Together, we can make a difference, through volunteerism, mentoring, reaching out and finding common ground. The Oshkosh Y offers opportunities to make meaningful connections to positively impact the lives of other community members. The Oshkosh Y has been helping strengthen our community for over 60 years - FOR A BETTER US.

When you join the Oshkosh Y, you join more than a fitness club – you became part of a community of people dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for themselves, their families and their neighbors. 



National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month.  One in three children in the United States is either overweight or obese.  Childhood obesity increases health problems for kids such as, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. These diseases were once only found in adults. Childhood obesity can be prevented by encouraging kids to eat healthy and get active. Most children do not grow out of being overweight, statistics show that being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or obese as an adolescent and adult. Consider using a BMI (Body Mass Index) chart to learn if your child is at a healthy weight. Children grow at different rates, so it’s not always easy to know whether or not they are at a healthy weight.  Feel free to ask your child’s doctor or nurse about height and weight recommendations.

Children and teens should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. The 60 minutes does not have to be done all at once and can be broken up into shorter segments. Be sure your child is doing different kinds of activity such as aerobic activity (running, biking, dancing), muscle-strengthening activities (climbing, body weight training), and bone strengthening activities (jumping rope, playing basketball).  Physical activity is good for every child and teen regardless of their age or body type.  Even if the child feels out-of-shape, or they haven’t been active in a while, you can still find activities that can work for them.  Encourage your children to start a comfortable level and add a little bit each day. Have your children choose activities they enjoy, urge them to do the activity with a friend. Limit screen time to two hours or less a day for kids age two and older. Screen time is time spent using a computer, smart phone, watching television or playing video games. 

A healthy diet can also help your child to remain strong, healthy and active.  Making smart food choices for the entire family, helps manage weight and lower risk of certain diseases. Be sure your children are getting enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients by eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk products, seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, seeds and nuts.  Limit your child’s cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, trans fats, saturated fats, and refined grains.  Making small changes can make a big difference.  Set rules for food at home such as teaching your kids to ask before they help themselves to snacks, eat snacks at the table or in the kitchen (not in front of the television), serve snacks in a bowl, offer your child water or milk instead of soda or juice.

Another way to keep your child at a healthy weight is to make sure they are getting enough sleep.  Research shows that children and teens that don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of being overweight or obese.  Teens need at least nine hours of sleep each night, school-aged children need at least 10 hours of sleep per night, preschoolers need between 11 and 12 hours of sleep every night, and newborns need between 16 and 18 hours each day.

Take the necessary steps to ensure your child is at a healthy weight.  Get ideas to help teach your kids to have a healthy body image, make good choices, and remain active. 

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-induced asthma (also known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction – EIB) is when asthma-type symptoms develop when you exercise. Exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction (EIV) is a condition that is often misdiagnosed as exercise-induced asthma. It occurs when the vocal cords in your throat close when they shouldn't, which limits your ability to take in air. A whining or high-pitched sound may release when you inhale if you have vocal cord dysfunction. Dr. Anita Gheller-Rigoni, Allergist and Immunologist with Aurora Health Care, Oshkosh, helps us better understand the two conditions.

Signs and symptoms of EIB are coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and difficulty breathing air out. In people who are physically fit, they may tire out of proportion to their level of fitness. Symptoms of EIB typically occur later in the activity and/or while resting. Signs and symptoms of EIV are wheezing from the upper airway, difficulty breathing air in, and a sensation of “not being able to get air in”.  EIV can be seen in people who are physically fit, but are restricted by limited air flow (short of breath “winded”). EIV signs and symptoms can occur in a person who have already been diagnosed with asthma, and is often hard to differentiate. Risk factors of exercise induced asthma are elevated for people who already have asthma and for people who have other allergies. Other risk factors include: having a blood relative with asthma, exposure to air pollution and pollen, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to chemical triggers, participating in winter sports, or participating in sports that you breathe harder or faster.  Dr. Gheller-Rigoni adds, “Type “A” personalities, being female, and having asthma that is not controlled, puts you at higher risk for developing exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction.”

“There is no clear cause of exercise induced asthma but it probably results from changes in the lungs triggered by the large volume of relatively cool, dry air we take in during vigorous activity,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni.  “Exercise induced vocal cord dysfunction can be caused by stress and anxiety due to muscle tension.” According to the Mayo Clinic, other factors that can trigger or worsen exercise-induced asthma are cold air, dry air, air pollution such as smoke or smog, high pollen counts, having a respiratory infection, and exposure to some chemicals. “People with these conditions do not need to avoid exercise, but more rigorous activities, that make you breathe harder, are more likely to trigger symptoms,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni.  “Also, exercising in cold weather can increase your symptoms because you are breathing in a lot of cold, dry air. However, with proper treatment, people can continue high-intensity exercise and cold-weather workouts without symptoms slowing them down.”

If you are experiencing coughing, wheezing or have chest pain or tightness during or after exercise, you need to see your doctor.  “People don’t know they have exercise-induced asthma because they think it’s normal for them to feel that way post-exercise,” states Dr. Gheller-Rigoni. “Many people who have this condition are in very good physical shape, but they feel like they are short on endurance, which is not the case.”  To receive proper diagnosis, your doctor will ask you for a detailed history of your signs and symptoms. Writing down when and where you are when you are experiencing these symptoms can be helpful to your physician.  If you already suffer from asthma and have an inhaler, your doctor may want you to bring it in to make sure you are using it correctly and to verify the inhaler has been primed.  Your doctor may do other tests to make sure your symptoms aren’t being caused by something else such as heart disease, lung disorders, or other allergies.  Lung function tests may also be performed to see how well your lungs are working.  The preferred test for assisting in the diagnosis of asthma is the lung function test (spirometry) in which the patient takes keep breaths and forcefully exhales into a tube connected to a machine called a spirometer. EIB can be diagnosed using an exercise challenge in which you perform a lung function test before and after you exercise.  The exercise is typically completed on a treadmill for about six to eight minutes. To determine other possible risk factors and contributing factors, your physician may also recommend an allergy skin test. During this test, your skin is pricked with purified allergy extracts to see if there is an allergic reaction. It is used to determine whether or not you have a reaction to other things besides exercise. 

Although the development of EIB is not preventable, some ways to avoid flare-ups of the condition include: warm up for 10 minutes before doing high-intensity exercise, do your best to avoid colds and respiratory infections, avoid your specific allergy triggers and air when exercising, learn to breathe through your nose to warm the air before it passes through your lungs, and keep your mouth and nose covered during exercise in cold weather. Also, if an inhaler is prescribed, using it 20-30 minutes before the activity and with a spacer (device that helps guide the albuterol into the lungs) can help. “Don’t avoid exercise if you have EIB or EIV!” exclaims Dr. Gheller-Rigoni. “Some studies speculate that exercise may actually be helpful in preventing the onset of asthma.”

Facts about the Flu Vaccine

This year, the 2018-2019 season, marks the 100th anniversary of the pandemic flu of 1918 that killed 875,000 Americans and 50 million people worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best available way to protect yourself and your family from flu. Flu vaccinations can reduce flu illnesses, prevent flu-related hospitalizations, reduce doctors’ visits and missed work and school. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu. It is estimated that 5.3 million flu illnesses were protected by the flu vaccination in 2016-2017.

Everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year, by the end of October, if possible.  Even healthy people need a flu vaccine.  Influenza is a contagious disease that can lead to serious illness. Pregnant women, young children, older people, and people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are at increased risk of serious flu-related complications, so it is especially important for them to receive the flu vaccination. It is best to receive the flu vaccination before the flu season begins, as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.

The flu vaccine is safe. Millions of Americans have safely received the flu vaccine over the past 50 years, and there is extensive research supporting the safety of seasonal flu vaccines. Every year, the Food and Drug Administration along with the Centers for Disease Control, work together and with other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines.

People need to get the flu vaccine every year. There are two main reasons why: 1) Flu viruses are constantly changing, so flu vaccines may be updated from one season to the next. You need the current season’s vaccine for the best protection; 2) A person’s immunity from the vaccine declines over time, so annual vaccination is needed for the best protection.

This season, the following injectable flu vaccines will be used:
  • Standard dose flu shots – given into the muscle, usually given with a needle.
  • A high-dose shot for people 65 and older.
  • A shot made with adjuvant for people 65 and older.
  • A shot made with virus grown in cell culture.
  • A shot made using a vaccine production technology (recombinant vaccine) that does not require the use of flu virus or eggs.
Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) – or the nasal spray vaccine – is not recommended for use this season because of concerns about its effectiveness.

Every day, preventive actions to help prevent the flu include avoiding close contact with sick people, limiting contact with others if you are ill, covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, washing hands often with soap and water, using alcohol-based hand rub if water is not available, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

For more information about the flu vaccine, contact your primary care physician or a local pharmacy.
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