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Flu cases up statewide, local health department offers prevention tips – Beckley Register

More than 4 percent of West Virginia providers’ total patient visits during the last week of December were for influenza-like illnesses. 

According to Influenza Surveillance released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, any percentage higher than 2.2 percent means flu transmission is likely. 

Candance Hurd, administrator of the Beckley-Raleigh County Health Department, said her department has also seen an increase in flu cases this year. 

“Numbers are higher than the last few years,” Hurd said, noting the most significant number of cases have been Type A. 

WebMD explains there are three types of flu viruses — A, B and C. Types A and B cause sniffling, aching, coughing and high fevers. Type C flu symptoms are much less severe.

Hurd said the health department is also receiving a high number of stomach virus cases, which is commonly seen during this time of year. 

To minimize spread of flu-like illnesses and stomach viruses, Hurd offers the following tips:

• Wash hands frequently.

• If you are sick, stay home until 24 hours after your fever has subsided. 

• Wipe doorknobs, light switches, keyboards and any other commonly touched surfaces with disinfectant. 

• Avoid crowds if your immune system is compromised. 

• Get the flu vaccine. Hurd said it’s never too late to get vaccinated. 

Anyone interested in getting a vaccine at the health department, located at 1602 Harper Road in Beckley, can stop by Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

— Email: and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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5 ways to protect your vision – Medical News Today

Your eyes play a significant role in your health. Many steps can be taken to ensure that your eyes are protected and remain as healthy as possible. We have selected the best vision-boosting tips to help you protect your eyes into your golden years.

Many steps can be taken to ensure that your eyes are protected from disease and damage.

Millions of individuals experience eye problems each year. Some eye issues result in permanent vision loss or blindness, while others can be corrected with contact lenses or glasses.

The National Eye Institute estimate that in the years between 2010 and 2050, the number of individuals affected by the commest eye diseases — including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma — “will double.”

Many of us are resigned to the fact that as we age, our eyesight will deteriorate. But could we improve our vision, protect our sight, and prevent many of the diseases that compromise the health of our eyes?

Medical News Today present five ways to protect your eyes from damage and disease and maintain healthy sight.

1. Go for regular eye exams

The best thing you can do to look after your sight is to go for regular eye tests.

Go for regular eye checks with a trained eye specialist who can detect early signs of problems.

Although your vision may appear to be healthy, there is no way to be 100 percent certain unless a trained professional observes your eyes.

Not only does an eye test determine whether or not you need glasses, but it can also spot eye conditions that can be treated effectively if detected early enough.

A type of eye exam known as a comprehensive dilated eye exam is recommended from the age of 60 upwards, or earlier if you are at an increased risk of certain eye diseases.

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care specialist adds drops into each eye to widen, or dilate, the pupil. Once dilated, more light enters the eye, which enables the eye care professional to view the macula, retina, and optic nerve and identify any signs of damage and disease.

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2. Eat vision-healthy foods

It is possible to eat your way to healthy vision. You often hear that eating carrots benefits the eyes, but there are plenty of other foods that are important for good eyesight, too.

Eating grapes has been tied to a lower risk of AMD.

Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to promote eye health. Dark leafy greens, in particular — including collard greens, kale, and spinach — contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that help to prevent the formation of cataracts.

Evidence demonstrates that grapes may also support healthy eyes. In a laboratory model of retinal degeneration, scientists showed that a diet enriched with grapes protected the retina against the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

Other research indicated that grapes provide higher levels of antioxidant protection for eyes than lutein alone and may slow or help to prevent AMD.

Studies have found that there are eye health benefits from consuming fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines, and tuna.

Omega-3 fatty acids may improve ocular surface inflammation and symptoms of ocular irritation that are associated with moderate to severe dry eye. They may also help vision cells to survive future disease or injury.

3. Keep your weight under control

Being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk of developing conditions such as diabetes or other systemic disorders, which may eventually lead to vision loss.

Maintain a healthy weight to avoid obesity-related eye conditions.

It is never too late to get your weight under control by eating a healthful diet and exercising regularly to prevent vision complications.

Research conducted by the University of Melbourne in Australia and Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom discovered that considerable weight loss could potentially reverse eye damage caused by diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Another study recently presented at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, held in New Orleans, LA, reported that individuals who are physically active have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma than more sedentary individuals. This finding highlights the importance of leading an active lifestyle.

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4. Wear sunglasses when outside

In addition to being a trendy fashion accessory, the most important role of sunglasses is to protect your eyes from the ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun.

Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s UV-rays.

A report by the Vision Council in 2016 revealed that while three quarters of people in the U.S. were concerned about eye issues that may arise from UV rays, only 31 percent protect their eyes with sunglasses when they go outside.

When selecting sunglasses, never opt for style over safety. Look for shades that block 99–100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and always buy from a reputable source.

Whether you are heading to the beach, surfing some waves, hiking up a mountain, or cheering for your favorite soccer team, be sure to protect your eyes and wear the appropriate sunglasses.

5. Rest your eyes regularly

If you work all day at a computer screen, you may forget to blink often and end up with fatigued eyes by the end of the day. The National Eye Institute suggest implementing a 20-20-20 rule.

Get outside as much as possible to prevent short-sightedness.

For every 20 minutes that you spend staring at a screen, look at something else that is around 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds to reduce eye strain.

Research indicates that half of the world will be short-sighted by 2050 if we continue with the current trend of spending so much time on near-based electronic devices.

The study, which was published in the journal Ophthalmology, suggests that spending more time outdoors and less time doing activities that require constant up-close focusing could be a strategy that may help to reduce the number of people who experience vision loss.

If you need to wear protective eyewear or glasses as part of your job, get into the habit of wearing the appropriate gear at all times to keep your eyes in tip-top shape and prevent damage or eye strain.

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Insider tips to maximize your doctor visit

Here’s what Harvard physicians advise you to do at your next appointment.

You know the routine: you’re waiting in the exam room, and your doctor comes in for what seems like a very quick visit before leaving to see the next person. You’re left feeling that you didn’t ask all of your questions or get a good understanding of your treatment plan. What happened?

“We’re under incredible pressure, and we’re scrutinized to be sure we’re seeing enough patients,” explains geriatrician Dr. Suzanne Salamon, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “We don’t have many minutes, and yet we have to go over each person’s medical issues, medications, and even end-of-life issues. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to talk.”

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Flu cases on the rise: RVNA offers shots, health tips

Flu activity across the country continues to increase.  

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), cases of the flu rose sharply over the last two weeks,  and are twice as high as the same time period last year.  As of the first week in January (the most recent data available), 49 states had widespread flu activity, including Connecticut.  All eight counties in the state are experiencing flu, with Hartford and Fairfield counties reporting the highest number of cases.

Characterized by the sudden onset of symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, and body aches, the flu is not something to take lightly. If not treated promptly, it can result in complications, including pneumonia and bronchitis, and may lead to hospitalization, even for otherwise healthy people.

What can you do to protect yourself? “The flu shot, while not foolproof, is still your best defense,” says April Rodríguez, RN, Community Health Nurse Manager for RVNA.  While it’s true that you may still come down with the flu even after getting the shot, it doesn’t mean that there’s no benefit.  Having the vaccine can result in milder symptoms and a shorter duration of illness if you do get sick.  Plus, having the flu shot can also help protect those around you who are more vulnerable, such as small children and the elderly.

Beyond the flu shot, RVNA nurses recommend other common-sense steps to keep yourself and those around you healthy:  

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth without washing your hands first. This is a common way germs are spread.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet.

If you come down with flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention and be careful around others. You can spread it for as long as a week after you’re sick.  To help contain the spread, follow these tips:

  • Limit your contact with other people as much as possible while you’re sick.
  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (except to get medical care).
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands immediately.  Even better, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.

The good news is that there’s still time to get a flu shot and benefit from the protection it provides. RVNA offers flu shots at its Center for Exceptional Care, 27 Governor Street in Ridgefield.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 203-438-5555, or visit

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Simple tips to fight inflammation

The awareness of the intersection between inflammation and chronic disease has spawned a plethora of diet plans, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle programs, many implying they offer new ways to improve your health by quelling inflammation. While it is true that scientists are uncovering new complexities and expanding their knowledge of factors that may contribute to inflammation or help counter it, there’s nothing new about inflammation itself. Likewise, much of the heavily hyped guidance for an anti-inflammation lifestyle boils down to the same no-nonsense health advice your grandmother might have given you.

Make healthy food choices

Our diets play an important role in chronic inflammation because our digestive bacteria release chemicals that may spur or suppress inflammation. The types of bacteria that populate our gut and their chemical byproducts vary according to the foods we eat. Some foods encourage the growth of populations of bacteria that stimulate inflammation, while others promote the growth of bacteria that suppress it.

Fortunately, you are probably already enjoying many of the foods and beverages that have been linked to reductions in inflammation and chronic disease. They include the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and brightly colored vegetables naturally contain high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols — potentially protective compounds found in plants.
  • Nuts and seeds. Studies have found that consuming nuts and seeds is associated with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Beverages. The polyphenols in coffee and the flavonols in cocoa are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea is also rich in both polyphenols and antioxidants.

For additional advice about ways to reduce inflammation, read the Online Guide, Inflammation from Harvard Medical School.

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7 weird health tips that are actually true

When you were a child, your mother probably warned you never to swallow chewing gum as it would get stuck in your gut. Another example is that if your got a seed or pip got in your ear, a tree would start growing inside your head.

We all know that these are just scary tales, but there are in fact a number of seemingly ridiculous health tips that are actually quite true.

The following seven health tips may seem weird, but can help you improve your health and in one instance even save your life:

1. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating

It’s better not to brush your teeth immediately after meals and drinks, especially if they contained a lot of acid. Examples are citrus fruits, tomatoes and fizzy drinks. The abrasive action of brushing can cause the acid to attack the tooth enamel and the layer underneath. It is best to wait at least half an hour before brushing. 

2. Build muscle to fit into a smaller size

A kilogram of muscle weighs the same as a kilo of fat, but muscle is more compact and takes up less space than fat. This explains why a muscular person who weighs the same as a chubbier one will likely fit into a smaller pair of jeans.

3. Eat more calories to lose weight

Carbohydrates on their own may do nothing but spike your blood sugar, leaving you even hungrier than before. Adding proteins and fats like peanut butter and cheese will increase the calorie count of your meal, but will help you get full more quickly and stay satisfied for longer, which will lead to ingesting fewer calories in the long run.

4. Drink a hot beverage to help you cool off

In India it is the norm to drink hot tea in hot weather. It sounds crazy, but according to a study, a hot drink will cool you off faster than a cold drink on a hot day. When you drink a hot beverage, your body produces more sweat which, when it evaporates, cools you off.

5. Exercise to increase your energy levels

After a long day at work, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do, but getting moving can actually energise you. Through exercise, we recharge tired cells by giving them more oxygen. Physical activity that builds muscle strength also improves the efficiency of the mitochondria that produce the energy in the cells.

6. ‘Freeze’ cardiac patients to save their life

Cooling a cardiac arrest patient’s core temperature to below 32.2 degrees Celsius – a process called “induced hypothermia”, either by injecting them with a cold saline solution or placing ice packs on them increases their chances of complete recovery.

Hypothermia – when your core body temperature drops so low that normal metabolism and bodily functions cease – can lead to death, but can also radically slow down the dying process.

7. Close the lid when you flush the toilet

You should always flush the toilet with the seat down. If you don’t, water particles from the toilet will float around your bathroom and finally land on surfaces like your toothbrush. 

Experts say flushing creates an invisible cloud, called “toilet plume”, that’s expelled into the air by the force of the flush.

The toilet plume may contain faecal bacteria and other microorganisms like viruses. 

Image credit: iStock

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How to get back in shape after the holidays – tips from top trainers in Hong Kong

The start of a new year invariably comes with the best of intentions for positive change. For so many people, January is the time to reset the clock – and their priorities, particularly in regards to health and fitness.

“Never fails,” says local fitness trainer David Menhennett. “It’s the classic New Year’s resolution scenario. I have a lot of former clients who come back to me this month. Between now and Lunar New Year it really picks up in the health and fitness industry.”

Ten top Hong Kong gym trainers to help you get fit fast and lose fat after the holidays

A 15-year resident of Hong Kong, Menhennett is a freelance trainer who spends much of his time at Optimum Performance Studio in Central. He trains a diverse clientele that is roughly half local and half expat, and has extensive experience working for a couple of the larger fitness clubs in Hong Kong.

“A large chunk of the success for the biggest health clubs in town,” he says, “is from people coming in at this time of year and taking out a membership and then never coming back.” It’s also a slightly disorienting time in Hong Kong as the gyms get more crowded and the bars a little more deserted.

Everybody seems, at least temporarily, obsessed with paying for their holiday sins.

“Many people start indulging around Thanksgiving in late November,” says Joyce Kempis-Marot, a lifestyle coach who also has years of personal training experience and now primarily focuses on holistic health and healing arts, and spends much of her time working out of the Aerial Arts Academy in Causeway Bay.

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“The parties and drinking get ramped up, particularly in a place like Hong Kong where there are endless social and work events through the Christmas holidays. The rationalisation is that come the beginning of January, they can get going again in the health and wellness department.”

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, hundreds of thousands of Americans are admitted annually to emergency rooms for injuries related to exercise equipment. Here in Hong Kong, the data is less definitive, but cautionary tales still abound.

“If you are unlucky enough to get bad supervision from a personal trainer, then injuries can and do happen, particularly when more people rush in,” says Menhennett. “We also see people getting injured in exercise classes when they get too competitive.”

It’s more than a little ironic that wanting to feel good can make you feel so bad. The haphazard rush to fitness seems to be a familiar theme and pattern that could be eradicated by exercising a little common sense.

“If you take small steps in the beginning, it will lead to bigger steps later,” says Menhennett. “People often fall down when they try and take on too much too soon, and are overwhelmed when they implement massive changes in their diet and exercise. The part of the brain that is associated with risk and reward says, there is just too much risk here. Better to go back to where we were.”

Here are four relevant tips from health professionals that could ensure your hoped-for lifestyle changes are sustainable.

Nutrition trumps training

“It doesn’t matter how rigorous your training regimen is,” says Marot. “If you are not eating properly, most of your exercise will be for naught. What you eat will dictate about 90 per cent of the results you are going to get.”

Be honest with yourself

“Any programme you incorporate that is related to exercise and diet has to be an honest reflection of what your lifestyle allows, otherwise it is bound to fail,” says Marot. Pick a time to exercise that works for you and stick with it.

US$600 DNA test that tells you how to exercise and what to eat offered to Hong Kong gym-goers – we give it a try

Be a discriminating consumer

“These days there is no excuse for not doing a bit of research on local clubs,” says Menhennett. “You walk into a gym and you can usually get a week’s membership for free as well as a few free sessions with a trainer … Explore a bit more before impulsively signing up.”

Keep it simple, at first

“You cannot go wrong with compound exercises,” says Marot, referring to exercises that involve more than one muscle group through the range of exercise. “It’s fast, efficient and effective. But if you have never used free weights, you need guidance. A couple of sessions with a trainer will work wonders and help you get your form right.

“When you are doing resistance exercises, form is crucial not only in helping to tone and grow the muscle, but in helping to prevent injury, as well.”

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15 Tips by Health Experts for Great Sleep in 2018!

13) “Look into your gut health!” recommends Kylene Terhune, FDNP, CPT “When your mucosal lining is stressed whether from our own mental/emotional stress, food sensitivities, or bacteria imbalances, this causes damage and inflammation. Most of your melatonin, which we commonly recognize as the good sleep hormone, is produced in your gut. When I focused on my own gut health by removing the stressors I discovered, while at the same time healing my gut lining, my melatonin more than doubled and my ability to get to sleep and stay asleep improved dramatically.”

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20 easy health tips to keep you more active at work

If you regularly find yourself tied to your desk the entire day at the office, you may want to consider being more active, as sitting down for too long every day can trigger health risks that are reportedly as high as those from smoking, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

According to, the negative effects of sitting all day are irreversible and cannot be compensated by good health habits in other areas. Hence, the only way to avoid these health risks is by decreasing the amount of time spent sitting and being more active.

Researchers from the University of Warwick reported that to cancel the negative effects of sitting too long, you have to walk as far as 11 kilometers or stand for seven to eight hours. 

If you think doing either of those two is rather impossible, there are, luckily, other ways to make you more active at work. Below are some suggestions:

Read also: How to sit correctly at your desk

  • Walk or do some stretching for at least 3-4 minutes every hour.
  • Work at a standing desk.
  • Have a meeting while standing.
  • Buy lunch or an afternoon snack at a place far away that you reach by walking.
  • Get your coffee at a coffee joint not so close to your office.
  • Park your car or motorcycle far away from the entrance of the office building.
  • Walk over to your colleagues’ desks to communicate while at the office, instead of calling or emailing them or sending chat messages.
  • If you need to go to the restroom, pick the one on the floor above of below your office – and don’t use the elevator to get there.
  • Use the stairs to reach your office, take a break to buy coffee at the lobby or have lunch.
  • If your office floor is quite high, opt for the elevator or escalator for several floors and then continue using the stairs.
  • Shake your feet by tapping them and rotating your ankles while working to increase blood circulation.
  • Always use the trash bin, printer, fax/photocopy machine farthest from your desk.
  • Circle your office building when going back after lunch or coming too early in the morning.
  • Get off at the bus stop before your actual office bus stop and then walk to the office.
  • Walk around the room when making a phone call.
  • Change your position or posture when sitting as often as possible.
  • Stretch your wrist, arm and neck muscles after hours of typing.
  • Do half-squats, little jumps or alternately balancing your body on one foot while waiting for the coffee machine to make coffee.
  • Get up as much as possible to get water. (kes)

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Glasgow dietitian gives her top tips to help you hit your healthy goals in 2018

As 2018 gets underway, a Glasgow-based food and diet expert is offering her top tips for how people can hit their health goals over the year ahead.

The most important step, according to Corfu-born Dr Katerina Vasilaki – The Mediterranean Dietitian – is to stop focusing on the number on the scales and instead shift your goals to creating healthier long-term lifestyle habits.

Dr Katerina, who set up her own food and health blog in 2015 to inspire people to adopt the Mediterranean diet and way of life, told Glasgow Live: “In recent years there has been a huge and growing focus on what our bodies look like, making way for an unhealthy increase in fad diets for short-term weight-loss.

“Unfortunately, these diets do not help us long-term, and extreme diet rules have been linked to an increased risk of developing an eating disorder.

“This January I am challenging my clients to do something different by bringing more long-lasting change in their diet and activity habits.

“January is a great month for new beginnings and for pursuing resolutions. Take responsibility for your health and choose to make some long-term healthy habits.

If you are struggling, remember to ask for the help of your registered dietitian, a regulated health professional who will give you individualised advice, nutrition information, recipes and menus to help you reach your health goals in a scientific and evidence based way ”

So here’s Katerina’s top five tips to get fit and stay healthy in 2018.


Start a food diary. This can be handwritten, electronic or you can use an app to record everything you eat and drink in as much detail as possible. Be honest with yourself but also be kind and non-judgemental.

At the end of each day take a minute to reflect on what choices were helpful and which were not and what you can do the next day to improve it.


(Image: Getty)

Avoid short-term fad diets. Yes, you may lose weight, but you will almost certainly gain it all back and maybe some more too. Instead, focus on adopting positive and long-term habits – these could be avoiding skipping meals, cooking from scratch most days, learning how to read food labels or eating less red meat.


Increase your exercise. Being physically active can bring amazing health benefits. This doesn’t mean you have to join the gym – instead find an activity you can see yourself doing most days of the week, start slow and keep at it.

If you’re not sure what to do try taking a brisk walk for 60 minutes most days.


(Image: GETTY)

Get motivated to adopt your new healthy lifestyle by involving a friend, spouse or even your kids. You’re more likely to go out and walk or try a new recipe if someone else wants to do it with you too!


If you’re not sure where to start with a healthy eating plan, speak to a registered dietitian (RD) or a registered nutritionist (RNutr). Nutrition is a complex issue and there are so many mixed messages in the media so it is not fair for you to struggle on your own.

A regulated health professional will give you individualised advice, nutrition information, recipes and menus to help you reach your health goals in a scientific and evidence based way.

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