Do I Have COVID-19 or Seasonal Allergies?

It’s that time of the year again—seasonal allergies are returning. With spring approaching and people taking to the outdoors more with the warming weather, allergies can really wreak havoc. What’s more is that coronavirus continues to spread and unfortunately shares similar symptoms of seasonal allergies. Unsure if you’re sick or have allergies? Read on to learn some major differences.

 

Seasonal allergies affect nearly 8% of Americans.

 

What are seasonal allergies? Seasonal allergies are an allergic response most commonly caused by tree, grass and ragweed pollens. It is also called allergic rhinitis.

 

When do seasonal allergies start? Seasonal allergies can begin to occur as early as February, when tree pollination starts and continue through the spring and summer months with grass and ragweed pollens.

Mild winters can cause plants to pollinate early as well as warm, rainy springs as this promotes plant growth.

 

How can I protect myself? If you know that you have seasonal allergies, it’s important to note the weather. Warm, windy days are the worst if you have allergies. On these days, limit your outdoor time, wash your hands, face and clothes upon returning inside.

Additionally, you may take an over-the-counter antihistamine to limit the severity of your allergen response.

 

Seasonal allergies can occur year-round depending on geographical climate.

 

Are seasonal allergies similar to COVID-19? Yes and no. The coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, is an infectious, upper respiratory infection spread between humans. Seasonal allergies are not contagious.

However, symptoms of seasonal allergies and COVID-19 can be similar, with a few important distinctions.

Symptoms of COVID-19 similar to seasonal allergies:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion, runny nose

Symptoms of COVID-19 NOT similar to seasonal allergies:

  • Fever, chills
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

Symptoms of seasonal allergies NOT similar to COVID-19:

  • Sneezing
  • Running, watery or itchy eyes

 

It’s important to note that these lists of symptoms are not exclusive and many other symptoms of both seasonal allergies and COVID-19 may exist. If you believe you have a problem with seasonal allergies, talk with your primary care provider for relief and mitigation options.

If you believe that you have contracted COVID-19, do NOT go to your clinic. Stay at home and call your primary care provider for guidance.

Sources: cdc.gov, acaai.org

How Do I Create a Health Goal?

We all have our own reasons for creating health goals. Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau in your exercise routine or weight management plan. Maybe you’ve been wanting to improve your mental and emotional health. But what do you do if you haven’t created a health goal before? We’re glad you asked! We’ve put together a checklist of simple steps for you to take in order to get started.

 

  1. Visit your doctor. This is to discuss the current state of your health. They may be able to help you prioritize health goals, such as smoking cessation.
  2. Brainstorm options. While any one health goal can have a domino effect on your overall wellbeing (quitting smoking improves lung health but may also improve sleep quality, for example), it may be best to start with one goal instead of overwhelming yourself with lots of options all at once.
  3. Define your “why.” Once you’ve decided on your goal, become crystal clear and specific as to why it matters to you. If it doesn’t matter that much to you, you won’t be nearly as invested, and you won’t stick with it.
  4. Make it reasonable. If your goal is unattainable, you may give up altogether or look to unhealthy tactics in order to achieve it. Make sure it’s realistic and follows the steps stated above.
  5. Be specific. Instead of saying, “This year I want to lose 40 pounds” break it down into specific and actionable steps. Try, “This week I’m going to drink more water and prepare more fruits and vegetables into my meals” or “I’m going to lose one pound this week.” When it seems achievable, you’ll be more empowered.
  6. Set a deadline. You’ll want your deadline to be like your goal—specific, reasonable and attainable. You want to be challenged to reach it, but you also want to set yourself up for success too.
  7. Ask for support. It’s okay to ask for help! Whether you’re looking for an accountability buddy or need medical guidance, asking for help takes courage and strength and shows how important your goal means to you.
  8. Be persistent. Even on the days when you don’t think you can do it, show up for yourself. You’ve created small, actionable steps and every day that you act on them, is a day you move closer to achieving your goal.
  9. Keep track. Whether you create a journal, a diary, a notepad or writing entries on your calendar, keep track of the actions you’re taking towards this goal.
  10. Reward success. Each time you reach a new portion of your goal—celebrate yourself! This reminds you of your “why” and will help keep you motivated.

 

If you’re having trouble defining a goal or the actions needed to attain it, reach out to your primary care provider. At DFD, your health is our number one goal.

Loving Your Heart at Every Age

When you make healthy choices, you’re giving yourself the opportunity for a longer and healthier life. Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to your heart and it’s never too early to learn about the importance of heart health. Let’s break down some basics and actions you can take at any age.

 

Teens: According to the CDC, tobacco product use primarily starts in adolescence. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 adults started smoking before the age of 18. Reasons why teens and young adults start smoking include:

  • Their parents smoke
  • They’re under peer pressure
  • They want to show their independence
  • Marketing companies use clever tactics to appeal to younger people

Try this: If you have young children, teach them the dangers of smoking and the long-term health effects. Let them know that smoking as little as 100 cigarettes could make them addicted and quitting can be tough. If you smoke, know that quitting greatly increases your cardiovascular health and sets a good example for young people.

 

20s: This is when most people are in their physical prime! Now is the time to discover the benefits—for your body and mind—of a regular exercise routine. Moving your body every day and doing strength training can establish a healthy routine to take with you as you age.

Try this: Try different forms of exercise to find those that you like. Your body will appreciate aerobic and strength training workouts both are wonderful for you heart health. Make sure to train smart, take rest days, and always strive to achieve your fitness goals. Your future self will thank you.

 

30s: During middle age, we start to see changes in our physical, emotional and mental health and we see the short- and long-term effects of our decisions. Setting routines, boundaries and committing to healthy choices now sets you up for success later in life.

Try this: Attend annual exams and screenings with your primary care provider. Together you can use your family history, blood pressure, cholesterol counts, and other vital factors to set up a baseline of your current health. Knowledge is power!

 

40s: Generally, people in their 40s are well into their careers and maybe even raising a family. Self-care and their personal health may fall to the wayside. Know that stress and burnout can contribute negatively to your health both in the short and long-term.

Try this: Make sure to get quality sleep every night. This is when your body rests and repairs itself. Manage your stress as best as you can. Try breathwork, journaling, or quick walks around the block when you notice that you’re stressed. Having high stress levels puts you in fight or flight mode and depletes your body of the energy and resources it needs to thrive.

 

50s: According to heart.org, this is a time when people tend to put on more weight. Our body may not be as efficient at “working off” those donuts as it was in our 20s and 30s as our metabolism has slowed down. Maintaining a healthy weight can increase your chances of avoiding heart disease.

Try this:
Add more fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fatty fish to your diet. Branch out and try more plant-based meals. Eat seasonal and local produce whenever possible. It’s not about depriving your body of food but adding more nutritious foods to your plate.

 

60s: It’s a myth that people become too old to workout. In fact, when you’re more sedentary it becomes more difficult to maintain regular movement and that is what will hinder your exercise routine.

Try this:
Speak with your primary care provider, physical therapist or training coach to help you modify your favorite physical activities to help protect your joints and prevent injury. Keep moving safely!

 

70s and beyond: As we age, our bodies may require more maintenance—that’s okay! It’s normal for our bodies to change and need more support, but we can adapt and still follow a healthy lifestyle.

Try this:
Continue to attend your appointments, take your medications and follow the health plan that you and your primary care provider have created.

 

 

No matter your age, taking any or all of these actions will dramatically decrease your chances of developing heart disease, chronic health issues, cancer and stroke. If you need help figuring out where to start, please reach out to us. At DFD, your health is at the heart of what we do.

 

 

Source: cdc.gov, heart.org, lung.org

 

 

 

COVID-19 FAQ Sheet

Coronavirus cases have been spreading in the United States since early 2020 and cases have been on the rise since the fall months. Becoming informed and taking proper precautions is imperative in beating this disease.

 

Basic Facts

What is COVID-19? COVID-19 is a new coronavirus that has not been identified before. It is not the same as other coronaviruses that cause the common cold, for example.

 

Who is at risk? While everyone is at risk for catching and spreading the COVID-19 disease, those who are aged 65 and older, pregnant, or who have underlying health concerns are at higher risk.

 

How is it spread? The virus that causes the disease we now call COVID-19 is most commonly spread between people who are in close contact with one another, approximately 6 feet or less. It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs, sneezes, talks, sings, or breathes.

 

These droplets can then be inhaled through the nose and mouth and make their way into your airways and lungs, causing an infection. Respiratory droplets can also land on objects and surfaces and then be transferred when a person touches that object or surface and then touches their face, nose or mouth. The main way believed to spread the virus is through human contact with an infected individual and not contaminated surfaces.

 

What are the signs or symptoms of COVID-19? Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to that of the seasonal flu with some exceptions and may range from mild to severe illness. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle/body aches
  • Congestion/runny nose
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

If you experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of smell or taste you may have contracted COVID-19.

 

Is it possible to test positive for COVID-19 and the flu at the same time? Yes. Because signs and symptoms are similar, testing for the seasonal flu and COVID-19 may display similar readings. Getting a seasonal flu vaccine is an important way to protect yourself from illness and prevent a variable when getting tested for COVID-19.

 

When should I get emergency care from COVID-19 symptoms? If you or anyone in your family has contracted COVID-19, it’s advised to be alert to any change in illness or symptoms. If breathing becomes more difficult, the person shows confusion, or a blue-ish tint to their lips or face, call 911 IMMEDIATELY.

When you call emergency services, let them know that the patient has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Prevention

How can I protect myself and my family? The best way to protect you and your family are to:

  • Wear masks/facial coverings
  • Avoid crowds
  • Social distance whenever possible
  • Wash hands with soap frequently

 

Is it safe to get medical care? It’s important to keep your regularly scheduled appointments and screenings to optimize your health. However, if you are feeling unwell, it’s advised that you stay at home. Contact your clinic office to let them know you are unwell and to reschedule appointments and screenings for another time.

It is also possible that your clinic office may contact you to reschedule appointments and screenings if they have had an influx of more serious health concerns including COVID-19 cases.

 

How often should I clean? It’s advised that you wash your hands often throughout the day and after sneezing, coughing, going to the bathroom and preparing and eating food. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily including refrigerators, tech devices, door handles and knobs, counters and other highly uses services.

 

What should I use for products? Regular EPA-approved household cleaners are sufficient. It’s important to note that cleaning and disinfecting are different.

  • Cleaning: using soap and water, removes dirt, germs and impurities from surfaces.
  • Disinfecting: kills germs that are on surfaces.

For the best protection, clean and then disinfect surfaces.

 

If You or Someone You Know Gets Sick

What do I do if myself or someone in my family gets sick? If you or a family member gets sick, it’s highly advised that you stay at home whether you believe you’ve contracted COVID-19 or something different such as the seasonal flu.

Keeping washing hands and disinfecting surfaces. Monitor the individual’s symptoms and keep them isolated if possible.

 

What medical supplies should I have on hand? It’s best to have at least 14 days of prescription medications on hand at all times, if possible. It’s also helpful to have:

  • A thermometer
  • Tissues
  • Pain/fever reducer
  • Cough suppressants
  • Soap/hand sanitizer

 

What do I do if I come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19? It’s imperative that you stay at home and self-isolate for at least 14 days. Stay alert for any symptoms that may arise. If you become ill, do NOT go to a clinic. This may increase the spread. If you develop serious symptoms as stated above, call 911 immediately.

If you have any further questions about COVID-19, please call your primary health care provider’s office or look to the CDC website for guidance at www.cdc.gov.

 

We all must do our part to limit the spread of this disease and keep ourselves and our communities safe.

Source: cdc.gov

Shake Off Sugar for Your Health

Did you know that sugar is the most popular ingredient added to foods in the United States? In fact, the average American consumes 152 pounds per year—that’s three pounds per week! Serious health complications can arise when too much sugar is consumed including weight gain or obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In order to quit our habit with sugar (or have a healthier relationship with it) we must become more educated about it.

 

Americans, aged 6 years and older, consumed about 14% of total daily calories from added sugars in 2003–2010. (source: cdc.gov)

 

What is sugar? The most popular sweetener, sugar can go by many names, making it more difficult to limit. When reading packages and labels, look for these terms that refer to sugar: sucrose, maltose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, lactose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, molasses, and brown sugar. Keep in mind that healthy alternatives still act as sugar in your body and these can include maple syrup, raw sugar, agave nectar and stevia.

 

Where is sugar hidden? You may know that sugar is in foods such as ice cream, cakes, cookies and other sweet treats. But it’s also added to many packaged foods too. When grocery shopping and preparing meals, it’s important to read labels for any of the above-mentioned sugary ingredients. These are common foods with hidden added sugars:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned soup
  • Breads
  • Dried fruit
  • Granola
  • Yogurt
  • Cereal
  • Juice, smoothies
  • Condiments

 

How much sugar is safe to eat? Since we all have different levels of health, this is best discussed with your primary health care provider. However, a general guideline is 9 teaspoons per day for men, and 6 teaspoons per day for women.

 

How can I keep my sugar intake in check? First and foremost, discuss any health concerns with your doctor. Next, become comfortable reading nutrition labels on every food item you purchase—especially those impulse items you grab when you’re hungry. Finally, be cautious when ordering take out or dining at a restaurant. Ask how foods are prepared and what, if any, ingredients are added during preparation.

 

Take matters into your own hands and start swapping out your favorite sugary foods for a healthier option. You can start here by swapping:

  • Soda and juice for water or unsweetened seltzer
  • Flavored yogurt for plain yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Bottled salad dressings for homemade dressings
  • Ketchup for unsweetened ketchup
  • Bread and tortillas for lettuce

 

 

Sources: cdc.gov, dhhs.nh.gov

DFD Russell Free Flu Shot Clinic

November flu shot clinic open to adult DFD patients

DFD Russell Medical Centers is offering a free flu clinic for its patients on Saturday, November 7 from 10am-2pm at our Monmouth, Turner and Leeds locations.

Getting a flu shot lowers your risk of contracting the seasonal flu by 40-60%.

To participate…

Arrive at your DFD clinic location between the hours of 10am-2pm on Saturday, November 7, 2020. Because there is limited availability of seasonal flu vaccines, it’s best that you arrive early. Patients will be seen in the order in which they arrive and must be at least 18 years old.

Please Stay home if…

To keep our communities safe, we ask that you arrive wearing a mask or face covering and remain socially distanced from others. Reported symptoms of COVID-19 vary but include symptoms similar to those caused by the seasonal flu. Stay home to rest if you have:

  • fever or chills
  • cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • new loss of taste and/or smell
  • headache, fatigue, body aches
  • sore throat, congestion, runny nose
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Flu vaccines protect you and your family and help prevent the spread of illnesses. In fact, around half of all Americans get a flu shot each year!

 

Can’t attend this flu clinic? Call your primary care provider to schedule a seasonal flu shot for yourself and your family today!

Can I Get a Good Workout in the Water?

Lying on the beach or by the pool is relaxing, but water can also be a great tool to implement into your workout routine. Exercising in water provides the resistance needed to strengthen muscles while also relieving joints of high impact pressure of other exercises. It’s also a great way to stay cool and beat the summer heat!

Exercising in water can be just what you need to change up your routine this summer. Performing different exercises and movements allows your body to rest, develop different muscles, and prevent fatigue or injury. Get out there and try something new this summer!

 

Stand-Up Paddleboarding

  • A full-body workout that’s always a fun way to get on the water. Your core and legs activate for balance, and your arms, shoulders, and upper back work to paddle you around. Using the stand-up paddleboard to float on top of the water adds an extra layer of challenge to yoga and other stretching exercises.

Swimming

  • Whether in a pool or open body of water, swimming is an excellent form of cardio that also strengthens your entire body. Swimming is low impact and therefore great for your bones and joints. One hour of swimming burns the same amount of calories as running! When swimming, be aware of your surroundings and water depth. Always swim with a buddy.

 

Canoeing/Kayaking

  • A relaxing and recreational activity that allows you take in the scenery and still get in a workout. While you may not work up a sweat paddling in a canoe or kayak, it’s great for developing range of movement and strength in your arms, shoulders and back.

 

Pool Aerobics/Yoga

Walking or jogging laps around the pool are low impact activities that get your heart pumping, building cardiovascular conditioning. Also, you can perform the same exercises in the pool as you do on dry ground! Try these movements the next time you’re in a pool:

  • Place your hands on the edge of the pool to perform strength training pushups
  • Jumping jacks engage both your arms and legs and act as cardio
  • Side shuffles and squats activate quadriceps and glute muscles
  • High knee lift extensions activate your core which is essential for balance
  • The buoyancy of water helps to maintain your balance and increase flexibility when doing yoga poses. Try Tree, Lunge, Warrior, and Chair poses to start.

Be aware of the depth of the pool. Staying near the shallow end is best.

 

Although working out in or near water can help to keep you cool, it’s important to remember these safety tips:

  • Always take a buddy with you when in or near water
  • Know your surroundings, the depth of water and ways to exit the water
  • Keep yourself well hydrated all day
  • Use sunscreen once every two hours even water-resistant brands
  • Avoid working out during the hottest times of the day

 

Living Well Workshops by Healthy Living for ME

Now Open for Registration! 

 

DFD Russell Medical Centers is excited to announce new workshops by Healthy Living for Me. These workshops each discuss one topic including Living Well for Better Health, Living with Chronic Pain and Living with Diabetes.

Healthy Living for Me is an online resource providing evidence-based health education, fitness instruction and self-care strategies with the aim of improving wellness and quality of life.

These workshops are free to the public however, registration is required. Attendance can be over the Zoom platform or by telephone. Each class is led by a team of three instructors from different organization partners including Bonny Eagle Adult Education and Spectrum Generations.

 

Interested in virtually attending one of these class series? Check out the details below:

 

Living Well for Better Health: 6-session series

WHEN: Tuesdays, September 15 – October 20, 2020
TIME: 1pm – 3pm
WHERE: Online via Zoom
INFO: Register here or by contacting Katherine Mills: kmills@healthylivingforme.org or (207) 440-2390.

 

Living Well with Chronic Pain: 6-session series

WHEN: Wednesdays, September 30 – November 4, 2020
TIME: TBD
WHERE: Online, via Zoom or by telephone
INFO: For details and course information: email info@healthylivingforme.org or call 1-800-620-6036.

 

Living Well with Diabetes: 6-session series

WHEN: Tuesdays, October 6 – November 10, 2020
TIME: 9am – 11am
WHERE: Online via Zoom
INFO: Register here or by contacting Katherine Mills at kmills@healthylivingforme.org or call (207) 440-2390.

Introducing Secure Online Bill Pay

A fast, secure and convenient way to pay your bill online.

At DFD Russell Medical Center, we are committed to making your healthcare experience simple and reliable, including the way you pay your bill. Secure Online Bill Pay is fast, convenient and accessible 24 hours a day, seven days per week.

You don’t have to have to have a patient portal to use Secure Online Bill Pay—anyone can pay online.

What you will need:

  • Most recent billing statement
  • Patient account number

How to use Secure Online Bill Pay:

  • Simply go to dfdrussell.org
  • Select “Pay my bill” from the For our Patients drop down menu
  • Enter the required information
  • Pay using desktop, tablet or smart phone

Accepted payments include major credit cards, debit cards, or electronic withdrawal from a checking or savings account.

Payments are still accepted through mail or by phone.

If you have questions about your bill or making payments online, please reach out to us at (207) 524-3501

 

 

 

Minding Your Mental Health

Mental health is your emotional, psychological and overall wellbeing. It affects how you think, feel and act. It also helps in establishing how you handle stress, relate to other people, and make choices. Your mental health is not in a static state and requires your attention throughout your entire life.

If you have poor mental health at any point in your life, your thinking, mood, and behaviors could be affected. Family history, life experiences and biological factors such as brain chemistry can contribute to mental health issues.

 

Importance of positive mental health

When you care for your mental health, you’re caring for your overall wellbeing. Positive mental health promotes productivity at work and school, maintains your connections and relationships, and helps you to cope with the stresses of daily life.

There are many ways to maintain positive mental health.

  • Connect with others often
  • Be physically active regularly
  • Volunteer or help others
  • Get proper sleep
  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Talk about your thoughts and feelings
  • Create coping skills for stress

 

Early signs of mental health issues

There are early warning signs to look for whether it’s in your own life or someone you care about. While this isn’t an all-inclusive list, experiencing one or more of the following could indicate a mental health problem:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Self-isolating from people and normal activities
  • Changes in energy levels
  • Showing signs of apathy or disinterest
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Any unexplained aches and pains
  • Unusual irritability
  • Severe mood swings
  • Using substances more frequently (alcohol, smoking, drugs)
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

 

Quick note: If you need professional help, don’t be afraid—reach out. Discuss recommended courses of action with your healthcare provider.

Those with poor mental health or a diagnosed mental illness have increased chances of physical health issues such as stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Your mental and physical health go hand in hand and are integral to your overall wellbeing.