Lyme Disease Awareness Month: The great tick off!

, , , , , , ,

The vast Minnesota wilderness is one of the reasons so many choose this state as their home. Living in Minnesota is like being one with nature. You can find a bounty of natural beauty just a short distance from your home. From lakes to wildlife, Minnesota has everything that makes our world special. However, nature also includes ticks and the bacteria they may or may not be carrying. May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and Tri-County Health Care wants you to enjoy the outdoors safely this summer.

What is Lyme disease?

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by tick bites. Primarily, this disease is spread by blacklegged ticks, commonly referred to as deer or bear ticks.

In the spring and summer, ticks begin searching for their first blood meal, which usually consists of rodents. Ticks are commonly associated with forests, but they can easily find their way into residential neighborhoods on the backs of mice and even pets. Luckily a tick needs to be stuck to the skin for several hours to transmit disease. Diseases carried by ticks include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Powassan virus disease
  • Borrelia miyamotoi disease
  • Borrelia mayonii disease
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Tularemia

By far, Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease. Experts are closely monitoring the spread of this disease and have noticed its frequency steadily increasing.

This video by Minnesota Lyme Disease Association puts the issue of Lyme Disease in Minnesota into perspective.

 

Lyme Disease Awareness Month is about learning the causes.

Symptoms and treatment

Symptoms usually appear within 30 days of the initial bite. One of the most common symptoms is a rash at the site of the bite. Sometimes it may appear to be a bulls-eye with a raised red sore in the middle and a circular patch of red skin around it. People may also experience chills, muscle pain, headaches, and fatigue.

If these symptoms appear, seek medical attention immediately. The chances of treating Lyme disease are better with early detection. After thorough examination and testing, treatment for Lyme disease includes antibiotics.

Prevention

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid ticks. Wear appropriate clothing that covers your body when exploring the outdoors. Also, make sure to use insect repellent. Additionally, when you return home, do a tick inspection. For example, use a mirror to examine your body for the tiny pests. If you discover one, remove it with tweezers. Submerging ticks in alcohol is a way to kill them.

Throughout Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Tri-County Health Care aims to make this summer safe for everyone. If you suspect you might have Lyme disease, please meet with your care provider as soon as possible. For scheduling, please call 218-631-3510.


Facing the heat: What’s the cause of your hot flashes?

, , ,

By Jennifer Arnhold, GYN, Embrace Women’s Health Clinic in Baxter

 

Soon, the Dog Days of summer will be upon us, when the heat reaches its peak and Minnesotans rush to experience the last freedom of the season.

But with the high temperature can come unexpected, intense waves of bodily heat called hot flashes. These are sudden sensations of warmth due to the widening of the blood vessels near the surface of your skin, most prominent across your face, neck and chest.

Though warm weather can be a cause of hot flashes, it’s only one of many. Here are some others:

Girl with hot flashes has face cooling in front of a fan.

Menopause

When a woman begins to enter menopause, her estrogen levels decrease. It is this decrease that we believe is the cause of menopausal hot flashes.

 

Medications

Hot flashes are a side effect of many common prescription medications, such as opioids or antidepressants. If your symptoms coincide with the start of a new medication, it’s likely that it could be the culprit. Let your provider know. Sometimes, your body can acclimate to the medication, or your provider may be able to switch you to a different drug.

 

Obesity

Women who are overweight have a significantly higher risk of experiencing hot flashes. Extra body fat changes your metabolism, which can promote hot flashes. Losing even 10 pounds can reduce your risk considerably.

 

Food

In particular, spicy food such as red chili, cayenne and hot mustard can raise your body’s temperature, triggering a hot flash. Alcohol and caffeine are also another known cause. Caffeine speeds up your heart rate and makes your blood vessels dilate. However, hot flashes could also trigger if you have an allergy or intolerance to certain foods. Pay attention to how your body reacts when you eat, and you may find the source of your hot flashes.

 

Stress or anxietyStressed girl suffering from hot flashes refreshing with a fan sitting on a couch in the living room at home.

Stress and anxiety can both manifest as a racing heart, fidgeting or shallow breathing. When this happens, your body may respond with a hot flash. A helpful method of easing these feelings is to practice breathing exercises by taking deep, slow breaths.

 

Medical conditions

Hot flashes could be a symptom associated with a number of medical conditions, especially involving your hormones or endocrine system. If a medical condition other than menopause is indeed to blame for your hot flashes, you may experience other symptoms. Talk to your provider if you do.

 

Night sweats

At night, your body temperature naturally fluctuates while you sleep, which is what causes some to wake up sweaty or feeling overheated. This may be a result of sleeping with too many blankets or keeping the room too warm. Instead, make sure your bedroom is cool, and sleep with layers that can be adjusted throughout the night.

 

Smoking

Not only do cigarettes reduce your lung capacity but they are also linked to hot flashes. Women who smoke are significantly more likely to experience intense hot flashes. You may want to consider quitting to lower your risk of hot flashes, as well as other serious health conditions.

 


Eight do’s and don’ts of tornado safety

, ,

By: Mike Ittner, NR, Paramedic, TCHC Emergency Preparedness Coordinator

Summer. What a wonderful time of the year! Grass and flowers are growing, and the Minnesota state bird, the mosquito, is back in full force. Not only that but summer brings about the Minnesota tornado season.

This season runs from early spring well into fall, as warm moisture comes in from the Gulf of Mexico and clashes with colder, drier air. The only months during which a tornado has never touched down in Minnesota are December, January and February. tornado warning sign

To recognize a tornado, FEMA suggests looking for these danger signs:

  • Dark, greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, low-lying cloud, particularly if rotating
  • Loud roar, similar to a freight train

If you find yourself caught in a tornado emergency, follow these do’s and don’ts so that you will know how to react calmly and stay safe in each situation.

 

  1. House – with basement

DO: Get to the basement and shield yourself with sturdy protection such as a heavy table or work bench, or use a mattress or blankets.

DON’T: Sit in the basement where heavy objects like a piano or refrigerator rest on the floor above. They could fall through the floor if it’s weakened by the storm.

 

  1. House – without basement

DO: Go to a stairwell or interior hallway without windows and crouch as low as possible. Cover yourself with a mattress or blankets.

DON’T: Stand near windows or other glass objects.

 

  1. Mobile home

DO: Get out as quickly as possible and find a shelter or lie flat on low ground away from trees and cars, protecting your head.

DON’T: Stay in the mobile home, even if it is tied down, as most tornadoes can destroy mobile homes that are tied down.

 

  1. Apartment, dorm or condo

DO: Go to the lowest level and move away from windows. In a high-rise building, find a hallway or stairwell in the center of the building.

DON’T: Take shelter in an elevator. Power may be lost, trapping you inside.

 

  1. Office building or storestorm with tornado

DO: Be conscientious of others and take cover in a windowless, enclosed area in the middle of the building.

DON’T: Ignore the instructions of facility managers.

 

  1. School

DO: Follow the drill and follow instructions given to you by faculty. Go to an interior hall or room. Crouch, put your head down and protect your head with your arms.

DON’T: Take shelter in large, spacious rooms such as gyms or auditoriums.

 

  1. Car or truck

DO: Drive away from the tornado at a right angle if it is far away and if traffic is light. Otherwise, park, get out and find shelter in a building or by lying flat on low ground.

DON’T: Seek shelter under a bridge. It offers little protection from flying debris and can accelerate wind speed.

 

  1. Outdoors

DO: Find shelter in a building. If that’s not possible, lie flat on low ground and protect your head with your arms.

DON’T: Take shelter under a bridge or near trees or cars. A tornado can blow them onto you.

 

 

Source: Minnesota Department of Public Safety