stress-free Thanksgiving

6 steps for a stress-free Thanksgiving

Between cleaning your house, preparing the holiday meal and dealing with family, Thanksgiving can quickly go from celebratory to stressful. Here a few ways to keep stress at a minimum:

1. Ask for help.

Divide and conquer your to-do list with the help of family member or guests. Don’t hesitate to ask for help with food prep and other chores around the house.

2. Take a deep breath.

Practice deep breathing. Taking deep breaths when you get stressed out can lower your heart rate and help your body naturally relax.

Try the 4-7-8 method recommended by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Andrew Weil – breathe in slowly for four counts, hold for seven counts, then exhale for eight counts.

3. Enjoy the atmosphere.

Prepare a feel-good Thanksgiving playlist with music that will make cooking fun and keep your guests in a good mood.

Take regular breaks from preparing dinner to chat with friends and family or simply to rest your feet.

4. Make time for a turkey trot.

Get some exercise earlier in the day, before you sit down at the dinner table.

A brisk 30-minute walk can burn between 100 and 200 calories and help get you on the right side of the day’s calorie count. And not only that, exercise of any kind helps trigger your body’s natural stress-relieving responses.

5. Keep the meal manageable.

If you’re hosting this year’s feast, don’t stress about trying to please everyone. Keep the meal simple and don’t overextend yourself trying to prepare too much.

If guests want a certain type of stuffing, a particular side dish or a special kind of pie that you weren’t planning to make, ask them to bring it.

6. Don’t beat yourself up.

Think about your health this holiday, but remember, it’s just one day.  If you do go for that second slice of pumpkin pie or extra helping of stuffing, it’s not the end of the world. Enjoy yourself and the company of friends and family on Thanksgiving, while resolving to make healthy choices part of your year-round lifestyle.


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Want your kids to stay smoke-free? Start with these tips.

Anti-smoking messages seem to be everywhere, but still every year thousands of teenagers try cigarettes. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking. Here are some tips:

  • Start early. Begin talking to your kids when they’re 5 or 6, and keep the conversation going. Be sure to keep the information you share appropriate to their age.
  • Be honest. Ask your kids what they find appealing and unappealing about smoking. If you smoke or have smoked, tell to your children why it was such a bad decision.
  • Set a good example. Don’t smoke, and if you do, quit. If you’ve had trouble quitting, talk to you kids about why it’s so hard and why you wish you’d never started.
  • Make it real and share statistics. Using tobacco causes many serious health problems and has a negative effect on the way we look, smell, feel and act.
  • Encourage anti-smoking activities. Sports, band or other school activities inhibit smoking, keep kids busy and encourage healthy behavior.
  • Talk about peer pressure. Offer good examples of how to say no to tobacco (and other bad influences).
  • Have clear punishments. Let your children know how you will discipline them if they smoke.
  • Spend time with your kids. Share meals together, plan activities or find fun ways to connect.

Remember, children are influenced by their friends and what they see on TV and online, but parents are still the most important influence in their lives.


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How to help a loved one cope with withdrawal – and quit for good

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an event held annually to encourage the millions of smokers in the U.S. to quit or to make a plan to quit. Giving up cigarettes is one of the hardest things many people will ever do, so if you have a friend or loved one trying to quit, know that your support can make a huge difference.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Respect that the quitter is in charge. Be a good listener and ask how you can help.
  • Learn how people quit. Find out about quitting aids like nicotine patches, gum or non-nicotine medication.
  • Provide “supplies” to help them quit. This could include hard candy, gum or toothpicks, or even fresh vegetables cut up in the refrigerator.
  • Plan and encourage distractions. Take a walk, go to the movies or start a new hobby together.
  • Keep your home smoke free. This includes not only cigarettes, but also lighters and ash trays. Remove any reminders of smoking.
  • Reduce stress by helping with chores, cooking or even childcare.
  • Don’t take it personally. Nicotine withdrawal is a real thing, so expect some grumpiness. Withdrawal symptoms don’t last forever, and usually go away after two weeks.
  • Celebrate! Quitting smoking is a big deal that should be rewarded.

Helping with a slip-up:

  • Don’t tease, blame or make the quitter feel guilty.
  • Don’t assume they’ll automatically relapse. Taking a puff or smoking a cigarette does not mean the quitter is a failure.
  • Be affirmative. Remind them of the reasons they quit and the positive gains they’ve made.
  • Help make a plan. A failed attempt to quit is a good opportunity to talk about triggers and ask how else you can help.
  • Be realistic. It’s not uncommon for ex-smokers to start smoking again, so remind the quitter that they aren’t alone.

How to help if you’re a smoker:

  • Be respectful. Know that when you smoke, it’s a trigger for someone who is trying to quit.
  • Keep your cigarettes, lighter or matches out of sight.
  • Don’t joke. Don’t offer a cigarette, even if you’re kidding.
  • Know that you can help. Even if you smoke, you can offer encouragement and praise to someone who is quitting.

Be positive, and let your friend or loved one know that you’re here to help for the long haul. Your support can greatly increase the chances of success for the person giving up smoking.


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Dr. Jonathan Kiev answers questions about lung cancer.

Got questions about lung cancer? Dr. Jonathan Kiev has answers.

Dr. Jonathan Kiev

Dr. Jonathan Kiev

Written by Dr. Jonathan Kiev, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UK HealthCare.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so now’s a great time for me to answer some common questions about the disease.

Lung cancer is a major problem in Kentucky. Unfortunately, our state leads the nation in both lung cancer incidence and deaths.

The good news is people who are at high risk for lung cancer – specifically, those who have a history of smoking – are eligible to undergo low-dose CT screening for the disease. This diagnostic test allows us to find lung cancer at a much earlier stage, giving us more time to potentially provide life-saving treatments. Even better news? The UK Markey Cancer Center has a Lung Cancer Screen Program for patients at high risk.

So, who’s at risk for lung cancer and what causes the disease?

First and foremost, if you smoke, seek help to quit.

Smoking is by far the No. 1 cause of lung cancer, and it causes head and neck cancers, too. It’s responsible for a variety of health problems not seen in non-smokers. In addition, hypertension and peripheral vascular disease are directly related to smoking, which is why getting on a nicotine cessation program is the first step.

(Related: Check out our tips for conquering a smoking addiction.)

Your doctor will take into account your current health and health history to decide if you are at risk for lung cancer. They will then order the appropriate blood tests and imaging (chest X-ray and CT scan) to see if you have developed early signs of the disease.

Can working in a coal mine or around asbestos cause lung cancer?

Any inhaled substance or chemical can cause lung cancer over repeated exposure, so the short answer is yes.

More importantly, exposure to these types of substances in high-risk professions can lead to other chronic lung illnesses as well. Patients in these professions need to be followed by specialists who understand their occupational risks and hazards.

What is lung cancer staging?

Staging is a way for your physician to determine the type of lung cancer that you have, and whether it has spread to your lymph nodes or to other organs.

Lung cancer can spread to the brain, bones and the adrenal gland. These are all treatable areas, but we like to catch the tumor as early as possible. Staging allows physicians to determine which therapy is best for you: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination of those. Additionally, your prognosis and risk of recurrence are linked to cancer stage.

How is lung cancer treated?

There are different options to treat lung cancer, so it’s important for you and your family to seek second opinions and find a physician who understands your priorities.

Surgery is best used for early-stage tumors that are smaller, but we can also perform successful operations for larger tumors that have spread to the chest wall. Radiation is available to patients that are not interested in or are not healthy enough to recover from a major chest surgery.

How is lung cancer surgery performed?

Thoracic surgeons specialize in the latest oncology techniques to successfully perform lung cancer surgery.

Typically, surgeons use small incisions and a camera to remove the diseased segments of the lung and its surrounding lymph nodes. Occasionally, a larger incision between the ribs is necessary (this is called a thoracotomy) if the tumor is large or centrally located.

Is robotic surgery available for lung cancer?

Yes, robotic surgery has been available for about 10 years, and it allows your surgeon to remove the affected lung or areas of the lung.

Robotic surgery provides a three-dimensional view, allowing surgeons to better see the areas they’re operating on.


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holiday travel safety

Hitting the road for the holidays? Keep these 8 safety tips in mind.

Thanksgiving is nearly here, which means the busy holiday travel season between November and January is upon us.

The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are some of the busiest travel times of the year. With many people on the road, the risk of travel-related accidents also goes up.

Whether you’re hopping on the highway to visit friends in town or driving cross-country to see family, remember to keep safety in mind for each member of your family.

1. Use car seats for babies and toddlers.

Babies under the age of 2 should use rear-facing car seats, while toddlers older than 2 can use forward-facing car seats. Using child safety seats correctly can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

If it’s cold outside, cover babies and young children with a thick blanket to keep them warm, after they’re strapped securely into their seat. Bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat harness from doing its job.

2. Use booster seats and the backseat for older kids.

Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have transitioned from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.

3. Take your time when traveling with kids.

When you hear the all-too-familiar howl from the back seat that means “I want food” or “change my diaper,” don’t worry about making good time. Instead, get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.

4. Share the road – and the wheel.

Map out your route before you leave, making note of any construction zones or closures that could affect your itinerary. Leave earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic, and let your friends and family know when you plan to arrive.

If you’re driving long distances, divvy up driving responsibilities between drivers in your group. If you start to feel tired, pull over and switch with another driver or stop and rest until you’re able to drive safely.

6. Be prepared for bad weather.

Inclement weather can turn even a short road trip into a white-knuckle ride. Before you leave, check the weather forecast and be aware of possible snowy or icy conditions.

Stay off the road during bad weather, if possible. If you have to drive during inclement weather or hit a hazardous stretch during your trip, remember to slow down, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you, and avoid all distractions to keep your focus on the road.

7.  Keep the car stocked.

In case of a travel emergency, make sure your car is stocked with everything you’ll need. This includes a first-aid kit, flashlight, ice scraper, blankets, salt or kitty litter for tire traction, and snacks for everyone in your car.

Make sure cell phones are charged before you depart in case you need to call for help or use your phone’s GPS for directions. And always have a paper map on hand, just in case.

8. More time means less stress.

Giving yourself more than enough time to get to your destination, in case you run into traffic or bad weather. Some stress during the holidays is unavoidable, but a little planning before your trip can help keep the holidays safe and fun.


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diabetes risk assessment

It only takes 60 seconds to assess your risk for diabetes

Diabetes affects nearly 600,000 Kentuckians  that’s one in every eight people living in the state. And many in Kentucky who have the disease don’t even know it.

Over time, diabetes damages nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve problems, gum infections and amputation. The good news is that recognizing possible diabetes symptoms early on can lead to successful diagnosis and treatment. Common early symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst and increased urination.
  • Weight loss and constant hunger.
  • Vision changes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Tingling hands and feet.
  • Red, swollen, tender gums.
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections.

Take the ADA’s Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you’re one of the nine in 10 Americans at risk for the disease. The test takes only 60 seconds to complete, and knowing your results is the first step toward a healthier lifestyle.


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Pledge to quit during the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16

Audrey K. Darville, PhD, APRN, CTTS

Written by Audrey K. Darville, an associate professor in the UK College of Nursing and a certified tobacco treatment specialist.

Tobacco use continues to take a massive toll on the lives of Kentuckians. Currently, one in four Kentuckians smoke cigarettes, and certain groups, like pregnant women, smoke at even higher rates. Tobacco use also takes an enormous toll on our economy. Each year, Kentucky spends nearly $2 billion treating Kentuckians who get sick from smoking and employers spend $5,816 a year in healthcare costs and lost productivity for every employee who smokes.

Tobacco use is a chronic problem causing serious and severe health conditions and early death. Nicotine is addictive, and users need help to quit. Even after a smoker quits, relapse, or starting to smoke again, is common. Fewer than five out of 100 people who quit cold turkey (without help) succeed.

There are many efforts in place to help reduce smoking in the Commonwealth. The Great American Smokeout, which takes place on the third Thursday in November each year, is the perfect opportunity to talk about new help available to help Kentuckians quit.

Resources for quitting

If you use tobacco, think about quitting and know you don’t have to do it alone. Talk to your healthcare provider, local health department and/or call the quitline (1-800-QUITNOW). If you are a healthcare provider, help your patients quit by offering them proven and affordable treatments. If you are an employer, provide your employees ready access to all of the proven smoking cessation treatments.

For the first time, most Kentucky insurers, including Medicaid, are required to cover all proven smoking cessation treatments without copays. These include:

  • All seven medications (nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, nasal spray; bupropion; varenicline).
  • Individual, group and telephone counseling.
  • Services and medications provided with no co-pay or prior authorizations.
  • Coverage for at least two quit attempts per year, with no lifetime limits.

Misconceptions about e-cigarettes

There is a common misconception that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes and can be used to quit smoking. Recent studies have shown that the “vapor” from e-cigarettes is actually a toxic aerosol of fine particles that inflames the airways, having effects similar to tobacco smoke. E-cigarettes are not an approved FDA smoking cessation method, and smokers who use e-cigarettes delay quitting and are significantly less likely to quit smoking than smokers who use proven cessation treatments.

The single best thing any tobacco user can do for their health is to quit. So ask for help and become an ex-smoker during the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16.

For more information, contact BREATHE at the UK College of Nursing: www.breathe.uky.edu


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9 great reasons to quit tobacco now

Quitting smoking is obviously good for your long-term health, but did you know there are immediate benefits? If you quit smoking right now, your health improves within minutes. Here’s a timeline of the positive changes you can look forward to when you quit:

  1. After 20 minutes, your blood pressure, pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet return to the normal rate.
  2. After 12 hours, your blood oxygen levels and carbon monoxide levels return to normal.
  3. After 24 hours, you have lowered your chance at having a heart attack.
  4. Within 48 hours, your sense of smell and taste return to normal.
  5. Within 72 hours, breathing becomes easier and your lung function increases.
  6. Within two weeks, blood circulation in your gums and teeth is back to normal.
  7. In 1 to 3 months, your circulation improves, walking is easier and your chronic cough goes away.
  8. In 1-9 months, your lungs are cleaner and your energy level increases.
  9. In one year, your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped in half.

Every minute that you don’t smoke improves your overall health, and the perks to quitting are enormous. Food will taste better, you’ll get sick less often and physical activities will become much easier. Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but you can look forward to many real benefits.

Next Thursday, Nov. 16, is the annual Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Communities all over the country will hold rallies, parades and meetings to help people quit smoking. For more information or to get involved, call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit them on the web.


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flu season

4 reasons you need a flu shot

Have you gotten your flu shot yet?

Although flu season is not yet in full swing, cases could begin to pick up at any time. Flu shots can take two weeks to be effective, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, make plans to do so soon.

Here are four reasons everyone needs a flu shot.

1. Vaccines are necessary every year.

Getting a flu shot every year is the single most effective way to prevent the flu. It’s safe and recommended for anyone 6 months or older.

Influenza viruses are constantly changing, which is why it’s important to get a shot every flu season. This year’s vaccine is updated to better protect against the flu viruses experts expect to circulate this season.

Be aware, just like last flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging everyone to avoid using spray vaccine options such as FluMist. Studies have shown these options are not as effective in protecting against the flu as injectable flu vaccines.

2. Flu shots don’t give you the flu; they protect you from it.

Flu vaccines are either made with flu viruses that have been inactivated and are not infectious or are made without flu viruses altogether.

In either case, a vaccine will not cause you to develop the flu. Some people may experience soreness, redness or tenderness at the site of the shot, but that usually subsides after a day or two.

3. It protects those around you.

Receiving a flu vaccination helps keep those around you protected, too. If you live or care for infants too young to receive a vaccination, getting a flu shot will help protect them from the virus.

Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated, and be conscious of those in your life who are more susceptible to the virus. They include people older than 65, those with chronic medical conditions like asthma or diabetes, and pregnant women.

4. If you do get sick, the vaccine can make your symptoms milder

Flu vaccines are not 100-percent effective, but they do significantly lower your risk of getting the virus. And if you do get a shot, but end up getting sick, you’re less like to experience the most severe outcomes related to influenza, including hospitalization and death.

That’s why it’s so important for at-risk populations – such as children, older adults and people with serious illnesses – to get a vaccination every year, no matter what.


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Going to a trampoline park? Reduce injury risk with these tips

Now that the weather has gotten chillier, you may be looking for fun indoor activities to do with the kids. If you’re headed to an indoor trampoline park, know that while they do encourage physical activity, they can also be dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 100,000 children visited emergency rooms last year due to trampoline accidents, and there’s even a fracture that some doctors call “trampoline ankle.”

If you and your kids are heading to an indoor trampoline park for a birthday party or just for a day of fun, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always have adult supervision. Children should only jump with a responsible adult around.
  • One person at a time. Be aware of other jumpers.
  • Discourage double-jumping. This is when one person lands just as another person is attempting to jump.
  • No flips or somersaults. These can lead to head and neck injuries, wrist sprains or fractures, or other serious injuries.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movement.
  • Don’t wear jewelry or other sharp objects while jumping. Empty your pockets and don’t wear a hat while jumping, either.
  • Avoid peak hours. Go during less busy times so there are fewer people and fewer distractions.
  • Stay in age-appropriate areas. This includes adults!

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that children under 6 should not jump on trampolines or visit indoor trampoline parks at all. Children’s bones are still growing, so jumping on a trampoline poses a high risk of injury, according to Dr. John Draus, a pediatrician at UK HealthCare and director of the UK Pediatric Trauma Program.

Most injuries take place because of collisions while jumping, incorrect landings or falling off a trampoline onto a hard surface. Always follow the safety guidelines set forth by the trampoline park.


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