While spring brings sunny days and warm weather, it also means the return of irritating spring allergies. Here's what you can do about them.

Tired of spring allergies? Here’s what you can do

While spring does bring sunny days and warm weather, the seasonal change also means the return of irritating spring allergies.

Dr. Beth Miller

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. Seasonal allergies cause symptoms like sneezing, coughing and itching, and your reaction can range from bothersome to truly harmful. It’s important that you understand your allergies so you can feel your best.

We spoke with Dr. Beth Miller, director of the UK Asthma, Allergy & Sinus Clinic, to find out what habits will help prevent spring allergies.

What causes spring allergies?

Miller: Spring allergies can be caused by tree pollen and mold spores.

What medications do you recommend?

Miller: The best treatment depends upon your symptoms. Over-the-counter nasal sprays, like Flonase and Nasacort, can be very helpful for both runny and stuffy noses. Over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra and Claritin, are helpful for preventing other allergy symptoms like itchy, watery eyes and sneezing.

What other solutions are there for limiting spring allergies?

Miller: There are things you can do in your home to make a difference. You can start by keeping your windows closed and leaving your air conditioning on. This will help keep pollens and mold spores from entering your home.

Can environmental allergies be outgrown over time?

Miller: Unfortunately, no. The only known solution for environmental allergies is getting allergy shots. However, these shots are more likely to improve your symptoms than completely cure your allergies.

What are the differences in symptoms between allergies and a cold?

Miller: A cold will typically last 7-10 days, and allergies will last longer with exposure. Colds can include a fever, chills, body aches and a yellow/green nasal discharge. On the other hand, allergies typically won’t cause these symptoms, and the nasal discharge for allergies is usually clear.

What are the risks of not treating seasonal allergies?

Miller: If uncontrolled, seasonal allergies can cause a decrease in your quality of life, leading to symptoms like irritability, poor concentration and disturbed sleep. Also, if uncontrolled seasonal allergies linger for too long, they can lead to more serious problems like sinus and ear infections, as well an increased risk of developing asthma.

When is it necessary to see a doctor about allergies?

Miller: Consider seeing an allergist when your symptoms aren’t easily controlled, if you develop uneasy chest symptoms or sinus/ear infections, or if your quality of life is being compromised. An allergist will help you identify your specific allergens and suggest the best treatment.

Next Steps:

The American Diabetes Association of the Bluegrass is asking companies around Lexington to check their risk for Type 2 diabetes by participate in Alert Day.

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.

Alert Day

Today is the American Diabetes Association’s Alert Day and a great opportunity to assess your risk for diabetes. 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.

Next steps:

UK Advanced Eye Care clinic now open.

UK Advanced Eye Care clinic opens in Shriners building

UK Advanced Eye Care opened the doors of its new clinic this week, ushering in a new era of expert ophthalmic care in Kentucky.

UK Advanced Eye Care, formerly located at the Kentucky Clinic, now occupies the fourth and fifth floors of the new Shriners Hospital for Children Medical Center  Lexington building. The Shriners building is located at 110 Conn Terrace, across the street from the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital. The new state-of-the-art clinic will be the flagship location for advanced ophthalmic care, research and education in Kentucky.

Designing a patient-friendly space

The patient-centered clinic is designed for ease of navigation and convenience. Patients can park in the UK HealthCare parking garage on Transcript Avenue and reach Shriners directly via a pedway located at Level C of the parking garage. Once inside the Shriners building, patients will take the elevator to the fourth or fifth floor, depending on where their appointment is.

Both clinic floors offer spacious reception areas for patient registration. The fifth floor, where pediatric specialists see patients, includes a playroom and resources for children and families.

The space is designed to move patients through testing and procedures efficiently in a pleasing and private environment. The new clinic has nearly double the number of exam rooms as the previous clinic, allowing our providers to care for more patients each day and offer shorter wait times.

UK HealthCare Optical is located near the fifth-floor lobby for patients who wish to purchase their eyewear on location. It offers a special section of pediatric eyewear for UK’s youngest patients. The fifth floor accommodates the administrative offices for faculty and staff. It also includes dedicated teaching space for residents and medical students, including a surgical skills lab and a medical library.

Dr. Julia Stevens, a provider at UK Advanced Eye Care, works with a pediatric patient.

Improving care with advanced medicine

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences has long offered patients access to the most current and leading-edge technology for enhanced treatment. The clinic recruits elite physicians, researchers and scientists to support its clinical services, education and research program.

“UK has a long-standing commitment to world-class biomedical research, contributing to several major scientific discoveries and medical advances in the past few decades,” said Dr. Mark Kleinman, an ophthalmologist at UK Advanced Eye Care. “Our laboratories developed the first intraocular drug implants to treat vision-threatening eye infections and inflammation, engineered the first RNA-targeted therapeutics for the treatment of advanced dry macular degeneration, and identified several new biomarkers for age-related retinal diseases. We continue to build on these important and exciting research programs to improve our abilities to cure blindness and provide the most leading-edge eye care to our patients.”

UK’s research efforts related to pediatric eye care were recently given a boost with the addition of advanced pediatric electroretinogram, or ERG, equipment thanks to a gift from the Susan Bradley-Cox Tri For Sight program. This important equipment will allow full evaluation without sedation of children with unexplained vision loss, providing better understanding of genetic eye diseases for both research and clinical care.

Where people want to go

UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences sees about 60,000 patients each year for everything from preventive eye care to treatment for the most challenging ocular diseases.

“The new clinic will gives us the infrastructure we’ve needed to meet the high-quality care that we already provide,” said Dr. Andrew Pearson, chair of UK Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences. “We want to be the place that people of the state and region want to go to for complex eye care.”

UK has the largest multispecialty eye care group based solely in Kentucky. In addition to the clinic on the main medical campus in Lexington, UK has multiple outreach clinics throughout the state and works with community providers to offer the most comprehensive eye care available. Outreach clinic locations include Campbellsville, Corbin, Harlan, Lexington, London, Maysville, Nicholasville, Morehead, Paris, Richmond and Somerset.

Next steps:

For some young athletes, breathing issues might be caused by a lesser-known vocal cord disorder known as Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion, or PVFM.

For athletes, difficulty breathing may be caused by vocal cord disorder

JoAnna E. Sloggy, MA, CCC-SLP

Written by JoAnna Sloggy, a speech-language pathologist and singing-voice specialist at the UK Voice & Swallow Clinic.

Feeling like you can’t breathe is frightening, and it can trigger anxiety and panic for you and those around you. For some young athletes, asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasms often cause these breathing issues. But a lesser-known vocal cord disorder called paradoxical vocal fold motion, or PVFM, may be the problem.

PVFM is also called vocal cord dysfunction and is a disorder of the upper airway where the vocal folds (vocal cords) and surrounding muscles tighten during breathing. It often flares up in the late winter and early spring.

PVFM is a relatively uncommon problem for athletes and is often mistaken for asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasms. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing (described as difficulty getting taking a breath).
  • Tightness of the throat.
  • Noisy breathing at the level of the throat.
  • A sense of panic and anxiety.
  • Nonresponsiveness to typical asthma treatment.

What causes PVFM?

PVFM is thought to be caused by repeated exposure to a throat irritant which, over time, triggers PVFM episodes. The average time from symptom onset to diagnosis is around four years. This can be very frustrating for athletes as they try to continue their sport while their symptoms continue to worsen.

Breathing difficulty related to PVFM is not the same as feeling like you need to stop and catch your breath. Instead, an affected athlete feels like the airway is blocked, making inhalation difficult. PVFM can occur in sports such as running, basketball, swimming or dance. The acute breathing problem typically resolves once the athlete stops the physical activity that triggered it.

In severe cases, athletes with PVFM may be brought to the emergency room for further evaluation due to breathing complaints. Respiratory tests will have normal results when PVFM is the cause. Because other diagnoses can be the cause of breathing problems, it is essential that an evaluation including visualization of the vocal folds is performed. PVFM should be assessed through a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist who specializes in the evaluation of voice and upper airway disorders and a physician who treats upper airway disorders such as an ear, nose and throat physician (ENT) or a pulmonologist.

Proper treatment is critical

A pulmonologist will treat asthma and exercise-induced bronchospasms, which may occur in conjunction with PVFM. Patients may also be treated for acid reflux irritation if this is a contributing factor. The ENT physician will visualize the vocal folds to determine if inappropriate closure is the cause of the symptoms. The speech-language pathologist will provide therapy, teaching breathing strategies for PVFM.

Inspiratory muscle strength training, abdominal breathing and vocal fold muscle rebalancing exercises will also be introduced to decrease the hypersensitivity in the throat. These exercises are then incorporated with physical movement that is adapted to the patient’s sport.

If you think you or someone you know suffers from PVFM, we recommend a referral to an ENT physician and/or a pulmonologist along with a speech-language pathologist trained in voice and upper airway disorders. This will help determine the cause and appropriate treatments.

Next steps:

UK’s Hispanic dental students create connection with Spanish-speaking patients at clinic

Shared language and cultural experiences can help alleviate anxieties and help create a deeper connection between provider and patient. Students in the UK College of Dentistry’s Hispanic Student Dental Association, who serve the increasingly diverse patient population at the Mission Lexington Dental Clinic, demonstrate this by providing care to predominantly Spanish-speaking patients every month.

At the Mission Lexington Clinic, members of the Hispanic Student Dental Association and three College of Dentistry faculty provide cleanings, extractions and a variety of dental services to patients who are typically uninsured and who only speak Spanish. Having a physician who speaks Spanish is beneficial to both the patient and physician.

“For the patients, having a Spanish-speaking attending is important. They feel understood and cared for, they can express their concerns, and they can understand the instructions given,” said Dr. Rodrigo Fuentealba, a provider at UK Dentistry and faculty adviser for Hispanic association.

Care instructions after a medical procedure are important to understand because they help lower the risk of infection and enable a smooth recovery. By removing an interpreter, who is not a dental provider, misunderstandings and miscommunication are reduced.

Jenny Alas, the president of the Hispanic Student Dental Association, cited a similar benefit to having Spanish-speaking dentists in the clinic.

“They can ask us anything and know they’ll be understood,” she said.

Alas, a native of Honduras, came to the College of Dentistry four years ago to attend dental school. She says working in the clinic provides an opportunity for students to learn how to work with patients, and it provides patients with a chance to receive care that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Alas said the student group has nearly doubled in membership since she started and is now at about 60 members. She attributes that to an increasingly diverse student body at UK, and she believes this will soon be reflected in the diversity of dental providers available to the community.

“From what I see at UK, we are moving toward having more diverse dental providers who can understand and relate to patients,” she said.

Next steps:

Healthy March Madness

Timeout! March Madness doesn’t have to be bad for your health

If you’re a fan of basketball like we are, there’s no better month than March.

From game-day snack recipes to tips for managing your stress during a close game, here’s how to stay healthy amid the Madness.

Break a sweat

Watching basketball often means making an appointment with your favorite spot on the couch for hours on end. If that’s your plan, that’s OK – just make an effort to get some exercise before the game starts.

Just 30 minutes of activity a day helps keep your heart healthy, and exercising in the morning can relieve stress and improve your mood for the rest of the day.

Why not hit the hardwood yourself? Playing basketball for a half-hour can burn between 200 and 270 calories. If shooting hoops isn’t your thing, go for a brisk walk 30 minutes before tip-off.

Make the right call

One of the best parts of March Madness is gathering with friends and family to cheer on your team. Unfortunately, watch parties often leave much to be desired when it comes to healthy food and drink options. Here’s how to keep your diet in-bounds during March Madness.

If you’re watching the game at a bar or restaurant, we’ve got your healthy game plan covered:

  • Check out the menu before you go. Avoid fried foods. Instead, look for healthier grilled or steamed options.
  • Consider ordering a salad with dressing on the side. That way you can control how much you use.
  • Use fresh vegetables like celery or carrots for dips instead of chips or other snack items.
  • Split an entrée with a friend. Half of the meal means half of the calories.
  • If you’re going to drink alcohol, make sure you match every drink with a full glass of water. That will keep you hydrated and full, preventing you from overindulging.
  • If you do have too much to drink, don’t drive. Have a designated driver or take a taxi home after the game wraps up.

Calling the plays at your own get-together? Here’s a list of healthy game day recipes that are sure to energize your crowd.

Stay cool under pressure

Not everyone has nerves of steel like some of our favorite hardwood heroes. For most people, as the seconds tick down during a close game, stress levels go up.

When that happens, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. That’s normal when you’re watching a basketball game, but if your body remains in high gear long after the game has ended, that can be a problem.

Here are a few tips to manage your nerves, even when the game is on the line:

  • Practice deep breathing. Taking deep breaths lowers your heart rate and triggers your body’s natural relaxation response.
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol. Both can increase your stress.
  • Move around. Use halftime or TV timeouts as a chance to get up and walk around, which can reduce tension in your body and limit the effects of stress.
  • Have fun. Remember, no matter what happens during the tournament, it’s only a game.

Go Cats!

Next steps:

Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. Severe bleeding can lead to death well before paramedics can respond.

In an emergency, follow these steps to stop severe bleeding in others

Hannah Anderson, PA

Written by Hannah Anderson, physician assistant for UK HealthCare Trauma & Acute Surgery, and Amanda Rist, injury prevention/outreach coordinator for UK HealthCare Trauma & Acute Care Surgery.

Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. Severe bleeding can result in death within minutes, before paramedics have a chance to respond. In some cases, the difference between life and death for the victim of an incident is the bravery of a bystander.

How to stop severe bleeding

Research suggests bystanders with little or no scientific training can save lives during an emergency situation. Just like responding to respiratory distress with CPR or intervening with an automatic defibrillator (AED) during cardiac arrest, compressing a wound after a traumatic injury improves the chances of survival for trauma victims. You can turn bystander helplessness into heroism by remembering the following actions:

  • Make sure the scene is safe and call 911. You cannot help anyone if you become injured, so be sure to do this before attending to an injured person.
  • Find the source of the bleeding and apply firm, steady pressure with both hands. If you have a first-aid kit, use safety gloves and cover the wound with a clean bandage. In the absence of a clean cloth, pack the wound using a shirt or cloth.
  • Continue applying pressure until first responders arrive.

Class offering: ‘Stop the Bleed’

Members of the UK HealthCare trauma program are offering a course called Stop the Bleed, an initiative developed by the American College of Surgeons and The Hartford Consensus to train the public. Classes are open to anyone in the community interested in developing life-saving skills, and the first classes will be held at Tates Creek High School on March 28-29. Contact amanda.rist@uky.edu for more information about hosting a class free of charge.

You can learn more tips to Stop the Bleed at http://www.bleedingcontrol.org.

Next steps:

  • The UK HealthCare trauma program is one of only three American College of Surgeons accredited Level 1 Trauma Centers serving Kentucky. Find out more.
  • Learning CPR is important for anyone, and it can be the difference between someone living and dying. Are you familiar with CPR’s five steps? Visit our website to find out.
Daylight saving time

Ease the transition to daylight saving time

At 2 a.m. on Sunday, clocks will spring forward one hour, causing many people to lose out on a bit of sleep. Research shows that in the days following the switch to daylight saving time, heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace accidents all increase as people adjust to the time change.

Although the one-hour time change can have an extended impact on your body clock and overall health, there are a few ways to minimize the impact of the time adjustment. Here’s how:

  • In the few days leading up to Sunday, try to wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual to prepare for a little less sleep.
  • Avoid napping on Saturday to ensure your sleepiness come bedtime.
  • Get some exercise earlier in the day on Saturday to help advance your body clock.
  • Spend some time in the sun on Sunday to help your body clock adjust to the time change.
  • Avoid stimulating substances like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine on Saturday, which will help you get better sleep.
  • If you feel sleepy on Sunday, take a nap, but limit it to a half-hour or less.
  • Make sure your bedroom is always free of distractions, like TVs or other sources of light.
  • If you have infants or toddlers, reduce their nap times by about one-third this weekend to prepare them for a bedtime that might feel too early.

Next steps:

  • How much sleep should you be getting? It might be more than you think.
  • If you or a loved one isn’t getting good sleep, we might be able to help. The UK Sleep Disorder Center works with patients of all ages identify and manage sleep disorders, including daytime sleepiness and disturbed sleep.
How often should you have an eye exam?

How often should you have an eye exam?

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

There is a widely held belief that if you don’t have any vision problems, you don’t need an eye exam. But this isn’t the case. Getting eye exams, especially for children, is necessary for maintaining healthy vision throughout life. So, how often should you see your eye doctor?

It’s recommended that all children between birth and 6 months old have a vision screening. Depending on the findings of the exam, children may need another exam in six months. If there are no abnormal findings, children can be seen every two years until they’re 6 years old. Then, depending on symptoms and exam results, exams can occur every five to 10 years until the age of 40.

It’s imperative for children under the age of 6 to be screened regularly because that is when the brain is developing strong connections to the eyes. If there is a problem with the eyes turning, blurry prescriptions, or with the eyelids or lens inside the eye obstructing vision, it can lead to a visual impairment known as amblyopia, or lazy eye. The good news is amblyopia can be prevented with adequate and frequent care.

Individuals with no systemic health issues, visual complaints or strong family history of medical conditions don’t have to be examined as frequently. However, anyone with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, vascular disease or neurological disease and those with visual complaints (blurry vision/headaches) should be seen yearly.

There are some symptoms that are urgent and require immediate attention. Please call your local eye care provider right away if you experience new-onset vision loss, flashing lights, new floaters, painful red eyes, extreme sensitivity to light or any distortions in your vision.

Eye exams are important for maintaining healthy vision, and they can detect changes in your overall health, too. So be sure to schedule regular eye appointments for you and your loved ones.

Next steps:

  • Learn more about UK Advanced Eye Care, which provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages with eye and vision conditions.
  • On March 20, UK Advanced Eye Care is moving to a state-of-the-art location in the new Shriners Building on the UK HealthCare campus. Find out more about our new location.
How much sleep do you need?

How much sleep do you need?

When it comes to how much sleep you need, there’s a big difference between what you need to get by and what you need to function optimally.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, it might be less than what your body needs.

Just because you’re able to operate on six or seven hours of sleep doesn’t mean you wouldn’t feel better and get more done if you spent an extra hour or two in bed. And it’s not just your productivity that suffers when you don’t get enough sleep. Insomnia and lack of sleep can have a major impact on your health, too. In fact, long-term sleep deprivation can cause:

  • An increased risk for depression and anxiety.
  • An increased risk for heart disease and cancer.
  • Impaired memory.
  • Reduced immune system function.
  • Weight gain.
  • An increased risk for accidents.
  • An increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more. And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, most older people still need at least seven hours. Since older adults often have trouble sleeping this long at night, daytime naps can help fill in the gap.

So, how much sleep should you and your loved ones be getting? Here’s what the National Sleep Foundation recommends:

  • Newborn to 3 months old: 14-17 hours recommended; 11-19 hours may be appropriate.
  • 4 to 11 months old: 12-15 hours recommended; 10-18 hours may be appropriate.
  • 1 to 2 years old: 11-14 hours recommended; 9-16 hours may be appropriate.
  • 3 to 5 years old: 10-13 hours recommended; 8-14 hours may be appropriate.
  • 6 to 13 years old: 9-11 hours recommended; 7-12 hours may be appropriate.
  • 14 to 17 years old: 8-10 hours recommended; 7-11 hours may be appropriate.
  • Young adults (18 to 25 years old): 7-9 hours recommended; 6-11 hours may be appropriate.
  • Adults (26 to 64 years old): 7-9 hours recommended; 6-10 hours may be appropriate.
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours recommended; 5-9 hours may be appropriate.

Next steps: