Tips to beat election season stress.

Feeling election season stress? You’re not alone. [Infographic]

Are you stressed out about this year’s election? It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, Democrat or Republican – chances are the answer is yes.

According to new research from the American Psychological Association, more than 50 percent of American adults say this year’s election is a significant source of stress in their lives. Uncertainty about the future combined with a constant barrage of political conversation online, on TV, and with family and friends has many people anticipating Election Day with tension and anxiety.

Although it might seem minor, election season stress can lead to health-related side effects, including fatigue, headaches, upset stomach and tightness in your chest.

Check out our infographic below for tips on how keep your stress in check this election season, and be sure to share it with friends and family members.

Election season stress infographic


Next steps:

  • Looking for more ways to feel less stressed? Check out our tips to help you relax.
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, depression or another mental health concern that is affecting daily life, UK Psychiatry may be able to help. Learn more about our services today.
Your eyes are sensitive and important organs. If you wear contact lenses, protect your eyes by taking care of your contacts.

Could your contact lens habits put your eyes at risk?

Written by Dr. Shaista Vally, OD, as part of an ongoing series about eye care.

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

We all love the freedom of contact lenses: They don’t fog up if we step outside, they don’t slide off our noses when we bend over and they don’t need constant adjusting. But like all freedoms, lenses come with responsibility. They can pose a serious health risk if they’re not worn properly.

What are the health risks of contact lenses?

The biggest risk to your eye from using contact lenses is infection, which can lead to a scar-forming ulcer and in turn to an irreversible loss of vision. Other possible risks include new blood vessel growth and inflammation and swelling of exposed surfaces (under eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva). With correct care and management, these risks can be greatly lowered and prevented.

General rules to follow

Infections and other health risks can usually be avoided by properly caring for your contacts:

  • Wash your hands prior to handling your lenses.
  • Never wear torn or ripped lenses.
  • Don’t sleep in your lenses.
  • Don’t wear lenses longer than 10-12 hours.
  • Never expose the lens to water.
  • Replace lens cases every 2-3 months.
  • Use fresh disinfectant solution every night.
  • Clean and air dry cases during the day.
  • Contact your eye doctor if you have signs of eye redness, irritation, a change in vision, light sensitivity or pain.

Your eyes are sensitive and important organs. For contact lens wearers, protect your eyes by taking care of your contacts.


Next Steps

Flu season in Kentucky

Flu season in Kentucky has started. Here’s what you need to know.

Several cases of influenza have already been confirmed across the Commonwealth, marking the early arrival of flu season in Kentucky.

Here’s what you need to know about the flu this year.

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 at the start of every flu season. This year’s vaccine is updated to better protect against the flu viruses experts expect to circulate this season.

FluMist is no longer an option

Studies showed the nasal spray flu vaccine, or FluMist, was not effective in protecting against the flu last year, and it is no longer being produced. Although FluMist was often the preferred choice for children or those averse to needles, all individuals who can receive a flu shot should do so.

Help protect 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.


Next steps:

  • Shots are available from primary care doctors and many pharmacies. Check out the CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder to find a flu vaccine clinic near you.
  • Members of the UK community can get a flu shot as part of University Health Service’s Big Flu Madness. See the student and campus employee flu shot schedule here and the UK HealthCare employee schedule here.
UK teams up with Mayo to study multiple chronic conditions.

UK teams up with Mayo Clinic to study chronic conditions

When a person has multiple health concerns that last a year or longer and require consistent medical attention, health care can quickly become a burden. Patients sacrifice their time, emotion and attention on their treatment, which takes away from their ability to complete and enjoy other tasks in life.

This scenario, known as multiple chronic conditions, or MCC, affects one in four Americans overall and about three in four Americans age 65 and older. To treat patients with MCC, a shift in health care is required: one that focuses on each patient’s health situation and on the limited capacity patients have to devote to their health, while still pursuing joyful lives. Using a new tool developed at Mayo Clinic, researchers at UK are assessing how to better treat patients with MCC.

The ICAN Discussion Aid, developed by the research team at Mayo Clinic’s Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit, is an intervention to support a new practice for patients with MCC. ICAN helps health care providers better understand the relationship between the patient’s life circumstances, health care goals, the work patients are asked to do and their capacity to enact it. Informed with evidence about the patient’s life, health care teams are better able to co-create treatment plans that are considerate of each patient.

The UK Center for Health Services Research strives for interdisciplinary collaborations locally and nationally and has established relationships with institutes such as Mayo Clinic and Kentucky Primary Care Association (KPCA). In collaboration with KPCA, UK is one of four sites in the nation that will assess the ways in which ICAN-supported primary care is feasible and successful. Researchers will look at patient and health care teams’ experience of care and communication and whether or not patients’ burden of treatment is reduced.

This innovative intervention is an application of Minimally Disruptive Medicine, declared by the British Medical Journal as one of the most important new ideas in medicine in the last 20 years. The My Life, My Healthcare study is funded by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, and will use a mixed methods, cluster-randomized trial design to test ICAN’s feasibility and efficacy on a much larger scale.


Next steps:

For National Dental Hygiene Month, UK Dentistry is giving out dental supplies every Tuesday this month. UK knows the importance of oral health.

UK Dentistry celebrates National Dental Hygiene Month

In celebration of National Dental Hygiene Month, UK Dentistry is reminding everyone that good oral health goes a long way in supporting overall well-being. To assist in ensuring people are using the best tools to achieve a healthy smile, on Tuesdays during the month of October, UK Dentistry will be offering free dental goodies, such as toothbrushes and floss. Additional details are available on their website.

Many Americans are skipping dental care

Surveys in the U.S. have revealed not all adults are brushing and flossing daily, and many are skipping regular visits to the dentist. Instead of brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, a survey by Delta Dental reported 23 percent of Americans went two or more days without brushing during a one-year period. Only four out of 10 reported flossing daily, as recommended, while 20 percent reported never flossing.

Taking care of your teeth leads to overall health

“Although awareness is growing, many people still don’t realize just how important their oral health is in relation to their overall health,” said Dr. Kenneth Nusbacher, director of UK Dentistry General Faculty Practice Clinic. “Daily good dental hygiene helps keep the bacteria, which is naturally present in the mouth, from reaching dangerous levels and potentially triggering heath concerns beyond the mouth. Good dental hygiene is not just about avoiding a cavity.”

UK Dentistry encourages the adoption of a healthy dental hygiene routine. Cleaning your teeth, gums and tongue daily, paired with visiting a dental provider regularly, can greatly reduce your risk of issues such as tooth decay and gum disease.


Next Steps

Sleep apnea occurs in about 18 million Americans, or about one in 15 people. If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to numerous problems, like hypertension.

If sleep apnea is disrupting your sleep, talk to your doctor

Written by Dr. Isabel Moreno-Hay, an assistant professor in the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry’s Orofacial Pain Clinic.

Dr. Isabel Moreno-Hay is an assistant professor in the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry’s Orofacial Pain Clinic.

Dr. Isabel Moreno-Hay

Unbearable snoring is often the reason sleep apnea is diagnosed. Sleep apnea occurs in about 18 million Americans, or about one in 15 people. The two types of this disorder are central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is less common and is often associated with other conditions, like stroke. It occurs when the brain does not tell the muscles to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common, and it is caused by a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

Sleep apnea can have negative consequences if it goes undiagnosed and untreated. It can cause chronic tiredness, which can lead to memory problems and trouble concentrating. Cardiovascular problems can also occur – the most common issue caused by sleep apnea is actually hypertension. Often times when a patient is not responding to medication for hypertension, it may be due to the disorder being undiagnosed. Additionally, the regulation of glucose levels can be negatively affected by lack of sleep, as this problem increases the risk of diabetes.

Who is most at-risk for sleep apnea?

A high Body Mass Index is the number one indicator: the higher the BMI, the greater the risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Having a large neck circumference is another indicator. Men are also at higher risk than women, except until women experience menopause, and their risk increases. Smokers are at increased risk, too. A large uvula and long soft palate, big tongue, deviated septum and enlarged tonsils can also cause the disorder.

Treatmenat options

In the 1950s, sleep behaviors started being studied and became part of medical care. In the 1970s, sleep clinics were developed so people could be monitored and diagnosed with sleep disorders. Today, sleep physicians are able to diagnose the disorder and decide on a course of treatment, which can sometimes include referral to a dentist.

The most common treatment option is a CPAP machine, a mask that patients wear to help keep the airway open with steady airflow. In other instances, oral appliances can be used to move the lower jaw forward to improve airflow. Sometimes the cause of the sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils, and one may have their tonsils surgically removed.

Additionally, behavioral modifications should accompany treatment options. For example, if a patient with sleep apnea is overweight, losing weight may help improve their condition. Quitting smoking or changing sleeping positions can also help.

Sleep is an incredibly important part of living a healthy life, and anything that gets in the way of a sound night of sleep needs to be addressed and remedied. Talk with your doctor if you think you are suffering from sleep apnea.


Next Steps

Physical therapy

Physical therapy often better than opioids for long-term pain management

Written by Tony English, PT, PhD, director of the Division of Physical Therapy at the University of Kentucky‘s College of Health Sciences.  

Tony English

Tony English

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999, even though there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain reported.

People with chronic pain conditions unrelated to cancer often depend on prescription opioids to manage their pain. As opioid use has increased, so has the misuse, abuse and overdose of these drugs in Kentucky and across the country.

The statistics are sobering:

  • As many as one in four people who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings suffer with addiction.
  • Heroin-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled between 2002 and 2014, and people addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.
  • More than 165,000 people in the United States have died from opioid pain-medication-related overdoses since 1999.
  • Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.

The CDC released guidelines in March urging prescribers to reduce the use of opioids in favor of safer alternatives in the treatment of chronic pain. Physical therapy is one of the recommended non-opioid alternatives.

If you or someone you know has pain not related to cancer, consider physical therapy as a safer alternative for managing your pain. Physical therapists diagnose and treat movement disorders that may be contributing to your pain and will develop an active treatment plan specific to your goals.

A 2008 study following 20,000 people over a period of 11 years found that people who exercised regularly reported less pain. Manual therapy can reduce pain and improve mobility so that people have more pain-free movement. That, in turn, promotes more activity, which reduces pain even further. Exercise and manual therapy are two components of an active treatment plan that may be used by a physical therapist to help manage pain.

The American Physical Therapy Association has launched a national campaign called #ChoosePT to raise awareness about the risks of opioids and the choice of physical therapy as a safe alternative for long-term pain management.


Next steps:

Philip A. Kern, MD, talks with Angelique Bell, who participated in a diabetes-related study he led.

Research participation leads to a life-saving personal discovery

On the first of May, 2015, Angelique Bell waited in a hair salon, reading the weekend section of the newspaper. She noticed an ad for a health research study that needed participants who had risk factors for diabetes. Since she met the criteria and had some time to pass, she decided to call about the study right then, from the salon chair. It was her 45th birthday.

“I don’t have diabetes, but I have a strong family history of diabetes and some of the risk factors, and I thought that the information from this study could be something that could benefit me in the future,” Bell said.

She didn’t expect, however, that her impromptu birthday decision to call about the study would potentially save her life.

An unexpected finding

As part of the screening for the study, Bell had to do blood work and an EKG — standard tests to get baseline health data. Her results, however, were anything but standard: they showed extremely low levels of potassium and an arrhythmia in her heart that could be fatal if not treated.

“When she came in, she was having a lot premature ventricular contractions, which is potentially dangerous because your heart could suddenly go into ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation, which can kill you,” said Dr. Philip A. Kern, director of the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science and principal investigator of the diabetes study in which Bell participated.

At the time Bell was taking two medications to help control her blood pressure. One medication was a diuretic, which, unknown to Bell, was causing her to lose too much potassium through her urine. The resulting potassium deficiency was causing the arrhythmia in her heart.

Kern and the research team sent Bell to the UK Gill Heart Institute for further evaluation and treatment. She was taken off the diuretic, had to wear a heart monitor for 48 hours, and received potassium supplements.

“I was 45 years old at the time and I had to wear this heart monitor. Three-fourths of my grandparents had heart attacks. My mother had congestive heart failure. So it was a scary,” Bell said. “I was relieved to find out that the condition had not gotten to a point of causing damage. A really serious problem was averted.”

The importance of participation

Once the arrhythmia was resolved, Bell, undeterred by her own health scare, went back to Kern and participated in the diabetes-related study that she had originally phoned about.

The study was not Bell’s first experience as a research participant, nor was it her last. She had previously participated in two asthma-related studies at other institutions, motivated by her own diagnosis as a child, and she subsequently volunteered again at UK as a healthy participant in a study examining how our bodies process fat intake. Through each experience she learned more about her own health.

“That is one of the good things about being in the study — a lot of times when people get in studies, they find out about other issues with their health,” she said. “There’s a pretty in-depth amount of testing done, and it could uncover something that wouldn’t be found in a routine exam.”

Bell was also familiar with health research through family members’ experiences. Her father participated in a longitudinal study on gout, and her uncle was a researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“he was very excited about science”). Exposure to both researcher and participant experiences has convinced Bell of the importance of empirical, evidence-based information, as well as the need for research participants.

“Having people around who do research, you see how important it is for them to get people in their studies so they have enough evidence,” she said.

She additionally emphasizes the importance of racial and gender diversity among research participants, in order to understand how health conditions and treatments affect people differently, but she simultaneously acknowledges the legacy of the infamous Tuskegee experiment conducted between 1932 and 1972. In the course of that study, hundreds of poor African-American men were knowingly left untreated for syphilis.

When the Tuskegee story was uncovered, it created an understandable distrust of health research, particularly among African-Americans. At the same time, however, the story initiated a host of stringent federal regulations enacted to protect research participants. In 1974, Congress passed the National Research Act and created the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, which developed guidelines for human subject protection, including the landmark Belmont Report.

Health research involving people is now “very highly regulated, with multiple layers of protection,” Kern said. Studies require a process of informed consent and communication of diagnosis, as well as reporting of the study results. Institutions like UK that conduct health research must have institutional review boards (which include community members) to review the plans for all studies. UK also has an Office of Research Integrity that can answer questions and support research participants.

“Because of Tuskegee I think a lot of African-Americans are leery of participating in research studies,” Bell said. “But if you don’t participate in the research then the data that relates to you is not there. Some things do have a genetic factor, and some things might affect people of African descent differently than people of European and Asian descent.”

Improving health for others

If there is residual distrust about health research, there is also a great deal altruism that motivates many people to participate. According to Roxane Poskin, participant recruitment manager at the UK CCTS, a large percentage of volunteers join studies as way to give back to society and contribute to discoveries that improve health for others and future generations.

This is particularly true for healthy participants, who don’t have a health condition they hope to address through a study but who are essential to research that broadens our understanding of what Kern calls “the basic mechanisms of disease and how the body works.” While participants receive information about their health and sometimes receive compensation for participating, they don’t always receive a direct health benefit for themselves.

“They want to be involved and help others even, if it doesn’t help them directly,” Poskin said. “If we didn’t have volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish research studies. Even the smallest things have been researched, like thermometers and crutches.”

Bell, who has spent her career in non-profit organizations (she currently works with Kentucky Refugee Ministries and ITNBluegrass), says she doesn’t personally know many people who participate in studies, but that she would encourage anyone to participate, either for their own benefit or to advance medical knowledge that could help others.

“We have to have evidence-based research,” she said. “And you get a lot more information about your health than you would in a normal physical.”


Next steps:

Make sure to dispose of expired medications

Written by Dr. Amy Meadows, assistant professor of pediatrics and psychiatry in UK’s College of Medicine.

Dr. Amy Meadows

Dr. Amy Meadows

When was the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? Unlike a messy refrigerator, there’s nothing in your medicine cabinet to send a scented reminder that you need to throw out old bottles of ibuprofen and pain killers from your oral surgery two years ago.

Not only is this unsafe because medications should not be consumed past their expiration date, but they also have the potential for abuse. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most commonly abused medications are opiates and other pain relievers, which is consistent with information from other sources.

Many medications have the potential to be misused, which includes both prescribed and over-the-counter medications. There are multiple ways drugs can be used incorrectly, or in some cases, illegally: they can be misused (used in ways other than recommended), abused (used for nonmedical reasons) or diverted (given/sold/bartered to people other than the intended patients).

When taken as directed and in the recommended amounts, over-the-counter medicines are generally very safe. However, those same medications can present a significant danger in overdose. Even over-the-counter analgesics like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) can cause organ damage or even death in some situations. It’s incredibly important that medications are taken as directed on labels or by a physician.

Children are especially at risk for abusing medications, either because they do not recognize medication as a danger or because of the impulsivity and risk-taking common in adolescents. It is recommended that medications be stored out of reach, such as in a medication lock box, to reduce to risk of misuse.

Medications should not, under any circumstance, be saved and used for future issues or ailments. This can be especially dangerous for antibiotics, which should be taken as directed until the full course of medication is completed. Other medications can become ineffective or potentially dangerous after their expiration. It is far safer to be evaluated by a medical professional to diagnose and treat a newly occurring issue rather than relying on old or expired medications.

Everyone can and should periodically dispose of old, unused and expired medications. In Lexington there are several options for safe disposal, including units at the Lexington Police Department and Fayette County Sheriff’s Office or on medication take-back days. Some pharmacies are also able to offer safe disposal of unused medication. Alternatively, if people are unable to access medication take-back programs, it is recommended that medications be placed in a sealable container or bag and mixed with kitty litter, dirt or coffee grounds before being thrown away.


Next steps:

Chandler Dining

Come enjoy the new Chandler Dining!

Chandler Dining, UK HealthCare’s new state-of-the-art dining experience, opened its doors to the public on Monday.

Our new dining space is unlike any hospital cafeteria you’ve seen before, and we want you to stop by to enjoy the tasty meal options our chefs are creating. Chandler Dining is open not only to patients, families and staff, but to the public as well. Stop by and enjoy a great meal!

Located on the first floor concourse of Chandler Hospital Pavilion A, Chandler Dining is open 22 hours a day, featuring nine food stations, eight checkout lines and several other unique features.

Stations:

  • Italian Tratttoria (pizza, pasta, flatbread)
  • Deli (freshly carved meats)
  • Chef Table (exhibition station)
  • Traditions (traditional home-cooked meals)
  • Chop Chop (made-to-order signature salads)
  • Salad/Soup Bar
  • Southwestern Grill (hamburgers, grilled cheese, French fries, chicken, fish)
  • Sushi
  • Starbucks Coffee

Features:

  • Stone hearth oven
  • Chef Table (featuring five interchangeable cooking display units)
  • Teaching kitchen
  • Global menu offerings
  • Healthy and sustainable initiatives
  • Specialty made-to-order coffee drinks and smoothies
  • Menus on digital screens
  • Fresh carved meats at deli
  • Local artwork in the dining area
  • Water container filling station in the dining area

Chandler Dining hours of operation:

  • Breakfast: 6-10 a.m.
  • Closed: 10-11 a.m.
  • Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Light lunch: 2-4 p.m.
  • Dinner: 4-7 p.m.
  • Late night: 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Check out the video below to see our chefs in action and learn more about the Chandler Dining experience.