Health e-News
December 2014
Cold vs. Flu: How to Read and Treat Your Symptoms
Proper Germ Hygiene
Beat Holiday Stress
Exercise Like a Kid Again
Holiday Food Interventions
Drink in Moderation This Holiday Season
Breakfast with the Experts
Quick Links

 

Ah, December... it's the most wonderful time of the year! Then again, with colds and flu, high-calorie party food, winter blues and holiday stress, perhaps it's the most dangerous time of year -- for our health.

 

This edition of Health e-News is filled with information on how to keep your spirits up and your health risks low during this joyous yet hectic holiday season. Learn how to prevent the spread of viruses, how to get exercise in chilly weather, tips for drinking responsibly, and much more.   

 

Please share this valuable information with your employees. Their edition of this month's e-news is available at: http://goo.gl/fHtrXE

 

From all of us at Employer Solutions, I wish you and your workforce a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

To your good health,   

 

Patti Groholski

Executive Director, Employer Solutions

doctor.jpg Cold Vs. Flu: How to Read (and Treat) Your Symptoms

 

Cough, congestion, aches, chills. Cold and flu season is upon us. But which do you have? And why does it matter?

 

"Both the common cold and influenza - the flu - are respiratory illnesses, but they're caused by different viruses. In general, flu symptoms are more severe than the common cold and can lead to complications such as pneumonia or bacterial infections," says Richard Menet, MD, a physician with Affinity Occupational Health.

 

Get the FACTS

While many cold symptoms can mimic the flu, there are five FACTS that generally point to influenza:

Fever

Aches

Chills

Tiredness

Sudden symptoms

 

Fever, headache, severe body aches and chills are red flags for the flu. Sneezing, runny or stuffy nose and sore throat are more likely tied to a common cold. Flu symptoms often appear suddenly, within three to six hours, whereas cold symptoms might appear more gradually. Both illnesses may make you feel tired, but with the flu this symptom is more extreme. "Flu sufferers may not be able to function off the couch. They're likely to sleep all day," Dr. Menet says.

 

Stop Flu in Its Tracks

If you suspect you have the flu, it's a good idea to see your doctor right away so he can test for the influenza virus and prescribe an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu. If taken within 12 to 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, antivirals can stop the flu from spreading throughout your body and shorten the duration of your misery. "Antivirals can also reduce the incidence of influenza-related lower respiratory tract complications such as pneumonia," says Dr. Menet.

 

"Just" a Cold

Cold symptoms can drag you down, but over-the-counter medications can help. "Just be sure not to take medication for symptoms you don't have," advises Dr. Menet. "Cold medicines are formulated for every possible combination of symptoms, so you should be able to find one tailored to what ails you."

 

Unlike antivirals, however, cold meds don't attack the virus - they just relieve symptoms. The only cure for the common cold is time.

 

Keep Yourself and Others Healthy

Remember, prevention is the best medicine. Ward off winter bugs by washing your hands often, and get a flu shot. If you are struck by a nasty virus, do your co-workers a favor and take a sick day. Some things are best kept to yourself.          

hand-washing.jpg Prevent the Spread with Proper Germ Hygiene

 

Along with cold and flu season comes the risk of spreading germs. All around us, people are coughing and sneezing and wiping noses. Help limit the spread of illness with these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Get a flu shot. It's the single most important tool against preventing influenza.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cleanse your hands with one or the other, anytime you have touched your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Anyone with a fever should stay home from work, school, shopping or socializing until the fever is gone for 24 hours without help from fever-reducing medicine.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects or surfaces, such as doorknobs, keyboards and phones.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
  • If you feel sick at work or school, go home as soon as possible.

Source: www.cdc.gov

candle2.jpg How to Beat Holiday Stress

 

Stressed? Of course you are -- it's the holidays. Shopping, party schedules, Aunt Mildred's insults --  these are just a few of the reasons we dread the joy of the season. How do we keep ourselves from stretching our mental health too thin? Here are some uncommon tips from your friendly EAP counselors.

 

Take off work.

This time of year, we could all use extra hours in the day. Claim yours by taking vacation time off from work to do your shopping, baking or errands. Trying to cram everything into limited after-hours adds stress on top of an already stressful to-do list. 

 

Remember why we celebrate.

If you're buried beneath a pile of sale ads, it's easy to think Christmas is all about shopping. Take an emotional break from consumerism by focusing your attention on something meaningful such as inspirational literature, a favorite family photo album, or a classic holiday DVD.

 

Make your prep a party.

Why not combine holiday preparations with socializing? Invite friends or neighbors over for a gift wrapping or baking party.

 

Ask for help.

Here's a novel idea: you don't have to do it all yourself. Hosting this year? Delegate cleaning duties to your spouse and kids. Ask family members to bring a side dish. Throw everyone a towel for drying dishes after dinner. Cooperation can be part of the fun.

 

Recruit a child wrangler.

Big parties often mean lots of kids -- which means lots of noise and energy underfoot. Designate one adult or teenager to organize games for the kiddos in a separate space. This allows the kids to be kids while the adults can enjoy some grown-up social time.

 

Forgive and move on.

Family gatherings can be stressful. Grudges, hurt feelings, and strained relationships are as common around the table as pumpkin pie. This holiday season, before you set the table or load the trunk with gifts, make a decision to forgive someone -- even if they don't deserve it. You'll be amazed at how it lightens your own load. 

winter-friends-sm.jpg Exercise Like a Kid Again

 

Exercise over the holidays? It can be done! All you need is a little childlike spirit. Become a kid again with these fun cardio activities that burn calories and work your muscles -- all while having tons of family fun.


Ice skating: Strap on the skates for some healthy figure-8's. Ice skating burns approximately 500 calories per hour.


Snow shoeing: Take the family on a winter nature walk! Trekking through the snow burns 400 or more calories an hour.

 

Cross-country skiing: This excellent sport works muscles you didn't even know you had, burning more than 400 calories in an hour.

 

Downhill skiing: Feel the exhilaration of brisk air in your lungs while you zoom downhill to the tune of 300 calories per hour.


Build a snowman or snow fort: Aw, come on, who doesn't love a snowman? This fun family activity can be good for your mental and physical health. Rolling and trudging through snow in the yard burns 285 calories an hour.
 

Sledding: Climbing uphill is great exercise, burning nearly 400 calories an hour, all for the bonus reward of whizzing back down with happy kids shrieking in your ear.

 

All calculations based on a 150-pound person.

christmas_party.jpg Holiday Food Interventions


The holiday season brings food, food, and more tempting food. It can be easy to fall off the healthy eating wagon. Invite your team to jump back on with these nutrition wellness programs available through Employer Solutions.

 

Portion Distortion (3-4 week display)

Understanding what portion sizes are and how they affect our nutrition and weight is a growing topic of interest. This interactive program includes a four-week series of displays with weekly themes of Defining Serving Sizes, Time Warp, Building a Balanced Meal, and Eating Out. Program includes weekly table tents, educational handouts, interactive displays, and a weekly quiz. 

 

Week 1:  Defining Serving Sizes

Week 2:  Time Warp

Week 3:  Building a Balanced Meal: My Plate

Week 4:  Eating Out

 

Each weekly theme contains interactive materials including:

  1. Interactive nutrition display and table set-up
  2. Educational handouts
  3. Educational table tents
  4. Weekly quiz

Sugar Stacks

Want to learn more about finding sugar in unexpected places in your diet? The Sugar Stacks Program will inform employees about where sugar is hidden in everyday foods that we eat. The program includes an interactive display with stacks of sugar representing how much sugar is found in common food items along with educational table tents and handouts about how to decrease sugar content in employees' diets and what foods contain a lot of sugar. At the end of the program, employees can complete a quiz on the information they have obtained from the program.

 

Fat Stacks

We are usually able to recognize if a food item contains fat, just by the type of food it is. However, sometimes we have no idea how much fat and what type of fats are present in various foods. This interactive display features eight to ten common food items and uses real lard to represent grams of fat in each item, to show the exact amount of total fat right before our eyes. This awareness campaign also gives an overview of nutritional fat in our diet using a compilation of table tents, posters and handouts in hopes of educating employees to make healthy choices when buying and consuming fatty foods.

 

Salt Stacks

Salt creeps into many common foods that we may not be aware of. High sodium diets increase our risk for elevated blood pressure, which is very costly to organizations. The Salt Stacks Program will inform employees about where sodium is hidden. The program includes an interactive display with stacks of salt packets representing how much salt is found in common food items along with educational table tents and handouts with statistics and tips on how to decrease sodium in our diets. At the end of the program, employees can complete a quiz on the information they obtained from the awareness campaign.

 

Rethink Your Drink

Think weight is only affected by the things you eat? Wrong! What you drink can also be a major factor in losing weight. The Rethink Your Drink Program will inform employees about the hidden calories and massive amounts of sugar that can be found today in the most popular beverages. This interactive display shows the grams of sugar in a variety of beverages using sugar cubes. The display also includes informational handouts informing you of how consuming the wrong beverages can cause weight gain, as well as ways to rethink your drink by make healthy beverage choices. At the end of the program, employees will walk away feeling informed and quite possibly surprised. 

 

Call us at 1-800-541-0351 to schedule your on-site programs today.

red_wine_salad.jpg Drink in Moderation This Holiday Season

By Brian Harrison, MD
 

You can spot a classy lady at a party by the way she holds her beverage container. Whether it's a fancy champagne flute or a can of beer, a woman of sophistication keeps her pinkie extended straight, with only the thumb and three fingers on the glass. Puzzled by this nuance for years, I've finally figured out why. The sophisticated woman is showing everyone she is counting her drinks! The three fingers on the glass show she's limiting herself to a three-drink maximum. That's because four drinks in 24 hours, for a woman, is a binge!

 

If you watch a gentleman drink, you'll find further proof of my theory. A man who holds his drinking glass with his thumb and all four fingers shows that he knows to limit himself to four servings, as five drinks in 24 hours, for a man, would be a binge!

 

I know that all of you Health e-News readers are ladies and gentlemen, and understand the definition of a drinking binge: Four or more drinks for a woman, five or more drinks for a man, in 24 hours equals a binge. And you understand that a "binge" differs from a "bender." Whereas a three-day-long drunken "bender" is accomplished only by extreme misuse of alcohol, a simple binge can occur almost accidentally.

Most people who drink alcohol do so socially and in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as one to two drinks in 24 hours, and not more than 14 in a week. But, even normally moderate drinkers could surprise themselves by reaching binge level simply by having a cocktail before dinner, a couple of glasses of wine with the meal, then an after dinner drink. Because this can happen fairly easily, ladies and gentlemen should use the pinkie up/pinkie down drink counting method I have described!

 

But, portion size can undo this drink counting method, just as portion size can do in dieting. When counting drinks, remember that each of these is a serving of alcohol:

 

12 ounces of beer

5 ounces of wine

1 ounces of spirits


Some people find the idea of consuming four or five drinks inconceivable! To other people, that seems like nothing at all. But, it doesn't matter how it seems. What matters is, what it does. Without a doubt, even a single binge does bad things for your health. Accidental injury risk increases, not only behind the wheel of a car, but also on a snowmobile, a motorcycle, in a boat, or on the basement stairs. Binges cause next-day blood pressure to be higher and heart rates faster. Work accident risks are greater even 24 hours after a binge. Work productivity drops for 24 hours after a binge, and the likelihood of work absence increases. That means lost production and missed opportunities for the work organization. And, that amount of alcohol equals a lot of calories, of a type which are hard for the body to metabolize. Those calories deposit directly into the liver, causing a condition with the unglamorous name of fatty liver. Repeated binges can make that progress all the way to cirrhosis.

 

Safe use of alcohol is a "numbers game" as in how many drinks, what size, and how often. Here's a great web site with online calculators and interactive tools to help ensure you and loved ones have the information you need to use alcohol wisely if you choose to drink: http://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/

 

I encourage you to enjoy all your celebrations safely and in moderation. And ladies, keep those pinkies pointed!

tea-cup-breakfast.jpg Breakfast With the Experts: Save the Date!

Wednesday, January 14
7:30 - 9:30 a.m.
Bridgewood Resort and Conference Center
1000 Cameron Way, Neenah
  

More details will be forthcoming.


 

To register for this free seminar, please contact Stefanie Armstrong at starmstr@affinityhealth.org.

 
Contact Employer Solutions

To contact an Employer Solutions sales associate, call our office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail htomlin@affinityhealth.orgtadavis@affinityhealth.org, or cbudiac@affinityhealth.org.