News/Blog

Tis the Season…for Colds & the Flu

It’s that time of year again. Cold and flu season.

A common cold and the flu are similar because they’re both respiratory illnesses. Even though they’re caused by different viruses, they share many of the same symptoms. This makes it hard to know for sure which you may have unless you visit your doctor.

Symptoms for both illnesses can include a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. However, flu symptoms tend to be worse than cold symptoms, and people with colds are more likely to have runny or stuffy noses.

A cold usually doesn’t result in serious health problems, but the flu can. While most folks can recover from the flu in less than a couple weeks, it can lead to respiratory complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, and bacterial infections. In the worst cases, these complications can lead to hospitalization.

While anyone can get severely sick from the flu, groups at higher risk for complications include adults older than 65, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions, or individuals with compromised immune systems.

So how can you prevent these illnesses? Some suggestions include:

  • Stay away from anyone who is sick, and stay away from others when you’re sick.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often throughout the day with hot water and soap. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if hand-washing isn’t possible.
  • Don’t share utensils, cups, toothbrushes, towels or any other personal items.
  • Keep your hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Limit what you touch when in public, such as stairway rails. Wash your hands soon after touching.
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat right, and exercise regularly.
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10 Tips for Family Caregivers

Caring, giving, sharing.

For most people, the holidays bring out the best in us when it comes to going the extra mile. But for those who are family caregivers, this is a description of everyday life.

Whether you became a caregiver suddenly (grandma had a stroke), or gradually (aging parents), taking care of a loved one in addition to having a career, family, and children can be a challenge. So, how can a caregiver do it all?

Below are 10 tips for family caregivers provided by the Caregiver Action Network:

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone.
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Take respite breaks often. Caregiving is hard work.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression. Don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it’s up-to-date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!
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6 Tips for Talking to Your Loved One about COPD

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a lung disease that makes it hard for a person to breathe. At first, COPD may cause no symptoms or very mild symptoms like coughing, so people may ignore them thinking it’s not serious. But, eventually, the disease can make daily activities – like climbing stairs, cleaning the house, and even getting dressed – difficult.

If you suspect a loved one may have COPD, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggest these 6 tips in broaching the subject:

  1. Know what to look for to recognize the signs of COPD in your loved one. Shortness of breath, wheezing, or a chronic cough.
  2. Talk with your loved one about things they may be missing out on because of these symptoms, such as taking walks and playing with grandchildren.
  3. Talk with your loved one about how hard daily tasks like climbing stairs or grocery shopping have become for him or her, and suggest that it may be related to COPD.
  4. Encourage your loved one to schedule a visit with the doctor or healthcare provider. COPD can be diagnosed with a quick and painless breathing test called spirometry.
  5. Remind your loved one that the earlier a person receives treatment, the better the chances are to improve quality of life. There are many ways that the symptoms of the disease can be managed.
  6. Offer resources to help your loved one. Visit http://COPD.nhlbi.nih.gov to learn more about COPD and support groups in your loved one’s area.
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5 Facts about Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs that causes inflammation and fluid build-up, resulting in coughing, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. It can be most serious for infants, adults older than 65 years, and for individuals with weakened immune systems or existing health problems.

Pneumonia causes more than a million hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths every year.
Here are 5 facts about pneumonia that the American Lung Association thinks you should know:

  1. Anyone can get pneumonia, even if some are at higher risk.
  2. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi.
  3. Flu is a common cause of pneumonia. So preventing the flu is a good way of reducing your risk of pneumonia.
  4. Complications from pneumonia are more likely to affect older adults, infants, and those with weakened immune systems or existing health problems.
  5. Good health habits can fight pneumonia. Wash your hands, follow a healthy diet, get adequate rest, exercise regularly, and don’t smoke. All these behaviors can help you prevent getting pneumonia. And if you do get sick, these good health habits will help promote faster recovery.
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Keep the Flu to Yourself, Please

Getting the flu can be an unpleasant event for even the most stoic among us. But for a hospitalized patient with a medically complex condition, it could pose a serious threat.

These patients often are receiving critical care services while recovering from conditions such as heart failure, respiratory failure, complex wound care, infectious diseases, and more. So if one of these individuals catches the flu, it could take an already serious situation and make it much worse.

Because they can’t limit contact with others who may be carrying the flu virus, these patients are at a disadvantage. With their health and immune systems already compromised, it can present these patients with a higher risk of getting the flu. This then can result in flu-related complications like pneumonia that can become severe and even life-threatening.

So, the bottom line?

If you’re visiting someone in the hospital, be cognizant of how you feel health-wise before you go. If you feel under the weather, stay home. And, if you feel healthy, stay that way. Get a flu shot. Wash your hands and cover your cough.

Prevention can go a long way in helping everyone this flu season.

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Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital First in State to Earn National Certification

Bringing nationally recognized healthcare to the local community

Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital is the first hospital in Colorado to earn The Joint Commission’s disease-specific certification in respiratory failure.

Certification is voluntary and given after a rigorous on-site review of the hospital’s practices, programs, and outcomes in treating patients with respiratory failure. It is available only to acute care hospitals that are accredited by The Joint Commission.

“This certification is significant because it means that we’re providing the highest level of respiratory failure services available in the nation right here to our own community,” says Lamar McBride, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Being that we’re the only long-term acute care hospital in the region , we take this responsibility seriously to ensure that our area is offered this higher level of care.”

Respiratory failure occurs when there isn’t enough oxygen passing from the lungs into the body’s bloodstream.

“Oxygen-rich blood is needed to help the body’s organs – such as the heart and brain – function properly,” explains Dr. Gary Pearson, Medical Director of Northern Colorado Long Term Acute Hospital. “Respiratory failure also can occur if a patient’s lungs can’t remove carbon dioxide from the blood. Carbon dioxide is a waste gas that also can harm a body’s organs.”

Different types of diseases can cause respiratory failure, including lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, or cystic fibrosis. Respiratory failure also can be caused by conditions that affect the nerves and muscles that control breathing such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, and muscular dystrophy.

“To get the best possible results for our patients, we use best practices and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines,” Pearson says. “These include prolonged mechanical ventilation, mechanical ventilation weaning, patient nutrition, and patient positioning”

At the hospital, a long-term acute care team tailors medical services to the complex needs of each patient, creating a personalized plan of care that is guided by the patient’s attending physicians, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, case managers, dietitians, and other medical professionals. All patients receive 24-hour nursing and respiratory care services, and daily physician management. Patients have access to all private rooms, including a 4-bed high-observation unit. Every room is monitored and includes any specialty equipment needed such as ventilators and cardiac monitoring equipment.

“Respiratory failure can be a serious and life-threatening,” McBride says. “It’s an extremely stressful time for patients and their family members. That’s why we’ve gone the extra step to earn The Joint Commission’s certification to provide better outcomes for our patients. We want to offer hope and quality of life to members of our community who experience this debilitating event.”

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Diabetes and Nerve Damage

Diabetes is a disorder where there’s too much sugar in the blood. Often times, diabetes can be treated with exercise, a healthy diet and medication. But, complications can develop.

A common complication of diabetes is neuropathy, or nerve damage. According to the American Diabetes Association, about half of all people with diabetes have some form of nerve damage.

This damage often occurs in the nerves of the legs or feet. Symptoms can range from tingling, pain or numbness in the body’s limbs to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, heart and blood vessels.

Because nerve damage can cause a lack of feeling in the limbs, especially the feet, injuries such as cuts can go unnoticed, which can become serious. Not only does a person not feel if a foot becomes injured, but now if it is injured, the risk of infection is higher because diabetes restricts blood flow to the area.

However, if you keep your blood glucose levels on target, you may help prevent or delay nerve damage. If you already have nerve damage, this will help prevent or delay further damage.

There are also other treatments that can help, be sure to ask your doctor.

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Hospitals and Disasters

Are hospitals prepared for disasters?

The short answer is…yes.

All hospitals are required by laws, regulations, or accreditation requirements to plan for disasters.

Hospitals prepare for both internal and external disasters. Internal disasters are events that occur inside the hospital building like a fire, flood, or power outage and have potential to affect services.

An external disaster is one like Hurricane Harvey or Irma that occurs outside the hospital. This includes severe weather conditions, chemical incidents, or large-scale community accidents. In these situations, the disaster can affect the operations of the hospital or cause an influx of patients to a hospital, depending on the situation and type of hospital.

Every disaster is different. Hospitals prepare for a variety of situations through ongoing planning and practice. This helps everyone understand what to do and how to do it to ensure patients’ safety and well-being.

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Catch Your Zzzzz’s for Good Health

Over the years, the understanding of sleep has evolved from being a basic function of our day-to-day activities to an important part of physical and mental health.

The quality and quantity of a person’s sleep influences the body’s ability to:

  • Repair and grow tissue
  • Build bone and muscle
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Strengthen cognitive abilities

A person transitions through the five stages of sleep about every 90 to 110 minutes — as long as his or her sleep isn’t interrupted. The health benefits mentioned above typically occur during the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep, which are called deep sleep.

The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep, which means they will fall into the deep sleep cycle about four times a night. If a person’s sleep cycle is continuously interrupted throughout the night, he or she will miss the stages of sleep that are important to health and healing.

So, shut off the lights and noise, and catch some Zzzzz’s for your health!

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Immunizations: Not Just for Children

Adults, take heed. The need for immunizations doesn’t end in childhood.

According to the National Public Health Information Coalition, tens of thousands of adults in the United States needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccinations every year.

Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, you may be at risk from other diseases based upon your age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions, or health. In addition, the protection from some vaccinations wears off over time.

Vaccinations can prevent serious diseases such as the flu, whooping cough, tetanus, shingles, and pneumococcal diseases. Immunizations can protect not only the person being vaccinated, but it also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others – especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications. This includes young children, older adults, and adults with chronic conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and diabetes.

Some folks hesitate to get vaccinations because they are concerned about the safety of the vaccination or the side effects. But vaccinations are tested before licensing and monitored even after they are licensed to ensure ongoing safety. And usually side effects are mild and temporary – any serious or long-term side effects are rare.

Talk to your physician to see what immunizations are recommended for you.

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