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Healthy LifeTimes 2017

GETTING PHYSICAL for good health

HEALTHY EATING for a lifetime

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes ... ARE YOU AT RISK?


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February 22-23, 2017

December and March. However, the flu can in public places can also reduce the chance be active as early as October and as late as of catching the flu. Covering your nose with May. tissue when you sneeze and cough will also The virus naturally changes during time prevent the spread of infected germs. Used and the season influenza tissues should be thrown vaccine is updated every away. Avoid touching the year. eyes, nose and mouth to There are several ways prevent the spreading of to prevent yourself from germs. catching the flu. Getting “It’s a preventable an annual flu vaccine is disease that spreads the best way to protect quickly,” said Jennifer you and your family from Greene, deputy health The following are a few of the flu, according to the director with the Apthe signs and symptoms that CDC. The vaccination can palachian District Health are associated with the flu: reduce flu illnesses, doctor Department. “If someone • A 100 degree or higher visits and missed work and suspects that they have fever (not everyone with school. the flu, seeking care from the flu has a fever) “The ... season’s flu vaca health care provider, • Cough cine will protect against limiting interaction with • Sore throat the influenza viruses that the public and frequent • Runny nose research indicates will hand washing are all • Headaches be most common during good health practices.” • Fatigue the season,” according to “Drinking plenty of • Stuffy nose the CDC website. “This fl uids, getting plenty of • Muscle and body ache includes an influenza A sleep, exercising on a • Some people have also (H1N1) virus, an influenza daily basis, managing had vomiting and A (H3N2) virus and one stress levels and obtaindiarrhea, symptoms that or two influenza B viruses, ing nutrients from a balare more common in depending on the flu vacanced diet can boost the children than adults cine.” body’s immune system Those 6 months and to keep you healthy and older are encouraged to be vaccinated for the reduce the chance of catching influenza,” acflu every year, according to the CDC. Excepcording to a spokeswoman with Ashe Family tions for vaccinations do exist for rare cases, Healthcare. such as for people who may be allergic to the The CDC also recommends people sick vaccine. Flu shots are available until May. with the flu should stay home from work or There are also other precautionary measchool to prevent spreading flu to others. sures people can take to lower the risk of Use prescription medications or antiviral catching the flu. Hand washing and avoiding drugs that can be used to treat influenza illcontact with people who are sick can help ness as recommended by a doctor. lower a person’s risk of contracting the illFor more information on how to combat ness. Carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer and the flu during this year’s flu season, visit using sanitizer stations on a regular basis

Signs and symptoms of the flu:

Flu season 2017: How to stay healthy this season


inter is the height of flu season every year. Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It causes mild to severe illness and can sometimes lead to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hos-

pitalizations and thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of deaths every year. Some people, such as older people, young children and people with health conditions, are at a higher risk of flu complications. Children and seniors 65 and older are most at risk of catching the flu. According to the CDC, flu season activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between

Taking the natural approach W

hen minor to moderate illness strikes, an individual’s natural reaction is often to seek medicine that will most quickly alleviate symp-

toms. While the body benefits through temporary relief with every dose of pharmaceuticals, it is the recurring, underlying issues that keep people at a constant health risk. This is where alternative or complementary healing comes into play, according to a spokesman for Blue Ridge Acupuncture and Integrative Health in Boone. Variously termed as holistic, functional or natural healing, alternative and complementary medicine has started taking prominence in the health industry. The core of the natural approach to medicine is education. Medical professionals in the field of holistic medicine seek to truly understand the underlying issues involved in a patient’s problem and to educate them on how to manage themselves, the spokesman said The mission of Blue Ridge Acupuncture and Integrative Health states: “Our purpose is to help as many people as possible in their quest for optimal health and to educate them about wellness, so they may, in turn, educate others.” Dr. Torrey Gorla of BRAIH has seen more than

40,000 patients and said the most important factors in achieving optimal health is comprehensive care and getting to the root causes of your health problems, rather than simply chasing symptoms. On its website, BRAIH lists the five pillars of health as detoxification, hormone health, nutrition, fitness and organ function. BRAIH, along with other natural health clinics, employ a host of methods to aid in the balance and repair of these functions, the spokesman said. One of the more common methods of treatment employed by clinicians of holistic medicine is acupuncture. The procedure, which is a mainstay and export of Chinese traditional medicine, involves the placement of needles at “acupuncture points” around the body. By manipulating these points, acupuncturists attempt to treat a large number of ailments from the common cold to asthma to insomnia. Along the same line of acupuncture is the lesser known Reiki, an energetic modality for relaxation, healing and pain and stress management. The word Reiki means “universal life force,” and life force energy has been studied and manipulated for thousands of years, the spokesman said. Reiki is a natural healing method in which the hands serve as an enAccording to information from Hands of Light


ergy conductor to send signals to areas of the body that are depleted of energy.


February 22-23, 2017

HEALING FROM PAGE 2 and Fire Reiki in Jefferson, tracing back through Japanese lineage, it is believed that disease occurs when the flow of life force energy becomes disrupted, which results in some areas of the body becoming depleted of needed energy. During a Reiki session, the practitioner puts their hands on or near the recipient’s body, allowing their own body to function as a conduit between the universal pool of life force energy and the recipient. Areas of the body that are depleted of energy will draw additional energy through the practitioner’s hands, often resulting in sensations of heat, tingling or relaxation. “It’s an energetic modality related to acupuncture,” said Charla Rae Armitage, owner of Hands of Light and Fire Reiki. “Acupuncture uses needles, but I use my hands as jumper cables to recharge your batteries and heal old issues.” Armitage said Reiki, however, is not an alternative to conventional medicine, but rather acts as a complement. “When everything is working together, it’s more powerful and more effective,” she said. “Most of my clients come originally regarding physical issues, but Reiki can affect more than the body. Many of my clients report feeling more positive, happier, more cheerful and exuberant.” Natural healing expands much further than energetic forms of healing, with a prime example being chiropractic work. Chiropractors attempt to diagnose and

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Common forms of natural healing Holistic healing is the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person, including body, mind and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease and promote optimal and consistent health. The most common types of natural healing are as follows. • • • • • • •

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treat ailments of the skeletal system, particularly the spine, by manually adjusting it, as well as other joints and soft tissue around the body. There are a number of natural methods that one can employ if he or she seeks treatment for almost any ailment. However, it’s important to note that for some issues, especially emergencies, the hospital is still the best bet for treatment and medicines, according to health officials, and it is always worthwhile to consult a doctor before beginning any new medical treatment.

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Healthy bones mean a healthy future


ones serve as one of the most important elements in the body. They provide a frame for your body, protect vital organs, including your heart, and work with your muscles to make everyday tasks such as walking possible. The health of your bones determines whether you can stand upright in your older age, dust yourself off and get back up after a fall or get out of bed every morning without feeling stiffness or pain. One of the most common bonerelated problems is osteoporosis. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the disease occurs when bones lose density and become weak, meaning they can break from a minor fall or even from simple actions, such as sneezing or bumping into furniture. The bone disease is especially common among aging women, who lose estrogen at menopause that helps maintain bone density. But, the disease can occur in younger individuals, as well, so it’s important to take precautionary measures no matter what your age. According to the foundation, the more bones you have at the time of peak bone mass — usually between the ages of 18 and 25 — the less likely you are to break a bone or get osteo-

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porosis later in life. In the High Country, especially during the peak of winter, local physicians find that bone breaks are more common due to steep and slick conditions, and also from seasonal sports, such as mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding. Doctors at OrthoCarolina in Boone said the distal radius fracture, or a break of the wrist, is among the most common types of fractures, because people instinctively hold their hands out in an attempt to break their fall. Among the elderly, hip injuries are the most common form of bonerelated issues, and can be especially difficult to cope with, as they cannot be put in a cast, which often results in surgery. OrthoCarolina’s eight doctors cover a range of common bone-related injuries and issues, including shoulder and elbow, spine, hand, foot, ankle, rotator cuff and more. According to local physicians, a lot of High Country injuries are sports related, and several Boone orthopedic doctors serve as team physicians for area universities and high schools as a result. Many physicians at Watauga Medical Center are also trained in orthopedic care and recovery, and health experts said, while not every bone issue can be predicted or prevented,

there are ways to limit or avoid the most common problems. Diets rich in vitamin D, protein and calcium, including foods such as milk, yogurt and spinach, can help build and maintain strong bones. Calcium supports your bones and teeth structure, while vitamin D improves calcium absorption and bone growth. The National Osteoporosis Foundation also urges people to take steps to prevent falls, which may include using a cane or walker, use common sense in slick conditions and stay active, which is the best way to fight off osteoporosis. The Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center in Boone encourages the public to utilize its facilities and experts on hand to stay healthy long term. Memberships are available on a monthly, quarterly and semiannual basis. Part of the Wellness Center mission, as stated on its website, says, “We provide a gym for people to improve their quality of life through general fitness, educational programs and rehabilitation services.” In maintaining a solid bone structure, it is recommended that individuals seek fitness programs to improve muscular and bone strength, which will in turn increase endurance and overall health.

Sports injuries: A growing concern

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February 22-23, 2017

n athletic competition, injuries have always been the norm. In recent times, the major change has come in how these injuries are treated. At Appalachian State University, the more than 450 student-athletes in 20 varsity sports are a priority for Jon Mitchell, the director of athletic training services. “Our goal is to provide our studentathletes with the best care we can, keep them healthy and on the field,” Mitchell said. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 3.5 million children ages 14 and younger get hurt annually playing sports or participating in recreational activities and more than than 775,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year. The leading causes of these hospital visits are the result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions and overexertion. In collegiate sports, with the level of competition and greater demands on

the student-athletes, the percentages can be higher. “At some points throughout their entire career, we’ll see around 75 percent of the student-athletes, and at any one time, we’re probably seeing around 50 percent of them,” Mitchell said. Mitchell’s home base is the 9,000-square-foot Athletic Training Center on the first floor of the Appalachian Athletics Center. The facility has numerous training tables, therapy areas, stationary bikes, a study lab and many other tools for Mitchell and his staff to use. While college students have better access to treatment than ever, it’s important for young children to learn the importance of preventative action. One of the tips Dr. Rushyuan Jay Lee, director of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Orthopedic Fellowship, gives is to cross-train children in multiple sports so they’re not putting pressure on the same ligaments, muscles and tendons whenever they exert themselves.


Treat injuries with ‘RICE’ Rest: Reduce or stop using the injured area for at least 48 hours. If you have a leg injury, you may need to stay off of it completely. Ice: Put an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times per day. Use a cold pack, ice bag or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice that has been wrapped in a towel. Compression: Ask your child’s doctor about elastics wraps, air casts, special boots or splints that can be used to compress an injured area to reduce swelling. Elevation: Keep the injured area elevated above the level of the heart to help decrease swelling. Use a pillow to help elevate an injured limb.

February 22-23, 2017


FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Diet is key to healthy living P

owering through the day with a thousand tasks to accomplish, it is all too easy to neglect homemade meals in favor of frozen dinners and fast food. While busy lifestyles often force compromise when it comes to diet and nutrition, improving one’s health often begins with a simple tweak in one’s diet. Healthy living invariably starts with healthy eating. Unfortunately, convenience often outweighs health considerations when making decisions on what kinds of calories we use to power our bodies on a daily basis. Add to this a cacophony of voices offering nutrition advice and fad diets guaranteeing overnight weight loss, navigating the modern food landscape can become a daunting task. In spite of the conflicting chorus of contradictory recommendations, there are essential time-tested principles to healthful eating. By making well-informed food choices, one is investing in future health. Weight goals, nutritional needs, dietary restrictions, level of physical activity and age determine what healthy eating looks like for you. Fresh fruit and veggies are the foundation for a healthy diet. They

are dense in nutrition, light on caloa big impact. ries and packed with everything the Limiting the salt you consume can body needs to operate at its best. reduce the risk of stroke and cardiac The U.S. Department of Agriconditions. While too much animal culture recommends three to five fat in your diet can have detrimental servings of vegetables and two to effects, keep in mind that some fat is four servings of fruit per day for the necessary for the body to survive. average adult. According to the USDA, beans, Health officials also recommend nuts or avocados can serve as a skipping sugary drinks, such as soda, healthy alternative. energy drinks and “All things in modsweetened coffee eration,” as the old and tea. adage goes. Even 100 percent Food is a major Vegetables are important juice drinks can part of life, which sources of many nutrients, have as much sugar should be celebrated content as a soda. and enjoyed. including potassium, dietary Americans get 5 Pay attention to fiber, folate (folic acid), vitapercent to 8 percent serving suggestions min A and vitamin C. of their daily calories on nutrition labels from beverages, and try to follow the which are essenrecommended servtially empty calories, ing size. Note if there according to the is more than one Centers for Disease Control and serving size per container. Prevention. There are many free smartphone Empty calories come from foods applications and websites available that have a high caloric content, such to help you personalize and track as soda or most snack foods, but your daily caloric intake, as well as have little to no nutritional value. your optimal ratio of macronutrients Fat, sugar and salt are a triple — carbohydrate to protein to fats. threat to a healthy diet, especially Above all, be mindful in your daily when a food contains all three, aclife of the dietary choices you make cording to the USDA. Reducing these and how they will affect your body, types of foods in your diet can make for better or for worse.


thought to have suffered a concussion, you’d check them on the sidelines, then 15 minutes later if they have no symptoms, they went back in,” Mitchell said, regarding the old polices. “Now, if a player is suspected of a concussion, their day is done.” Even in the last 10 years, concussion awareness and treatment has drastically changed. “Now, we have a seven-day staged protocol that all student-athletes have to go through if they’re suspected of having a concussion,” Mitchell said. “It doesn’t matter if they feel great the next day, they have to go through the protocol. A player might be on stage 1 for a while.” After years of lobbying, pro sports leagues, such as the NFL, NHL, MLB along with entertainment giant WWE, have instituted concussion protocols to recognize and diagnose the signs of a concussion. The NCAA also followed suit in 2014 with its own guidelines. “Here at ASU, we take it a step

FROM PAGE 4 Other tips include hydration, warm up and stretching properly, a well-balanced diet and making sure the young athlete understands to let their coach know if they’re in pain. For Mitchell and ASU, since athletes are usually competing in just one sport, there is a great amount of emphasis to prevent common injuries. “We do a lot of sport specific preventative training. For baseball and softball, we do shoulder stuff. For soccer, we do ACL stuff.”

Head games: Concussion awareness rises

For years, a concussion was considered “getting your bell rung” and athletes were told to “shake off the cobwebs” and get back in there. “Back when I started, if a player was

Fast Fact

further than the NCAA,” Mitchell said. “It’s not just a student-athlete issue and, recently, we collaborated with Student Disability Services, Resident Life and other campus groups to get some of the knowledge out there to recognize the symptoms of concussions so we can better treat them.” Concussion is defined as “temporary unconsciousness caused by a blow to the head,” and “a violent shock as from a heavy blow.” The field of concussion research is continuing in sports medicine. Research by Dr. Bennet Omalu led to his unintentional discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 2005. CTE is degenerative disease found in the brains of individuals who had a severe blow or repeated blows to the head. Despite all the advances in brain and concussion research, there are still a lot of unknowns. Currently, there’s still no one test able to 100 percent diagnose a concussion.

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Healthy skin for a healthy life


hile skin is the human body’s largest organ, it is also one of the most frequently neglected. Exposed daily to UV radiation, environmental factors and a host of bacteria that could make one sick, the skin serves as the body’s greatest defense against the outside world. With the return of spring, people across the High Country will begin to pour out of their homes to enjoy sunshine and warmer temperatures. While the area’s outdoor offerings are unparalleled, board certified dermatologist Maggie Sparks, M.D., encourages residents and visitors to take steps to protect their skin while working and playing outside in the warmer months.


An annual baseline skin exam conducted by a dermatologist can help detect possible health concerns, including melanoma.

Protect yourself from the sun

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Melanoma lesions usually have irreguSun exposure causes wrinkles, age lar borders that are difficult to define. spots, burns and the possibility of skin • Color — The presence of more than cancers, such as melanoma. There are one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) steps you can take to protect yourself. or the uneven distribution of color • Use sunscreen. Sparks recommends can sometimes be a warning sign of applying generous amounts of sunmelanoma. Benign moles are usually a screen an hour to 45 minutes prior to single shade of brown or tan. sun exposure, and reapplying every two • Diameter — Melanoma lesions are hours. Sunscreens should have an SPF often greater than 6 millimeters in (sun protection factor) of at least 15. diameter (approximately the size of a • Avoid the sun during peak hours pencil eraser). between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. • Evolution — If a mole has gone • Wear protective clothing. Wear through recent changes in color and/ tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long or size, bring it to the attention of a pants and wide-brimmed hats. There is special sun protective clothing that is dermatologist immediately. It is important to note that while specifically designed to block ultraviothese signs may indicate a problem, let rays. • Don’t seek excess sun. While the air only a biopsy can determine if a mole may be cancerous, health officials said. temperature may be cooler, UV radiaOne person in the United States dies tion is just as potent in the mountains from melanoma every hour, more than as it is in warmer climates. 10,000 people per • See a dermatoloyear. Risk factors for gis. The best defense melanoma include fair against any skin skin, tanning bed use, disease is an anThe average adult has exposure to UV radianual exam. Visiting tion, a high number approximately 21 square a dermatologist and of moles and family having your skin feet of skin, which weighs history of the disease. examined for skin 9 pounds and contains Just one blistering cancers or precancermore than 11 miles of sunburn can double ous growths is vital blood vessels. for good skin health. the risk of a melaA dermatologist can noma diagnosis. often find things that According to the most people look over Melanoma Research or don’t think about. Foundation, melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old and the Know the ABCDEs of skin second leading cause of cancer death in cancer detection women 30 to 35 years old. While moles are a common occurrence on the human body, Sparks Avoid tanning beds encourages individuals to know the While women, and girls especially, warning signs of a possible problem. may choose to utilize tanning beds to Individuals should check their skin get a base tan for summer or to prepare regularly to note any changes and for prom, few realize how hazardous contact a doctor immediately if they this practice can be to their health, notice moles with any of the following health officials said. characteristics: Tanning beds expose the skin to high • Asymmetrical shape — Melanoma levels of UV radiation, which increases lesions are often irregular, or not symthe risk of developing skin cancers. metrical, in shape. Benign moles are Statistics from the Melanoma Reusually symmetrical. search Foundation suggest that using • Borders — Typically, noncancertanning beds before age 30 increases a ous moles have smooth, even borders.

Fast Fact


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February 22-23, 2017

risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent, while occasional use of tanning beds can triple chances. According to Sparks, the American Dermatology Academy has lobbied legislatures across the country to impose restrictions on tanning for minors. Sparks said that recent years have seen a distinct increase in melanoma cases among teenage girls who use tanning beds.

Don’t smoke

Smoking narrows the blood vessels in the outer layers of skin. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important for healthy skin. Smoking also damages elastin and collagen, the fibers give your skin elasticity and strength. This contributes to wrinkles and makes skin look older.

Treat your skin gently

Daily bathing and/or showering in the winter can excessively dry the skin. Keep these helpful tips in mind next time you lather up. • Limit your bath time. Long hot showers can deplete your body of essential oils. • Use gentle soaps. Strong detergents and soaps can also deplete your body of essential oils. Choose milder moisturizing soaps instead. • Keep your skin moisturized. Use a moisturizing lotion that best suits your type of skin. For regular use, consider using a moisturizer with an SPF.

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet can make a person look younger by several years. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins will provide your body with ample fats and vitamins to maintain healthy skin.

Stress management

High stress levels could cause sensitive skin to negatively react, causing acne breakouts, hives and other skin problems. Take steps to better control stressors in your life, such as cutting down on your to-do list and incorporating exercise into your day, health officials said.

February 22-23, 2017


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or the third year in a row, North Carolina received F’s on the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control ranking

system. The system evaluates the state’s efforts to decrease smoking and overall usage of tobacco by the amount of funding cessation laws and tobacco prevention receive, amount of smoke-free air laws, access to cessation services, taxes on tobacco and whether a state has tobacco 21 laws. David Willard Northwest Tobacco Prevention Coordinator said that there are many factors that contribute to low grades in North Carolina. “We don’t have a high cigarette tax on our tobacco products,” Willard said, “Our smoke-free policy is good, but it doesn’t cover everything we need to do to get outside of that F and the only statewide smoke free policy we have is for our bars and restaurants.” Willard said currently N.C. ranks 47 in national cigarette tax at 45 cents on the dollar. He also said that while many public places like malls and movie theaters have banned smoking, the fact that the only state policy is for bars and restaurants brings the score down. Willard said there is one particular roadblock that is a major player in North Carolina’s efforts to reduce tobacco usage. “History,” Willard said. “A lot of people worked for R. J. Reynolds, so you know you have to respect that of course. We had two of the biggest tobacco companies (R.J, Reynolds Tobacco Company and Lorillard Tobacco Company) in the world basically in our back yard. A lot of people made their living that way, of course they’re going to have an allegiance to them. So it’s just really hard to get things passed.” While N.C. is classified as an F in each category, they’re not the only state. Aside from smoke-free air laws, there was no category where more than 40 percent of the states were above an F. Currently North Carolina’s smoking rate for adults is 19 percent with Ashe County at 18, Watauga at 21 and Alleghany at 19 percent. Although high, Willard said this has been consistent over the past few years and there hasn’t been any drastic changes. Willard said he is optimistic, that with more work in each category, N.C.’s scores can be improved. According to Willlard the N.C. State legislator recently set aside money for funding of QuitelineNC and a program to help pregnant women quit smoking. Willard also said App Health Care has partnered with QuitelineNC to provide callers from Ashe, Alleghany and Watauga counties eight free weeks of nicotine replacement therapy — nicotine gums and patches are the most frequent.

TRENDS • During the past couple of years electronic nicotine delivery systems have rose rapidly in the U.S. especially among young people. • Nearly 2.5 million U.S. middle and high school students were past 30-day e-cigarette users in a 2014 study; one in seven high school students. • Willard said while traditional tobacco use has declined amongst youth in N.C., the use of e-cigs and hookah has raised a new level of concern. • “E-cigs are one of the biggest concerns of course with the youth and use is something that is pretty concerning,” Willard said. • Currently the evidence is insufficient to conclude that electronic nicotine delivery systems are effective for smoking cessation. • While the process for types of electronic nicotine delivery systems is complicated, nicotine is not consumed in the same way as traditional forms. However, many chemicals that have not been tested and deemed safe to inhale are present in the electronic nicotine delivery systems. • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently states only seven medicines are approved by the FDA for smoking cessation and are proven safe and effective when used as directed.

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February 22-23, 2017

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“The mouth is the gateway to the body,” said Joel Yates, doctor of dental surgery and owner of General Dentistry in Jefferson. “A healthy mouth, in turn, yields a healthy body and people with diseased mouths have a diseased body.” Oral and dental diseases are caused by bacterial infections in the mouth. According to Yates, the bacteria streptococcus mutan feeds on sugars in the mouth, resulting in dental decay. Healthy gums are pink, firm and don’t bleed when you touch them, brush or floss. “It’s a matter of letting the bacteria go out of control that results in dental disease,” he said. Many oral diseases result from neglecting oral health over a period of time. According to Yates, bacteria in the mouth can form deposits of tartar, which if not cleaned, can start eating away at the gums and bone. Yates said that people with diabetes are also more prone to oral health problems. Three of the most common oral complications include gingivitis, periodontal disease and cavities Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and is the initial stage of gum disease. Signs of gingivitis include red swollen gums that have a tendency to bleed on touch. The cause of gingivitis is tartarand the soft colorless film of bacteria that forms constantly on teeth and gums. Gingivitis can either be localized to one area or represent an advanced stage of gum decay every— where in a patient’s mouth. According to Laura McNeill, hygienist at Mountain Town Dental in West Jefferson, gingivitis is reversible and can be treated within a few weeks if appropriate treatments and oral care is provided. Periodontal disease includes the decay of bone, causing the bone that holds the tooth to disintegrate, which will result in teeth becoming loose. Unlike gingivitis, periodontal disease is not reversible and can only be slowed or stopped, not treated. Good oral care can prevent the disease from progress-

ing and keep teeth from falling out. Signs of periodontal disease include bone loss, receding gums, mobility in teeth and bad breath. Yates also said that certain diseases, including diabetes, dry mouth and heart issues, can be made worse by periodontal disease. Cavities are caused by the bacteria creating acids that eat away at the natural tooth structure. Signs of cavities include sweet sensitivity, temperature sensitivity and dark areas on the tooth. Cavities can be treated in three ways, depending on the level of infection in a tooth. Cavities in the enamel, the outer coating of the tooth, can be reversed with the use of fluoride and daily oral care. Cavities in the dentin must be removed by a dentist and fixed by fillings. Cavities in the pulp, the part of the tooth that holds the tooth’s nerves and blood supply, will require a root canal, or in serious cases, the extraction of the tooth. Yates said that severe cavities in the pulp can cause severe infections and even death if left untreated. The following tips are recommended for maintaining good oral health on a daily basis: Reduce the amount of sugar in the diet. Avoid drinking too many sugary drinks, such as sodas, sweet teas, coffees with sugar and creams, sweetened juices and energy drinks. Brush and floss twice a day to remove tartar and bacteria. Use a fluoride toothpaste and strive to brush for two minutes during each brushing session. Use a mouth rinse after brushing. Clean your tongue. Don’t use the same toothbrush as you use for your teeth. Using a tongue scraper is preferred. Change your toothbrush every three months. In addition, replace your toothbrush after recovering from an illness such as the flu. Drink water to help neutralize bacteria. Avoid and limit sticky sugary foods on a daily basis.

‘Electric tooth brushes can also clean up to 70 percent better than regular tooth brushes.’

Laura McNeill

Baby Bottle Decay Another problem of oral health in children, according to Dr. Joel Yates, owner of General Dentistry in Jefferson, is “baby bottle decay,” which results from putting children to bed with juice or milk. “That child is consuming all those sugars before they go to sleep, and the acid and sugars will coat their teeth. All night long, the tooth decay is going sky high. It’s important to get parents and kids to brush their teeth before going to sleep and in the morning,” Yates said. Yates recommends avoiding giving milk and juice to children before bedtime and after brushing their teeth. “After children get their first tooth, you have to start watching, even though they are baby teeth,” he said.

Patients who are prone to tooth decay or have a few existing fillings may be given a prescription toothpaste issued by their dentist. “Electric tooth brushes can also clean up to 70 percent better than regular tooth brushes,” McNeill said. People should also get a teeth cleaning at their local dentist’s office once every six months, according to McNeill. Patients with oral health problems, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease, may be required to get cleanings every three or four months. Foods that contribute to oral health include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and foods rich with calcium, such as low fat dairy products, milk, cheese and plain yogurt. Cheese helps neutralize acids in foods that threaten tooth enamel. Foods rich with vitamin D also help keep bones healthy. Oral cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the country, according to Yates. People who use alcohol and smoke are at a higher risk of oral cancer. Signs of oral cancer can include tissues that bleed for no reasons, a soreness of the tongue and sign areas that look out of the ordinary. For more information on maintaining dental health, visit the American Dental Association website at www. or the North Carolina Dental Society at

February 22-23, 2017


Page 9

Monitoring hearing health and treating hearing loss


hroughout our lives, many take for granted the everyday benefits of the ability to hear. From listening to music to hearing a car horn, communicating with others to responding to a bell or other aural stimuli, the sense of hearing is a pivotal piece to one’s overall functionality in today’s world. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, still on the rise with 36 million Americans now reporting some level of hearing loss. Although advances in dealing with and effectively treating hearing loss continues to evolve with new technologies and communication methods, the loss of hearing can be a source of stress and frustration to many. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and correct hearing loss, and even a possible cure on the horizon. The most common type of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss. It is a permanent hearing loss that occurs when there is damage to the tiny hairlike cells of the inner ear, weakening the transfer of audio signals to the brain. This type of hearing loss can also occur if the auditory nerve becomes damaged. Although some people are born with sensorineural hearing loss, most develop the condition later in life, and it is caused by a variety of factors. The most common trigger for hearing loss which occurs without external contribution is presbycusis, a form of hearing loss caused by aging.


A number of hearing assistance devices are available for individuals with hearing loss symptoms, many of which are small in size and hardly noticeable to the eye when utilized.

Other causes of hearing loss include overexposure to loud music, traumatic injuries and a variety of diseases and inflections. The symptoms of hearing loss include changes in the loudness and clarity of sounds. Sensorineural hearing loss may cause

noises to seem louder or quieter than expected, most notably causing difficulty hearing women’s or children’s voices. Other symptoms include constant ringing in ears, social isolation, feeling offbalance or dizzy, speech delay in a child and problems listening in noisy environments. Unfortunately, there is no medical or surgical method to repair the hairlike cells of the inner ear required for hearing. However, the onset of hearing loss can be delayed by avoiding the causes of hearing loss. Hearing loss can be prevented with several common sense solutions. For instance, avoiding recreational risks, such as rock concerts, or protecting your ears while in the workplace, can assist in preventing hearing damage, health officials said. Also, victims of hearing loss can greatly improve their hearing with the use of hearing aids and other technologies, such as noise cancelling headphones. It’s not necessary to avoid all forms of recreational noise. Rather, take high level sound in moderation, giving hearing a break between loud exposures. According to a World Health Organization review on hearing loss, it suggests the impact of loud sounds on hearing depends on three main factors: sound intensity (volume); duration of exposure; and distance from the sound source. By regulating all or one of these variables, the organization contends, it is pos-

sible to protect the ears. Even though there isn’t currently a medication to restore hearing on the market, new strides have been made in that area. On Oct. 21, 2014, Medical News Today published an article stating that researchers from the University of Michigan and Harvard Medical School were able to restore hearing loss in mice. “In their study, researchers explain how they were able to increase production of a protein called neurotrophin-3 in mice, which they found plays a key role in communication between the ears and the brain,” according to the article. Noise-induced partial hearing loss was restored in mice with the use of neutrotrophin-3, according to the article. The researchers who participated in the study also noted the gene therapy technique could potentially work for humans who are partially deaf. According to the article, the mice used in the study only had partial deafness, so it remains unclear if increased NT3 would restore hearing for subjects who are fully deaf. “It has become apparent that hearing loss due to damaged ribbon synapses is a very common and challenging problem, whether it’s due to noise or normal aging,” Gabriel Corfas, who led the research, said. “We began this work 15 years ago to answer very basic questions about the inner ear, and now we have been able to restore hearing after partial deafening with noise, a common problem for people. It’s very exciting.”

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Page 10

February 22-23, 2017

How to lower your risk of heart disease


eart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men and woman in the U.S. and often refers to several heart conditions, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks, arrhythmias, heart failure and angina. However, being aware of the risks, using medications and making changes in your lifestyle can help reduce the risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, there are several factors that can increase a person’s risk in heart disease. Age: People who are 65 and older are at a greater risk of coronary heart disease. Older woman are also more likely to die of heart attacks within a few weeks of the attack than older men. Being male: Men are at a greater risk of heart attack and heart disease than woman and attacks

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often happen earlier in life. Family history: People with a history of heart disease in their family are more likely to develop heart disease themselves. Race: Heart disease risk is higher among African-Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans compared to Caucasians. Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by two to four times. Smokers have a higher risk of developing chronic disorders, including the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke risks. Smoking also increases the chances for blood to clot, leading to a higher risk for peripheral

artery disease and aortic aneurysm. High cholesterol: Higher cholesterol levels also increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Cholesterol can build up in the inner walls of the arteries, hardening over time and turning into plaque. Plaque creates narrow walls in the arteries, reducing blood flow in the body and leading to blood clots and an increased risk of heart attack High blood pressure: High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload. This contributes to a thickening of the heart, making the heart work harder and damaging the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney failure. High blood pressure often exists with obesity,



There are five important tips for avoiding heart disease, based on the first five letters of the alphabet. A: Aspirin: Aspirin therapy can be prescribed by a person’s doctor. B: Blood pressure: Reducing sodium intake and controlling your blood pressure can reduce heart disease risk. C: Cholesterol: Turning away from smoking and managing cholesterol can lower heart disease risk. D: Diet: Eat your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables and maintain a healthy diet. E: Exercise: Excise every day. Adults are recommended to participate in two hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. smoking, high blood cholesterol levels and diabetes and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke several times. Sedentary lifestyle: People who live an inactive life style have an increased risk for coronary heart disease. The AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of activity a day. In addition, children are recommended to partici79pate in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Excess weight: People with excess body fat, especially in the waist area, are at a greater risk of developing heart disease and stroke, even if they don’t have other



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February 22-23, 2017



Have You Considered Reiki?

FROM PAGE 10 risk factors. Stress: Excess stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Stress can also affect behaviors and factors that also increase heart disease risk, including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, overeating and physical inactivity. Managing stress is good for managing overall health and can reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. Diabetes: People with diabetes have a serious increase in cardiovascular disease risk. Three quarters of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease.

“Reiki” is, literally, “Universal Life Force.” The word also refers to certain gentle, non-invasive techniques that permits a potential increase in Life Force in a body. To do this, the practitioner uses his/her hands like jumper CHARLA RAE cables, placing them lightly on ARMITAGE the fully clothed person, animal or plant that is to receive the Reiki. The Life Force flows from the universe, through the practitioner to the recipient. Most people feel this as heat. Some feel coolness, some a tingle, and some people feel nothing at all. Scientific studies have shown that Reiki therapy may speed healing, decrease pain, promote relaxation and decrease the effects of stress, among other benefits. Reiki therapy is offered at some hospitals, medical clinics and cancer centers, as well as by some hospice programs and private practitioners.


Mission Head Start Ashe Memorial Hospital is in its third year of Mission Head Start, a three-year program funded through a grant from the Health Resource and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service. The goal of the program is to provide automated external dissimulators at churches and community centers and train people in saving lives through CPR and the use of AEDs. “We started this program three years ago in September of 2014. During that time, we have given out about 60 AEDs to various churches and community centers and trained about 750 people in the use of AEDs,” said Nancy Kautz, grant consultant for Ashe Memorial Hospital. According to Kautz, the program was awarded a total of $206,291. During the first year of the program in 2014 and 2015, Ashe Memorial Hospital partnered with several churches and organizations and trained more than 400 individuals on how to save lives. “We have a great advisory board which has really steered the project very successfully,” Kautz said. “We never would have been able to contact and involve the number of the churches that we did. We also have plans to expand the project’s services, providing AEDs in the police cars, the town hall in West Jefferson and the volunteer fire departments in Ashe County.”

Heart matters Ashe Memorial Hospital is a full service medical center in Jefferson. The hospital offers diagnostic tests and expert staff and treats heart disease and problems. Full-time cardiologist Dr. Jeanette Billett works with Ashe Memorial Hospital and is a member of Novant Health, a network of physicians and hospitals across the Southeast. This association gives patients access to physicians at the top of their

Page 11


One of the quickest ways to improve health is to skip the fast food and check out your local grocery store’s produce section.

Heart of the Huskies During the past few years, seventh- through 12th-grade student-athletes in Ashe County schools have received free sports physicals, as well as concussion screenings, vitals and EKGs, during a one-day event every year in May. EKGs are read by a cardiologist and, if needed, referred for further evaluation if needed. “We provide sports physicals for student-athletes in middle school and high school,” said Melissa Lewis, infection prevention nurse and community outreach nurse with Ashe Memorial Hospital. “The EKGs are required for the student-athletes to participate in sports. Doctors and nurse practitioners in the community all come in and volunteer their time. It’s a two day event now and has grown large during the past few years.” “Students who are flagged with high blood pressure or tachycardia receive follow-up care,” said Amy Walker, director of technology and media with Ashe County Schools. “We also include Ashe Medics to participate with the EKGs.” Walker said that the program helped more than 200 students last year. This year, Heart of the Huskies will take place on May 19 and May 20. Times will be decided at a later date. specificities and access to facilities for cardiology care. Patients needing more specialized care or an invasive procedure will be aided in finding the best cardiac specialist for them. Ashe Memorial Hospital also offers a cardiac rehab program, which works with patients with cardiac issues. According to Marc Boston, exercise physiologist at Ashe Memorial Hospital, the program is insurance coverage based and patients are required to be diagnosed with a heart condition in order to partici-

pate. The program lasts three months and patients meet with dietitians, are monitored for heart rate and rhythm and taught excising techniques to lead to a healthier lifestyle. “The program’s main goal is to help someone make lifestyle changes,” Boston said. “Patients get all the information and knowledge they need in eating and exercising correctly before we transition them to another program so they can continue their work on their own.”

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February 22-23, 2017

STROKE: Signs and treatment


n the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. So, when it comes to symptoms of stroke, time is ticking. “When you’re having a stroke, brain cells are dying,” said Debbie Shook, RN, coordinator for the Stroke Program at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “Identification and treatment as soon as possible is critical.” A stroke, also referred to as a brain attack, is the loss of brain function due to a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. Symptoms of a stroke in process may include loss of limb movement on one side of the body, failure to understand speech or speak coherently and impairment of vision. “When suffering signs of a stroke, it is imperative to seek medical attention im-

F.A.S.T. Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time. F — Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? A — Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? S — Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange? T — Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

mediately,” Shook said. “Early identification and care can and has saved lives.” A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to parts of the brain, brought about by blockages or ruptures of blood vessels in the brain. Brain cells dying can begin just minutes after symptoms begin due to the lack of blood flow and thus, a lack of oxygen and

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nutrients getting to the brain. With an increased emphasis on stroke identification and prevention, the death rate for strokes in North Carolina has been on the decline, going from more than a 70 percent death rate from stroke in the early 2000s to closer to 40 percent in recent years. The reason for the decrease is a better understanding and management of risk factors and early identification of stroke symptoms. Still, the Southeast has some of the highest death rates when it comes to strokes, according to Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke.

To reduce your risk of a stroke: • Know your blood pressure. • Find out whether you have atrial fibrillation (quivering or irregular heartbeat). • Don’t smoke. • Find out if you have high cholesterol. • If you’re a diabetic, follow recommendations to keep your blood sugar low. • Exercise daily. • Have a lower sodium, lower fat diet.

“Lifestyle is the main reason for higher stroke rates in the South,” Shook said. “Dietary choices, obesity, high blood pressure and smoking are some of the biggest risk factors for those numbers being high.” For more information about strokes, the effects and reducing their risk, visit the National Stroke Association at www. and facts.htm.

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ancer has been around for thousands of years. In fact, evidence shows that signs of the disease have been found in the mummies of ancient Egyptians dating back to 3,000 BC. The good news is that scientists and doctors have had an extensive time to study the disease and how to help prevent it. As defined by the American Cancer Society, cancer involves the overpopulation of harmful cells in the body that overcrowd and push out normal cells that allow the body to function properly. Armed with the correct knowledge, steps can be taken to help prevent cancer. Today, more than 15.5 million Americans with a history of cancer are living, thanks to the different types of treatment and prevention available. The American Cancer Society has identified several major causes of cancer and tips to prevent them.

Genetics Advancements in genetics and molecular biology have given doctors and scientists a better knowledge of how human cells work within the body, according to the ACS. Since cancer begins when genes in a cell become abnormal and the cell starts to grow and divide out of control, it’s important to understand the role our genetics play in determining a person’s potential risk for getting cancer. Mutations in our genes, or abnormal changes to the DNA, are the main catalyst of cancer, according to the ACS. While gene mutations happen all the time, they are usually detected by the body and repaired or killed off. When they are not removed or repaired they significantly increase the risk of cancer. The ACS states that in 5 to 10 percent of



February 22-23, 2017

CANCER FROM PAGE 12 cases, cancers result directly from gene mutations inherited from a parent. In these cases, common inherited gene mutations can cause family cancer syndrome. Indicators of family cancer syndrome can be many cases of an uncommon or rare type of cancer or cancers occurring at younger ages than usual. Speak to a family physician if you have concerns about this. The more likely cause of cancer stems from acquired mutations caused by things in the environment. By avoiding these external factors you can exponentially lower the risk of getting cancer, according to the ACS.

Say no to tobacco Tobacco smoke is made up of more than 7,000 chemicals, including more than 70 known carcinogens, according to the ACS. Cigarette smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in the United States. In addition, people who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke. According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer among both men and women in the United States. Smokeless tobacco such as chew or

dip is equally as harmful and greatly increases the risk of mouth, esophagus and pancreatic cancer, according to the ACS.

Protect your skin Despite the prevalence of anti-tobacco advertising, skin cancer is actually the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the CDC. UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation omitted from the sun’s rays and artificial sources such as tanning beds. The energy in UV rays is not strong enough to penetrate deeply into the body, leaving their main effect on the skin. According to the ACS, too much exposure to UV radiation is a direct cause of skin cancer. Basal and squamous cell cancers, the most common types of skin cancer, are usually found on sun exposed parts of the body. The CDC recommends putting on broad spectrum sunscreen with at least a SPF 15 rating before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. It is also recommended to wear sunglasses, hats and other protective clothing during prolonged exposure to the sun.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle According to the ACS, research has shown that poor diet and not being active are two key factors that can increase a person’s cancer risk. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are re-

lated to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption or poor nutrition. According to the CDC, being overweight or obese substantially raises a person’s risk of getting endometrial uterine, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. An important prevention method is maintaining a body mass index below 25. Between 25 and 29 is considered overweight and 30 or higher is considered obesity.

Get checkups and screenings regularly Follow recommendations by the ACS and CDC for cancer screening tests. Screening tests are used to find cancer in people with no symptoms and it gives you the best chance of finding cancer as early as possible, before it has time to spread. Age can be a great indicator of potential risk and when to get a screening. Men older than 40 should get their prostate and colon checked, while women should get a Pap test every five years after starting at age 30.

Page 13


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February 22-23, 2017

Don’t face mental health issues alone Multiple resources available in the High Country



If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, stressed, anxious, confused or mentally or emotionally unbalanced, a number of resources in the High Country are here to help.



Keep an eye on your vision health I t’s a story so common that it has nearly become a cliché: You had perfect vision all of your life then all of a sudden in your 40s or 50s you started having trouble reading fine print. Or driving at night was becoming to be an adventure. Or you couldn’t tell the difference between threes and eights on the sports scores on television. It’s a fact of life that most of us will have some type of age-related eye disease or vision impairment as we get older. These changes are a normal part of aging. As you get older, you are at a higher risk for developing a number of eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, low vision and dry eye. What can you do about these eye-related conditions? Everyone age 50 or older should visit an eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Many eye diseases have no early symptoms or warning signs. A dilated eye exam can detect many diseases in their early stages before any vision loss occurs.

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ccording to the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, 31.4 percent of adult North Carolinians reported that their mental health was “not good” for at least one of the past 30 days — in Western North Carolina, it was 32.5 percent. The same survey indicated that 18.8 percent of North Carolinians and 24 percent of respondents in Western North Carolina had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder. If you or someone you know is feeling depressed, stressed, anxious, confused or mentally or emotionally unbalanced, a number of resources in the High Country are here to help. First, see your doctor. She or he can refer you to a mental health professional. Or you could start with Vaya Health, which provides screening, assessment and referral for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services for a number of Western North Carolina counties, including Ashe, Avery and Watauga. Call the Vaya Health ACCESS line at (800) 849-6127 to speak with a mental health professional who will listen and ask questions to learn about the nature and extent of the problem the individual is facing. Vaya Health can provide options for individuals even if they do not have private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. Daymark Recovery Services, located at 132 Poplar Grove Connector #B in Boone, offers a walk-in clinic, mobile crisis unit and 24-hour crisis services, as well as substance abuse and mental health outpatient treatment and intensive in-home treatment. Daymark is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday

Age-related macular degeneration is a disease associated with aging that gradually impairs sharp central vision. Without this central vision, everyday tasks such as driving and reading can become nearly impossible. A cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye. People

with cataracts have vision that can appear cloudy or blurry, with colors that seem faded. They are also susceptible to a lot of glare. Diabetic eye disease is complication of diabetes and one of the leading causes of blindness. It takes its most common form in diabetic retinopathy, which occurs when diabetes damages the small blood vessels inside the retina. Low vision is the condition where a person uses regular glasses, contact lenses or has had eye surgery, yet continues to find everyday tasks difficult. It can make watching television, reading, writing and other tasks harder than before. Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when tears evaporate too quickly. This condition can make it difficult to read or look at a television or a computer screen for very long. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve, resulting in vision loss or even blindness. It is usually associated with abnormally high pressure in the eye and can affect one’s peripheral vision.

Where can I go for help? Fortunately, the High Country has a number of eye clinics that schedule comprehensive dilated eye exams, including Watauga Eye Center, Blue Ridge Vision, Family Eye Care Center, Western Carolina Eye Associates and others.

February 22-23, 2017




ob Brewer’s mission in life is to improve people’s health. The owner of the Anytime Fitness branch in Boone, Brewer knows a thing or two about improving the fitness of others. He is also the strength and conditioning coach and the offensive line coach of the High Country Grizzlies, Boone’s indoor football team. It’s his livelihood to keep people coming to the gym and improving their health while they are there. It’s important for him to know, not just the basic mantra of eating better and exercising makes people healthier, but the whys that it does. He said moving helps get blood circulating throughout the body. Doing that increases the heart rate, which is good for the body overall. “The biggest thing is the blood flow, and increased circulation helps everything,” Brewer said. “It helps your brain, everything increases with blood flow. That’s a big one. It’s important to get your heart rate up. Walking is good, but it’s not going to attack the obesity the way it should, because you need to get the heart rate up, in a lot of cases over 110, but that’s based on a lot of different factors as to how high your heart rate should go to burn the calories you need to.” Brewer has seen some weight loss success stories, but there is more to what those people are doing than just working out. They also watch their diets by choosing fruits, vegetables, lean meats, such as chicken and turkey, and avoiding food with a high level of fat.

“We’ve had probably three or four people who have lost at least 100 pounds,” Brewer said. “It’s not just the exercise. Of course, diet has a lot to do with it. A lot of people think they’ll go to the gym to lose the weight, but they’re still eating two bags of chips at night and eat two gallons of ice cream — all that work in the gym is not going to help them.” He said that people’s metabolism changes as they age, and that eating leaner foods is important as people age. “You have to do more to do the same thing as far as results,” he said. “That something is where you would need to go to the doctor so they can check the thyroid and make sure everything is working right. You need to make sure your metabolism is burning those calories off.” Brewer said that heart rates need to be built up, but people just starting out should go at their own pace and try to improve that pace as time goes on. Walking, using a stair stepper, jogging or any other activity that increases the heart rate are always healthy ways to work out. Those activities may not be right for people who have bad knees, but riding the stationary bike is easier on the knees. Brewer, who has developed bad knees after playing football, said the lower impact activities help those who may not be able to do the higher impact workouts. “Everybody has a different cardio style that they like,” Brewer said. “Some people like to go round on the treadmill or jog on the treadmill. Some people like to go on the steppers. It has a lot to do with your physical abilities. If you’ve had anything


der may also benefit from the programs of NAMI High Country, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness that serves Ashe, Avery, Watauga and Wilkes counties. NAMI affiliates and volunteer leaders work in local communities across the country to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs. NAMI High Country holds monthly meetings on the first Mondays of the month at 7 p.m. at the Watauga County Public Library conference room, located at 140 Queen St. in Boone. Attendees arriving after 7 p.m. are asked to enter through the side door. To learn more about NAMI High Country, visit www.namihighcountry. org, email, search for the group on Facebook or call (828) 278-9293. Vaya Health offers free certification in both Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid. Mental Health First Aid teaches participants to help individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis, or those developing a mental health or substance use problem, using a five-step action plan. Participants also learn about local behavioral health resources. For more information or to register, call (800) 893-6246 ext. 5125.

FROM PAGE 14 through Friday; the office number is (828) 264-8759, and the 24-hour crisis hotline is (866) 275-9552. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is (800) 273-8255. Call to speak with a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problems and will tell you about mental health services in your area. The call is confidential and free. Visit for additional information, including resources for veterans, young adults, victims of bullying and resources in Spanish. In Watauga and Avery counties, High Country Community Health also offers behavioral health assessments, consultations and recommendations. High Country Community Health is a federally qualified health center that accepts Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance and payments on an income based sliding fee scale for the uninsured. To contact the Watauga center, call (828) 262-3886, and to reach the Avery center, call (828) 737-0221. For more information, visit Persons with a mental illness or disor-

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Tips and suggestions for getting the body moving like a hip injury, you might want to go to something that is lower impact. You still get your heart rate up because you’re peddling harder. You can adjust the resistance on all the pieces of equipment, so you’re still getting that heart rate up even though you’re not getting the pounding on the joints.” Brewer said it’s also important to build muscles, especially for people older than 40. Muscles start to deteriorate by the late 30s and need to be maintained to avoid injuries down the road. “You need to keep the blood going to the muscles to keep them going strong. I don’t care what age you are. With the Grizzlies, we’re trying to get them strong and a lot of core strength we’re doing in sports is the same kind of thing people need to consider when they’re getting older, because when you get older, a lot of times the lower body gets weaker and your core gets weaker and that’s why you see a lot of older people falling and breaking their hips or getting injured, because they lose that strength of their lower extremities. It’s just lack of use.” Brewer cautioned that people should start slowly and work up their heart rates and strength levels, and not try to do too much too soon. Those just starting to increase their exercise activities should start

not overexert themselves at the beginning, but start slowly and work to improve their exercise times. Brewer said that often when people do more than they should in the early stages of working out, they either strain something or they lose interest when they can’t maintain the workout over a period of time. He said people should eventually try to get at least 30 minutes of cardio work each day once they’ve worked up to that level. “We’ve had people start off and the most they can do on a cardio is five minutes,” Brewer said. “They just keep gradually working their way up. The worse thing they can do is go in right away and try to start and say they want to do a half-hour a day.” People should also start slowly with any weight training, so their muscles can get used to the strain. Brewer recommended that people stretch before lifting to prepare the muscles for the stress weight training can bring. “One of the big things is stretching,” he said. “You really need to stretch before you start lifting, so you get the blood in the muscles. You don’t want to go in with cold muscles and start lifting heavy weights. You want to get stretched first, get them elongated as much as you can and get them stretched.”

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