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Health Matters


MARCH 2018

Teen anxiety in the age of the smartphone SEE PAGES 14-15

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Observer Publisher / Dawn Willis, dwillis@ Executive Editor / Michael Eng, Design Editor / Jessica Eng, Senior Sports Editor / Steven Ryzewski, sryzewski@ Community Editor / Amy Quesinberry, News Editor / Gabby Baquero, Black Tie Editor / Danielle Hendrix, Associate Editor / Troy Herring, Associate Editor / Tim Freed, Black Tie Reporter / Harry Sayer, Advertising Executive / Michelle Gentry, Advertising Executive / Cyndi Gustafson, Advertising Executive / Laura Rubio, Creative Services / Tony Trotti, Customer Service Representatives / Allison Brunelle, Janice Carrion, Katie Rehm, To Advertise, please call (407) 656-2121 or email AdvertiseNow@

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Just the flu facts

This year’s virus, known as H3N2, is the same strain that was prevalent last year and exactly what the flu vaccine was developed to fight off. TROY HERRING ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Around this time each year, there’s one medical subject that constantly stands out — the spread of influenza. The virus has dominated headlines throughout the country over the last few months. Just like the rest of the country, Central Florida has been hit hard with the flu — making it one of the busiest flu seasons doctors such as Dr. Tim Hendrix, medical director for Florida Hospital Centra Care, has ever seen. “Both Centra Care and the hospital have seen record numbers come in for influenza in the last six weeks,” Hendrix said. “In the time that I’ve been in Florida — 25 years — I’ve never seen it this bad. This is the worst I’ve ever seen, just in the volume or numbers of people coming in to Centra Care with the flu.” Hendrix said since the official start of flu season, which began Nov. 1, his offices have seen a total of 12,000 visitors come

through dealing with the virus. In the worst week, Hendrix and Centra Care treated about 1,700 patients. By comparison, Hendrix said the next-worst case was back in 2016, when his offices saw 4,200 in the same span of time. But there is good news for those worried about the virus. Although this year’s version of the virus may be one of the most contagious, it is actually far from the deadliest, Hendrix said. “It’s the most severe that I have ever seen, but it doesn’t mean it’s the most dangerous season,” Hendrix said. “The symptoms are the same, the risk of complications appears to be the same. It just seems that the virus is more easily transmitted, more contagious — so we are seeing a lot more falling ill with it since last season.” This year’s virus, known as H3N2, is the same strain that was prevalent last year and exactly what the flu vaccine was developed to fight off. But things are not always so easy when it comes to dealing with viruses. Although there is no way to discern why this year’s strain of flu is so much more contagious,

Hendrix believes it has to do with the virus itself. “From an identification standpoint, it’s not really a new virus — it’s well matched by the vaccine we’ve had — so the seasonal vaccine is the H3N2 that’s out there,” Hendrix said. “It just seems there has been enough of a change in the characteristics of the virus that it’s more contagious, and the vaccine is less effective. “So to simply say that the season was worse because our vaccine wasn’t as effective this year — that’s one factor, but there are other factors to consider, so it’s not a simple or easy answer as to why it was so bad,” Hendrix said. The flu vaccine has become a point of contention for some in the community who see it as a non-necessity. Some also see the vaccine as even being virus inducing itself, but that’s not the case, Hendrix said. The vaccine is created from a “killed virus,” where the killed viral particles help the body create antibodies that can help fight the virus if you’re exposed to it, Hendrix said. “Being a killed virus, there is no risk of transmission of the flu,” Hendrix said. “People think they get the flu after they get the flu shot, and it’s not at all true. It’s impossible to get the flu after getting the flu shot, because you’re just getting injected with viral particles from the virus, not the actual virus.” One of the reasons this myth is so widely believed is because of the time of year in which the shot is administered. The flu vaccine becomes available at the end of September or beginning of October, which is when cold and flu season begains. Despite the ongoing myths about the vaccine, and the possible effectiveness of the shot, Hendrix said it’s still the best way to fight off the flu and help prevent it from getting worse. “Even though the vaccine wasn’t as effective — effective meaning that people were still getting sick with the flu — effectiveness is only a measure of, ‘Did you get sick or not?’” Hendrix said. “But there is another layer to that — it’s when you got sick and have the vaccine, you’re still less likely to have complications and to have as long as an illness. So there is still protection there.”

“People think they get the flu after they get the flu shot, and it’s not at all true. It’s impossible to get the flu after getting the flu shot, because you’re just getting injected with viral particles from the virus, not the actual virus.” — Dr. Tim Hendrix




MARCH 2018

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It’s brutal out there The pollen county in Central Florida ranks among the highest in the country this year. STEVEN RYZEWSKI SENIOR SPORTS EDITOR

It’s allergy season in Central Florida — but perhaps you’ve already noticed? The Greater Orlando area earned on spot on’s “worst cities” list March 8. And Central Florida has had a spot at or near the top of the list for more than a month. Although it is technically a little early for Florida’s spring allergy season, it has nonetheless arrived — and with a vengeance. “It’s been terrible,” said Dr. Lauren Pedersen-Buck, a physician with Florida Hospital based in Apopka. “It does appear to be worse than in years past. … One theory on why is that we haven’t had as much rain as usual.” A dry February that has extended into March possibly worsened the typical causes of spring aller-

gy season. According to WebMD. com, high allergy season usually begins when temperatures hit 60 degrees for three to four days. When that happens, pollen from plants starts moving through the air, and allergy misery begins. Another reason for a more pronounced wave sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes — among other unpleasant symptoms — may be tied to the rugged flu season Central Florida just passed, Dr. Andrew Bagg, of Allergy Asthma Specialists, said. “We had a bad flu season, so allergies often get worse after viruses — many people may be suffering more than usual if they had the flu this year,” said Bagg, who rotates between offices in Dr. Phillips, Clermont and Altamonte Springs. “Viruses can affect your immune system to make the allergies worse.” Bagg said Allergy Asthma Specialists offices around Central Florida, which also include locations in Ocoee and East Orlando, see an uptick in patient visits this time of year. Some of his recommendations to help offset the allergy-inducing conditions include: changing clothes and washing your hair before

bed; keeping windows and doors closed and letting your air conditioner filter out the pollen; avoiding exercising outdoors at dawn or dusk; and taking the appropriate medications, including antihistamines and eyedrops. Additionally, Pedersen-Buck stresses thinking ahead. “I always like to preach prevention and being proactive rather than reactive,” Pedersen-Buck said. “Even if you feel like you don’t have the symptoms that day, it’s good to take (the normal precautions).” Pedersen-Buck said most people can find the appropriate medications over the counter, and that if those solutions are not getting the job done, a physician can be consulted for prescription alternatives. Facilities that specialize in allergies, such as Allergy Asthma Specialists, often have late hours. Bagg said AAS offers different forms of allergy therapy including shots, drops and tablets. In the meantime, hold tight, Central Floridians — experts say the spring allergy season runs through May.


Here are some things you can do to help minimize allergic reactions in your home. n Change clothes and wash your hair before bed. n Keep windows and doors closed and let your air conditioner filter out the pollen. n Avoid exercising outdoors at dawn or dusk. n Take appropriate medications, including antihistamines and eyedrops.



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Dr. Richard Dumois The Central Florida gastroenterologist urges local residents to have routine colon cancer screenings. HARRY SAYER BLACK TIE REPORTER

Of all the diseases that affect the human body, people don’t immediately think of colon cancer. According to Dr. Richard Dumois, a Central Florida gastroenterologist, that’s a mistake. “Colon cancer is the third most-common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.,” Dumois said. “And it’s often pre-

ventable.” Dumois, 51, focuses on internal matters — problems afflicting the human digestive system. Whether it’s helping people suffering from reflux disease, stomach issues, gastric ulcers or Crohn’s disease, he takes it all in stride. Dumois was born in the United States and attended medical school in Spain. He graduated in 1992 and completed his fellowship in gastroenterology in 2001 at the University of South Alabama. Interest in medicine runs in Dumois’ family. His grandfather was a physician, and his father planned to be one before leaving Cuba during the revolution. “I guess it’s just something in the blood,” Dumois said. “(Through my residency) I discovered I wanted to do internal

“I guess it’s just something in the blood. … (Through my residency) I discovered I wanted to do internal medicine, it deals with the whole body. ...I just felt like I could do more with (it).” — Dr. Richard Dumois

medicine; it deals with the whole body. ...I just felt like I could do more with (it).” March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and Dumois stresses knowledge is the best way to avoid the illness. “If you wait for symptoms, it’s too late,” he said. “The main thing to look for are risk factors (ahead of time).” Although living a healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of colon cancer, Dumois said the real key is to identify whether there’s a history of the disease in your family and to begin colon screenings as early as possible. Because the disease typically begins to manifest between ages 60 to 65, Dumois urges for people to get their first screening between ages 40 and 50. For the procedure itself, Dumois guides a tube with an attached fiber-optic camera through the rectum to check for pre-cancerous masses or polyps inside of the colon. As these polyps can remain in the body for five to 10 years before becoming cancerous; they are removed whenever they are found.

Dumois stresses the operation itself is clean, painless and has the subject sedated the entire time. The toughest part for people is preparing for the procedure, he said. “They have to be on a liquid diet the entire day before and drink this liquid solvent mix; it honestly doesn’t taste very good,” Dumois said. “It has to be salty, the purpose is to flush out your colon (before the operation).” If people fail to finish the liters of fluid and properly clean their colons, which Dumois said happens on occasion, it can be difficult to notice polyps and masses lining the walls. He says a healthy colon looks like the inside of a garden hose. “I can perform the colonoscopy no problem, but to have good results and see the whole colon, it is from good bowel preparation,” Dumois said. It’s sometimes easier said than done. Dumois recognizes his clientele, particularly men, can be defensive or unwilling to go to screenings. “The problem is patients are not getting colonoscopies, for whatever reason” Dumois said. “Males don’t want colonoscopy because it goes through the rectum; nobody wants to do that. Or they feel like they don’t have any symptoms.”

HEALTHY COLON HABITS A mix of clean living and vigilance is the best way to avoid colon cancer, Dumois said. “Smoking, alcohol or a bad diet will of course put you at risk for colon cancer,” Dumois said. “Low-fiber, highfat and high-meat (meals) will also put you at risk.” People with a history of colon cancer in the family should begin screenings at 40, while African-Americans should start at 45 and everyone else at 50. If a screening is passed, a second won’t need to occur for 10 years. If there are polyps detected in the first screening, additional screenings should occur every three to five years.



MARCH 2018





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MARCH 2018

On a macro level March is National Nutrition Month — and the perfect time to learn your macronutrients. ERIC GUTIERREZ STAFF WRITER

When it comes to nutrition, Marissa Herring is no stranger to what she calls “fad diets.” “It’s fun to watch all these people rave about the keto (diet or) the paleo (diet) — just to name a few — and sure, they can work for certain types of training styles.” Herring said. “Is it realistic? Not for everybody.” Herring runs a fitness and nutrition coaching company in Winter Garden called Garage Mama Fitness. She said although fad diets may yield results for some people, the results may not be sustainable. Instead, she recommends practicing a diet plan based on balancing macronutrients to get sustainable results. “Macros are your basic nutrients, which are protein, carbs and fats,” Herring said. “If you balance those (macros) out each meal, we have seen the best sustainable lifestyle you can have.” BALANCE IS KEY

Macros are in every food, and as long as an individual keeps track and balances the amount of macros they consume, the could eat whatever food they want. “If I want to have a donut, fine,” Herring said. “If you want pancakes, let’s go for it. But again, it’s a balanced lifestyle of protein, carbs and fat. … Keep it simple. What does your plate have? A nice combination of all those things.” Foods such as meat, dairy and eggs are protein, whereas starches such as bread, pasta, grains and fruits and vegetables are carbs. Fats include nuts, butter, mayonnaise and salad dressing, Herring said. “Learn your macros,” Herring said. “Peanut butter is a fat. That’s the most incorrect macro (people assume).”

The amount of each macro an individual can consume is calculated based on the individual’s lifestyle, activity level, body measurements and body fat. “The right amount of protein, carbs and fat depends on your training style,” Herring said. “If you’re a cross-fitter, you’re going to eat a different type of macro percentage. If you’re a regular human — like all of us are — you’re going to have just a regular balanced plan.” DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Macronutrient diet plans can be individually tailored to each person based on his or her goals, health and eating practices, such as vegetarianism. Creating a balanced macronutrient diet plan takes homework, which could pose as a challenge for some individuals, Herring said. “It’s time-consuming … you do have to put in the work and learn,” Herring said. “The key is to find a dietician or nutritionist or nutrition coach (who is) certified in helping you get those goals with the type of training style or lifestyle you have.” Herring estimated it takes about four weeks for an individual to learn their macros, but the results could last a lifetime. “If you do (the homework) at home … when you go out to restaurants, you can visually know (you’re) eating the right portion,” Herring said. “You’re in control. The food doesn’t control you; you control the food.” THE RESULTS

LeAnn Davis is one of Herring’s clients and said she has lost a total of 55 pounds and 27 inches off her waist since she started a macronutrient diet plan in May 2017. “I had gotten to the point that my weight was out of control,” Davis said. “I was tired all the time and eating the majority of my food at the end of the day when I finally thought about eating.” Davis said she now plans what she eats at the beginning of each week, portions everything she eats and has added more fruits and vegetables into her diet.

Courtesy photo

Marissa Herring owns and operates Garage Mama Fitness, a fitness and nutrition company in Winter Garden.

A MACRO MEAL All food fits in one of three categories: protein, carbs and fat. Here is a sample of a balanced macro meal, but portion sizes will vary based on an individual’s lifestyle, activity level, body measurements and body fat. n Protein: Four ounces of grilled chicken n Carb: 1/2 cup rice; 2 cups any salad (without croutons or dressing) n Fat: 2 Tablespoons oliveor canola-oil-based salad dressing; 2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds, pepitas or pine nuts

“I have always been a confident person, but going from a size 16 to size 6 gives you a whole different perspective of yourself,” Davis said. “I still eat things I love, even though some of those things have changed.” Kathy Pighini said she started per macronutrient plan in December 2017 and has lost 28 pounds and dropped two pants sizes since she started. “The program was customized for me,” Pighini said. “My diet has changed significantly … I primarily eat whole, unprocessed foods now compared to almost entirely processed foods before. I never thought I would get there, but I can honestly say that I don’t really crave anything, as I can have just about anything I want, although in limited portions.”



MARCH 2018






MARCH 2018

Stress in the digital age Counselors are seeing an increase in stressed and anxious teens, and much of the blame is placed on cell phones and social media. AMY QUESINBERRY COMMUNITY EDITOR


ocial media has its good qualities, such as staying connected with friends and sharing personal news, but too much of it can have damaging consequences —

especially to children and teenagers. The constant negative news updates from around the world, the greater opportunities for bullying and the feeling of being left out of activities with friends all lead to stress in teens. And it’s all easily accessible on their cell phones, tablets and computers. “Many of the stressors that teenagers encounter today are much different than from the time we grew up,” said Parker Mott, a licensed psychologist at Counseling & Psychological Services of Central Florida. “Primarily, technology has contributed to many of these differences. … Social media has allowed for a new form of bullying to take place in which teenagers can be bullied in front of the entire school while sitting in their own home. It’s also done privately to where adults, administrators and teach-

ers are not always aware of it due to the private groups that teenagers often participate in online.” Julie Wolf, a licensed mental health counselor at Hope Counseling Clinic, said other stressors include time management, academic

pressures, social pressures, divorce and violence in schools. “Teenagers today are so much busier than we were 20 or 30 years ago,” she said. “When you’re involved in something, it’s not just one hour of dance a week. … There’s competitions and hours and hours of practice, which also leads to a lack of sleep.” Schoolwork is a big stressor, too. “(I have seen) many students put unrealistic expectations on their school performance and abilities and have great fears about their future,” Mott said. “There seems to be much more competition to get into colleges, and I find some students begin to worry in middle school. “Stress does

greatly affect and change the chemistry of a teenager’s brain,” he said. VIOLENCE

The onslaught of campus violence has created a fearful atmosphere in schools, as well. “On a near-daily basis, I meet with both children and adolescents who have the thought, ‘Will there be a school shooting today?’” Mott and Wolf said they always see an increase in teen appointments following a school shooting. “Kids literally feel unsafe going to school,” Wolf said. SLEEP

Another factor in the development of the teenage brain is the issue regarding sleep. “Teenagers require a good deal of sleep, because their brain is developing, and during the sleep cycle is when the brain repairs itself and grows,” Mott said. “Teenagers, especially highschool students, don’t get nearly enough sleep, which is required for healthy brain development.” Wolf and Mott shared ways teens can reduce stress. These include having a regular bedtime and wake schedule; maintaining a healthy diet, getting an adequate amount of; exercise; having a good social support from family and friends; having outside activities; speaking with a counselor or trusted adult; and developing the skill of slowing down.

“Social media has allowed for a new form of bullying to take place in which teenagers can be bullied in front of the entire school while sitting in their own home.” — Parker Mott, licensed psychologist



There are similarities and differences between anxiety and panic attacks. An anxiety attack often comes in reaction to a stressor. You’re walking down a dark alley and hear footsteps, or you’re at even the top of a rollercoaster and looking to go down that large hill. During an anxiety attack, people might feel fearful or apprehensive, and they might feel their heart racing or feel short of breath. But it’s short-lived, and when the stressor goes away, so does the anxiety attack. On the other hand, a panic attack doesn’t come in reaction to a stressor. It’s unprovoked and unpredictable. And during a panic attack, the individual is seized with terror, fear or apprehension. SOURCE: ABC News


One of the best ways parents can help teens cope is to stay active in their lives. They can engage in joint hobbies and activities, and they can make themselves available to discuss stressful situations. “One of the most important things parents can do is really work on that attachment bond with their teenager,” Wolf said. “What happens in the brain, when you have a strong attachment with an individual, your brain literally releases oxytocin.” Scheduling one-on-one, faceto-face time with teens is important, too. “Teenagers are so sensitive to rejection,” she said. “I always encourage parents to continue pursuing spending time with their teenager, even if they are pushing you away.” Mott agreed. “It’s important for the parents to facilitate a family of open communication in order for teenagers to feel comfortable coming to them to discuss often difficult topics and fears,” he said.

“I think a lot of parents think their kids are being dramatic when they complain about how hard something is, and I think we compare our adult stresses to teen stresses,” Wolf said. “Hopefully, we have adult-level coping skills, where they don’t have those skills yet. And where we can handle those things, they aren’t able to handle those with their 16-year-old minds.” The result is panic attacks, self harm and, in severe cases, suicide. DIGITAL INVASION

Wolf often recommends to her clients two books written by Dr. Archibald D. Hart: “Adrenaline and Stress: The Exciting New Breakthrough That Helps You Overcome Stress Damage” and “The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships.” “Kids are exposed to so much more so much earlier,” Wolf said. “The young teenagers don’t have the good impulse control or good judgment, yet they have this small device with so much power.”

And this device is contributing to stress in teens, she said. There is no down time, because cell phones tend to go everywhere the teen goes. Their minds are becoming hard-wired for constant stimulation. “The cortisol and the adrenaline are the stress hormones that are released in the brain,” she said. “Even when you’re not bad stressed, but just stressed … your brain is charged up with a little more intensity. Our brain is designed for that, but it’s also designed for down time to just sit with friends or enjoy the sunset or enjoy a meal. If we don’t have any time for down time … we’re losing the ability to relax.” One of the best ways for teens to tackle anxiety is for them to be in the moment, Wolf said. “Anxiety mostly exists in time travel in your mind,” she said. “Thinking, ‘I can’t believe I did this,’ or, ‘What’s going to happen if …’ “There’s not very much that you can’t handle in this moment.”


MARCH 2018


“There’s not very much that you can’t handle in this moment. … You just take it one moment at a time.” – Julie Wolf, mental health counselor

What it’s like to be at war with anxiety



here were mornings during my time in fifth grade when my routine consisted of my mom dropping me off in the guidance counselor against my will — sobbing, crying out, working myself up to the point of being physically sick. Each time she would have to leave me there to calm down so eventually, hopefully, I could go to class. Each time she would wear that comforting look on her face — you know, the one that every mother seems to have mastered — and assure me that I would be OK.

But each time she walked out that door and my cries continued, she’d break down in tears herself. It’s not unusual for separation anxiety to occur on a child’s first day of preschool or kindergarten. At 10 years old, an anxiety-ridden tantrum isn’t exactly cute, much less socially accepted — but in my younger years, it was never something I could control. I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety and panic disorder when I was 7 years old. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with generalized anxiety disorder can exhibit symptoms such as restlessness, becoming easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and sleep problems. Panic disorders are similar but consist of recurring, unexpected panic attacks. These include sudden attacks of intense fear, palpitations, accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath and feeling of impend-

ing doom. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. According to the ADAA, an estimated 44 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders, and a study by the Child Mind Institute reported an estimated 17.1 million American children have or have had a psychiatric disorder. There’s also a difference between anxious feelings and an anxiety disorder. Everyone gets anxious on occasion, but disorders last beyond the temporary feeling. It doesn’t go away; it gets worse. Anxiety feels different for everyone who suffers from it. For me, it most commonly

manifests physically. Although I’ve lived with a disorder now for 17 years and am much more capable of coping with it effectively than I was as a kid, I’ll never be without it. I take medication that helps to keep my brain’s serotonin levels in check, and I’ve seen counselors throughout the years. But there are still times when my stomach gets so knotted that I have to vomit to relax the muscles. It’s always at its peak in the morning, so I generally don’t eat breakfast, because just looking at food can make it worse. There are still times, at 24 years old, when I call my mom in the middle of an attack just because I need to hear her voice talking me through it. She’s the only one who has been able to help me calm down. There still are times when I

At 10 years old, an anxiety-ridden tantrum isn’t exactly cute, much less socially accepted — but in my younger years, it was never something I could control.

get beyond frustrated with lack of control over my constant state of anxiety. Through it all, though, I like to think it’s made me a stronger person. I can relate to and sympathize with others who face the same challenges I do. It’s never meant to be a sob fest or a pity party when I talk about mental health. Rather, I’m open about it, because I hope others can take inspiration from or tips based on my experience with anxiety. Mental health has been a social stigma for far too long, and it’s about time things change. If you think you might be suffering from an anxiety or panic disorder or know someone who does, I encourage you to read more about it. Visit ADAA’s website,, for more anxiety facts, explanations and statistics. Know the symptoms and learn to recognize them so you’ll better be able to help your loved one or calm yourself during an anxiety attack. Most of all, exercise patience and know you’re not alone in your battle.


MARCH 2018



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What you can do to boost your emotional well-being




Healthy eating can help you feel good, have energy and enjoy life. Reviews of more than 30 studies found that adults who ate fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains (the Mediter-

ranean diet) were less likely to be depressed than those who consumed processed and fried foods, high-fat dairy and more sweets. Try it for two weeks and see how healthy eating affects your moods. The stomach has a strong pull on the emotions. Even Olympic athletes feel “hangry” when they do not eat enough of the right food at the right time. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Moving, physical activity and exercise — whatever you call it — helps even out moods. Runners and bikers can tell you about the endorphin high they get; they feel good hormones are released with physical activity. Walkers boast of an increase in energy and patience. Stretching can get blood flowing in your muscles, increasing your sense of well-being. Locally, you can find great walking and biking trails, dance classes, yoga and more. LABYRINTHS

Labyrinths, complex walking mazes, also aid mental health. The ancient practice of walking the labyrinth can relieve stress, help you relax, reduce tension and fears. The relaxation from walking the labyrinth (or intense exercise, or meditation or other relaxation practices) slows breathing, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, contributing to an overall feeling of well-being. Got the world on your shoulders? Walk the labyrinths. We have several in Central Florida. Find one near you at You can also let your fingers do the walking by on a printed labyrinth or do a virtual labyrinth at experience-labyrinths. MUSIC

Music can be a balm for the soul. Music can elevate your mood and take you to different emotions. Music can cause positive neurological changes, relieve stress, ameliorate depression, help with pain management and promote


Community, a sense of belonging and connectedness to other people enhances well-being. Being connected to community can help you thrive. Studies have shown that those who attend church or have some other connectedness to a community tend to be healthier and live longer. Community can be your walking club, yoga class or neighborhood. Community connectedness can give us opportunities for engagement, positive relationships and meaning. Social interaction can boost your social, emotional and physical well-being, your immune system, and your selfesteem. The opposite, loneliness, which is on the rise, can contribute to poor physical and mental health. What can we do to create more community here?

We cannot always control what happens in our lives, but we can build the resilience to enable us to recover from life’s difficulties. Resilience helps us adapt to stressful situations and adapt to adversity to stress and life changes. The child who falls and gets up is building his or her resilience. Having an optimistic outlook (it will get better), facing fears and following your moral compass and social support can strengthen your resilience. These are just some of the paths to enjoy mental health and well-being. Robert Louis Stevenson said it best: “Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well.” Dr. Nancy Rudner, a local workplace nurse coach with, helps individuals, employees and organization understand health, make healthy choices easier and achieve their health goals. Send your questions to Nancy@




MARCH 2018



healing. Locally, the hospitals offer music therapy as a healing modality. The range of local music speaks to the diversity of our community and many avenues music influences emotions.




MARCH 2018

More than massage Janice Robinson, a Winter Parkbased reflexologist with 16 years of experience, explains the merits of reflexology treatment. GABBY BAQUERO NEWS EDITOR

Some people think of reflexology treatment as fancy foot massages, but licensed practitioners of reflexology know it is much more. Janice Robinson — a certified full-time reflexologist in Winter Park with more than 16 years of experience in the practice — said reflexology allows the body to initiate a process of self-recovery and helps relieve painful symptoms. Reflexology involves the application of pressure to areas on the feet and hands that correspond to certain organs and systems of the body. Licensed practitioners use foot and hand charts as guides to know where to apply pressure

using thumb and finger techniques. “You have 7,000 nerve endings in the feet, and when you hit these points that are mapped out that match organs in your body, it sends a message to the brain down to the body part,” Robinson said. Reflexologists such as Robinson do not make the claim that the treatment can fully cure illnesses but emphasize its ability relieve certain symptoms connected to the nervous system. Although there are no scientific studies that prove reflexology’s ability to heal medical conditions, there is evidence it is an effective way of reducing physical pain and treating psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. “It’s like a massage on steroids — it’s way stronger than a massage,” Robinson said. “It’s much more medical. Some people who come to me have migraines, fertility problems or irritable bowel syndrome. I have a lot of people


Reflexology has its roots in an old form of therapy from ancient Egypt. It is unknown just how similar the form of reflexology practiced in those times is to modernday methods, but the idea behind how it works and affects health seems to have remained consistent. The Zone Theory, which has its origins from a doctor who lived in the early 1900s, is the precursor to modern reflexology. The practice has since stood the test of time and alleviated symptoms for thousands of people.


Massages are defined as the manipulation of soft tissue and muscles. However, reflexology aims to apply pressure to reflex zones in the hands, feet and ears, which are areas said to have a connection to other parts of one’s body because of its concentration of nerve endings. Applying pressure to a reflex zone affects the nerves that carry signals to that body part.

who have multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia, so it’s not about this pleasurable touching the feet. That would just be a foot massage.” Robinson emphasized the difference between standard massage therapy and reflexology treatment. Massages focus on the musculoskeletal system. “Massages work with injuries and pain too, but it’s not working with body systems and organs,” she said. “I compare reflexology to acupuncture. Massages heal mainly structural problems, such as spinal or muscular problems. So any injuries connected to that.” According to Robinson, Reflexology has historically been able to alleviate conditions such as back pain, migraines and headaches, sleep disorders, digestive disorders, restless leg syndrome, traumatic brain injury, sinus problems, arthritis and more. “It can be miraculous,” she said. “Fifteen percent of people don’t see the exact change they need, but 90% feel different after the treatment. You’re doing these micro-point movements with your hands on their foot, which is all mapped out. Every organ in the body is perfectly matched on the feet.”

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People who seek treatment from reflexologists usually are looking for other options to relieve their symptoms, because several suffer from conditions that require drugs with unpleasant side effects, she said. Although most people experience relief in the following days, some do not, she said. For new clients who do not experience at least 25% improvement in their symptoms, she advises a different mode of treatment, because she realizes reflexology is not for everyone. “What happens is that your body goes into this healing mode called parasympathetic, and normally we’re always in the sympathetic mode, which is the stress mode,” she said. “And so we’re always stressed, so reflexology allows the body to go into a mode for deep healing. It’s like shutting off or resetting a computer. You’re allowing your body to rebalance itself, so over the next few hours after the treatment, people get very tired and feel very spaced out. I know its weird to think that you touch the feet and the body heals, but it’s very experiential. You won’t understand it unless you have a treatment, but once you’ve had one, you’ll want more of it.”

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MARCH 2018

Fighting the fear of

NEEDLES Dr. Emeline Ramos shares tips for helping your child overcome their fear of shots. TIM FREED ASSOCIATE EDITOR


etting a shot at the doctor’s office is never fun, but it is a necessary part of staying healthy and preventing diseases. But how can you help your child overcome this fear? If your little one is afraid of needles, don’t fret — you’re not alone, Dr. Emeline Ramos, of Florida Hospital Kids Urgent Care, said. A fear of needles typically lingers with children after they get their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), varicella (chickenpox) and Prevnar (pneumonia) vaccines at age 4, she said. By age 11, when it’s time to get the Tdap (tetanus) and meningococcal (meningitis) vaccines, that fear is as strong as ever. “Most kids are scared of needles,” Ramos said. “It’s usually in children that have experienced needles in the past that remember it. They experience pain usually at the 4-year shots. That’s when they start to remember and are very afraid of the shot. “Normally, kids don’t get shots

between 5 and 11 years old, unless you’re getting an annual flu shot,” she said. “At age 11, they tend to get shots again, and that’s when we do start seeing a lot of fear in kids.” A 2012 study out of Toronto cited by Florida Hospital examined more than 800 parents and 1,000 children. It found 24% of the parents and 63% of the children had a fear of needles. Of those, 7% of the parents and 8% of the children cited needle phobia as the top reason for avoiding recommended vaccines. There are plenty of ways to help shots go much smoother from a pediatrician’s perspective, Ramos said. Doctors use a number of techniques, including passive distraction by watching TV, active distraction with a toy or words from a nurse, deep breathing, coughing to help distract from the pain, rubbing creams and sprays that help reduce the pain, and even medications for patients with full-on phobias. For the parent’s role, the best thing is talk it through with their child, Ramos said. Reassure them the shot is only temporary, and that even though it

“We don’t want to build that distrust or that fear between the patient and the doctor. Validate your child’s fear. Let them them know that it’s OK to talk about it.” — Dr. Emeline Ramos

will hurt for a moment, it’s going to go away and it’s for their better health, she said. “Fear is genetic and experiences and environmental,” Ramos said. “We know that the way parents deal with this anxiety is going to affect the child’s pain behavior. Parents (who) are very excessively reassuring, critical about their child’s anxiety or pain, or seem to be very apologetic tend to increase the distress that we see in children. Whereas, parents that use humor or distractions will actually decrease that stress that kids will experience.” There’s plenty of “don’ts” for parents when it comes to getting shots. You should never have the shot be a surprise to your child when they get to the doctor’s office, Ramos said. Little ones should know well in advance about the shot, and it’s also wrong to try and discipline your child by telling them things like, “If you don’t sit down, you’re getting a shot,” Ramos said. “You’re breaking your trust with them,” she said. “There’s no trust there. Then they don’t trust us and they don’t want to come back to the doctor. … We don’t want to build that distrust or that fear between the patient and the doctor. Validate your child’s fear. Let them them know that it’s OK to talk about it.” Having your child understand that shots and needles are a part of general health and wellness is crucial to their well-being for years to come, Ramos said. “Obviously when you’re afraid of shots, then you don’t want to get shots,” Ramos said. “Then we see our children not getting vaccinated, because they’re afraid or because their parents sometimes feed into the anxiety and allow them to not get their annual flu shot or to not get their HPV shots. “We need to let the community know that not getting vaccines because of fear can have potential lifelong effects on children, including this habit of avoiding future medical procedures for fear of ‘I don’t like shots’ or ‘shots scare me,’” she said.

ABOUT THE DOCTOR Dr. Emeline Ramos was born and raised in Chicago. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago before going to medical school at Rosalind Franklin University of Science and Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and she has been working as a general practitioner since she graduated from residency in 2011. Ramos started working at Florida Hospital Kids Urgent Care in Winter Park and Lake Mary as an urgent care pediatrician last July.



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MARCH 2018

Under pressure The Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment Center in Dr. Phillips has a mission of helping patients heal faster. TIM FREED ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Imagine a treatment that can speed up the healing process of the body after a surgery or an injury. How is this possible? The answer is 100% oxygen and a pressurized chamber. The Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment Center on Sand Lake Road in Dr. Phillips is among the businesses in the growing field of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, there has been a 75% decrease in amputations over the past few years because of treating diabetic wounds with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. But how does the therapy work? Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment Center founder and hyperbaric director Erika Jordan said it’s all based on how 100% oxygen and air pressure work together to improve blood flow circulation in the body. As we go about daily life and breathe, the body actually isn’t healing as fast as it could, she said. “Right now, we’re breathing 21% oxygen and 79% other gases,” Jordan said. “Every time you breathe in, you’re off-gassing 16%, so only 5% is going to your body. Where is it going? It’s going to your heart, your brain, your lungs. It’s not going to your skin and other areas that don’t need it as much. That’s why we age, that’s why we get wrinkles; that’s part of the aging process.

Tim Freed

Erika Jordan was inspired to make hyperbaric oxygen therapy more accessible for patients.

“When you’re in (the chamber), you’re breathing 100% oxygen and then you pressurize the patient,” she said. The treatment can be used as a preventative measure — to speed up healing and decrease risk of infection, Jordan said. “Whenever you hurt your body, your body’s first reaction is your white blood cells — to protect you from infection — go to that cut so nothing gets into your bloodstream,” Jordan said. “Then your body swells to protect it so nothing gets in. If you go into the chamber, you skip that swelling spot, and it instantly will reduce the swelling so the blood flow will get to the area and heal it faster. “It will heal you faster from surgeries and increase circulation,” she said. “A lot of bacterias

“It will heal you faster from surgeries and increase circulation. A lot of bacterias from infection can’t survive or thrive in the presence of 100% oxygen.” — Erika Jordan, founder, Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment Center

from infection can’t survive or thrive in the presence of 100% oxygen.” In hospitals, insurance typically will cover hyperbaric treatment for conditions such as diabetes or cancer. But patients with other ailments not covered by insurance wouldn’t have access to this treatment and technology, Jordan said. That’s why she founded the Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment Center as a privately owned and operated office. Many people get the treatment following plastic surgery, and it also helps combat symptoms following concussions, Jordan said. One of her patients is a 16-yearold professional waterskier who suffered a concussion and faces post-concussion syndrome. The chamber helps reduce the headaches, memory issues, balance issues and dizziness, she said. “You typically will find these chambers in a hospital setting only,” Jordan said. “There’s not many private centers. We’re the first and only one here in Dr.

Phillips. We’re set up just like the hospital, but we’re privately owned, so if you don’t have one of those conditions and you still want the right to be treated, you can be treated here.” Jordan first became exposed to the style of treatment 10 years ago while attending the Institute of Allied Health and Technology. She saw how difficult it was to receive the treatment if a patient didn’t meet specific criteria, and that pushed her to make hyperbaric oxygen therapy more accessible, she said. “Let’s say you had a blood condition and you knew (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) would help it and you wanted to pay $7,000 for the same procedure — they won’t let you,” Jordan said. “Let’s say you’re diabetic and you have a wound and you fit all the criteria for insurance, but your insurance lapses and now you don’t have it. You can’t go in there. How does that make any sense? “We’re going to do it right, do it right the first time and make the patients happy,” she said.



MARCH 2018




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Eating Healthy on the Go


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• Make sure you have the right containers. Use insulated lunch boxes with a cold pack for items that should be kept cold or a hot thermos if you are packing soup. • Eat healthier fast-food options. If you like Mexican food, try a chicken fajita with vegetables on a small corn tortilla with a little guacamole, salsa and cheese. Or instead of a hamburger, grab a grilled chicken sandwich or oatmeal with dried fruit. • Convenience store foods can still be healthy. Pick up some low-fat plain or Greek yogurt along with dried fruit to mix in. Look for snack bars or protein bars with the fewest ingredients, fewer than 200 calories, more protein and fiber, and less sugar. Beef and turkey jerky are good choices for protein. • At the deli, skip the chips. Choose lean meat like turkey, and get it on whole-grain bread with lettuce, tomato and mustard. Skip the mayo and oil.

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• Rethink your muffins. Make a batch of oatmeal with rolled or steel cut oats according to directions. Then line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, and portion out the oatmeal evenly. Add some favorite toppings (like berries, raisins or chopped nuts), and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


• When you’re going on a trip, pack your own snacks. Bring apples and peanut or almond butter. Cut up veggies to dip into hummus or guacamole. Try whole-grain crackers with low-fat string cheese. Or make your own trail mix with raw or unsalted nuts, dried fruit and seeds.

• If you’re dining out, look at the menu online before you go. Take a few minutes to check out the nutrition information of the meals they offer, and decide what you’re going to order ahead of time.

We want to help you keep a spring in your step!

With a little planning and creativity, we can come up with healthy ways to get the nutrition we need. For more options, visit Carol Lemerond is a nurse practitioner at the Florida Blue Centers in Winter Park Village and inside the Clermont Wal-Mart, where she teaches free health and wellness classes that are open to the public in addition to providing health coaching and assessments.

Always Welcoming New Patients

(352) 242-6800 Clermont (321) 441-2020 Winter Park

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Dr. Curtis Wagner • Dr. Tara Fussell

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MARCH 2018





MARCH 2018

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03.15.18 Health Matters