Preparing for a New Family Member

Preparing for a New Family Member

3,591,328—the number of babies born in the U.S. in 2023. Wow! That’s a lot of homes adding a new family member. And what about the 1 in 25 U.S. families who have at least one adopted child? Or the six million U.S. households that have more than three generations living under one roof? How about the 203,770 children that entered foster care in 2021?

Adding a new member to your family can be challenging for everyone. A smooth transition begins with open and honest communication. If you or someone you know is preparing to add a child to their family, here are a few tips to prepare the whole family for the changes.

Tips for Parents & Caregivers

  • Start the conversation early. Be open and honest while being age-appropriate.
  • Spend individual time with each child and try to continue things you did with them before the addition, i.e. watching movies, reading, etc.
    • For older children, consider writing encouraging notes, or getting them a card or a little gift.
  • Model healthy expression of feelings such as, “I’m feeling overwhelmed right now. Let’s take a break.” This normalizes a healthy response and feeling big emotions.
  • Communicate the need for safety (physical and emotional) of the new family member.
  • Teach children that crying is one way babies communicate.
    • Normalize that it may be “annoying” or “loud”, but remind them that we all cried when we were babies too! Or give an example, “Remember when you fell and scraped your knee and cried? What happened? You cried and I came to see if you were okay, and we put a band-aid on it. Your crying got you the help and comfort you needed.”
  • Build on each family member’s strengths. For example, if your youngest daughter is great at organizing, have her help organize things in the home ahead of her sibling’s arrival.
  • Encourage family and friends to give all children equal attention. This will avoid current family members feeling forgotten when the new family member is in the home.

Preparing Young Children

Infancy to Age Two

Young children, infancy to around age two, don’t fully comprehend the addition of a new family member, so simple things may help them adjust.

  • Be positive and talk about the baby or new family member in a positive way.
    • Kids are very smart and will seek to emulate your behavior and attitude. If you’re positive, they will feel positive.
  • Look at and read books about babies or changing family dynamics.
  • Do something special when the baby arrives. I still remember getting a “Big Sister” pin at Bryan when my little brother was born.

Toddlers

The toddler age can be a territorial age for children as they feel strongly connected with caregivers.

  • Relate things to a TV show, movie or book they love.
  • “Practice” for a new baby by getting a doll and showing them how to handle it as if it were a real baby.
  • Involve them in preparing.
    • Work on routines that will help everyone. For example, toilet training, moving from a crib to a bed, reinforcing or making adjustments to sleep schedules.
  • Let them spend “special time” with someone important to them ahead of the new member’s arrival.

School-Age Children

School-age children tend to be a bit easier in preparing for a new family member but still need reassurance and help adjusting. Remember to keep open communication and encourage questions and curiosity.

  • Explain what’s going to happen in a way they understand, including the “good” and “bad”.
  • Let them help prepare for the arrival.
  • Practice with a baby doll, or if you have a close family member/friend with an actual baby.
    • Provide positive reinforcement for them by saying things such as “You’re such a great big brother/sister.” or “I can tell you really care about ______.” or “You’re such a great helper!”
  • Let them come to the hospital as soon as possible after the baby is born so they continue to feel like a part of the growing family.

Managing Regression

Children may experience regression, “childish” behaviors, from time to time during this process of adding a new family member. For example, wanting to drink out of a bottle again, bed wetting or having accidents, or using a “baby” voice. When children regress, remember it’s normal and there’s nothing wrong with your child.

Here are a few facts and helpful tips to manage regression:

  • Children’s brains aren’t fully developed yet, so regression is a way they feel loved and cared for.
    • Attention is ATTENTION to a child’s brain. Even when a child “acts up,” they are getting attention which reinforces the idea that someone cares. They don’t understand the depth of what or why they are acting this way, but this is how they are communicating their need for love, affection and reassurance.
  • Regression typically resolves on its own, but if not, use resources to help.
    • Use books, friends, family, religious or cultural support, medical professionals and counselors.
  • Reinforce the positives. Even the smallest positives help build reassurance that they are loved and their needs will be taken care of.
  • Try to increase individual time with the child that’s struggling or be creative in finding ways to include them.

Support Each Other

There are no perfect ways to handle changing family dynamics, but these tips and tricks may make the transition smoother for everyone. Children are innately curious and thrive off love and affection. There is no right or wrong way to adjust your family dynamics as long as supporting each other with open communication and honesty is at the root.

There will be tough times, so give yourself grace. As your family grows, you all may experience some “growing pains”. When you seek to understand and support each other, you’ll all grow together.

Cassie Finkner, MA, LIMHP

Cassie Finkner, MA, LIMHP

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselor, Bryan Counseling Center

Cassie provides individual therapy to adolescents and adults. She specializes in trauma, including PTSD, major mental illness, suicidality, substance use, depression and anxiety. Cassie has been specifically trained in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI), however, utilizes a variety of different treatment modalities based upon the individuals needs to meet their treatment goals. Additional experience includes working with people encountering housing instability, poverty and trauma related to military experiences, including deployments and crisis intervention.

Cassie earned her Master of Arts in Counseling at Doane University (CACREP accredited).

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8 Tips to Avoid Injury: Insights from Sports Medicine Trainers

8 Tips to Avoid Injury: Insights from Sports Medicine Trainers

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a recreational sports enthusiast or professional athlete, we can all use tips to avoid injury and stay healthy. We asked our athletic trainers to share some of their best tips.

1. Listen to Your Body & Address Pain or Discomfort Early

Grant Rider, athletic trainer at Seward High School

Pain is a message from your body that something is wrong and you should take a break before it worsens. Listening to your body and addressing pain or discomfort early will prevent minor issues from becoming major issues. It’s better to take a short break and avoid a more serious injury than to play through pain and cause a bigger problem later.

2. Stretch Before & After Activities

Terry Adair, athletic trainer at David City Aquinas and David City Public Schools

Stretching is essential to improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury. It also helps you warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards. Stretching improves blood flow and reduces muscle stiffness that can lead to injuries. Here are a few tips to get the most benefit from stretching:

  • Relax into your stretches
  • Don’t bounce while stretching
  • Hold each stretch for 30 seconds

3. Add Foam Rolling into Your Daily Routine

Ashley Elwell, athletic trainer at Crete High School

Foam rolling is a self-massage release technique. By using a lightweight cylindrical tube made of dense foam, you can roll over tight spots to help reduce muscle tightness, soreness and inflammation. Foam rolling is an effective tool to add to your warm-up and cool-down routines.

4. Drink Half of Your Body Weight in Water Each Day

Stacy Dahlkoetter, athletic trainer at Lincoln Christian and Parkview Christian Schools

If you participate in exercise or activities where you sweat a lot, your hydration need may be higher, and you will also need to replace electrolytes. Energy drinks do not count as a hydration drink. They actually dehydrate you and you will need to drink more water. To make sure you get enough water, drink half your body weight in water each day. So, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water a day.

5. What You Put into Your Body Matters

Kyle Younkin, athletic trainer at Lincoln Lutheran and Parkview Christian Schools

Maintaining a healthy diet with a good balance of carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals will keep you in your best shape. Complex carbohydrates from pasta, whole-grain breads and rice provide energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals without a lot of fat. Choosing lean meats will give you protein without contributing to issues like weight gain or high cholesterol.

6. Sleep Is Important

Choc Bowen, athletic trainer at York High School

Lack of sleep and/or poor sleep quality can impair muscle strength, speed and other aspects of physical performance. Sleep issues can also impair recovery following injury. Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep each night to ensure the proper amount of rest and to allow your muscles to recover.

7. Allow Time for Rest & Recovery

Bethany Dolezal, athletic trainer at Kinetic Sports Complex

Give your body what it needs to recover between training/exercise. Eat well, sleep well, stretch well and take rest days to avoid overdoing it. Don’t feel guilty if you take a day off. It is good for your mental and physical health to take time when you need it. Athletes should also take time between seasons to recover and prevent injuries.

8. Share Any Pain, Discomfort or Injuries with a Health Expert

Cassie Metzner, athletic trainer at Waverly High School

Everyone wants to get back to sports or activities. If injured, seek help from a professional—an athletic trainer, physical therapist or other health expert. Be honest with them about your injury and how you are feeling so that they can best help you recover and return to the activities you love.

Bryan Health/Nebraska Orthopaedic Center

Athletic Trainers

The Bryan Health Center and Nebraska Orthopaedic Center team of certified athletic trainers brings to our region’s youth extensive knowledge, experience and passion for working with young athletes. Learn more about Ashley Elwell, Bethany Dolezal, Cassie Metzner, Choc Bowen, Grant Rider, Kyle Younkin and Terry Adair.

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New Advances in Care: What Do I Need to Know If Someone I Love Is a Past or Current Smoker?

New Advances in Care: What Do I Need to Know If Someone I Love Is a Past or Current Smoker?

We all know it — smoking is not good for you. Yet for many, it is a reality of our daily lives. Let’s face it, it’s addictive and it’s often not easy to stop. And some people don’t want to quit. Given all of this, what’s a person to do? What steps can you take to make a difference in your life?

Screening & Follow-Up Are Key

There are several ways testing or a screening can help provide early detection. One of the most common is one you may not know about — an incidental finding. A low-dose CT scan is another important screening.

Incidental Findings

An incidental finding happens when you are being treated for one condition and receive an x-ray or CT scan and the doctor notices an abnormal growth in your lung. At Bryan Health, we have a team that follows up on these findings with our patients.

This can be life-changing and life-saving. Here’s a perfect example of the power this has on a life. ‘Suzie’ is a smoker, but she doesn’t have any symptoms of lung cancer. While being seen in the ER, a chest x-ray is done and an abnormal growth is found. She does the follow-up testing and finds out she has very early-stage lung cancer. Because the follow-up testing is done with an advanced robotic procedure and it’s found so early, we can move quickly through staging and resect (remove) the tumor early. The cancer doesn’t grow or metastasize (spread), and further treatment is not needed.

Low-Dose CT Scan

This is a test specifically designed for early detection of lung cancer. Current guidelines for who should receive this screening are:

  1. A daily smoker within the last 15 years
  2. Age 50-80
  3. Smokes at least one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years

A low-dose CT scan is recommended yearly unless it has been more than 15 years since the person has used tobacco. If you qualify for this screening, talk to your doctor about ordering this test.

3 Reasons People Avoid Screening & 6 Reasons to Get Screened

If you or a loved one have any of these thoughts, consider the following.

Reason One: I Know Smoking is Bad For Me. I’m Not Going to Quit/I Already Quit So Why Get Screened?

  1. Getting screened for lung cancer is about life — your life. And, using the latest technology can catch cancer early, so you can go on enjoying life.
  2. If you no longer smoke, that’s great. But you are still at risk and should be screened. Think of it as an extension of your healthy habits.

Reason Two: I Don’t Have Any Symptoms

That’s exactly when you should be screened for two reasons:

  1. You could find out you don’t have cancer and your lungs are fine.
  2. You could find cancer before any symptoms occur, when it can be treated quickly and easily.

Reason Three: I Don’t Want to Know. What If They Find Something?

  1. If something is found that requires a biopsy (further testing), 95% of the time it is not cancer.
  2. If it is cancer and it’s found early, the five-year survival rate is 92%.

New Advances in Diagnosing & Treating Lung Cancer

When it comes to diagnostics (biopsy) to determine if a nodule (growth) is cancer, there are three options.

  1. A biopsy with Interventional Radiology (IR) — This is the most common and is usually a same-day procedure.
  2. Surgical resection is also an option, though it is much more invasive and requires a hospital stay.
  3. A new advancement in bronchoscopy (a way to look at the lungs with a small camera) — This has been a significant enhancement in care and is generally a same-day procedure.

IR Biopsy

A typical IR biopsy identifies just the lesion (growth) in question. Then a separate procedure is needed to determine the stage of cancer (i.e., no cancer or how much cancer there is and if it has spread) followed by surgery, if needed.

Bronchoscopy Advancement

This advancement is robotics, and the platform we use at Bryan Medical Center is Ion. The benefit of this type of procedure is in its completeness. With robotic-assisted bronchoscopy and the Ion platform, we are able to reach nearly anywhere in the lung for the nodule, although there are some limitations.

Where Ion and bronchoscopy really shine is not just in the identification of the nodule, or spot, on the lung. In the same procedure, we do a staging — determining if the cancer has spread — for all patients with biopsy of the lymph nodes in the chest. This reduces the need for staging after the initial diagnosis. As a combined procedure with Ion, we can reduce the time from nodule-to-knife (diagnosis of the lesion to when it can be surgically removed).

Take Advantage of Advances in Care

There are exciting advances in medicine that allow us to diagnose and treat lung cancer to make a significant difference in a patient’s life. The key is early diagnosis.

Ryan Martin, MD

Ryan Martin, MD

Pulmonologist

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How to Avoid Burnout in Work & Life

How to Avoid Burnout in Work & Life

Do you feel sluggish and exhausted? Can simple tasks seem overwhelming to complete? Have you found yourself so stressed out that you quickly become angry or frustrated? If you’ve noticed feeling this way, you might be experiencing burnout.

Burnout can be difficult to describe to others. According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is defined as “physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion, accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance and negative attitudes towards oneself and others.”

Burnout Can Be Caused by More Than Your Work

Most people associate burnout with a stressful job. However, burnout can affect many aspects of your life, from being a parent to your relationship with your significant other or even being a caregiver for an elderly parent. Understanding the symptoms of burnout and what you can do about it can improve your mental health and quality of life.

Over the last few years, burnout has been developing more and more as work-life balance gets out of sync. This is because of the increase in remote work and technology that does not let us “turn off” and reset from our workday or slow down and manage our personal lives along with our work demands.

Signs You May Be Experiencing Burnout

There are many physical, emotional and behavioral signs that could mean you are experiencing burnout.

Physical Signs:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Frequent headaches
  • Changes in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional Signs:

  • A sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Detachment and feeling alone
  • Feeling trapped or defeated
  • Loss of motivation
  • Decrease of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioral Signs:

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating from others
  • Procrastinating to get things done
  • Taking frustrations out on others
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

Although many of these symptoms may line up with depression, causes of depression tend to be broader whereas burnout symptoms can be pinpointed to specific reasons or triggers in a person’s life.

Burnout Happens When Work-Life Balance Is Out of Sync

This may be due to:

  • Working too much without enough time to socialize or relax
  • Lack of close, supportive relationships and not reaching out to others for help
  • Not getting enough rest to recharge
  • Taking on too many responsibilities at work and home

Ways You Can Manage Burnout

Here are ways you can deal with burnout and perhaps prevent it in the future.

Recognize the Warning Signs

If you are feeling that there are no boundaries between your personal and work life or if you sense that you have been going 100 miles per hour and it would be impossible to slow down to even 85 miles per hour, this might be a sign that you are depleting your physical and emotional reserves and need to reach out for some support.

Reach Out for Support

Focusing on day-to-day activities might give you clues on what you need to work on to make substantial changes in your life. Sometimes talking to a friend about how you are feeling can really improve your outlook. There are other times when it is important to reach out for professional help from a therapist. The nice thing about therapy is that you have a safe place to talk with someone who is not a family member, friend or coworker.

Improve Your Self-Care

One of the best starting points is building personal check-ins into your schedule. Taking a step away from the computer or whatever your source of stress is and asking yourself daily, “How am I doing emotionally? How am I doing physically?” is a perfect first step.

Adding some physical exercise into your routine can definitely improve your outlook. “Regular exercise can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression” according to the American Psychological Association. Exercise is also an essential part of a wellness journey. There are many ways to be physically active—from walking your dog to walking with a work friend at lunch to release some excess stress.

Establishing a healthy daily routine for sleep, diet, movement and non-work time is crucial for your well-being. It is critical to tell yourself, “I have worked hard today, now I need to stop, change gears and attend to the social and personal aspects of my life. I need to do things that are fun and relaxing.”

We’re Here for You

If you think you might be experiencing burnout or would like to explore talking to a therapist about symptoms you are having, please reach out to Bryan Counseling Center at 402-481-5991. You can also take a free mental health screening on our website.

Stacy Waldron, PhD

Stacy Waldron, PhD

Dr. Stacy Waldron provides treatment for individuals of all ages across the lifespan and specializes with adolescents and adults. She offers individual and family therapy to help clients with stress , anxiety, mood disorders, life transitions and chronic pain. This includes helping individuals with stress management, assertiveness training, communication and problem solving skills as well as relaxation training. She also provides psychological assessments that include bariatric surgery evaluations, spine surgery, and spinal cord stimulator evaluations.

Waldron earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She serves on the Board of Psychology for the State of Nebraska, the Board of Directors for the Midwest Pain Society, and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

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Let’s Talk Osteoporosis: How to Keep Your Bones Strong

Let’s Talk Osteoporosis: How to Keep Your Bones Strong

It might seem hard to believe but we reach our peak bone mass in our late 20s or early 30s. From there, men and women start to lose some amount of bone density throughout their lifetime. The loss in bone density causes an abnormal structure and ultimately weakens our bones, increasing the chance of osteoporosis and a bone fracture.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is the loss of density or mass within our bones.

To illustrate, picture a healthy bone as a honeycomb and then put a bone with osteoporosis next to it. The bone with osteoporosis will have much larger holes than the healthy bone.

Osteoporosis affects all of our bones. But the ones most likely to fracture due to osteoporosis are in your spine, wrist, shoulder and hips.

Most Common Osteoporosis Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that can lead to osteoporosis.

  • More common in women
  • 50+ years old
  • Post-menopausal
  • Caucasian
  • Low body weight
  • Undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment
  • Certain diabetes and seizure medications, and some medications that cause immunosuppression
  • Current or previous use of tobacco/nicotine products

Ways You Can Slow Bone Density Loss

Here are some ways you can help your bones stay strong and slow bone loss.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol/drink alcohol in moderation
    • Alcohol affects your nutrition level, which can mean your bones don’t get the adequate nutrients to stay strong
  • Avoid smoking
  • Make sure you get the right amount of vitamin D and calcium
  • Stay active
    • Weight-bearing and strengthening exercises at least three to four times a week

Screenings to Diagnose Osteoporosis

Screenings for osteoporosis risks include a FRAX score and DEXA scan.

FRAX Score

This screening should be done when you reach menopause. It involves reviewing risk factors and answering a series of questions with your provider. With this information, your provider can determine your FRAX score. This will help to understand your chance of having a fracture within the next 10 years.

DEXA Scan

This screening typically begins at age 65, unless your FRAX score is higher than the recommended level. A DEXA scan tells us the quantity or amount of bone. It’s a bone mineral density test. The DEXA scan looks at the bone density of your lumbar spine, and then usually at a hip or wrist or forearm. It’s noninvasive, similar to having an x-ray.

Possible DEXA scan results:

  • Normal, meaning you don’t have osteoporosis.
  • Osteopenia, meaning your bone density is in between normal and osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis, meaning your bone density has reached the level to be diagnosed with osteoporosis.

Based on the results, DEXA scans may be repeated every couple of years to monitor your bone density.

Treatment & Prevention of Osteoporosis

Medication to Treat

Medications typically are not started until you are diagnosed with osteoporosis. The exception to this would be if you have osteopenia and have a fragility fracture. A fragility fracture is a fracture from a fall at standing height or less. It can be both a sign and a symptom of osteoporosis.

Diet & Exercise to Prevent & Treat

It’s really important to make sure you have a well-balanced healthy diet and are getting enough protein, calcium and vitamin D. Most of our vitamin D comes from the sun, so in the fall and winter months, a vitamin D supplement may be beneficial. It is possible to get too much of these vitamins, so it is important to talk to your health care provider to make sure you’re taking the correct amount.

Staying active is also important. Exercise, walking and generally taking care of our bodies helps not only to slow our bone loss down, but also helps us to prevent falls.

Megan Simpson, APRN-NP

Megan Simpson, APRN-NP

Bryan Primary Care

I believe in a collaborative approach to care, and want to create a partnership with my patients. It’s important to me to provide each patient with the knowledge they need to make decisions that are best for them and their health.

I’m here for my patients – to listen to you and your concerns and answer questions you have at the office or after you go home.

Care for:

  • Toddlers age 2 and older
  • Children, teens and adults of all ages
  • Preventative care, wellness checks and screenings
  • Chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes

It’s a privilege for me to help people of all ages live their best lives.

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Multiple Sclerosis and Dietary Changes

Multiple Sclerosis and Dietary Changes

As a neurologist and subspecialist in multiple sclerosis, I am dedicated to helping patients with MS live their best lives. Many patients have questions about how dietary changes can impact their life. You will find that a well-balanced diet fuels your body and becomes a trusted companion in navigating the challenges posed by MS. It’s a flavorful quest where each meal becomes a small victory, a step towards a healthier, more vibrant life.

Dietary considerations are very important in most chronic medical conditions. From a nutritional perspective, what we expose our system to can have an important impact on our symptoms and sometimes in the course of the chronic medical condition. Multiple sclerosis is no different.

Here are answers to common questions about diet and MS.

Should I Be Supplementing My Diet with Vitamins and Other Supplements?

As a rule of thumb, I do not recommend multivitamins to all my patients with multiple sclerosis. I tend to screen for specific vitamin deficiencies. If a patient has one or more vitamin deficiencies, I recommend direct supplementation of that vitamin. I recheck the vitamin level in the future to adjust the dose.

What about Vitamin D? Which Vitamin D and How Much Should I Take?

Most patients with multiple sclerosis will be deficient or relatively deficient in vitamin D. I tend to recommend vitamin supplements with vitamin D3, which can be obtained over the counter. The goal is to have a vitamin D3 level from 60-80 ng/mL. To reach this goal, patients may need to take 2000-5000 international units of vitamin D3, particularly if they live in Nebraska or the Midwest.

Can I Take Too Much Vitamin D3?

Yes, and many of the symptoms of vitamin D3 toxicity may mimic chronic symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as muscle aches, fatigue and even weakness.

Can Diet Decrease Inflammatory Activity and Relapses?

So far, there is no good evidence that dietary changes alone can directly modify the course of the disease and prevent inflammation and relapses (flares). However, maintaining a healthy body weight has been shown to decrease the risk of MS-related disability. A good diet and healthy body weight decreases the risk of other serious conditions such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular conditions. This leads to improved overall health and decreased disability.

What Else Can Diet Do for Me and My Multiple Sclerosis?

Dietary changes have been shown to improve the overall quality of life and fatigue and, in some instances, hand dexterity. More than 50% of patients with multiple sclerosis suffer from MS-related fatigue. Unfortunately, the medications we use to treat fatigue in multiple sclerosis do not have great evidence backing their efficacy. Therefore, dietary changes have an important place in treating MS-related fatigue.

What Is the Best Diet for Multiple Sclerosis?

I always say that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to MS drugs/treatment, and I also apply this to diet. I recommend that my patients select one diet they can adhere to and follow long-term. Very restrictive diets and strict products may not be easy to obtain or even affordable.

Diets like the Mediterranean diet are easier to follow because they do not require complex planning and are more intuitive to follow. Other diets may also benefit multiple sclerosis, such as paleolithic, low-fat and intermittent fasting.

Where Can I Learn More About Diet and Multiple Sclerosis?

A good place to start is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The diet and nutrition section on this website has plenty of written information and pre-recorded webinars about diet and multiple sclerosis.

Daniel Crespo Artunduaga, MD

Daniel Crespo Artunduaga, MD

Neurologist, Bryan Neurology

Dr. Daniel Crespo Artunduaga is fellowship-trained in Neuroimmunology/Multiple Sclerosis and a neurologist at Bryan Neurology.

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Six Common Ways We Struggle During Holidays

Six Common Ways We Struggle During Holidays

Elvis once sang about feeling blue at Christmas time, and I’m here to tell you: It’s perfectly normal to feel that way.

There are many reasons why your days may not be merry and bright around the holiday season. Jam-packed social calendars, deadlines at work, loss of a loved one, sunless, dark winter days, financial pressures surrounding gift giving…sound familiar?

Still, you can prepare and hopefully deflect some of the increased stress of the season. It’s important to realize that you have more control than you think. Here are six common issues that come up this time of year, followed by ways to address them.

1. You’re Lacking the “Holiday Spirit”

Being surrounded by cheeriness can be difficult when you don’t feel the same level of enthusiasm as others. The pressure to be social, happy and present can make it hard to speak up if you feel otherwise.

  • Recognize that you don’t need to force yourself to be happy and that it’s good to acknowledge feelings that aren’t joyful; remember that you are not alone in feeling this way.
  • Trying to numb or avoid feelings by using alcohol or other substances just worsens anxiety and depression.
  • If possible, surround yourself with people who feel similarly; celebrate your traditions or create new ones.

2. You’re Overwhelmed by Grief and Loss

If you are living with grief, loss, trauma or loneliness, it can be easy to compare your situation to others’, and this can increase feelings of loneliness or sadness. Check in with yourself so that you’ll have realistic expectations for how the holiday season will be. Gently remind yourself that as circumstances change, traditions will change as well.

  • If holiday observances seem inauthentic right now, you do not need to force yourself to celebrate.
  • Perhaps connect with a support group, therapist, faith community or friends who understand.
  • Let your loved ones know how they can support you, whether it’s helping you with shopping or meeting up for a regular walk. Often, people want to help, but don’t know what to say or where to start.

3. You’re Feeling Pressured to Participate in Activities You’d Rather Not

We all have our own personal history with holidays. We have visions about the ways the holidays are “supposed” to be, which can be a distorted perspective.

  • Recognize that most people feel at least a little stressed during the season.
  • Prioritize the most important activities, or schedule get-togethers for after the holidays, and learn to say no if you need to.
  • Make a schedule of when you will do your shopping, baking and cleaning—and be sure to include time to take care of yourself.
  • Instead of spending the holidays the way you think you “should,” opt for an activity you actually feel like doing, whether it’s making a favorite dish or having a Netflix marathon.
  • Regardless of your plans, try to make your intentions known to friends and family early in the holiday season so everyone knows what to expect.

4. You’re Stressed About Giving Gifts

It’s so common to get caught up in the commercialization of the holidays. We can feel stressed about spending on a strained budget or trying to find just the right gift. Advertisers take advantage of our susceptibility and make us feel as if we need to buy more than we can. But giving to others is not about spending money. We need to remind ourselves that we are the ones creating that anxiety, and we can reduce it by setting realistic expectations.

  • Consider how much money you can comfortably spend and stick to the amount.
  • If purchasing gifts for everyone is difficult, consider having a secret Santa or white elephant exchange to reduce the number of items everyone needs to buy.
  • Simply let people know you are unable to give gifts this year.
  • Sometimes personal gifts—like a poem, short story or framed photo—are the best ones. How about the gift of helping a neighbor, a friend, a family member or a stranger? It’s the act of giving that is more important than a present. Our generosity can be a gift to ourselves, because when we focus on others and less on ourselves, we tend to reduce our anxiety.

5. There’s Not Much Sunlight, and It’s Affecting Your Mood

In the northern hemisphere, the holidays coincide with winter’s lack of available sunlight. Less exposure to natural light can lead to new or increased symptoms of depression.

  • Try to get as much sunlight as possible.
  • To boost your mood and regulate sleep, schedule outdoor exercise in the middle of the day when the sun is brightest. If you can, work near a window throughout the day. Even outfitting your home with warm, bright lighting can help improve your mood.
  • If you feel the need to slow your pace and stay home this time of year, consider reframing the winter months as an opportunity to work on “quieter” projects and activities suited for the indoors, such as writing, knitting or taking online courses.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a more severe form of the winter blues. If you feel hopeless, have suicidal thoughts, or changes in appetite and sleep patterns, talk to your doctor. Effective treatments for SAD include light therapy, talk therapy and medication.

6. You’re Alone or Feeling Isolated

While it’s true that many of us have friends and family to connect with during the holiday season, we can still have feelings of isolation. If you have a predisposition to depression or anxiety, it can be hard to reach out to others.

  • Remind yourself of the people, places and things that make you happy. Consider scheduling a call or video chat with friends or loved ones on a weekly or biweekly basis so you don’t have to think twice about making the effort.
  • Take advantage of other ways to connect, including sending out holiday cards and communicating with family and friends by phone, text, email and social media.
  • Calming activities, such as reading, meditating and gratitude journaling, can be positive ways to spend time if you are alone or don’t feel comfortable in social situations.
  • Remember self-care! We hear about the importance of a balanced diet, moderate exercise and plenty of sleep, but because there are so many distractions and stressors this time of year, we lose sight of some of these basic necessities. We need to take care of ourselves in order to navigate the holiday season.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone, even though it may feel like it. If you have been feeling anxious or depressed for more than two weeks, or if the holidays are long gone and you are still feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, please take one of our free, confidential online screenings, or talk to your primary care or mental health care provider.

Stacy Waldron, PhD, LP

Psychologist, Bryan Counseling Center

Stacy Waldron, PhD, is a licensed psychologist at Bryan Counseling Center. She provides treatment for individuals of all ages and specializes in working with adolescents and adults.

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Straight Talk on Mammograms and Breast Cancer

Straight Talk on Mammograms and Breast Cancer

The primary focus of most women is not themselves. Women for the most part are focused on taking care of their family and put themselves at the bottom of the list. It is time to change this way of thinking and put you and your priorities at the top of your list! You must take care of yourself. No one is going to do it for you!

Why Should You Get Your Mammogram?

  • Mammograms detect breast cancer before it can be felt
  • Early stage breast cancer has a great prognosis (outcome)
  • The earlier breast cancer is identified the less invasive the surgery can be
  • Early stage breast cancer may be less likely to require chemotherapy

When Should I Start Getting My Mammograms?

  • Start getting your mammogram at age 40 and have them every year
  • You may need to start having your annual mammograms earlier than 40 if you have a family history of breast cancer
  • Start your monthly self breast exams in your 20s

What Factors Increase My Risk for Breast Cancer?

  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Alcohol intake
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Not having children
  • Prior chest radiation
  • Starting your menstrual cycle before age 12
  • Starting menopause after age 55 (longer exposure to estrogen in your life)
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Having a breast cancer gene mutation such as BRCA

How Can I Decrease My Risk for Breast Cancer?

  • No tobacco
  • Minimal alcohol
    • Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer
  • Four to seven hours of exercise per week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 20 to 30%
  • Weight management. Overweight women—defined as having a BMI (body mass index) over 25—have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer compared to women who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause
  • Breastfeeding can lower breast cancer risk, especially if a woman breastfeeds for longer than one year

What Are the Surgical Options for Breast Cancer Treatment?

  • Lumpectomy
  • Mastectomy without reconstruction (removal of all of the breast tissue)
  • Mastectomy with reconstruction (removal of all of the breast tissue and rebuilding of the breast)
  • Oncoplastic reduction (bilateral breast reduction and lift at the same time as the lumpectomy)

What Is Involved with a Lumpectomy?

  • Removal of the breast cancer and a small amount of surrounding tissue
  • Removal of a few axillary (underarm area) lymph nodes
  • Usually followed by radiation therapy
  • There is a 20% chance the cancer will reoccur after a lumpectomy alone
  • Radiation therapy can reduce the recurrence risk to 7-10%

What Is Involved with a Mastectomy?

  • Removal of the breast
  • Removal of a few axillary (underarm areas) lymph nodes
  • You can have reconstruction at the same time

There is no difference in survival rates or prognosis (outcome) with a lumpectomy and radiation versus a mastectomy. The surgical choice comes down to patient preference and breast size in relation to tumor size. You have to do what is best for you and no one else in that moment.

Take Care of You

I encourage all women now to take care of themselves. We are often focused on taking care of others, but to take care of others and be there for them, you have to take care of yourself! Take that step now and schedule your mammogram.

If you’re curious or nervous about a mammogram, here’s what to expect and how to prepare.

Dr. Rachel Jendro, DO, FACOS

Dr. Rachel Jendro, DO, FACOS

Bryan Breast Surgical Specialists

Dr. Rachel Jendro, DO, FACOS is proud to be the first fellowship trained Breast Surgical Oncologist to serve the community of Lincoln and greater Nebraska. Her motivation for serving the women of Nebraska is due to her lifelong mission to provide evidence-based medicine to enhance the standard of care through surgical expertise, compassion for women’s health, and emotional support. As an osteopathic surgeon, Dr. Jendro brings enhanced surgical training and vast experience from accredited medical institutions, and is committed to her patients through their entire journey.

As a native of Kentucky, Dr. Jendro attended the University of Kentucky. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Dr. Jendro received her medical degree from the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her general surgery internship and residency were completed at Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Jendro was selected as chief resident in her general surgery residency program at Grandview Medical Center. Dr. Jendro is board certified by the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons.

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Boundaries for Mental Well-Being

Boundaries for Mental Well-Being

Boundaries are limits we set between ourselves and others. They are separations that humans need to feel safe, valued and respected. Understanding the various forms of boundaries, recognizing when it’s time to set boundaries and learning how to set boundaries effectively is vital to maintain healthy relationships and safeguard our own well-being.

Types of Boundaries

  • Physical boundaries refer to personal space and physical touch. Healthy physical boundaries include an awareness of what’s appropriate and what’s not in various settings and types of relationships (hug, shake hands or kiss?). They may be violated if someone touches you when you don’t want them to or when they invade your personal space.
  • Intellectual boundaries refer to thoughts and ideas and include respect for others’ ideas and an awareness of appropriate discussion. Intellectual boundaries are violated when someone dismisses or belittles another person’s thoughts or ideas.
  • Material boundaries refer to money and possessions. Healthy material boundaries set limits on what you will share and with whom. Material boundaries are violated when someone steals or damages another person’s possessions or when they pressure them to give or lend them their possessions.
  • Time boundaries refer to how a person uses their time. To have healthy time boundaries, a person must set aside enough time for each facet of their life such as work, relationships and hobbies. Time boundaries are violated when another person demands too much of another’s time.

Signs It’s Time to Set Boundaries

  • Feeling chronically taken advantage of emotionally, financially or physically
  • Saying “yes” to please others at your own expense
  • Not meeting your needs because you tend to fear conflict and give in to others
  • Often feeling disrespected by others, but not standing up for yourself
  • Fearing abandonment, so settling for less than you deserve
  • Engaging in people-pleasing behaviors in order to be liked and receive approval
  • Engaging in disrespectful behavior that hurts others
  • Flirting with those already in relationships or flirting when you are in a relationship even when it harms others
  • Doing whatever you want to get your needs met and believing that limits don’t apply to you

Setting Boundaries Means…

  • Verbalizing what impacts your comfort levels —Using clear, brief statements to clarify one’s comfort level and needs.
  • Learning how and when to say “no” —Brief and clear is best (“I appreciate your invitation, but that won’t work for me this weekend.”) A dissertation is not necessary, and often invites further discussion rather than closure of the subject.
  • Being honest and transparent—Marking a decision to set a boundary isn’t enough. You must also communicate those boundaries to the people they involve. They are not mind readers.
  • Knowing how to expand, or constrict, the boundaries we set—Healthy boundaries mean being able to adjust depending on the situation.

How to Set Boundaries the Right Way

  • Think through what you need/want to accomplish—Give yourself time to consider what is important and consider your personal values—what matters to you.
  • Understand that different relationships require different boundaries—Boundaries with an intimate partner may be flexible, while work relationships call for more consistent, rigid boundaries.
  • Evaluate your relationships—If you aren’t getting enough of what you value such as respect, family time, etc., then the relationship may need to change or end.
  • Realize it takes practice and patience—Change is unsettling even though the end may strengthen and empower. Give it time and expect to practice, practice, practice.
  • Pay attention to relationship changes and hold your ground—Expect resistance because others have learned to be comfortable in their former manner of relating and have gotten a payoff for your “old behavior.”

If you find yourself struggling with boundaries and are not sure if visiting with a mental health professional may benefit you, take our free, confidential, online screening.

Ruth Few

Clinical Social Worker, Bryan Behavioral Health Services

Ruth Few graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with her master’s in social work in 1969. Since 2004, Few has worked at Bryan Health as a mental health therapist and clinical social worker specializing in psychosocial assessments, individual and group therapy, and discharge planning.

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Don’t Let Balance Issues Hold You Back

Don’t Let Balance Issues Hold You Back

Now is a great time to get out and enjoy opportunities for fun. Maybe it is a walk in the park, looking around and enjoying the birds and nature. Or it may be watching your child or grandchild’s soccer game or even playing lawn games like bocce ball at home! Or maybe it is getting out and enjoying dining in a restaurant with friends or a musical performance.

But if you feel your balance is not good and you are worried about a fall or injury, you may miss out on all these and many other fun opportunities. Don’t let concerns about balance hold you back! You can improve your balance. The first step is determining the cause and then developing a plan to address it.

Here is information to help you get back to activities that are important to you.

Common Conditions that Affect Your Balance

Balance is a broad term and can be affected by so many factors. Your balance can be affected because of:

  • Tight/inflexible muscles
  • Weaker muscles
  • Abnormal sensation (numbness/tingling)
  • Visual problems
  • Inner ear problems
  • Anxiety or fear of falls

These factors play a role on how we are able to sense information for balance and then how our muscles and nerves respond. Sometimes if those systems aren’t giving us fast enough or accurate information, we cannot react fast enough and feel unsteady.

Emotions also play a role. If we have a history or near falls or instances of instability, we may be anxious or fearful of falls. Then we self-limit, meaning we stop doing these or other activities because of this fear. As we decrease our activity, our muscles can get weaker and our joints/muscles get less flexible which makes activities that were previously easier to do harder. It is a circle that just keeps expanding and can eventually have some significant negative impacts on our mobility and overall health!

Ways to Improve Your Balance

There are several activities that can help improve your balance. You can do these on your own, or you may want to have an assessment by a physical therapist trained in balance problems to identify specific causes and create a customized program to improve your balance.

Activities You Can Do on Your Own

  • Walking, biking and climbing stairs are good ways to strengthen muscles in your lower body; a recumbent bike is a safe way to start if you have significant concerns about your balance
  • Stretching loosens your muscles and can reduce tightness and inflexibility
  • Yoga strengthens and stretches muscles; Tai Chi moves, which are gradual shifts in weight from one foot to another with additional moves, offers a good approach to improve balance

Benefits of Working with a Physical Therapist

Physical therapy is a way to identify factors that affect your balance and help you gain confidence with your activities. A physical therapist can help assess areas that can play a role in your day-to-day activities.

Stretching programs and certain strengthening activities can help target those areas if needed. Other activities can be designed to increase stability when doing specific tasks that you have avoided because of your balance such as walking and turning your head, walking on unlevel/unpredictable surfaces or being able to adjust your body positioning when in crowded areas.

In addition to strengthening exercises, physical therapy teaches you ways to make adjustments as needed based on your activities! We want you to be able to enjoy your life and not miss out on all those important and fun times!

Take Steps Now to Improve Your Balance and Your Life

Bryan Health has physical therapists trained in balance problems to help you on the path to a life with better balance. The Bryan Center for Dizziness and Balance provides more information about balance, ways to improve it and innovative treatment approaches.

Laura Corbridge

Laura Corbridge

Bryan Health Physical Therapist

Laura Corbridge received her master’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Iowa in 1999. She has worked with both adult and pediatric patients and specializes in treating those with neurological disorders including traumatic brain injury, stroke and other progressive neurological disorders. She also treats patients with chronic lung conditions. Laura has had advanced training in balance and vestibular rehabilitation including Neurocom Balance master integration training and Emory University’s certification of vestibular competency. Laura provides comprehensive vestibular balance testing services and pulmonary therapy.

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A Parent’s Guide to Infant, Baby & Toddler Sleep

A Parent’s Guide to Infant, Baby & Toddler Sleep

Sleep—the one thing new parents are always deprived of themselves. But what about our little ones? How can we keep them safe and ensure they are getting enough sleep in the optimal environment? It starts when you bring your baby home.

What to Expect After Bringing Your Baby Home

Newborns sleep a significant amount when they are first born. I often joke that babies eat, sleep, pee and poop with new parents who are worried about how much their newborn is snoozing. And, I assure them this will change. Newborns sleep 16-18 hours a day, and then from ages 4-12 months, most babies need only 12-16 hours of sleep a day, including naps. That will leave plenty of time for all those other first milestones.

Creating the Optimal Sleep Environment for Your Baby

Where should babies be while they are sleeping? There are some key points all parents should follow.

Babies need to sleep alone, in their own space and on a firm mattress on their backs.

Many parents want to co-sleep with the baby in their bed. But, most beds adults sleep on are too soft, with too many extras like pillows and blankets that are suffocation risks for our little ones. It is recommended that babies sleep in their own crib, bassinet or portable pack ‘n play. The mattress should be firm and flat, and a fitted sheet may be used on top to keep it clean. If you are concerned about your baby being alone, it is okay to place their crib, bassinet or pack ‘n play right next to your bed so you can reach out and touch your baby.

I recommend parents always check the product they are using (crib, bassinet, etc.) with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ensure it meets safety standards. This is especially important if buying second-hand items. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies sleep in their parents’ room for the first six months before moving to their own room.

Although babies often fall asleep in car seats, swings and bouncers, expert recommend moving them to their crib once asleep. Additionally, newborns are often held while sleeping. This is great and totally fine if the person holding the baby is awake, but if they begin to feel drowsy, they should lay the baby down to avoid an accident.

Babies who sleep on their backs are much less likely to die suddenly in their sleep versus babies who sleep on their tummies. I always tell parents to make sure the baby’s pelvis is flat when they lay them down. Babies who are laid on their sides can more easily roll to their tummies by accident, increasing their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Flat on the back is safest! Once babies learn to roll themselves from back to front and front to back, it is safe to allow them to roll during sleep. Even so, it is best to start them on their backs.

A few more tips…

  • Babies should never have pillows, stuffed animals, crib bumpers or blankets in bed with them, as these items increase their risk of suffocation.
  • Newborns often like to be swaddled. Typically, we should stop swaddling babies by 2-3 months and switch to using a sleep sack with their arms out for safe sleep.
    • Avoid weighted sleep sacks as the extra weight on your baby could mimic the same scenario as a baby sleeping on their tummies, resulting in crib death.
  • We never want babies to be too cold or too hot. I recommend keeping the thermostat between 68-72 degrees year-round to keep infants comfortable. You can always adjust the number of layers the baby is wearing to help regulate their temperature.
  • We do not recommend wearing a hat inside since the head is often how babies thermoregulate and they can easily get too warm.

How to Help Your Baby Know Day from Night

After birth, babies often have their days and nights mixed up. They do not have regular sleep cycles until around four months of age. There are a few tricks you can try to help your baby (and you) get a better night’s sleep.

At night when you want your baby to sleep, avoid overstimulation:

  • Always be as quiet as possible, speaking in soft, quiet tones and keeping other noise low
  • Keep the lights dim with only enough light for you to safely see your baby for things like diaper changes.
  • This will teach your baby that night is when we sleep.

Conversely, during the day, we want to be awake and play! To encourage this:

  • Have the lights on
  • Speak at normal volumes
  • Do things like vacuum and make noise
  • This will teach your baby that day is when we play, read books, sing songs and talk.

When to Begin Teaching Your Baby to Fall Asleep on Their Own

Starting at about four months of age, I suggest trying to have babies learn to fall asleep on their own. Prior to four months, we are used to putting them down when they fall asleep eating or being held. However, normal sleep/wake cycles have us all waking up several times throughout the night. If we wake up in a different scenario than where we fell asleep, it is startling. Teaching them to fall asleep on their own allows them to be able to fall back to sleep without needing to be held or fed by a parent.

Often parents will feed babies when they wake up at night to help them go back to sleep. This will cause your baby to become more of a trained nighttime eater. As babies get older, they should be able to sleep through the night without eating. Especially when they have teeth, feeding at night increases their risk of cavities.

Sleep Training

Deciding when to sleep train your infant is a hard decision. Often parents worry they are harming their child by letting them cry and not attending to them right away. Many infants, if allowed to cry for a few minutes at night, will fall right back to sleep on their own.

There are many different techniques for sleep training and all of them are equally effective. I suggest parents research the various techniques to determine which one is most comfortable for you. The key takeaway is that your child will not be psychologically damaged by learning how to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own. In fact, it is one of the first self-soothing skills that they will learn to better handle life’s many obstacles.

Bedtime Routines

Establishing a good bedtime routine will help your child learn it is time to wind down, go to bed and sleep. Here’s a few tips to get started:

  • It is best to avoid any naps in the late afternoon as those often recharge your toddlers’ batteries and bedtime will be a challenge.
  • Bedtime is an excellent time to have snuggle time while you read books to your child.
  • Have the lights dim and use a quiet voice to further encourage them to settle down and relax.
  • Although TV is not recommended for kids under two, if they are watching screens, be sure to discontinue use at least one hour before bedtime.
  • A comfort item can help a toddler with their bedtime routine.
  • Try to use a consistent sleep environment with a dark, cool and quiet bedroom. White noise with a consistent sound can be helpful at drowning out household background noise.
  • Don’t let those cuties convince you that they need one more book. Set expectations for when snuggle and book time is going to be over and lights are going to be turned off, before you get started on the routine.

Goodnight!

Sleep is a fluid issue. It is always okay to comfort a waking child when they are ill or if they need a diaper change, etc. There will be good nights and there will be sleepless ones. But hopefully these suggestions will help your family with getting the best night’s sleep for all.

Alicia Cruce, MD

Alicia Cruce, MD

Pediatrician at Pediatrics PC in Lincoln, NE

Dr. Alicia Cruce has been proudly serving the Lincoln community since 2003. She is originally from Blue Hill, Nebraska, and graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in 2000. She finished her training with a pediatric residency in the joint UNMC/Creighton program in Omaha and is board certified. For most of her career, she has been teaching infant care classes to expectant parents at both St Elizabeth’s and at Bryan Medical Center.

Currently, she serves on the Lincoln Pediatric Quality improvement committee and has previously served on the Nebraska chapter for the American Academy of Pediatrics and as the Chief of Pediatrics at CHI/St Elizabeth’s Hospital. She is also a volunteer faculty member at UNMC and has taught many Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, and medical students through the years.

Dr. Cruce is married to Dr. Mike Cruce, a school psychologist. They have three children and three dogs. Dr. Cruce enjoys reading, cooking, travel, and spending time with her family.

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Summer Eye Safety

Summer Eye Safety

For many families, summer is the most wonderful time of the year. School is out, days are long, sun is plentiful and vacations, cookouts and family time outdoors are common.

Here are four tips to keep your eyes safe during this summer season.

  1. Avoid Getting a “Sunburn of the Eye”
  2. Sunscreen Is Good, But Be Careful
  3. Watch Out for “Chlorine Eyes”
  4. Celebrate America, But Protect Your Eyes

Avoid Getting a “Sunburn of the Eye”

For many families, summer not complete without a trip to the pool, lake or ocean. Much like snow in the winter, sunlight can reflect off of the surfaces of the water and sand, resulting in a painful “burn” of the eyes called photokeratitis. Pain, redness, blurriness and even temporary vision loss can occur. Wearing the right sunglasses can help prevent photokeratitis.

Tips for Choosing & Wearing Sunglasses

  • Look for sunglasses that are marked “100% UV protection” or “UV400”. The darkness of sunglasses does not equate to their UV-blocking ability.
  • Children of all ages can wear sunglasses. Encourage the use of sunglasses early in life. This can help develop the habit for continued future use.
  • For added eye protection, wear a broad-brimmed hat. These hats also make a good choice for children that do not want to wear sunglasses.

Sunscreen Is Good, But Be Careful

Sunscreen is a vital part of our skin’s protection against UV damage. However, as many people know, sunscreen and your eyes don’t mix! Sunscreen can cause pain and irritation if it gets into the eye. If this happens, flush the eyes with cool water.

Tips for Keeping Sunscreen Out of Your Eyes

  • Do not spray sunscreen directly onto the face, even if the eyelids are closed.
  • Apply sunscreen to your hands first, and then rub it onto your face, taking care to avoid the area right next to the eyelid.

Watch Out for “Chlorine Eyes”

Swimming pools can be tough on the eyes. Chemicals used to keep the water clean, such as chlorine, can affect the natural tear film that keeps our eyes moist and healthy. This can result in red, gritty-feeling eyes and blurry vision.

Tips to Keep Your Eyes Feeling and Looking Good

  • Wear swim goggles in the pool.
  • Splash your closed eyes with fresh water immediately after getting out of the pool.
  • If a child wears glasses regularly, prescription goggles can be purchased and are usually fairly affordable. Speak to your child’s optometrist or ophthalmologist for more information.

Celebrate America, But Protect Your Eyes

The 4th of July has become synonymous with fireworks celebrations, both by professionals and at home. Despite their beauty, fireworks are dangerous and can lead to eye injuries.

Did You Know?

  • 14% of injuries resulting from fireworks are injuries to the eyes.
  • 33% of these eye injuries are in children 15 years of age or younger, with 14% of these injuries to children under the age of 5.

Tips for Practicing Firework Safety

The best way to avoid a potentially blinding fireworks injury is by attending a professional, public fireworks show rather than purchasing fireworks for home use. However, for those who wish to purchase fireworks for at-home use, consider the following safety recommendations:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. They may not understand the danger involved and may not act appropriately if an emergency arises.
  • Sparklers (often considered the ideal “safe” device for young children) are the most common cause of fireworks-related eye injuries in children. Sparklers burn at approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and should not be handled by young children.
  • Older children permitted to use fireworks should do so only under close adult supervision.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to use for emergencies and to pour on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.

Enjoy Your Summer!

Hopefully, you can add these tips to your outdoor routine and get the most out of your summer season!

Don Sauberan, MD

Don Sauberan, MD

Eye Surgical Associates, Ophthalmologist

Donald P. Sauberan, M.D. specializes in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus. He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He served in the United States Air Force as a General Medical Officer at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. He then completed his Ophthalmology residency at San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium in San Antonio, TX. He then served as a general ophthalmologist at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. After his military service, he completed his Pediatric Ophthalmology Fellowship at Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Sauberan has clinics in Lincoln, Columbus and Kearney, Nebraska.

Dr. Sauberan is board certified and a member of the American Board of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus, Nebraska Medical Association, Lancaster County Medical Society, and the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians & Surgeons.

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