Jan 19

Offer Guidance On How To Avoid Frostbite & Hypothermia

Posted on January 19, 2024 at 2:28 PM by Kiah Weston

The staff of the Henry and Stark County Health Departments and their First Choice Healthcare Clinics in Kewanee and Colona remind area residents that frostbite and hypothermia are the greatest threats facing anyone who ventures outside in temperatures below freezing.  It only takes a few minutes in subzero weather for problems to occur.

 Frostbite occurs when the cold outside slows circulation and tissue begins to die.  The hands and feet are usually affected first.  Hypothermia occurs when the body's core temperature is lowered, and can result in death if the drop in body heat slows the heart rate too much.  Frostbite symptoms include numbness in the fingers, ears, nose, or feet.  The affected areas may be red or white and hurt when rewarmed.

 Medical treatment for frostbite usually consists of rewarming the affected area.  Prolonged exposure to the cold can result in significant destruction of tissue.  Serious cases of frostbite can result in gangrene, leading to possible amputation of the affected body part.

 To prevent frostbite and hypothermia, persons should wear hats which cover the ears, scarves or masks to cover the face, mittens instead of gloves so fingers can warm each other, and several layers of clothing to trap the body heat.  Dampness increases the risk of frostbite and clothing should be changed if it becomes wet.

 Drinking alcohol increases the chance of both hypothermia and frostbite. Alcohol slows down the heart and blurs the judgment of how cold the person really is.  Smokers are more apt to experience spasms in blood vessels which interfere with circulation, thus increasing the threat of frostbite.

 The Health Department and First Choice Healthcare reminds everyone to avoid exposure to extreme cold for more than a few minutes.  Serious tissue damage can occur in a short period of time.   

Jan 19

“Winter Blues”

Posted on January 19, 2024 at 1:16 PM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Department along with First Choice Healthcare and its Mental Health Staff would like to address what many refer to as the “Winter Blues.” The winter blues are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker days of winter. You may find yourself feeling more lethargic and down overall. Although you may feel more unhappy than usual, the winter blues typically do not affect your ability to enjoy life. 

But if your winter blues start permeating all aspects of your life — from work to personal relationships — you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD).  SAD is a subtype of major depression that is characterized by the onset of depression during winter months when there is less natural light. For many people, symptoms usually start in the fall and continue into the winter months.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Having low energy
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Problems sleeping
  • Changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

How Do You Treat SAD? Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medication.  In addition to your prescribed treatment plan for SAD, you may also try:

  • Making your environment sunnier and brighter
  • Spending more time outside 
  • Exercising regularly

In addition to SAD, some people with major depression, unrelated to the season, may experience an increase in symptoms during the late fall and winter; it is important that they discuss this with a behavioral/mental health professional. The most important take-home message is that SAD, just like other types of depression, is treatable and people should not suffer in silence; they should seek help

And remember, Behavioral and Mental Health Services are now available at First Choice Health Care. We are now accepting appointments in our Kewanee location! Our behavioral health staff are prepared to support patients aged five and over. For such issues as depression, anxiety, stress, substance use and addictions, behavior problems, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, family/parenting issues, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and other related disorders, sexual assault, suicide prevention, trauma, and loss.

Jan 05

January Cervical Cancer Prevention Month

Posted on January 5, 2024 at 1:44 PM by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments and First Choice announce that January is National Cervical Health Awareness and Cervical Cancer Prevention Month and share the following facts about cervical cancer:

Each year in the US approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 die as a result.  The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) reports that half of the cervical cancer occurred among women who are rarely or never screened for cervical cancer.  The true tragedy of the disease is that cervical cancer screening tests and vaccines exist that can prevent virtually every case.  Today, detection tools and inoculations make cervical cancer a condition that is relatively easy to prevent and treat.

Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife.  Most cases are found in women younger than 50.  It rarely occurs in women younger than 20.  Many women do not know that as they get older they are still at risk of getting cervical cancer.

  Most deaths from cervical cancer could be avoided if women had regular checkups with a Pap test.  Early detection significantly increases chances of survival.  In fact, if detected early, cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent curable.

In accordance with this health designation, the First Choice Healthcare staff is pleased to remind area women they have clinic services that address the prevention of deaths from breast and cervical cancer.

Our First Choice Healthcare locations in Kewanee, Colona, and Toulon encourage early detection by providing well women exams, clinical breast exams, pap smears (when needed), and teaching healthy breast care by educating women in breast self-exam awareness.  Women need to realize that the most effective tools associated with early detection are literally just a phone call away, we just need area women to focus on the preventative aspects of their health.

The First Choice Healthcare Clinics accept medicaid payments, most insurances and private pay.  A sliding fee scale, based on client income, has been established to assist everyone to obtain services.

A great push in the fight against cervical cancer is increasing awareness of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.  Experts believe that women must be infected with HPV before they develop cervical cancer.  The HPV vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in preventing HPV infection and therefore, cervical cancer risk.  First Choice Healthcare reminds area residents that they have the HPV vaccine series available to both girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 18.  The vaccine should be given before sexual activity begins and HPV exposure increases.”

For more information on women's health services, the HPV vaccine series, or to schedule an appointment at either location call Kewanee (309) 852-5272; Colona (309) 792-4011; or Toulon (309) 852-3115 or visit our website at www.henrystarkhealth.com, find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments, or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.