Tag - Health conditions

Sound Advice and Sun Safety
Osteoporosis and Our Aging Population

Sound Advice and Sun Safety

By: Valerie Valcour

How often do you think about your ears? Do you protect your ears from the sun and loud noises? If you do, good for you! I’ve become increasingly aware of my ears after attending a local Farm Health and Safety training sponsored by the Vermont Farm & Safety Task Force.

Regarding hearing loss, the Farm Health and Safety training emphasized that hearing loss is preventable. I did not realize that being exposed to noises above 85 decibels such as noise from a lawnmower, shop tools or a chain saw for more than 2 minutes can cause permanent hearing loss. Check out these fact sheets for more information about protecting your ears:

Sun safety is another way to protect your ears. I am getting better at putting on sunscreen before going outside, but I still have to remind myself to apply it to my earlobes! According to the Vermont Department of Health Cancer Control Program, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and Vermont. Melanoma is the least common, but most serious, form of skin cancer. Vermont has one of the highest rates of melanoma incidence in the United States. Most cases of skin cancer are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Sunburns, especially during childhood, significantly increases an individual’s melanoma risk. It’s important to use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, even in the winter – and don’t forget your earlobes. Here are more Sun Safety Tips to keep you and your family safe from sunburns.

For more information about health promotion and disease prevention visit the Office of Local Health, Morrisville District website.

Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. In addition to her work, she volunteers as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Osteoporosis and Our Aging Population

By: Nella Wennberg, PA-C

Osteoporosis is a common diagnosis found in older patients. We are becoming more aware of the devastating consequences of fractures resulting from fragile bones. As the population continues to age, it is increasingly important for us to recognize the preventative measures and treatment options available to treat osteoporosis.

Over 40 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass. This often develops unnoticed and can lead to fractures from a simple slip and fall. Hip, spine and wrist fractures are the most common type of fragility fractures associated with osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis_Live Well LamoilleThese fractures can lead to hospitalization, need for surgery and long periods of recoveries. These injuries are also associated with increased mortality in the elderly population.

Osteoporosis, which literally means “porous bones”, is an age-related decrease in bone mass. The cells in our bones are constantly being reabsorbed and replaced as we age. For some people, the new bone is less dense, which results in weaker bone structure increasing one’s risk for fracture.

Risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing osteoporosis include smoking, female gender, post-menopausal status, small body frame, White or Asian ancestry,  low calcium intake, excessive alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle, post-menopausal status and long-term use of certain drugs.

Most providers recommend Bone Density Testing (DEXA scan) in women over the age of 65 and men over the age of 70. This painless scan looks at the density of your bone and compares this to the bone density of the same gender and ethnicity, but at the age of peak bone density, typically when we are 20 to 25 years old. Blood work such as Calcium and Vitamin D levels may also be checked to help formulate a treatment plan.

Treatment is multifaceted and should be discussed with your primary care provider. Common treatments include calcium and vitamin D supplements, medications that increase your bone density, and weight-bearing exercises that emphasize balance training.

Prevention of osteoporosis is incredibly important. This involves living a healthy lifestyle that includes regular weight-bearing exercise, smoking cessation, low alcohol consumption, and a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. People under the age of 50 should consume at least 1000mg of calcium and 400-600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D daily. Those amounts increase to 1200mg of calcium and 800-1000 IUs of vitamin D daily in folks over the age of 50. There are exercise programs designed to increase your bone density such as Bone Builders at Sterling View Community Center.  You could also contact your local gym or senior center for other options in your community.

Osteoporosis is a preventable disease. If you are concerned about whether you are developing weaker bones that increase your risk of fractures, discuss this with your primary care provider. They will be able to do some simple tests and review your individual risk factors to help determine if you will benefit from treatment.

Nella Wennberg_Mansfield OrthopaedicsNella Wennberg is a certified orthopaedic Physician Assistant with Mansfield Orthopaedics. She sees patients with a variety of orthopaedic issues. Wennberg holds a Master of Health Professions from Northeastern University and holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Vermont. She has been with Mansfield Orthopaedics since 2001.