Nurses Notes – January 2020

Seasonal Affective Disorder
(SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, but are much less common than winter episodes of SAD. Symptoms may include low energy, increased fatigue and sleeping, craving carbs, overeating and weight gain, and social withdrawal. These symptoms go along with symptoms of major depression, such as, low energy, feeling worthless, feeling depressed most every day, sleep disorders, losing interest in activities once enjoyed, feeling sluggish or agitated, trouble concentrating, frequent thoughts of death or suicide. Research is showing that people affected by this may have increased levels of melatonin, lower levels of serotonin, lower levels of vitamin D. Treatments may include light therapy, medication to increase levels of serotonin, vitamin D and therapy. If you feel you are suffering from any type of depression, please contact your provider.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.
Nearly 13,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, but the disease is prevented with the with vaccination and appropriate screening (Pap and HPV tests). HPV vaccines can help prevent infection from both high risk HPV types that can lead to cervical cancer and low risk types that cause genital warts. The CDC recommends all boys and girls get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12 as the vaccine produces a stronger immune response when taken during the preteen years. For this reason, up until age 14, only two doses are the vaccine are required. The vaccine is available for all males and females through age 45 but, for those 15 and older, a full three-dose series is needed. A Pap test can find cell changes to the cervix caused by HPV. HPV tests find the virus and help healthcare providers know which women are at highest risk for cervical cancer. Pap and HPV tests (either alone or in combination) are recommended for women over 30: each woman should ask her health care provider how often she should be screened and which tests are right for her.

We’re in the thick of cold and flu and virus season.
The “stomach bug” that many refer to as flu is not. It’s often norovirus, a highly contagious virus resulting in diarrhea and vomiting. Flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense. Colds are usually milder than flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.

Christy Friedel, R.N.,
Parish Nurse, Spiritual Director

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