Wellness Library

Must See

You might have read articles about burnout in the context of high achievers, who work exceptionally long hours, put pressure on themselves to excel, and don’t take enough time for rest and relaxation. It’s true that burnout is something high achievers should keep an eye out for, but it’s also possible to experience burnout as a result of the pandemic we’re all living through.

Working from home, dealing with changes in school schedules, managing childcare, and just keeping a household running are all sources of stress. For some, attending endless Zoom meetings is enough to increase stress levels. When face-to-face, we process signals like facial expression, gesture, posture, tone, distance between speakers, and rhythm of the other’s voice. This happens naturally in person, but video meetings demand extra emotional effort and energy.

The relationships we forge in communal workspaces are also significant. Many of us have most of our social interactions at work, and we turn to colleagues for moral support. When working from home, these casual interactions don’t happen organically, and the loss of those in-person connections can be stressful.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put extra stress on all of us, and it’s important that we recognize the signs of stress so we can care for ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here are some signs and symptoms of burnout. As you read through these, ask yourself if you’re experiencing some of them—at work, at home, in your friendships and social connections. The earlier you recognize the signs, the better able you will be to avoid burnout.

  • Fatigue – having a lack of energy and feeling tired
  • Insomnia – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Forgetfulness – inability to concentrate and lack of focus
  • Increased illness – a weakened immune system makes you vulnerable to illness
  • Loss of appetite – skipping meals that may lead to unhealthy weight loss
  • Anxiety – tension, worry, and edginess
  • Depression – feeling sad, hopeless, guilty, or worthless
  • Anger – irritability that can lead to arguments and outbursts
  • Loss of enjoyment – not wanting to do activities with family and friends
  • Detachment – a general sense of feeling disconnected from others or from your environment

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, take time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it. Sometimes, you can alleviate stressful situations on your own. But if you feel overwhelmed and can’t manage your emotions and stresses on your own, seek the help of a professional. Don't stay “frozen” or feeling like you're holding your breath waiting for your feelings to be over.

In the midst of all the stress of the pandemic, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Make sure to eat healthy, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and limit your social media intake. These things can boost your energy levels and help you care for yourself and loved ones. 

This article originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times. 
default

Have you noticed that voices are sounding more muffled lately? Are you turning up the volume on the TV or asking people to repeat themselves?

As we age, gradual hearing loss is common. In fact, almost half the people in the United States older than age 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Workers in high-noise occupations, such as construction or restaurants, are also more at risk of hearing loss.

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (outer or middle ear), sensorineural (inner ear), and mixed (a combination of the two). Even though most types of hearing loss can’t be reversed, our hearing specialists at Mount Nittany Health have many treatments for improving your hearing—which can greatly improve your quality of life.

What are some signs of hearing problems?

Regardless of your age or job, you should get a hearing test if you (or a loved one) feel you're not hearing as well as you used to.

These are some signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Having to concentrate hard to hear what people are saying
  • Avoiding social settings because conversations are too exhausting

What can I expect at a hearing assessment?

If you can identify with some of the above symptoms, it’s time for a hearing assessment. The good news is, hearing tests are painless and non-invasive.

When you visit our practice for the first time, we will have you fill out a case history form, which can help determine if you could have any conditions in your family that could contribute to hearing loss.

Our hearing professionals will ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting your daily life. We will ask about your lifestyle and the types of work, hobbies, and social situations that are important to you.

Your hearing test will be in a quiet, sound-treated room designed to keep out any outside noises that might affect your hearing exam scores. You will be asked to wear headphones or soft earplugs with wires connected to an instrument called an audiometer, which will be used to conduct several types of tests:

Pure-tone audiometry. In this part of the test, you’ll listen to tones at different pitches and volumes. Your hearing care professional will communicate with you and provide instructions through your headphones. You’ll be asked to respond to even very quiet tone sounds because the test measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency tested.

Speech audiometry. Speech audiometry uses recorded or live speech instead of pure tones, evaluating the softest speech sounds you can hear and understand. You will be asked to repeat back words to see how well you can understand them.

Should I get my hearing tested?
Written by Sarah Wakefield, AuD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Audiology
Sarah Wakefield, AuD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Audiology

Call our office at 814.234.6190 or schedule an appointment online through our patient portal at MyMountNittanyHealth.com.

Have you noticed that voices are sounding more muffled lately? Are you turning up the volume on the TV or asking people to repeat themselves?

As we age, gradual hearing loss is common. In fact, almost half the people in the United States older than age 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Workers in high-noise occupations, such as construction or restaurants, are also more at risk of hearing loss.

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (outer or middle ear), sensorineural (inner ear), and mixed (a combination of the two). Even though most types of hearing loss can’t be reversed, our hearing specialists at Mount Nittany Health have many treatments for improving your hearing—which can greatly improve your quality of life.

What are some signs of hearing problems?

Regardless of your age or job, you should get a hearing test if you (or a loved one) feel you're not hearing as well as you used to.

These are some signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Having to concentrate hard to hear what people are saying
  • Avoiding social settings because conversations are too exhausting

What can I expect at a hearing assessment?

If you can identify with some of the above symptoms, it’s time for a hearing assessment. The good news is, hearing tests are painless and non-invasive.

When you visit our practice for the first time, we will have you fill out a case history form, which can help determine if you could have any conditions in your family that could contribute to hearing loss.

Our hearing professionals will ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting your daily life. We will ask about your lifestyle and the types of work, hobbies, and social situations that are important to you.

Your hearing test will be in a quiet, sound-treated room designed to keep out any outside noises that might affect your hearing exam scores. You will be asked to wear headphones or soft earplugs with wires connected to an instrument called an audiometer, which will be used to conduct several types of tests:

Pure-tone audiometry. In this part of the test, you’ll listen to tones at different pitches and volumes. Your hearing care professional will communicate with you and provide instructions through your headphones. You’ll be asked to respond to even very quiet tone sounds because the test measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency tested.

Speech audiometry. Speech audiometry uses recorded or live speech instead of pure tones, evaluating the softest speech sounds you can hear and understand. You will be asked to repeat back words to see how well you can understand them.

Speech in noise and words in noise tests. During these tests you will listen to someone say words and statements while a soundtrack plays increasingly noisy sounds. These tests assess “real-world” hearing ability, mimicking how you might hear in a restaurant or noisy grocery store.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

More good news: No studying is necessary! But a few simple steps will help you be prepared.

List medications and key medical events. Some illnesses can impede your ability to hear. If you have a history of ear infections, the audiologist needs to know. Because some medications can cause sensorineural hearing loss, you should bring a list of all medications and supplements you are taking.

Grab a friend. Bringing along a family member or close friend can help your appointment go smoothly. They have a unique insight into your ability to hear because they interact with you on a regular basis. While you may tell the audiologist that you have no problems hearing conversation, their experience may prove otherwise.

Clean your ears. At least two days before your appointment, clean your ears of wax. Don’t use cotton swabs—you can damage your ears if you insert objects in your ear canal. Take a warm washcloth and gently wipe your ear with your finger.

Avoid loud noises. Avoid any noise louder than a vacuum cleaner for about 12 hours before your hearing test. Even temporary exposure to loud noise can affect your ability to hear. If you were exposed to loud noise recently, your ears are still recovering, and the results of the hearing test will not be accurate.

If you’re not feeling well, please reschedule. Allergies, colds, and sinus and ear infections can all cause fluid in the ear. If you have fluid in your ear, your test results will not be accurate. Besides, you don’t want to spread germs! If you have a cold, allergies acting up, or an ear or sinus infection, please call our office and we will be more than happy to reschedule.

How can I schedule an appointment?

Call our office at 814.234.6190 or schedule an appointment online through our patient portal at MyMountNittanyHealth.com.

Sarah Wakefield, AuD, is a provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group Audiology. Her specialty areas include tinnitus and auditory processing disorders.

default

It is important for everyone to understand heart rate especially as it relates to physical fitness. Here is a quick a quick tutorial on how you can be sure you’re reaching your ideal heart rate – otherwise known as your Target Heart Rate Zone—to get the most out of your exercise.

Pulse: The number of times your heart beats in one minute. It varies from person to person. It is lower when you are at rest and increases when you exercise. A normal heartbeat range for adults is 60-100 beats per minute.

  • To calculate: Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, closest to your thumb. Use your first two fingertips and press lightly over the blood vessels until you feel your pulse or heartbeat. Count how many times your heart beats per minute.

10-second pulse: Needed for calculating your Target Heart Rate Zone.

  • To calculate: Count your pulse for ten seconds and then multiply this number by six. This will be your heart rate per minute.

Maximum Heart Rate: The highest your pulse rate can get. Needed for calculating your Target Heart Rate Zone.

  • To calculate: Subtract 220 from your age – that equals your maximum heart rate per minute.
    • Quick tip: This is only an estimate. Your true maximum heart rate could be as many as 15 beats higher or lower than what this formula suggests.

      Target Heart Rate Zone: This is the heart rate to aim for when exercising and should be 50-85% of your maximum heart rate.

  • To know if you’re in the zone: While exercising, stop your movement and check your 10-second pulse.
    • If this number is below your Target Heart Rate Zone, increase your rate and intensity of exercise.
    • If your pulse is above your Target Heart Rate Zone, decrease your rate and intensity of exercise.
      • Quick tip: It is not recommended to exercise above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, as doing so can increase your health risk and does not add extra benefit.

As always, it's important to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program. Once you begin, gradually build up to a level that is within your target heart rate zone, especially if you have not exercised regularly before. If the exercise feels too hard, slow down. Remember to hydrate and stretch before and after exercise, too.

Jeffrey G. Eaton, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Cardiology, is part of an expert, board-certified cardiology team at Mount Nittany Health offering extensive experience in diagnosing, treating and managing heart conditions of all types.  With access to Mount Nittany Medical Center’s leading edge cardiovascular pavilion, Dr. Eaton and his team offer state-of-the-art treatments to keep your heart working efficiently for you.

Dr. Eaton is currently welcoming cardiology practice to Mount Nittany Health – Philipsburg. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 814.689.3140. 

default

The summer has flown by, and it’s time for kids to return to school. Going back to school looks different this year, given the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, more than ever, it’s important for parents and kids to communicate openly as they prepare for returning to in-person school.

It’s important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that everyone, including vaccinated people, wear a mask at school. It is also recommended that anyone who can get vaccinated and is 12 years old and older get vaccinated.

As much as this an exciting time, some children will feel anxious about going back to school after a year of at-home learning. The pandemic has taken a toll on kids who have missed out on social interactions, and you might notice they’re not showing the same energy and excitement as in previous school years.

Parents should remember that even kids without social anxiety might feel nervous about going back to school and that’s because they’re out of practice. Think of it like math: If you don’t practice math over the summer, you’ll get rusty. Expect a few bumps in the road and realize it’s normal for everyone.

Here are a few ways to help children through the anxiety of returning to school:

Provide routine and structure. Sources of stability will help kids feel supported during this uncertain time. Make sure your kids have routines—now is a good time to get back to regular bedtimes that might have been more loosely structured over the summer.

Prepare children for change. Along with returning to school comes uncertainty. The school your children are returning to probably won’t look like the one they left. The more information kids have at the appropriate developmental level, the better.

Prepare them for what going back to school will be like. Let them know people will be wearing masks and physical distancing, there might be plexiglass dividers in different locations, and lunch and recess might look different. If you empower your kids with the tools they need to stay safe in school by making sure they know about these changes, when they get to school, they can use those tools to feel safe and comfortable.

Acknowledge worries. It’s important for parents and schools to frame this back-to-school time not as getting back to normal, but as a new opportunity to get out of the house, learn new things, and see their friends in person in a safe way.

Find opportunities to connect and get comfortable as a family to encourage open communication. If sitting down together as a family for regular mealtimes is something that has fallen by the wayside, consider bringing it back. Or try starting a conversation during a routine drive—that’s a time when kids often open up. Ask open-ended questions. Instead of “Did you have a good day?” try questions like “What’s going on today? What happened in school today?” You’ll be opening the door for conversation if your child wants to share. If they’re not ready to share, that’s okay. They know you’re there.

default

Whether you’re expecting a baby, caring for an infant, or keeping up with an active toddler, it’s important to make your home a safe place. Here are some tips for childproofing your home.

Crib safety – with any crib, bassinet, or play yard, follow a few simple rules to keep babies sleeping safely.

  • Keep soft objects and loose bedding—including pillows, stuffed animals, wedges, blankets, and bumper pads—out of the crib.
  • Always place your baby on their back for sleep time.
  • Always use a firm sleep surface. Car seats and other sitting devices are not recommended for routine sleep.
  • Make sure there are no gaps larger than two fingers between the sides of the crib and the mattress. This is usually no more than 2 and 3/8 inches apart.
  • Never place a crib near a window with blind or curtain cords or baby monitor cords.

 Highchair safety – make sure your baby or toddler is safe during snack time and mealtime.

  • Make sure the highchair cannot be tipped over easily.
  • If the chair folds, be sure it’s locked each time you set it up.
  • Whenever your child sits in the chair, use the safety straps, including the crotch strap. This will prevent your child from slipping down.

 Some other safety tips:

  • Crawl around at your baby’s level and see what catches your eye – sometimes you don’t notice things that are tempting to them. You may feel a little silly, but you might be surprised by what you discover!
  • To keep babies and toddlers entertained while you’re in the kitchen, fill a drawer or basket in your kitchen filled with safe toys, plasticware, and pretend food.
  • Use safety latches and locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent children from gaining access to medicines, household cleaners, matches, knives, and other dangerous objects. Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children.
  • Use safety gates to help prevent falls downstairs and to keep children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers. Look for safety gates that children can’t dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close easily. For the top of stairs, only use gates that screw to the wall. Use safety gates that meet current safety standards.
  • Use window guards and safety netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings. Check these safety devices often to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. Limit window openings to four inches or less, including the space between window guard bars.
  • Use corner and edge bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture or hearth edges.
  • Use outlet covers and outlet plates, and be sure they can’t be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children can’t choke on them.
default

A healthy body image is an important part of a growing teen's self-esteem. Tweens and teens face pressure to meet unrealistic and potentially harmful ideas around beauty and body build, weight, and shape. The quest for an ideal body or appearance can take a toll on kids' confidence as well as their physical and mental health.

Factors that might harm a teenager's body image include natural or expected weight gain, other changes caused by puberty, peer pressure to look a certain way, media images that depict unrealistic or unattainable body ideals, and having a parent who's overly concerned about own weight or appearance.

Teenagers who have negative thoughts about their bodies are at increased risk of low self-esteem, depression, nutrition and growth issues, and eating disorders. Worrying about their bodies and how they measure up can also take away from teenagers' ability to concentrate on other pursuits.

What can parents do to help their child develop and maintain a healthy body image and self-esteem? Allowing communication about their thoughts on body image, modeling and promoting healthy behaviors can help kids feel comfortable with their physical appearance.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Set a good example. Make sure your child knows that you exercise and eat a balanced diet for your health. Think about what you accept on social media, the products you buy, and your choice of words when commenting on other people's appearance.
  • Use positive language. Rather than talking about physical attributes of your child or others, praise personal characteristics such as strength, persistence, and kindness. Avoid pointing out negative physical attributes in others or yourself. Don't make or allow hurtful nicknames, comments, or jokes based on a person's physical characteristics, weight, or body shape.
  • Explain the effects of puberty. Make sure your child understands that appropriate weight gain is a healthy and normal part of development, especially during puberty.
  • Talk about media messages. Encourage your child to question what they see and hear. Praise individuals who are famous for their achievements — not their appearance. For example, read books or watch movies about inspiring people and their perseverance to overcome challenges.
  • Monitor social media use. Teens use social media to share pictures and get feedback. Others' judgments can make teens feel self-conscious about their looks. Set rules for your teen's social media use and offer conversations about what they are posting and viewing.
  • Praise achievements. Look for opportunities to praise effort, skills, and achievements.
  • Promote physical activity. Participating in sports and other physical activities — particularly those that don't emphasize a particular weight or body shape — can help promote good self-esteem and a positive body image. Get involved in activities yourself for your and their benefit.

Nearly 8 million adults of all ages in the United States report balance disorders each year. Balance problems can interfere with everyday life, whether it’s feeling unsteady on stairs or when stepping off a curb at the street corner, when working in the garden, or when bending to remove items from a low cabinet. Balance issues can be obstacles at work if you feel you’re not as agile as you should be. If you experience problems with balance, there’s a new program at Mount Nittany Health that can help.

Mount Nittany Health Fit for Play’s new Balance & Fall Prevention Program, which launched in July, is dedicated to helping patients restore their balance and prevent falls.

As we age, balance issues are more common. Your stride can change as you get older, for example, and that can cause you to lose your balance. Balance issues after 50 years old are often worse when you go from sitting to standing up, walk around, or move your head horizontally or vertically. In adults over age 65, balance problems are linked to falls. One-third of adults in this age group and over half of people over the age of 75 years fall each year.

When you lose your balance, you can feel a range of symptoms afterward. You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, unsteady, or nauseous. You might feel as if the room is spinning. These feelings can happen whether you're lying down, sitting, or standing. After losing your balance, your symptoms may last for just a few minutes or for a few days.

Many medical conditions can cause balance problems. Body systems—including muscles, bones, joints, eyes, the balance organ in the inner ear, nerves, heart, and blood vessels—must work normally for you to have normal balance. When these systems aren't functioning well, you can experience balance problems.

Loss of balance or a feeling of unsteadiness can result from abnormalities in the inner ear, nerve damage to the legs, muscle weakness or unstable joints, difficulties with eyesight, and certain neurological conditions such as cervical spondylosis and Parkinson’s disease. Feeling unbalanced can also be a side effect of medications.

If left untreated, balance issues can lead to more falls and, potentially, serious injury. Balance issues can also make someone afraid of falling and so they become inactive, which results in frailty.

Through the new Balance & Fall Prevention Program, Mount Nittany Health physical therapists are specially trained to help patients improve balance, mobility, and strength; reduce their risk and fear of falling; and safely increase their activity levels and movement.

Our therapists create customized plans for each patient, tailored to their goals. Using evidence-based measures and best practice treatments, therapists track patient progress with efficient testing methods.

If you’re experiencing balance problems, consider scheduling an appointment with our physical therapists at the Balance & Fall Prevention Program. New patients of all ages are welcome, and convenient scheduling options are available. To schedule an appointment, call 814.861.8122.

814.231.7000

To our team, you're more than just a number. We see you. And we're committed to you. Our experienced providers are here and ready to get you the care you need.