When cyberbullying hurts, family dinners can help

Sept. 16, 2014—Cyberbullying might not involve getting pantsed in the locker room—kids bullied online might be forced to deal with nasty messages, embarrassing pictures or fake profiles instead. But cyberbullying can feel just as devastating for kids. And while there’s no simple way to erase virtual harassment completely, new research suggests that family dinners can help picked-on adolescents cope.

About the study

To find out whether family contact helps kids who have been cyberbullied, researchers analyzed survey data on nearly 19,000 students aged 12 to 18. Nearly a fifth of adolescents surveyed reported experiencing some form of cyberbullying within the past 12 months—and it affected them in several ways. Compared to kids who weren’t picked on, cyberbullied tweens and teens were more likely to experience mental health problems like anxiety, depression or self-harm; more likely to engage in fighting or vandalism; and more likely to drink alcohol or abuse drugs.

But amidst the troubling findings, there was some good news. Among cyberbullied kids, those who regularly ate dinner with their families were less susceptible to virtual harassment’s harmful effects. The findings suggest that family contact and communication can make bullying less difficult for adolescents to deal with.

Read a summary of the study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, here.

The take-home message
Cyberbullying can harm kids’ self-esteem and health, which can lead to things like poor grades, skipping school, and drug and alcohol use. But the close contact and communication that come from family dinners appear to help cyberbullied kids cope better.

What’s more, teaching all adolescents about responsible texting and Internet use—as well as monitoring their virtual communications closely—can also make a difference. Here’s what parents should know:

  • Get smart about social media. Learn which platforms your child uses, and learn how to use them. Have profiles on each, and make a policy that you and your child have to friend or follow each other.
  • Emphasize that the Internet is permanent. Remind your child to avoid sending texts or posts that could be hurtful or embarrassing, since posts can’t always be erased, and they can quickly be shared with anyone in the world.
  • Establish rules about technology use. Set time limits for social media and Internet use, and be clear about what your child is and isn’t allowed to do online.
  • Ask about your child’s online activities. Use social media as a springboard to ask what your child has been up to. What was posted today? Who sent text messages?
  • Monitor activity. Tell your child that you’ll periodically check text logs and social media posts, and be sure to follow through.

Finally, know the signs that could indicate trouble. If you notice that your child is skipping activities in favor of social media, having trouble in school or experiencing other issues due to spending too much time online, talk about it openly, first with your child and then with your child’s pediatrician. Teachers and administrators may also need to get involved if your child is being bullied online and that activity breaks school policy.

Bullying could harm your child’s long-term health—learn what you can do to stop it here.


Workplace stress and diabetes linked in new study

Sept. 15, 2014—Feeling frazzled at work might do more than sour your mood. A high-stress job might also make you prone to diabetes, said a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

It found that people under high pressure at work were 45 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes—the most common form of the disease—than those without taxing jobs.

Multiple risk factors, such as extra pounds, contribute to type 2 diabetes risk, but researchers found that work-related stress significantly raised diabetes risk regardless of factors like weight, age and family history. That finding makes this study a little unusual, and it might prompt you to make some changes in the way you handle stresses that come from work.

About the study

Researchers tracked 5,337 employed men and women ages 29 to 66, none of whom had diabetes at the study’s start.

The researchers quizzed the adults about stress at work. For the purposes of the study, they defined a high-stress job as one that required employees to handle huge demands while having little control over their tasks.

Researchers also factored in the adults’ body mass index (BMI), age, sex and family history of diabetes.

After an average of 12.7 years of follow up, 291 people developed type 2 diabetes, and work-related job stress emerged as a major risk factor for a diabetes diagnosis. Researchers say that bump in risk worked independently of other classic risk factors, including obesity and advancing age.

Past research has uncovered a link between workplace stress and heart disease. But this is the first study to reveal a strong association between high-pressure jobs and type 2 diabetes, according to a press release announcing the study’s results.

Read more about the study here.

The take-home message
Some stress at work is inevitable—even dream jobs have it—and it can even be motivating. Still, since research now links high-stress jobs to diabetes as well as heart disease, it’s clearly in your best interest to keep workplace stress to a manageable level.

So if your job is a high-stress one, how can you feel less tense? Try these tips from the American Diabetes Association, the American Psychological Association and the Office on Women’s Health:

Make the most of breaks. Even 10 minutes of personal time can refresh you. Take a quick walk—exercise is a stress buster—or chat with a co-worker about something that has nothing to do with work.

Set reasonable standards. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Everybody falls short at times.

Learn how to relax. Stretching and relaxing your muscles can tame tension. So can breathing deeply for at least five minutes.

Establish boundaries. You might stop answering job-related email at home or answering work calls during dinner.

Perhaps most important, develop healthy responses to stress. Rather than overeating or reaching for a cigarette, for example, do your best to stick to smart habits. Take extra care to eat well, exercise regularly and get enough shut-eye.

Many types of stress can affect your health. Find out what they are here.


Nourish Yourself with Flavored Water

Nourish Yourself with Flavored Water
Kim McCorquodale RD

We all know that drinking more water is beneficial. Some of the many benefits include flushing out toxins, helping to keep your energy up, and reducing those feeling of “fake” hunger and food cravings. But, we also know that water can be pretty boring. Most of you have probably seen all those flavored waters at the grocery store, but you might also have noticed they are pretty high priced. So why not make flavored water yourself? No reason not to, and here’s some easy ideas to get you started.

Add water to a clean container and add any of the following. Try “muddling,” or slightly crushing, herb leaves to help release their flavor.

  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Cantaloupe
  • Lime
  • Basil, mint, rosemary, lavender
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Fresh ginger

Or try some of these fun combos:

  • Watermelon and mint
  • Cucumber and mint
  • Lemon and mint
  • Cherry and lime
  • Watermelon and cucumber
  • Ginger and lemon
  • Lemon and lavender
  • Lime and mint
  • Cucumber and lime
  • Lemon and basil
  • Strawberry and mint
  • Blackberry and ginger
  • Lemon and blueberry
  • Thyme and blackberries
  • Cucumber and rosemary
  • Cantaloupe and watermelon
  • Cucumber, lemon, and mint
  • Lemon and lime
  • Strawberry and basil
  • Ginger and lime
  • Lemon and a pinch of cayenne

So, give some of these a try and get hydrated! For other great water recipes and ideas, check out the American Institute for Cancer Research web site.

In the news: What you need to know about Enterovirus D68

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

What are enteroviruses?
Enteroviruses are very common viruses that can cause respiratory illness, fever and rash, and neurologic illnesses, such as aseptic meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain); there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses.

Approximately 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year. Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious. Infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become sick.

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is causing outbreaks of respiratory infection in multiple US states this year. The outbreaks are resulting in significant numbers of children requiring emergency department visits and hospitalizations, primarily for difficulties with breathing and severe asthma. Children with asthma appear to be more susceptible to serious illness from EV-D68.

How does enterovirus spread?
Because EV-D68 has been uncommon in the past, the ways it spreads are not as well- understood as other enteroviruses. EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, and the virus can be found in respiratory secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or a person touches contaminated surfaces.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68?
EV-D68 has been reported to cause mild to severe respiratory illness (runny nose, cough, difficulty breathing) with and without fever. A minority of people may have more serious infections, particularly children with pre-existing asthma. Because EV-D68 has previously been uncommon in the US, we are still learning about the illness and risk factors for infection. As we learn more, information about EV-D68 infection will be updated. Most people with other enterovirus infections have mild illness that does not require medical care or evaluation.
Use the same judgment as usual about when to see (or take a child to see) a health care provider:
Anyone who has difficulty breathing or who appears seriously ill should be evaluated promptly by a healthcare provider. Persons with asthma should be sure their asthma symptoms are under control, and see a health care provider if they develop respiratory symptoms and their asthma worsens. Adults and children with non-severe enterovirus infections do not need to see a health care provider and do not need to be tested.
How is EV-D68 diagnosed and treated?
Many hospitals can test for enteroviruses in hospitalized patients, but they are probably not able to identify EV-D68. Public Health can assist with EV-D68 testing in hospitalized patients after consultation with health care providers. Patients who are not seriously ill do not need to be tested.

There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections. Some people with severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy. Because children with asthma may be at increased risk for more serious EV-D68 infections, it is a good idea to be sure asthma symptoms are under control.

How can enterovirus infection be prevented?
There is no vaccine for enterovirus infections. To decrease the risk for enterovirus infections:
•    Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (alcohol hand gel is not as good as hand washing for enteroviruses)
•     Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
•    Avoid contact with ill people
•     Do not go to day care, school or work while ill
•     Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
•     Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
•    Children and adults with asthma should be sure to have their asthma symptoms under control and see a health care provider if they develop a respiratory infection and their asthma worsens

Sleep drunkenness may affect 1 in 7, new study says

Sept. 11, 2014—Few people enjoy waking up, particularly if an alarm clock or a rude shake to the shoulder is the prompt that puts an end to sleep. But some people respond to awakening with behavior that seems downright strange. They might wake up confused—trying to answer the phone instead of hitting the alarm clock, for example—or they might even become aggressive.

These episodes are sometimes called sleep drunkenness, a type of sleep disorder known as confusional arousals that happen in the morning, and a new study suggests the issue may affect as many as 1 in 7 people. Fortunately, there are ways to diagnose and treat the condition.

The study

Researchers interviewed 19,136 people ages 18 and older for this study. Participants were asked about their sleep habits, mental health and medication usage. They were also asked if they experienced any symptoms of sleep drunkenness.

The study found that more than 15 percent of participants had experienced a sleep drunkenness episode in the last year. Of those, more than half reported having more than one episode a week.

In addition, 84 percent of participants who experienced sleep drunkenness also had a related condition, such as another sleep disorder or a mental health disorder, or were taking psychotropic drugs, like antidepressants.

Researchers found an increased risk of sleep drunkenness in people with:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Panic or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep apnea

They also discovered that the disorder was associated with both short nights of sleep (6 hours or less) or long nights of sleep (9 hours or more).

Learn more about the study in the journal Neurology here.

The take-home message
An episode of sleep drunkenness can sound a little silly, but according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, this disorder can cause a plethora of problems, including poor performance at school and work, conflicts at home and dangerous driving. It’s clear that this isn’t an issue people can ignore.

But diagnosing the problem can be tricky, because people with sleep drunkenness often don’t remember the episodes. Here’s a self-test that can help:

  1. Has anyone told you that you act confused or in a strange way when he or she wakes you up?
  2. Did he or she describe your behavior as hostile or aggressive?
  3. Were these responses inappropriate in any way?
  4. Does this behavior happen regularly?

If you answered yes to each of these questions, a visit with your doctor may be in order.

Your doctor may recommend a sleep specialist. This professional may ask you to keep a sleep diary, and you might also be asked to stay overnight for a sleep study called a polysomnogram, which will chart your brain waves, heartbeat and breathing while you sleep. There’s a video component, too, so doctors can watch for unusual motions you might make as you sleep.

If your doctor finds that you do have sleep drunkenness episodes, treatment might involve addressing other sleep or mental health disorders. Medications might also play a role.

Sleep studies can help diagnose other sleep disorders as well. Click here to find out more about how sleep studies work and what the results of the tests might mean.


Children’s Bereavement Workshop on Sept. 28

Do you know a child who is grieving the loss of a parent or other close loved one? Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital is offering a hands-on workshop to help guide children ages 4-17 and their parents or guardians through the grief associated with death.

Laurie Oswalt and Julie Cicero appeared on KIT 1280 on Sept. 9, 2014, to discuss the workshop.

The workshop will provide an opportunity for children to express their feelings and thoughts through creative activities and meet others who have experienced a similar loss. While children are participating in activities to assist their recovery, parents and guardians will be involved in their own grief recovery program geared for adults.

Key points about grieving children:

  • Every kid grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
  • Can be feelings of anger, sadness, worry, relief, fear or numbness.

How a child or teen grieves varies depending on a number of factors:

  • what social support systems are available – family or friends
  • the circumstances of the death – how, when and where the person died
  • the nature of the relationship with the person who died – harmonious or conflicted
  • the child or teen’s involvement in the dying process
  • previous experiences with death

This workshop is intended to help children and teens work through these feelings and safely share them in a safe environment. Activities include writing, drawing, team-building and art.

This workshop will be held:

Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014

11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Children’s Village, 3801 Kern Road, Yakima

Lunch will be provided for every family, and parents are encouraged to enjoy lunch with the children before the activities begin. This workshop is provided at no charge to participants.

For more information or to register, contact Denise Mitzel at 577-5062 or DeniseMitzel@yvmh.org.

Registrations will be accepted until Sept. 26, 2014.

For more information, visit memfound.org


Millions of beanbag chairs recalled due to suffocation risks

Sept. 9, 2014—Beanbag chairs can seem ideal for small children—they don’t have rough edges or sharp corners that turn into hazards when little ones fall. However, these chairs can be dangerous when they’re made improperly.

Case in point: More than 2 million beanbag chairs produced by Ace Bayou Corporation are being recalled after two children suffocated from lack of air and inhaling the foam beads inside.

The problem with the chairs

According to voluntary standards, nonrefillable beanbag chairs like these should be made with permanently closed zippers. But these chairs have workable zippers, so kids can access the tiny foam beads inside.

Two children—a 13-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl—crawled into opened bags. They both suffocated inside and died.

How to recognize the chairs

The beanbag chairs under recall are either round or L-shaped. The round chairs are 30, 32 and 40 inches in diameter. The L-shaped chairs are 18 inches wide, 30 inches deep and 30 inches high.

They were sold in a variety of colors prior to July 2013 and cost between $30 and $100.

The tag on the cover seam reads ACE BAYOU CORP. The bags were made in China.

Some of the merchants who sold the chairs include:

  • Amazon.com
  • Bergner’s
  • Big Lots
  • Bon-Ton
  • Boston Store
  • Carson’s
  • Elder-Beerman
  • Herberger’s
  • Meijer and Meijer.com
  • Pamida
  • School Specialty
  • Wayfair
  • Walmart and Walmart.com
  • Yonkers

Read more about the recall at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission‘s site here.

What you should do

Check any beanbag chairs in your house to see if this recall applies. If so:

  1. Take the chairs out of use. Put them in a place where no one can get to them.
  2. Contact Ace Bayou for a free repair kit. (You don’t need a receipt.) You can call the company at 855.571.8151 from 7 a.m to 3:30 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday. Or request the kit online here.
  3. When your kit arrives, grab a pair of household pliers and follow the instructions, which Ace Bayou says are easy to follow. When you’re done, the zippers won’t open or close.


The take-home message
This recall only applies only to a specific manufacturer. But any beanbag chair with zippers that open up to reveal the stuffing inside could be dangerous for little ones. If you have any chairs that work like this, they shouldn’t be used around children.