9 out of 10 heavy drinkers don’t have alcoholism, says CDC

Dec. 15, 2014—Is drinking alcohol a health concern even among those who don’t experience alcoholism? Many people who engage in excessive drinking are not actually dependent on alcohol, suggests a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite not displaying signs and symptoms of alcoholism, these adults can still experience many negative health effects from drinking too much.

Apart from nonfatal health problems, CDC statistics show excessive drinking is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the United States every year.

About the study

CDC experts analyzed data for the 138,100 adults who completed the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The survey, which is nationally representative of U.S. residents, assessed drinking patterns as well as characteristics of alcohol dependence.

Nine out of 10 people who drink excessively—defined as women who weekly consume 8 or more drinks and men who weekly consume 15 or more drinks—did not meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.

Additional findings showed that:

  • Excessive drinking, binge drinking and alcohol dependence were most common among men and people of both sexes ages 18 to 24.
  • Binge drinking—defined as 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one occasion—was most common among those with annual family incomes of $75,000 or more.
  • Alcohol dependence was most common among those with annual family incomes of $25,000 or less.
  • Binge drinking was related to alcohol dependency: 10.5 percent of those who engage in binge drinking are alcohol-dependent, compared to 1.3 percent of those who do not binge drink. And 10.2 percent of people who drink excessively are alcohol-dependent.

The results, which can be read in Preventing Chronic Disease, highlight the need for increased screening and public health interventions to reduce excessive drinking.

The take-home message
Even adults who aren’t alcohol-dependent can put their health at risk by drinking too much. In the short term, excessive alcohol use can increase the likelihood of car crashes and injuries, alcohol poisoning, and risky sexual behavior. In the long term, drinking too much can lead to serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease and depression.

Overall, CDC estimates nearly 100,000 alcohol-related deaths occur each year in the United States. However, you can help to reduce alcohol’s negative effects by not drinking too much. To prevent excessive alcohol use:

  • Assess your drinking. Choose not to drink too much yourself. Help others do the same.
  • Don’t serve or provide alcohol to those who shouldn’t be drinking, like children and teens, as well as adults who have already had too much alcohol.
  • Discuss your drinking behavior with your doctor. If you think that you drink too much, ask for help.

To learn more about the definitions of excessive drinking—and its effect on health—check out this infographic.


Coping with grief at the holidays

The holidays are coming around, and while they are a time of joy and celebration for many, they can be especially difficult for anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. There are some steps a grieving person can take to make the burden a little easier. Memorial Chaplain Laurie Oswalt and Julie Cicero of Memorial Home Health and Hospice offered tips for coping with grief and loss at the holiday season Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, on KIT 1280.

  • Be honest with yourself and with others about what you’re feeling, about what you’re able to do and what you don’t feel like doing for yourself and for others.
    • Example: You think you should “be strong” and go to the holiday party. Your friend helps by giving you a ride, but once you’re there, you realize it’s not the best place for you and you’re stuck somewhere you’re not ready to be.
  • Traditions – Don’t feel like you have to have the holidays be the same as always out of respect for your lost loved one. Maybe it’s a year to simplify or make new traditions, out of respect for that person and those who are still here.
    • The flip side of that: people who want to throw everything out and start all new traditions, believing they are “ready to start fresh.” Often, they later wish they had held on to some things. Keeping some traditions may honor your lost loved one.

There also are a few things caregivers should keep in mind about grieving people.


  • Remember: Every person grieves differently, and at a different pace.
  • Manage your expectations.
    • Talk openly and honestly about what the grieving person would like.
    • Help that person with his or her own expectations and traditions.

Example: “How can I help you and also protect you from others who are eager to help you?”


A study once listed the 141 things we say to try to be helpful when someone loses a loved one, but it found that only 19 of those things are actually helpful.

  • Comments to avoid:

“I know just how you feel.” No, you don’t.

“He’s in a better place.” He’s not here.


  • Comments that might help:

“I have no idea what to say.” It’s honest.

“Do you want to talk about it?” You’re open to listening. Be prepared if the answer is no.

Say nothing. Give a hug, if it’s appropriate.


Sometimes, in wanting to help, we’re not particularly helpful. People rarely reach out to someone who says “Let me know if I can help.”

But, you could say, “I’m going to walk my dog, and I’ll walk your dog too.”

Or, “I’m going to bring you food. Is there something you don’t eat?”


I often tell people who are grieving to keep a pad and pen nearby, to jot down simple things they need as they think of them. So when someone asks if there’s anything they can do, they’re ready: “I’m out of milk.”


Frequently asked questions:


Are there bereavement services available in Yakima?

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital offers a variety of classes and services on many diseases and medical challenges that are faced by our community, including bereavement services to help you cope with the loss of a loved one. In addition, Memorial’s “Can We Talk?” monthly speaker series focuses on end-of-life issues, from palliative care and hospice to grief and loss.


How do I find out more?

For more information about the “Can We Talk?” monthly speaker series or other bereavement services at Memorial, visit our website at yakimamemorial.org or call 575-8035.






Signs point to fierce flu season, experts say

Dec. 11, 2014—The 2014–15 flu season is just getting underway, and experts say it could be more severe than usual. That makes vaccinations and other flu-fighting measures particularly important this year.

“We continue to recommend flu vaccine as the single best way to protect yourself against the flu,” said Tom Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One reason for concern is that the most common flu strain found so far this year is a type called influenza A H3N2. Often, when these types of viruses lead the way, flu-related hospitalizations and deaths go up, according to CDC.

In addition, about half of the H3N2 viruses analyzed so far have changed—or drifted—to the point that the vaccine available this year is not entirely effective against it.

But that’s no reason to avoid the flu shot or nasal spray vaccine, experts say. For one thing, the vaccine is designed to protect against 3 or 4 different flu viruses. Even if H3N2 protection is less than ideal, the vaccine still helps prevent illnesses caused by other flu strains.

If vaccination doesn’t prevent the flu altogether, it still may help lessen the severity of the illness, even for those who get the H3N2 variety.

Second line of defense

While vaccines help prevent the flu, antiviral medicines are available to help people who do become infected. These drugs can shorten the duration of the illness and limit its severity, according to CDC.

Antiviral medication can be especially helpful for those at highest risk for flu complications. That includes young children; people 65 and older; and those with ongoing health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes.

These drugs are most effective when given within 48 hours of getting sick. If you think you may have the flu, call your doctor right away. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills, and fatigue.
The take-home message

During National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 7 through 13, CDC is reminding people there is still time to get a flu shot or nasal spray. But there is more you can do to protect yourself—and others—from the flu. For instance:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. And stay home and away from others if you get sick.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Wash your hands often. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth unless your hands are clean.
Disinfect surfaces that may harbor germs at home, work or school.
Get plenty or rest and exercise, and eat nutritious food to stay in good health.

More than 1 in 5 teens still use tobacco, says CDC

Dec. 10, 2014—Cigarette smoking among teens has decreased in recent years, but tobacco still remains a problem among American youth. In fact, new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that use of some noncigarette tobacco products has increased. Overall, an estimated 5.6 million kids are at risk for dying prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

About the study

CDC analyzed data from the 2013 Youth Tobacco Survey, a cross-sectional, self-administered questionnaire given to over 18,000 middle and high school students. In the survey, nearly 23 percent of high school students and 7 percent of middle school students reported using a tobacco product within the last 30 days. Nearly half of all high school students and 17 percent of middle school students say they’ve used a tobacco product within their lifetime.

Combustible tobacco products were noted as the most popular among youths, including use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs. Almost 5 percent of high schoolers and slightly more than 1 percent of middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes within the last 30 days.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 1/3 of youth who continue smoking into adulthood will die about 13 years earlier than their nonsmoking peers. The findings suggest that continued efforts—such as youth-focused media campaigns and higher product pricing—are needed to discourage tobacco use among tweens and teens to protect their health into adulthood.

Learn more about the data in the Morbitity and Mortality Weekly Report from CDC.

The take-home message
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in America, according to CDC. And though most young people believe that they’ll be able to quit smoking, CDC estimates roughly 3 out of 4 high school smokers will continue smoking into adulthood.

Parents play an important role in helping children make healthy choices about tobacco use. Here’s what you can do to help yours:

  • Share the facts. Talk with your child about the health effects associated with tobacco use and how difficult it is to quit using tobacco once you’ve started.
  • State your expectations. Make it clear that tobacco use is not acceptable.
  • Offer help. If your child is already using tobacco, help him or her quit.
  • Maintain awareness. Know what your child is doing and with whom he or she spends time.
  • Work with others. Network with other parents to help your kids refuse tobacco. Encourage your child’s school to enforce tobacco-free policies for students, faculty and staff.
  • Set a good example. Avoid using tobacco. If you use tobacco, there are many tips that can help you quit.


Do you wear contacts? Keep your eyes protected from this infection

Dec. 9, 2014—Eye infections are responsible for at least a million doctor visits every year in the United States, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed. The culprit? Most of those infections are related to improper care and use of contact lenses.

Researchers reported that, in 2010, Americans made an estimated 930,000 trips to doctors’ offices and another 58,000 to outpatient clinics and emergency rooms because of an eye infection called keratitis. It occurs when bacteria and other germs invade the cornea—the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye.

About the study

For the study, researchers analyzed national databases of visits to doctors’ offices, outpatient clinics and emergency rooms. That data allowed them to estimate—for the first time—how widespread keratitis is nationwide.

Most people developed keratitis after using or storing contact lenses improperly—for example, when they wear their contacts overnight or don’t replace storage cases often enough.

Their research also revealed that:

  • Women were slightly more prone to keratitis than men were.
  • Keratitis occurs in relatively equal percentages across all age groups.

In severe cases, this painful infection can cause vision loss or blindness. But when treated early, most cases can be easily managed without the risk of serious complications, CDC reported. Along with eye pain, symptoms include eye redness, tearing, swelling around the eye, blurry vision, sensitivity to light and a feeling that something is in the eye.

The study appeared in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The take-home message
If you’re one of the roughly 38 million Americans who wear contact lenses, you can protect yourself from keratitis by following these tips from CDC and the Academy of Ophthalmology.

When handling, cleaning and wearing contacts:

Wash your hands. Always wash your hands with soap and water before touching contacts. Then dry your hands with a clean, lint-free towel.

Use solution. Rub and rinse contacts with contact lens disinfecting solution—never water—every time you remove them. And only use a solution advised by your eye-care professional.

Take care in water. Don’t shower when wearing your contacts, and take them out before swimming or using a hot tub.

Don’t sleep in them. Not unless an eye-care professional tells you it’s OK.

Keep your glasses close by. Always carry a backup pair of glasses with a current prescription in case you need to remove your contacts.

You should also remember to:

  • Always rub and rinse the case with contact lens solution after each use. Then dry it with a clean tissue and store it upside-down with the caps off.
  • Never store contacts in water or mix solution with water. Only use fresh contact lens solution.
  • Follow your eye-care professional’s advice for replacing your contacts.
  • Replace your contact lens case at least every 3 months.

Visit your eye care professional yearly—or as often as he or she advises. While there, ask how to care for your contacts and supplies.

Remove your contacts right away and call your eye-care professional if you have eye pain, discomfort, redness or vision problems.


Mariachi at Cottage

Apple Valley Dental 'OhanaJuan, a Cottage patient stated as his profession, “Mariachi Band member.” Apparently his gift of music and entertainment was passed on to his family. In celebration of him and his work, 40 plus family members gathered at the Cottage and listened to the next generation of Mariachi musicians. Children, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings all gathered around their loved one in the Great Room at the Cottage in the Meadow to share their precious last moments with Juan.


It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine

Dec. 8, 2014—Typically, the number of Americans who get vaccinated against the flu decreases after November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. However, the flu season usually doesn’t peak until sometime between December and February. And the flu can still be a significant threat as late as May. So the time for getting your vaccine hasn’t run out.

The flu vaccine is still effective for those who get it in December—or later, if the flu is still circulating. That’s the CDC public health message for this National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 7 through 13.

A potentially deadly disease

Chances are you know that the flu can make you fatigued, feverish, achy and miserable. But it also has the potential to cause potentially life-threatening complications, including pneumonia.

In fact, more than 200,000 people nationwide are hospitalized every year because of complications from the flu, according to CDC, and those complications are often deadly.

The best protection against this contagious, potentially life-threatening virus is a yearly flu vaccine, which CDC advises for everyone 6 months and older.

The vaccine is especially important for anyone at risk of severe complications. These include:

  • Young children
  • Adults 65 and older
  • People with chronic health problems, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart or lung disease

It’s also crucial to be vaccinated if you care for anyone at high risk of flu complications, such as babies younger than 6 months who aren’t yet old enough for the vaccine.

The vaccine has a very good safety track record, according to CDC. If side effects occur at all, they are usually mild and temporary.

The take-home message
National Influenza Vaccination Week is a reminder to make sure you and your loved ones are protected against the flu.

You may be able to choose between 2 types of vaccine: a flu shot and a nasal spray.

There are flu shots available for most people age 6 months or older.

The spray is approved for most people between 2 and 49 years old, except pregnant women.

Get the full CDC guidelines here.

Healthy children ages 2 through 8 should be vaccinated with the nasal spray wherever it’s available—if it’s not, they should get the shot instead.

Some children may need 2 doses of the flu vaccine. If you’re a parent, ask your child’s doctor if a second dose is necessary.

According to CDC, most health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine.

The vaccine benefits all age groups. Use the infographic below to find out how. And consider taking CDC’s vaccination pledge to protect yourself—and your family.

Infographic: Flu Vaccine Benefits


Angels at Cottage in the Meadow

Angels at Cottage in the Meadow

Thoughts from 2701…..

“People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

We have a celebrity angel among us.  Her name is Tinker and she can be found at Cottage in the Meadow Hospice Care Center.  Tinker breezes in to the Cottage a few times each week to keep her fingers limber playing the piano and singing.  Her husband received hospice care before he passed away, and Tinker says she felt so blessed by that experience, that playing music for the residents at the Cottage is her way to give back.

To tell Tinker’s story, we need to step back to another time….another era.  It was 1944, and 18 year old Tinker sang as part of a quartet at the University of North Texas.  The satin smooth harmonies of the four vocalists soon won them a contest called “College Capers” that was sponsored by Interstate Theatres, which entitled the quartet to do a weekly radio show in Dallas, as well as a nine-week USO tour.  Then the group got their big break in 1945 when a Billboard reporter heard the “Swingtet” as the girls called themselves, and he sent a record to Vaughn Monroe, who at that time was the leader of one of the most successful big bands in the nation.  He promptly hired the girls, and in keeping with Monroe’s theme song “Racing with the Moon,” he changed their name to the “Moonmaids.”

Tinker sang with Vaughn Monroe until 1950, performing often at the Commodore Hotel in New York City.  The band journeyed every day to different cities up and down the East Coast to perform.  Tinker made 78 records with Vaughn, and was even in the movie “Carnegie Hall” in 1947 after only six months with the band.

“I have led a charmed life,” says Tinker.  “I have had a wonderful time doing what I loved to do and getting paid for it!”  In 1950, Tinker left the band to go back to college but met her husband, a Dr. Pepper executive, instead.  They were married in 1951 and have two daughters.

After her husband passed away, Tinker moved to Yakima in 2009 to be near her children.  And it seems that her life has come full circle.  Sitting with her in the Cottage in the Meadow family room, Tinker shares her scrap books and photographs from the big band era, recalling in great detail her “charmed life,” humming tunes when she talks about a particular song title.  Then, she makes her way to the piano to play and sing those songs, and her music floats through the air to soothe others who are at a distinct point in their life’s journey.  And one has to wonder if they think, “I hear an angel among us.”

True beauty is revealed.

Leslie Whiteside, Grants Coordinator


Apple Valley Dental donates $850 to ‘Ohana

During the month of October, Apply Valley Dental donated $1 for every child who wore pink bands on their braces and $1 for every child who had a tooth sealant procedure – which means $850 was raised to help anyone in need of financial assistance with either their mammogram, breast ultrasound or biopsy at ‘Ohana.

We are so thankful for your support and so are the many women that will now have access to the services at ‘Ohana!

Do you need a mammogram or know someone who does? For more information or to schedule a screening click here.

Keep Support LocalApple Valley Dental 'Ohana