Some conditions affect women more than men

Just as breast cancer is more likely to affect women than men, there are several other health issues and conditions which impact the genders differently.

The impact and prevalence of alcohol abuse, for example, can be different in men and women. Men are more likely to become addicted to alcohol, but the health affects of alcohol abuse are more serious in women. These effects include an increased risk for breast cancer, heart disease and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Similarly, women are more likely to die following a heart attack than men despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States.

Women are also more likely to show signs of depression and anxiety than men. Depression  is the most common health problem for women, and they receive the diagnosis at higher levels than men. The same is true of osteoarthritis.

Even STDs can be more serious for women than men. Untreated STDs cause infertility in at least 24,000 American women every year – and they are untreated more often in women because symptoms are less obvious.

And though most risk factors for strokes apply to both men and women, there are several gender-specific risk factors that affect women. Because of this, there are actually more women who suffer from strokes than men. Factors for women, but not men, include taking birth control pills or being pregnant.

With all this considered, it is perhaps understandable that – according to a survey by the American Psychological Association – half of all women reported experiencing stress. These numbers were also higher than those reported by men, only 39% of which reported feeling stress.

Regardless of statistics, however, it is important for both women and men to do what they can to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A major part of that is a healthy diet and regular exercise, as well as regular checkups with a family doctor. To find out how SOMC can help you in those departments, visit

SOMC provides $1,000 scholarship to Clay graduate

Clay High School graduate Mary E. Shelby is the latest recipient of the Clay School Legacy Fund Scholarship, sponsored by Southern Ohio Medical Center. The scholarship was for $1,000. Shelby, who currently studies nursing at Shawnee State University, is pictured here alongside Clay Alumni Association Treasurer Charles T. Leonard (left) and SOMC Director of Financial Services and Business Development Craig Gilliland.

Understanding risk factors of breast cancer

It’s hard not to notice the pink ribbons, parades and celebrations that fill the month of October. As Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues to grow, however, it’s important not to lose track of the issue at the heart of it all – awareness.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and their second leading cause of death. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life – that’s more than 220,000 women in the United States alone. And, while it is rare, breast cancer can occur in men as well.

That’s why it is so important to understand the various risk factors associated with breast cancer. Some, such as family history, are unavoidable. Others, however, are under your control.

These factors include:

  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Frequent consumption of alcohol
  • Receiving combined hormone replacement therapy
  • Receiving radiation to the chest

Limiting these factors is one way to decrease your odds of being diagnosed with breast cancer. For more information, or to find out how you can help spread awareness, visit

Everyday ways to fight the flu

Everyone knows that the best way to fight the flu is by being vaccinated, but there are other things you can do in your everyday life to keep you protected.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that, in addition to your vaccine, you:

•  Try to avoid close contact with sick people

•  Stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone if you or your child become ill with flu-like symptoms.

•  Limit contact with others as much as possible while sick

•  Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – and throw the tissue in the trash afterwards!

•  Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. This can spread germs.

•  Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs

•  Look out for additional public health advice if an outbreak of flu or other illness occurs

You should also ask your employer about their plans in the event of an outbreak. Find out if flu vaccinations are being offered on-site, and make sure you have an adequate supply of tissues, soaps, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs and disposable wipes. You should also consider training others to do your job in case an illness forces you to stay home.

And of course, if you begin to feel sick while at work you should go home as soon as possible. These same steps can apply to your child while at school.

Everyday actions can help slow the spread of germs. Following these steps are an excellent way to reduce your odds of getting the flu this year.

How to prepare for flu season

Flu seasons are unpredictable. Its timing, severity and length can vary from year to year. Even the virus itself can change, with each year bringing a new strain of the flu.

But even with these variables, there are several things that you can keep in mind to help you better prepare.

The peak of flu season most commonly falls in January or February, though is can occur as early as October or as late as May. Whenever it comes, you can make sure you’re protected by receiving a flu vaccine as soon as possible. Being vaccinated in October is the best strategy. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection.

Children between the ages of six months and eight years may need two doses of the flu vaccine. Your child’s healthcare provider can tell you whether or not that is the case for your child.

In addition to vaccinations, you can also prevent the spread of the flu by washing your hands and avoiding unnecessary interactions with people who are ill. If you fall ill yourself, you should stay home from work or school to prevent the spread of germs.

This is especially important if you have contact with a child under the age of six months. Those children are too young for a flu vaccine, but are still at higher risk of serious flu complications.

No more excuses, you need to get a flu shot

After being given to hundreds of millions of people for more than 50 years, the verdict is in: the flu vaccine is safe, effective and necessary.

Influenza (the flu) is a contagious disease that can lead to serious illness – especially for pregnant women, young children, older people and people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart disease. Being vaccinated is not only important for your own health, but it protects those around you by limiting the spread of the flu.

The most common side effects of the flu vaccine are mild. While some may mistake these side effects as the flu, it is literally impossible for the flu vaccine to cause influenza. Common side effects that may be mistaken for the flu include feeling achy or experiencing soreness in the arm where the shot was given. If you receive a nasal spray vaccine, you may have a stuffy nose and sore throat.

If you happen to experience any of these side effects, they typically last only one or two days. The same cannot be said for the actual flu.

To maximize the effectiveness of the flu vaccine, you should receive your vaccination before the flu begins to spread in your community. That’s because it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to provide full protection. If you wait too late, it’s possible you will not be fully protected when the flu begins to circulate.

SOMC opening West Union facility on September 28

Southern Ohio Medical Center will be having an open house for their newest facility, the SOMC West Union Family Health Center, on September 28th.

Located at 90 CIC Boulevard in West Union, the facility will house the primary care practice of Drs. John and Angela Shupert, plus feature same-day sick appointments and evening and weekend hours. It will also provide services such as pharmacy, labs and medical imaging.

The September 28th open house will last from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Those in attendance will be able to meet the staff and tour the facility. There will be light refreshments and children’s activities, as well as an official ribbon cutting at 1:00 p.m.

For more information, visit or like SOMC on Facebook at

Packing your child a healthy lunch

Studies have shown that children who eat a well-balanced lunch often do better in school and are more alert. So if you’re a parent who packs their child’s lunch, how do you make sure they’re getting the most out of it? Try these:

First, buy your child a lunchbox that is age appropriate and fits their personality. Make it something fun. They may be more apt to enjoy their lunch if it’s all about them.

Second, remember that you’re not packing a lunch for you. You’re packing a lunch for your child. If you pack things you like but your child hates (like broccoli), you’ll find those foods still sitting in that lunchbox when it comes back home. Offer your child a few healthy choices and let them weigh in on what they want. This way, you can give them a healthy lunch while still letting them feel like they’re in control.

Avoid pre-packaged, processed foods. Sure, they’re convenient and their sizes are kid-friendly, but they’re also expensive and loaded with sodium and preservatives.

Protein will keep your child fuller longer, so make sure it’s a staple of their lunch. If they’re not a fan of meat, you can still give them protein in nuts (as long as there are no allergy concerns). Peanut butter is an excellent option. You could also include a hard-boiled egg or make a tuna salad.

Leftovers can offer a nice change of pace, and give you an opportunity to take a little taste of home with them to the lunchroom. Pack leftover meatballs into a whole-grain hotdog bun for a sandwich. Mix leftover rice and vegetables and top with chunks of pork or chicken.

Instead of chips, try packing something healthier like cheese sticks, whole-grain snack crackers, dried fruit or low-fat yogurt.

But no matter what you pack, make sure its packing keeps it safe. Invest in a reusable ice pack to keep perishables cool, a thermos to hold warm foods and a variety of different sized containers.

Avoiding the “back-to-school” germs

When school starts, it’s not just homework that young students can bring home. They can also bring germs and disease.

School-aged children average five or six colds a year, whereas adolescents average approximately four. Part of that is because of how easily germs can be spread through a school. Touching an object that has been contaminated, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth is a quick way that many children end up sick. The spread of germs can be avoided, however, by following a few simple tips.

First and foremost, make sure you practice good hand hygiene. Simply washing your hands is the most effective way to prevent the spread of colds, the flu and viruses. You should wash your hands after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, handling trash, touching animals and prior to touching food. Just 20 seconds of soap and water can wash away most germs, and using alcohol-based hand cleaners can also work.

Consider buying an alcohol-based hand cleanser for your child’s classroom – it could be put right next to the tissue box. For college students, pack some Clorox wipes so they can wipe bathroom surfaces quickly.

Boosting your immune system can also increase your resistance to illness. Poor nutrition and not getting enough rest – common problems, especially for college students – can weaken your immune system. Instead, eat fruits and vegetables and make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Exercise is also good for your immune system. It will reduce anxiety, stress and help you sleep better. It also gives you a higher energy level, which promotes better concentration.

And finally, stay home if you’re sick. Taking the day off is not only important for your own recovery, but it can prevent the spread of disease and keep your classmates from falling sick as well. A rule of thumb is to stay home until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours.