Here comes the sun

August 11th, 2014

Here Comes the Sun!

We wait for it all winter long and then there it is – that glorious sunshine! It literally and emotionally brightens our day. But we also need to be careful of its effects when we stay outside as the days get longer. Sunburn can be a bad side effect of soaking up those warm rays.

The first signs of a sunburn may not appear for a few hours. By the time the skin starts to become painful and red, the damage has already been done. The pain is worst between 6 and 48 hours after your exposure to the sun. In severe sunburns, your skin may blister.

If you have a sunburn you can try a few things at home to relieve the pain. Take a cool bath or shower or apply a cool, clean damp towel to your injured skin. Apply aloe vera or moisturizing lotion several times a day. Take over-the-counter pain reliever like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen.

The flip side is what not to put on your skin if you have sunburn. Don’t use petroleum jelly, butter, egg whites or other home remedies on your sunburned skin. They can actually prevent or delay healing.

If you or a loved one experience the following symptoms after sun exposure, call a healthcare provider immediately or go to your nearest emergency room:

  • fever or chills
  • shock
  • dehydration
  • confusion
  • nausea or vomiting
  • the sunburned person is a child under a year old
  • the burn has blisters or the skin appears white or is numb

Possible Complications

Soaking up the sun for extended periods of time can put you at risk for possible complications. If your skin blisters and the blisters rupture, you are at risk for bacterial infection. Also, you could be accelerating the aging process of your skin, a condition called Photoaging that can leave you with deep wrinkles, freckles, large brown lesions, fine red veins on your cheeks, nose and ears or even thinner, more translucent skin.

Other even more intense issues could include Actinic Keratoses, considered a precancerous condition that appears as rough scaly patches in sun-exposed areas, skin cancer and/or eye damage.

Prevention is the best way to be “sun safe”

We all want to enjoy the sunshine and have fun outside, so be sure to take preventative measures so that you can continue to enjoy it every day and not have any sun side effects.
Wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses to help protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Loose, lightweight shirts will also provide an appropriate amount of protection, but the most important item to wear is sunscreen.

The American Cancer Society encourages the “Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap” method to protecting you and your loved ones from the sun’s harmful rays:

  • Slip on a shirt – wear clothes to protect your skin
  • Slop on sunscreen – a palmful every two hours and more often if you are swimming or sweating
  • Slap on a hat – a wide brim hat is best to protect your ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp
  • Wrap on sunglasses – choose glasses that block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB radiation


With so many products on the shelf, how do you choose what’s best for you? While no sunscreen will block all UV rays, a broad-spectrum sunscreen which contains active chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients is a good choice. Broad spectrum sunscreens contain ingredients to protect against exposure to both UVB and UVA lights.

Read the Label
Look for three active ingredients when you’re selecting your sunscreen:

  1. Padimate O (Octyldimethyl PABA), Homosalate, Octisalate (Octyl salicylate), or Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate or OCM) for blocking UVB rays.
  2. Avobenzone (Parsol 1789) or Ecamsule (Mexoryl) for blocking UVA rays.
  3. Octocrylene, Titanium Dioxide, or Zinc Oxide for blocking both UVA and UVB rays.


The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:

  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays)
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater
  • Water resistance (up to 40 or 80 minutes)


When using sunscreen, one key thing to remember is that regardless of the SPF or whether its waterproof, it’s important to re-apply sunscreen every two hours to make sure the ingredients are still active. For more information, go to and search “sunscreen” and talk with your dermatologist about skin and sun safety.

Did you know?
Sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who regulates sunscreen safety and effectiveness and governs the manufacture and marketing of all sunscreen products including safety data.

Healing Waters: aquatic exercise

August 11th, 2014

Pool with noodle EDIT long

Healing Waters: Osteoarthritis and Aquatics

Joint pain. Stiffness. Less movement. An estimated 27 million Americans live with osteoarthritis (OA), a painful, degenerative joint disease primarily affecting your cartilage. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, it’s the most common type of arthritis and predominantly occurs in the knees, hips, hands, and spine.

Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over each other and helps absorb the shock of movement. With osteoarthritis, the top layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away, allowing bones under the cartilage to rub together, and often making the joint swell.

Many different factors are believed to play a role in whether or not you get osteoarthritis: genetics, age, obesity, injury or overuse.

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, several treatment options are available including exercise, weight control, physical therapy, non-drug pain relief techniques, bracing and medical equipment, prescription medicines, complementary and alternative therapies, and finally surgery.

Exercise is probably the most important thing each of us can do to maintain our health throughout our lifetime. But for people who have this disease, just moving a joint can be painful.

Telling a patient in pain to exercise doesn’t really put a smile on their face. That’s when aquatic therapy can help. Whether a patient requires surgery or not, this exercise can help a patient with limited mobility regain his or her strength without the added stress of weight or gravity. Harnett Health offers both aquatic therapy and aquatic exercise classes at Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn.

For patients who have had surgery or have significant limitations in range of motion, strength, or endurance, aquatic therapy may be an option. With aquatic therapy, a physical therapist works individually with the patient in the pool providing them with one-on-one instruction as part of their physical therapy program.

Aquatic exercise is a class environment without the direct supervision of a physical therapist but led by an aquatic exercise instructor. Bobbie Barbour who has been an aquatic exercise instructor with the hospital since 2005 says, “We have several different exercise routines for people who use this program. We customize the program to each person’s ability and the speed at which they are comfortable doing the routines. If they can only do three leg lifts with correct form, that’s three they didn’t do yesterday.”

Not only are range-of-motion exercises important but equally important is the cardiac workout. “We have a variety of water toys such as noodles, weights, dumbbells, and scoops to get your heart pumping,” says Bobbie. “When someone comes in here with a bad knee, they need to work on those muscles but they need to work on the most important one, too… their heart muscle.”

Aquatic exercise can help a person regain enough strength and mobility to eventually be successful with an exercise program out of the pool. Aquatic exercise classes are not usually covered by insurance, but the prices are very reasonable. A two-day per week program is less than forty dollars a month, and a three-day per week program is under fifty dollars a month. To participate, a physician’s clearance is required.

If you would like more information on Aquatic Exercise or Aquatic Therapy, please call Harnett Health’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Services Department at 910-892-1000 x4610.

Gluten-free – to be or not to be?

August 11th, 2014

What’s The Deal With Gluten?

Gluten-free products are getting lots of attention lately, and more and more gluten-free products are popping up on store shelves. Is gluten-free eating a fad diet or is there more to this gluten-free trend?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). It is found mainly in foods but may be in other products like medicines, vitamins and supplements, lip balm, and even the glue on stamps and envelopes.

Is gluten bad for you? For most people, not necessarily. But for people with Celiac Disease, gluten can be dangerous. Celiac Disease is an immune disease in which people can’t eat gluten because it triggers a serious autoimmune response in the digestive system, can damage the small intestine and keep it from absorbing nutrients. The disease affects each person in different ways. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. Irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children. Some people have no symptoms.

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), more than 2 million people in the U.S. have the disease. That equates to about 1 in 133 people. Celiac disease is genetic and is more common among people with other genetic disorders, including Down syndrome or Turner syndrome. Blood tests can help your doctor diagnose the disease. Your doctor may also need to examine a small piece of tissue from your small intestine. Treatment is a diet free of gluten.

People may think that gluten-free automatically means the food is good for you. That is not always the case. To make gluten-free food taste good, the ingredients used may not be healthy alternatives. Be sure to carefully read gluten-free product labels.


Eating Gluten-Free
If you are gluten intolerant or just want to give gluten-free eating a try, check out these gluten-free tips and foods.

Eating From Home

1. When starting a gluten-free diet don’t automatically run to the store in search of gluten-free products. Take a look at the food in your home. Many items may already be gluten-free.

2. Plan your meals and snacks in advance.

3. Make a shopping list to help you stay focused on gluten-free foods.

4. Think about how to prepare the food ahead of time to avoid contaminating your food with gluten, especially if other members of your household eat foods that contain gluten.

Eating Out

1. Visit a restaurant’s website to review the menu; you may find a gluten-free section.

2. Call the restaurant manager or chef to ask about preparing gluten-free options.

3. Identify yourself to the waitstaff as a person who cannot eat gluten.

4. Ask about ingredients and how the food is prepared.

Gluten-Free Foods

More and more brands are hitting the shelves with gluten-free products, but remember that there are lots of naturally gluten-free foods too.

  • Dark leafy greens and crunchy vegetables: artichokes, peas, sweet corn, potatoes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, turnip greens, green beans
  • Gluten-free grains and flours: amaranth, brown rice, or buckwheat
  • Legumes: lentils, beans, pinto, garbanzo/chick peas, kidney, navy, white, or soy
  • Seeds and nuts: flax seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds with skins, pecans, pumpkin, walnuts, pistachio, hazelnut
  • Oranges, grapefruit, apples, bananas
  • Fresh berries with skins and seeds: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  • Fresh beef, pork, poultry, fish and eggs


Having the support of friends and family members may help as you adjust to your new eating habits. And, as always, consult your doctor before making major changes to your diet. 

Dunn Medical Services receives Patient-Centered Medical Home Certification

February 15th, 2013


Harnett Health is proud to announce that our four primary care practices have earned a Level III Designation as a Patient Centered Medical Home and are currently the only facilities in our county with this designation. Being a Patient Centered Medical Home means we are committed to your total well-being by providing comprehensive, continuous medical care. It means building a lasting partnership with you so that together, we can care for your health today and help prevent illnesses tomorrow.

Could you have diabetes?

February 15th, 2013

Vidette Cooper, MD – (Internal Medicine)

If you want to understand diabetes, it’s important to understand the way food is broken down and used by the body for energy.  When you eat, a sugar called glucose enters your bloodstream. Glucose fuels your body and gives you energy.  Your pancreas makes insulin. Insulin’s job is to move that glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into your muscle, fat, and liver cells, where it can be used as fuel. People with diabetes have high blood sugar because their body can’t move that sugar where it’s supposed to go, either because their pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or they are insulin resistant.

There are three types of diabetes:  Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes.While Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age, it’s usually diagnosed in children, teens, or young adults. In this disease, the body makes little or no insulin, so the diabetic has to give himself daily injections of insulin. The exact cause of Type 1 diabetes is unknown.


Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. Historically, it has occurred in adults, but because of increasing obesity rates, teens and young adults are now being diagnosed with it.  Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes only pregnant women get, and it can affect the health of both mom and baby.  It usually goes away after the mother gives birth.

You may be at risk for Type 2 diabetes if you fall into any of these categories:

  • People over age 45
  • People with a family history of diabetes
  • People who are overweight
  • People who do not exercise regularly
  • People with low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, high blood pressure
  • Certain racial and ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives
  • Women who had gestational diabetes, or who have had a baby weighing nine pounds or more at birth


Common symptoms of diabetes are blurry vision, excessive thirst, fatigue, hunger, frequent urination and weight loss.  If you are experiencing any or all of these, I strongly suggest you pay a visit to your family practitioner.  If left untreated, diabetes can cause blindness, skin problems that can lead to gangrene, kidney disease and heart disease.

Treatments for diabetes include healthy eating, physical activity, and medications (oral and/or insulin injections). While there is no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes, you can reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by keeping a normal body weight and an active lifestyle.