Intimate Partner Violence: Love Shouldn’t Hurt

By Shon Mack and Senequa Malone | Interns and UAB Community Health and Human Services Students

Image credit Unknown, Graphics by Shayna Bryan

(This article is based on a discussion from WWL’s Monday Night Wellness Watch You can watch a recording of that livestream in the video player below, or on our YouTube page by clicking this link.)


Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.

IPV can take many forms. Some are more overt, such as physical violence, others are subtle like verbal, mental, emotional abuse, or other forms. Always, the goal is to control the victim through manipulation.

What are the warning signs?

            Aggressive behavior, controlling, manipulation, isolation, talking down or belittling, frequent bouts of jealousy are all common signs of an abusive relationship. The cycle of abuse ebbs and flows. Love bombing occurs when the abuser overwhelms their victim with loving words, actions, and behavior as a manipulation technique. This often acts as an apology for the abuse, maybe following an incident where the victim threatens to leave. Once the victim is convinced, or guilted, into staying the abuse resumes and may escalate.

Who are the victims?

            Anyone can be a victim of intimate partner violence. Women are more common in IPV cases, but men suffer as well and are often forgotten or disregarded. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 women 1 out of 4 men become victims. In Alabama, 37.5% of women and 29.5% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking in their lifetimes. Every case is different, and victims may have one or several of these indicators in common.

What are some of causes?

            Main cause is poor upbringing. Children growing up in households that normalize abuse. Research points to many causes of domestic violence, but all these causes and risk factors have one underlying commonality: the abuser feels the need to exert complete control over his or her partner. Some studies indicate that a cause of domestic violence stems from an intersection of both environmental and individual factors.

Who are the perpetrators?

  • Toxic – People who are full of toxicity
  • Hurt – People who are dealing with hurt
    • “Hurt people, hurt people”, people who have been hurt themselves can lash out to hurt others as a destructive way of dealing with their own pain
  • Broken – People who suffer from insecurities, low self-esteem
  • Learned – People who come from generations of abuse and repeat the abusive behaviors their learned from their family

Why do people stay?

Most people stay in abusive relationships due to a combination of love and fear. They love the person; believe they can change the person. Change comes from within. Loving an abusive person will not make them stop being abusive, they need to acknowledge their behavior and want to change before they are able. It is of utmost importance to understand it is no one’s responsibility to change the abuser. You do not owe them.

However, the number one reason people stay in abusive relationships is fear. People who are in these relationships have often been manipulated into believing it is normal, they deserve it, and/or that they cannot function on their own. They fear life on their own. They feel that no one will want them. For some, the abusive situation might be better than where they came from prior.

Unfortunately, ending an abusive relationship is not as simple as the victim choosing to leave; it is often a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser. Finance can play a major role as well and situations are more complex when children or assets are involved.

How can you escape an abusive relationship?

There are many dedicated experts and volunteers out there to help victims of abuse escape their situation. Contacting the Crisis Center, National Domestic Violence Hotline, and/or other local and national services is a good first step. Here is a list of common steps to take when leaving a domestic violence situation:

  • Create a safety plan
  • Have options where you can go (have a few in mind)
  • Have a bank account or credit card put in your name
  • Get a new cell phone
  • Change the locks, get a security system and outside lights
  • Think of ways to get your children to safety without being obvious
  • You can also think of excuses on how to get out of the house as mentioned earlier

If you do not feel safe researching or accessing online resources in your home, the public library is a great resource and a safe place where your activity cannot be tracked.

Love:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Local resources:

National Resources:


Citations:

Lamothe, C. (2019, December 17). Love bombing: 10 signs to know. Healthline. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/love-bombing. 

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2020). Domestic violence in Alabama. Retrieved from http://www.ncadv.org/files/Alabama.pdf

Statistics. NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/statistics. 

Warning signs of abuse. The Hotline. (2021, June 15). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/domestic-abuse-warning-signs/. 

Why Do Victims Stay? NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://ncadv.org/why-do-victims-stay. 


Salmon and Vitamin D

By Jaelyn Copeland, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Photo by Christina Voinova on Pexels.com

Did you know Salmon is packed with Vitamin D?

Vitamin D insufficiency in both infants and adults is now recognized as a global issue. Both children and adults avoid sun exposure or use sun protection because of concerns about skin cancer, putting them at high risk for vitamin D insufficiency. As a result, diet or supplementation are their only sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is fortified in milk, some orange juices, and some breads, yogurts, and cheeses in the United States. Vitamin D2 is present in varying levels in irradiated mushrooms. Vitamin D is naturally contained in the flesh of oily fish. Salmon is recommended based on the dietary tables. It has been suggested that dietary sources of vitamin D, rather than sun exposure, should be the primary supply of the vitamin.

Milk is the most common fortified dietary source of vitamin D, though it typically does not contain at least 80% of what is stated on the label. Fish, particularly oily fish like salmon and mackerel, has long been regarded as a good source of vitamin D. The influence of various cooking procedures on the vitamin D content of fish is poorly understood. A study determined the vitamin D content of various fish species, as well as the influence of baking and frying on vitamin D content. Give baked salmon a try!


Source:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Office of dietary supplements – vitamin d. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved September 30, 2021, from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-health%20Professional/.


Swollen Balls: Say It Ain’t So?

By Flora Johnson, M.Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

Image from Alex Green | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Question of the Day

A 23-year-old male is referred for treatment due to swollen testicles. He explains that the reaction occurred after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. What is the best response?

  1. Laugh at the gentleman and dismiss his claim.
  2. Report on the condition to the local county health department immediately.
  3. Thank them for their honesty and let everyone know why not get vaccinated.
  4. Assure it is scientifically impossible and offer evidence-based reasons for testicle swelling.

Continue reading for the answer.


Vax Facts

A reasonable amount of blame has been placed upon the COVID-19 pandemic. Shoveling our woes on the virus is not uncommon. Sure, the virus has caused major and minor disruptions. However, the coronavirus vax jab facts remain the same – it is safe for medical use with little to no known major medical disruptions.

COMRINATY is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for injection use in individuals age 16 and older. The known side effects are mild and include injection site pain, redness, and/or swelling. Chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and tiredness are also side effects experienced throughout the body.

These side effects occur within two days. This is normal and will go away within a few days. It is 95% effective at preventing infection or death.

My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.

-Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ)

The Thing Is

Recording artist, Grammy winner, and actress, Nicki Minaj stirred controversy for her vaccine hesitancy perception. The star explained that their Trinidadian cousin’s best friend’s testicles swelled after receiving a vax jab. He allegedly experienced impotence.

Whoa! Let’s fact-check this. The Messenger’s message has a resounding magnitude – one that matters.

Nicki was uninvited to the Met Gala for non-vaccination. She had unanswered COVID-19 questions and refused to take the shot. Her primary concern was valid. However, the controversy caused chaos in Trinidad and abroad. An opportunity to express her vaccine hesitancy concerns with Dr. Fauci, the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and leading COVID-19 physician advisor to the United States, during a live-streamed phone call resulted.

As we stand now, there is no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or I dare say… none that we know of anywhere else in the world.

Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh

Question of the Day Answer

D. Assure it is scientifically impossible and offer evidence-based reasons for testicle swelling. There are no identified reproductive side effects. Possible reasoning for scrotal swelling is the following:

  • Trauma that causes inflammation
  • Testicular cancer
  • STIs (chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis)

Take Away This

While the coronavirus vaccines were developed rapidly, they are safe. They reduce viral transmissions and can keep you from getting seriously ill if infected. All side effects are mild and are experienced at the injection site or throughout the body. The vaccine does not disturb the reproductive system.

If I want to ask questions about the vaccine, what’s wrong?”

– Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions. However, be certain the information you find is credible. Click here to learn the vax jab facts and where to find other plausible wellness resources.


Use this image to share the message on social media!

Sources and Further Reading:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Benefits of getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/vaccine-benefits.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Pfizer-biontech COVID-19 vaccine overview and Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/Pfizer-BioNTech.html.

Cohen, L. (2021, September 16). White House offers Nicki Minaj a call after she expressed COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, official says. CBS News. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nicki-minaj-white-house-call-covid-vaccine-hesitancy/.

Kahn, A., & Fisher, J. K. (2019, July 2). What you need to know about scrotal swelling. Healthline. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/scrotal-swelling#causes.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Niaid director. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Retrieved October 6, 2021, from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/director.


Rethinking that Ugly Four-Letter Word: DIET (Part 2)

By Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Images from Magda Elhers and Caleb Oquendo | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Eat a balanced variety, enough of the good stuff, not too much of the other stuff. If the principles of a healthy diet are so simple, why do so many dieters fail? Maybe our perspective is to blame.

As discussed previously, your diet is everything you eat over your entire life, so changing your diet is more akin to changing your lifestyle. The best diet is one you can stick to; one that embraces the rhythms and changes of life. The most restrictive diets demand total compliance and encourage a cult-like devotion. These severe restrictions, such as those that eliminate whole categories of food, make it harder to comply and easier to give up. It sets us up for failure. While someone can give up tobacco or alcohol, we still have to eat every day of our lives.

Small changes, slowly incorporated over a long period of time, are the best way to ease yourself into a healthy diet. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Set realistic goals that you can achieve
    • Set yourself up for success, not failure!
    • Take an honest look at what your current habits are and look for ways to make changes
    • Example: I currently drink about 20 oz of water a day, my new goal is to drink 40 oz a day.
  • Reduce, instead of remove
    • It’s not necessary to eliminate certain things from your diet, especially if you like them. Look for the balance.
    • Example: I currently eat fast food 5 times a week, my new goal is to reduce that to 3 times a week. Eventually I will work towards eating fast food only once a week.
  • Reevaluate
    • If you didn’t meet your goals, set new more achievable goals! Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve, not proof that you can’t do something.
    • Example: I previously drank a case of soda (24) every week, so I set a goal to reduce that to 1 soda per day (7 per week). I didn’t meet that goal, so my new goal is to drink half a case (12) of soda per week.
  • Try new things!
    • New foods, new techniques, new cuisines!
    • Living life to the fullest isn’t meant to be about endlessly cutting back, so neither should your diet. You might surprise yourself with what you find and how your tastes change!
    • Example: I didn’t like brussel sprouts until I tried roasting them, now they’re my favorite go-to green veggie.

Love Yourself and Keep Going

Our stumbles in life do not undermine our previous efforts. Days of self-love and indulgence are part of a healthy lifestyle, both in mind and body. It’s easier to eat dessert in moderation if you don’t view it as a breach of contract. These cycles of adherence are a natural part of living. If we consider the long term, that your diet will be defined by what you consume over a lifetime, maybe we’ll have an easier time sticking to healthy eating and won’t see a failure as the end.

Did you miss Part 1? Find it here!

You can also read our posts about the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet.


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Sources and Further Reading:

Calorie Restriction and Fasting Diets: What Do We Know? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/calorie-restriction-and-fasting-diets-what-do-we-know

Freedhoff, Y. (2014, November 17). No, 95 Percent of People Don’t Fail Their Diets. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2014/11/17/no-95-percent-of-people-dont-fail-their-diets

Godman, H. (2018, January 24). How fast should you change your diet to lose weight? Harvard Health. Retrieved September 20, 2021, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/how-fast-should-you-change-your-diet-to-lose-weight

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, January 9). 8 steps to a heart-healthy diet. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702


Where to Get Your Vax Facts & Good Health Information

 By Jaelyn Copeland, Intern and UAB Community Health and Human Services Student

Photos from @NICKIMINAJ on Twitter and Getty Images | Graphics by Shayna Bryan

Recently, the recording artist and global celebrity Nicki Minaj tweeted a series of statements expressing her reason for not attending the Met Gala, the star-studded fashion event postponed this year to September 13th due to COVID-19.  In tweets following, the artist went on to explain, “I’m sure I’ll b vaccinated as well cuz I have to go on tour,” Minaj wrote in a tweet about missing Monday’s Met Gala in New York, implying that she had yet to be vaccinated, which the gala requires. “Once I believe I’ve done enough research,” she continued, she’ll get vaccinated. 

Health educators encourage the general public to consider the facts regarding their health and well-being.  Health educators also work to promote healthy decision making based on the valid science that is available.  Understanding that there are many untrue myths regarding a wide array of topics on social media and in other spaces, health educators encourage of anyone wanting to do their own personal research concerning the vaccine (& other topics).   

To obtain appropriate sources of information, the Wilkinson Wellness Lab recommends visiting health websites supported by Federal Government entities. By going to http://www.usa.gov, you can access all Federal websites. Large professional organizations and well-known medical schools can also be excellent providers of health knowledge. 

Look for websites that end in:  

  • .gov – Identifies a U.S. government agency  
  • .edu - Identifies an educational institution, like a school, college, or university  
  • .org – Usually identifies nonprofit organizations (such as professional groups; scientific, medical, or research societies; advocacy groups)  
  • .com – Identifies commercial websites (such as businesses, pharmaceutical companies, and sometimes hospitals)  

Also, take into account the authors and contributors of the website or social media information as well. If the author’s name appears within the posting, consider whether or not that individual is an authority in the topic. Is this person employed by a company, and if yes, what are the company’s objectives?  Trustworthy websites will typically provide contact information (such as an email address, phone number, and/or mailing address), as well as an “About Us” or “Contact Us” page. 

These tips and more are great ways to examine if a resource is “truthful” or not and support your health decision making in balance with one’s faith.

For accurate information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/library/researchguides/2019novelcoronavirus/websites.html

  

Feel free to share this image via social media.

Sources and Further Reading:

Bryan Pietsch, A. S. (2021, September 14). Nicki Minaj Tweets Coronavirus vaccine conspiracy theory, spotlighting struggle against misinformation. The Washington Post. Retrieved September 14, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2021/09/14/nicki-minaj-covid-19-vaccine-conspiracy/.   

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Centers for Disease control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). National institutes of health. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.nih.gov/.   


Vaccinate for Safety

By Jaelyn Copeland (Community Health and Human Services Student)

A vaccine is like a seatbelt. It’s a safety precaution that can save your life. Consider the COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

The vaccine is like a seatbelt. Safe, effective, and well-tested. If you crash, you’ll be glad you have it. Strongly consider the vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns. 

Many activities that you enjoyed before the pandemic can be resumed once you are completely vaccinated. You are not considered fully immunized until two weeks after receiving your second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or two weeks after receiving a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Until then, you should continue to use all available techniques to protect yourself and others, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

No vaccine is perfect, just as no helmet, seatbelt, or other safety device can guarantee you won’t get hurt. However, studies have demonstrated that vaccination provides a significant boost in protection and may make illness less severe for those who are still get sick. In Alabama, 97% of hospitalized COVID patients are unvaccinated. There is still a lot to learn about COVID-19 vaccinations; scientist and doctors are regularly assessing research and revising guidelines. 

Vaccinate yourself, even if you’ve already had COVID-19. Reach out to your friends and loved ones to make sure they’re protected as well. The vaccine is currently available to everyone age 18 and older.

To find a clinic to get vaccinated, visit Vaccines.gov or Alabama’s COVID-19 Dashboard


Sources and Further Reading:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 5). COVID-19 breakthrough Case investigations and reporting. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/breakthrough-cases.html.

Jones, A. (2021, August 3). Back to square one: UAB experts say Social DISTANCING, Masks, vaccinations are key to STOPPING covid-19 surge. UAB News. https://www.uab.edu/news/health/item/12192-back-to-square-one-uab-experts-say-social-distancing-masks-vaccinations-are-key-to-stopping-covid-19-surge.

“When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.


Change Your Scence and Mood at Oak Mountain Park!

By Jerrica Lake, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

Image credit clockwise from left: Magda Ehlers, PNW Production, Oak Mountain State Park

Did you know Alabama’s largest state park can be found just outside its largest city? 

Nature and Activities 

Mountain biking and hiking are two of the park’s most popular activities, but there are plenty more activities to feed your interest! 

  • Lakeside beach with swimming 
  • Watersports cable skiing 
  • Boat rentals 
  • Fishing 
  • Picnic area 
  • Golfing (with a full 18-hole course and driving range) 
  • Mountain biking (with a pump track and BMX course) 
  • Basketball courts 

Camping and Cabins 

Summer camping is hallmark of the season and Oak Mountain has the perfect spots, but if that is not your speed, try the cabins! For guests, Oak Mountains’ lake cabins are a place of peace and tranquility! The cabin grounds are found around Lake Tranquility; a 28-acre lake tucked away in the foothills of the mountain. Oak Mountain State Park offers ten fully equipped cabins that are open year-round, each with two bedrooms and one bath.   

Education and Learning 

Life science and avian rehabilitation are key components of the park. The Alabama Wildlife Center provides rehabilitation services to injured birds every year to return them to the wild.  Birds can be seen from the Tree Top Nature Trail. The Park is also home to the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center, a 2,500 square foot interactive exhibit space and teaching laboratory. Families can enjoy nature programs (including a demonstration farm full of animals to feed and interact with) and visit the extensive equestrian center for horseback riding. 

Whether you’re interested in a peaceful getaway, an action-packed weekend, or an educational experience, Oak Mountain has you covered. 

Get active and check out your local area for parks!


Sources: 

https://www.alapark.com/parks/oak-mountain-state-park


Try the DASH Diet to Lower Your Blood Pressure & Promote Heart Health

by Shayna Bryan, Intern & UAB Community Health & Human Services Student

DASH Diet, Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America. In addressing this national challenge, researchers created the DASH diet after following participants in a rigorous 5-year intervention called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Study. Hypertension, also known as high-blood pressure, is a major risk factor for heart disease, but can be managed with a healthy diet. The DASH diet was designed to be a nutrition-based approach to address the high rates of hypertension and heart disease associated with the typical high-sodium American diet. Most studies on nutrition use dietary recalls, looking at past diet history. In contrast, the DASH study participants were provided with food and their sodium intake was carefully controlled and monitored. The results of the DASH Diet Study demonstrated that diet alone is effective at reducing blood pressure!

The CDC recommends the average adult consumes less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. The DASH diet sets this as the beginning maximum, but about 90% of Americans are consuming far more than this. The average sodium consumption per day is an astounding 3,400 mg for U.S. adults! Just lowering one’s daily salt intake down to the CDC recommendation will be a major improvement for most people and will result in blood pressure reduction in a matter of weeks. The even more ambitious low-sodium DASH diet aims to gradually reduce your intake to 1,500 mg per day.

Most of the sodium we consume comes in the form of salt, which is added to processed foods for preservation and flavor. We can drastically lower our salt intake by focusing on whole foods which are naturally low in sodium.

The DASH diet emphasis the consumption of:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Low-Fat dairy

This combination is high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, and fiber, while low in saturated fats. All of these nutrients, particularly the potassium (which is abundant in vegetables) help naturally lower blood pressure and counteract the effects of excessive sodium. The DASH Diet also discourages foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat, as well as sugary beverages.

The DASH Diet is recommended by the American Heart Association and is ranked the best heart-healthy diet and second-best diet overall (it has often traded places with the very similar current #1 spot, the Mediterranean Diet, which you can read about here) by the U.S. News and World Report.


Gradual change is the key to success whenever making a positive change in life.

Here are some small changes you can make to ease yourself into DASH-style diet:

  • Add one serving of vegetables to your existing meals
  • Go meatless for 2+ days a week
  • Switch out some of your grains to whole, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta
  • Add more herbs and spices to your meals, instead of salt
  • Snack on more whole foods, such as nuts or fruit

Below are some full meal plans designed by experts and more detailed resources.

Week on DASH

DASH Meal Planning Chart

Detailed DASH Eating Plan


Sources:

DASH Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved June 03, 2021, from https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/dash-diet

Dash eating plan. (n.d.). Retrieved June 03, 2021, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan

How to make the dash diet work for you. (2019, May 08). Retrieved June 03, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456

Sodium. (2020, September 08). Retrieved June 03, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/sodium.htm


Dry Eye Awareness Month

by Taylor Sullivan, M. Ed. | UAB Community Health & Human Services Alumni

July is Dry Eye Awareness Month

Dry eye is caused when the eyes do not make enough tears to stay moisturized or when the tears do not work correctly. Dry eyes can make your eyes feel uncomfortable and, in some cases, cause vision problems.

Dry eye is common and affects millions of Americans. There are several options available to help with dry eye while keeping eyes healthy and comfortable.


Symptoms of Dry Eye

  • Scratchy feeling as if something is in your eye
  • Stinging or burning feeling in your eye
  • Eye redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

Risks of Dry Eye

Anyone can get dry eye, but some are more at risk than others.

  • Those 50 years of age and older
  • Women
  • Contact lens wearers
  • Lack of Vitamin A
  • Certain autoimmune conditions
  • Too much screen time

Treatment depends on what causes your symptoms. Artificial tears are the most common treatment for mild dry eye. For severe dry eye, prescription medication may be necessary, but moisturizing gels and ointments are also available without a prescription.

Talk to your eye doctor today about dry eye and treatment and prevention options.


REDUCING DISTRESSING PREGNANCIES AMONG BLACK WOMEN: TAKE ACTION

By Jaelyn Copeland (Community Health and Human Services Student), with contributions from Shayna Bryan (Intern & Community Health and Human Services Student)

Original photography by Mario Testino for Vogue magazine

Maternal mortality rates in the United States have been increasing steadily year after year, placing the country 56th on the World Health Organization’s worldwide data set, which is near the bottom of the developed nations. This disproportionately affects black women, who face not only the typical health hazards that come with childbirth, but must also wrestle with racial bias in the medical industry

Did you know black women are three times more likely to die due to pregnancy-linked causes than their peers?

According to the CDC, for every 100,000 births, 37 black women died in comparison to 15 white women and 12 Hispanic women. The causes of these racial differences are numerous. One of the issues is a lack of access to health care and poor quality of service. However, CDC data shows that even college-educated black women die at higher rates from pregnancy-related causes than white women who did not graduate from high school.

Look no further than Serena Williams, one of the greatest professional tennis players in history and an overall acclaimed athlete with a net worth over $200 million, whose pregnancy story demonstrates that these issues penetrate every level of society. In an interview with Vogue, Williams recalls battling with major problems shortly after the birth of her daughter. After her daughter was born through Cesarean section, Williams became short of breath. Knowing her own history of blood clots in the lungs (called pulmonary embolisms), she instantly alerted a nurse to her symptoms. However, staff were slow to respond to her concerns. The resulting complications ended in Williams needing a filter inserted into one of her major veins. It took six weeks of bed rest before she eventually returned home.

Serena’s traumatic story places her among the 50,000 women in America who face dangerous or life-threatening pregnancy-related problems each year.

However, researchers suggest this estimate may still be too conservative. Racial bias in the medical industry is a systemic issue that is becoming more recognized. The CDC has launched the Hear Her campaign to spread awareness and education on the complications associated with pregnancy. The lesson for the medical industry is to listen to patients more and make sure their needs are addressed. For the rest of us, the lesson is to learn to be your own best advocate.


Here are steps you can take:

  • Enroll in pre-natal care early, 1 month before pregnancy if possible
  • Take pre-natal vitamins as early as possible, even before becoming pregnant
    • Vitamins like folate are essential to brain and spinal cord development which occurs during the first few weeks of pregnancy
  • Learn the warning signs of common complications, particularly those you are at high risk for and those in your family medical history
  • Make stress management a priority
  • Speak up!
    • Create a list of questions to ask your doctor, make your concerns heard!
    • Keep a written record to help you and your doctor stay on track and accountable during appointments

PSA developed by Brittany Reynolds, Shayna Bryan, and Larrell Wilkinson

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, November 25). Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternal-mortality/pregnancy-mortality-surveillance-system.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 24). About the Campaign. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hearher/about-the-campaign/index.html.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 11). Urgent Maternal Warning Signs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hearher/maternal-warning-signs/index.html.

Fernandez, M. E. (2021, February 10). Why Black women are less likely to survive pregnancy, and what’s being done about it. http://www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/02/10/why-black-women-are-less-likely-to-survive-pregnancy-and-whats-being-done-about-it.

Haskell, R. (2018, January 10). Serena Williams on Motherhood, Marriage, and Making Her Comeback. Vogue. https://www.vogue.com/article/serena-williams-vogue-cover-interview-february-2018.

Lockhart, P. R. (2018, January 11). What Serena Williams’s scary childbirth story says about medical treatment of black women. Vox. http://www.vox.com/identities/2018/1/11/16879984/serena-williams-childbirth-scare-black-women.

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