A Quarterly Newsletter - Issue 7 - February 2018
Avoid Winter Blues - Be Happy not SAD
For some children and adults, the change in season may bring a shift in
mood. Short days and colder weather may lead to feelings of irritability and moodiness. The following are some easy suggestions to keep the blues away.

  • Spend time outside every day, even on cloudy days
  • Open window shades at home and work
  • Exercise regularly - walks, bike rides and park visits
  • Eat healthy foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Set a regular bedtime to ensure everyone gets plenty of sleep

Turn the dark days of winter into enjoyable times with family and friends!

Health Tip
"Fight the Flu. It Starts with You!"
It is not too late for the Flu Vaccine. Wash your hands and Cover you cough.

Your School Nurse Consultants
Pink Eye/Conjunctivitis
Pink eye or conjunctivitis is one of the most common and treatable eye conditions in children and adults. It is an inflammation of the thin, clear tissue (conjunctiva) lining the inside of the eyelid and white part of the eye.
Four main causes of pink eye are viruses, bacteria, allergens and irritants. Signs and symptoms may be the same regardless of the cause. These include:
  • redness or swelling of the white of the eye
  • discharge which may be clear, yellow, white or green
  • itchy or burning eyes
  • crusting of the eyelids or lashes

Most cases of pink eye improve on their own, even without treatment. However, it’s important to seek advice from your healthcare provider if you have pink eye with any of the following:
  • moderate or severe pain in one or both eyes
  • sensitivity to light or blurred vision
  • intense redness in one or both eyes
  • symptoms that worsen or don’t improve
  • pre-existing eye conditions
Pink eye caused by a virus or bacteria is very contagious, spreading quickly to others. Pink eye caused by allergens or irritants isn’t contagious. However, it’s possible to develop a secondary infection caused by a virus or bacteria that is contagious. Ways to reduce the risk of getting or spreading pink eye include washing your hands well and frequently, avoid touching your eyes and avoid sharing makeup.

Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is a viral infection that is typically caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). It is sometimes referred to as the “kissing disease”. Typical symptoms of infectious mononucleosis usually appear four to six weeks after you get infected with EBV.

Symptoms may develop slowly and may not all occur at the same time. These can include:
  • extreme fatigue
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • head and body aches
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
  • swollen liver, spleen or both
  • rash

Enlarged spleen and a swollen liver are less common symptoms. Most people get better in two to four weeks; however, some people may feel fatigued for several more weeks. Occasionally, the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis can last for six months or longer. Mono is diagnosed by a blood test and is most common in adolescents and young adults, with a peak incidence at 15-17 years of age.

There is no vaccine to prevent mono. Ways to protect yourself from Mono and other viruses include: avoid kissing, sharing drinks, food, or personal items, like toothbrushes and lip gloss when ill.

Choking and Food Safety
Choking is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury death. It is important that parents and caregivers are educated on both the steps to prevent choking as well as how to assist someone who is actively choking. Someone who is choking might clutch their throat, cough, gag, wheeze or pass out.

The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association both offer courses on how to safely assist adults, children and infants when they are choking.

Some important steps in prevention include:
  • Do not offer high risk foods to infants and young children such as hot dogs, chunks of meat or cheese, grapes, raw veggies or fruit chunks without cutting them into small pieces.
  • Do not offer seeds, nuts, popcorn, hard candy or foods that cannot be cut into small pieces or changed into a safer option. Other high risk foods include peanut butter, marshmallows and chewing gum.
  • Supervise mealtimes.
  • Be sure to evaluate your child’s toys and keep hazardous items out of reach.

Babysitting Courses and Home Alone Safety
The state of Colorado does not have specific laws regarding when a child can legally stay at home alone. Age cannot be an exact factor to determine when a child can responsibly be left alone. Parents must evaluate maturity levels to determine when it is appropriate and safe to leave their child at home. Children and teenagers who have unique circumstances or special needs should not be left home alone. Colorado recognizes the age of 12 as a general guideline for children to stay home alone and babysit other children.

When parents decide which age is appropriate for their child to be home alone and watch others, a babysitting safety course is recommended. The American Red Cross offers a one day babysitting training course covering the basics of caring for an infant and child and first aid. In addition, it is a great idea to have the babysitter CPR certified in order to be able to handle emergencies such as choking and unresponsiveness. You can register your child at www.redcross.org. These opportunities are available at various locations throughout Douglas County such as neighborhood and community recreation centers.

Rethink Your Drinks
More and more energy drinks are being promoted as healthy beverages that increase mental alertness and physical performance. Today, one third of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 consume energy drinks regularly. In addition, energy drinks are “the most popular dietary supplement consumed among American teens and young adults" (NIH, 2017). An energy drink typically contains large amounts of added sugars, caffeine, additives and stimulants. An energy drink can contain as much as 27 teaspoons of sugar and 500 mg of caffeine, which is about 4 to 5 cups of coffee (CDC, 2016). Often times, individuals will use these drinks for an extra boost in energy and to increase alertness and attention, not knowing they are unhealthy.

It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that adolescents do not consume energy drinks due to the potential harmful side effects, including insomnia, heart palpitations, stomach issues, anxiety and dehydration (CDC, 2017). Some common tips to avoid energy drinks include carrying a reusable water bottle, talking to coaches about healthy drinks before and after physical activity and having healthier drink choices available such as green juices, smoothies and/or fresh fruit (orange slices). Together, we can increase awareness, promote healthier choices and “rethink the drink” (CDC, 2016).

Centers for Disease Control (CDC), (2016, March 22). The buzz on energy drinks. Retrieved from: 
National Institute of Health (NIH), (2017, October 4). Energy drinks. Retrieved from:
Recipe to "Squash" Your Winter Blues
Stuffed Acorn Squash (Courtesy of Marilyn Mehringer)

1)  Cut in half long way 4 squash and clean out inside. Place in baking dish with a little water sprinkled on top of squash and bake until soft.
2)  Cook wild rice on stove top with seasonings added according to box directions. You probably only need ½ box of cooked rice for this recipe, so you could save half for later time.
3)  Fry ½ lb. ground beef and drain.
4)  Add ½ cup chopped onion, 2-3 chopped celery, 1 small can (4-6 oz) water chestnuts drained and chopped. Stir fry until veggies cooked. Add salt, pepper, and basil until you like the taste.
5)  Add wild rice to stir fry mixture. (Add half the rice if you made a full box.)
6)  Fill each squash half with mixture, making it really full, almost spilling it out.
7)  Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese on top of each squash.
8)  Bake squash with rice, veggie, and cheese filling at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted.

Your School Nurse Consultants say "bon appétit"!
10 Ways to Love Your Brain
Key lifestyle habits can help us all to achieve maximum benefit for our brain and body. Start now. It’s never too late or too early to incorporate healthy habits. 
  • Break a sweat. Regular cardiovascular exercise elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.
  • Hit the books. Formal education in any stage of life will help stimulate cognitive function.
  • Butt out. Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting reduces that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
  • Follow your heart. Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart and your brain just might follow.
  • Heads up. Brain injuries can affect cognitive function. Wear your seatbelt, helmet and take steps to prevent falls.
  • Fuel up right. Promote better brain function by eating a balanced diet, lower in saturated fats with more vegetables and fruits.
  • Catch some Zzz’s. Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking.
  • Take care of your mental health. Manage stress and seek medical treatment if necessary.
  • Buddy up. Stay socially engaged; pursue social activities that are meaningful to you.
  • Stump yourself. Challenge and activate your mind. Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games such as Bridge or Sudoku that makes you think strategically. 

Additional Resources