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Thank you for subscribing to In Great Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with information to help you live a healthy lifestyle. To learn more about what Avera can do to partner with you to improve your health, visit

To your health,

The Avera staff

Keep Ticks Away When You're Outside This Summer

Did you know ticks, parasites that sometimes can be almost impossible to see, can cause bacterial infections such as tularemia and inflammatory diseases such as Lyme disease? While most ticks aren't disease carriers, a few precautionary measures when you're outdoors this summer can keep ticks off you and your family members.

Ticks attach themselves to the skin and feed on blood. To prevent bites, wear lightweight protective clothing and use an insect repellent containing DEET. If you're in woods or fields, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into your socks. Check yourself and children frequently for the parasites. Don't forget to check your animals, too. 

To remove a tick , pull it out gently with tweezers, being careful not to crush or twist the body. Wash the area with soap and water and apply an antiseptic. Don't try to burn the tick with a match or smother it with oil, alcohol or Vaseline. Call your doctor if you're unable to remove the entire tick. Also call your doctor after a bite if you develop:

  • A rash
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Joint pain or redness
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Call 911 if you have chest pain, heart palpitations, paralysis, severe headache or trouble breathing.

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Sun, Tanning Beds Cause Skin Damage

While it may be tempting to soak up the sun now that summer is here, remember to slather on the sunscreen. Safely enjoying the sun greatly reduces your risk for skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. 

Avoid tanning beds. Any exposure to ultraviolet rays, specifically UVB rays, increases risk for sun damage. That includes UV rays from either the sun or tanning beds. Using tanning beds in spring and early summer to get a tan to prevent sunburn is not a good idea; tanning itself is a sign of skin damage. It's this simple: Exposure to UV rays increases risk for skin cancer. There is no such thing as a "healthy tan."

Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen of at least 35 sun protection factor (SPF) before sun exposure, and don't forget your ears, neck, face and hands. Reapply every two hours, or even more often if you're in the water. 

Cover up. Wear protective clothing, especially when the sun's rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats and sunglasses all are a good idea.

Be checked annually. Fair skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, freckles or moles are signs that you have a higher risk for skin cancer. Have a health care provider check your skin annually for signs of melanoma and other skin cancers, which are more treatable in their early stages.

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Relieve the Pain From Migraines

migraine is much more than a muscle-tension headache; it's a severe headache caused by neurotransmitter changes in the brain, vascular changes and inflammation. It can be a debilitating condition that prevents people from working or enjoying their free time. Learning to avoid migraine triggers and how to treat migraines can help relieve the pain.

Migraines are a type of headache that may include one-sided throbbing pain, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are three times more common in women than men, and they're usually diagnosed from ages 20 to 50. Migraines in men sometimes go undiagnosed because people think migraines are exclusive to women, so it's important to check with a doctor if you or a loved one has symptoms.

Family history is the main risk factor for migraines. Triggers may include:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Stress
  • Change in the weather
  • Changes in hormone levels during menstruation
  • Foods such as chocolate, caffeinated beverages, nuts, alcohol, citrus fruits and bacon
  • The flavor enhancer MSG (monosodium glutamate)

Treatment for migraines varies. Some people prefer to be still in a dark, quiet room when they're having painful migraines; while muscle-tension headaches may seem to be alleviated with activity, this actually makes migraines worse. To relieve pain, try over-the-counter medications first. If those don't help, your doctor may prescribe medication specially formulated for migraines. Preventive therapy also is an option for people who have migraines twice a week or more.

If you suffer from migraines or think you might, talk to your doctor about the best way to relieve your symptoms.

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In Great Health online archive.

In Great Health is one in a series of Avera eNewsletters that gives readers valuable information about health and wellness at Avera facilities. It is not intended to replace personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from a physician.