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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


Did you know that more than 23 million Americans have asthma? While many asthma sufferers continue to have problems with the condition, some strategies may help to reduce symptoms.

Asthma is caused when airways become inflamed and less air passes through to the lungs. Dust, pollen, mold, exercise, animals and even stress can trigger asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

To help avoid asthma symptoms, it's important for patients to follow medication instructions carefully. Some medications help relieve immediate symptoms, while others help control asthma attacks in the future. It's important for asthma patients to know what triggers attacks.

If you do have asthma, make sure you've had your lung capacity tested, says Rachel Haigh-Blume, director of Respiratory Care at Avera St. Luke's Hospital in Aberdeen, S.D. "Proper screening ensures patients are prescribed the best medication to keep asthma in control," she says.

Besides being screened, people with asthma should be on controller medications. Work to recognize symptom patterns, possibly with the help of a peak flow meter. Asthma patients should have a written asthma action plan and follow up regularly with their doctors to adjust treatments as necessary.

If you don't have asthma but a loved one does, learn the person's triggers and help the person avoid them. For example, smoke commonly triggers asthma attacks, so take steps to quit if you're a smoker. Also consider avoiding environmental triggers such as pets, other animals and pollen.

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Getting a good night of sleep is essential for children to start the school year right. The following tips can help children get enough quality sleep, which they need for optimal health, safety, academic performance and good behavior.

Children need more sleep than adults. The amount of sleep you need per night varies by age. Children ages 5 to 12, for example, need 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep per night.

Keep TVs and computers out of children's rooms. Children are tempted to stay up later when these devices are in their rooms. Instead, turn off televisions and computers an hour before bedtime, and offer a more calming alternative, such as reading.

Teach children healthy sleep habits. Enforce a consistent bedtime routine even on the weekends, and let children know it helps keep them healthy. Be a good example by having good sleep habits yourself.

Exercise and eat well. Research shows that sleep, exercise and diet go hand-in-hand to keep people feeling their best. Additionally, limit caffeine, especially later in the day, to help children sleep better.

If you or a family member has sleeping difficulties even after making lifestyle changes such as the ones listed above, talk to your doctor. Several Avera facilities have sleep labs that can help determine the cause of sleep problems.

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Packing healthy food doesn't mean lunches have to be boring. Prepare wholesome sack lunches for yourself or for your family to maximize the nutrition you get throughout the day.

Increase fruits and vegetables in lunches. Stick with what's in season for maximum flavor and freshness. In September, peaches, plums, cantaloupes, green beans and potatoes are in season. If you don't have a lot of time in the morning, consider using pre-packaged or pre-sliced fruits and vegetable cups.

Incorporate more whole grains. Substitute whole-grain bread for white bread, which has fewer nutrients. For a simple switch, try a whole-grain pizza crust.

Drink more water. Staying hydrated helps your whole body stay healthy by improving digestion, helping to maintain weight and improving memory.

Make healthy substitutions. Instead of potato chips, try carrot sticks. Milk is a much better alternative than a can of soda. For dessert, pack fruit with a yogurt dip. Keep lunches safe by packing nonperishable items or putting an ice pack in a insulated lunch bag to keep cold foods fresh.

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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.