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For many people, the sooner you act on your COVID-19 symptoms, the better! If you test positive — and are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19 — treatments are available to reduce your chances of severe illness.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Don’t delay — get tested as soon as possible after your symptoms start. Treatment must be started within days after you first develop symptoms to be effective.
  • If you test positive, talk to your doctor or healthcare provider right away to find out if treatment is right for you, even if your symptoms are mild. There are multiple options for treating COVID-19 at home or in an outpatient setting.

COVID-19 Treatments

If you’re symptomatic, you may also want to consider using the Test to Treat program. With thousands of locations nationwide, it can provide faster, easier access to lifesaving COVID-19 treatments. If you test positive, you can see a healthcare provider, and if eligible, get a prescription for an oral COVID-19 treatment and have that prescription filled — all at one location.

Worry Leads to Heart Disease in Men

A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that middle-aged men who often feel worried or anxious may be more prone to problems that raise heart disease risk as they age, compared to their less-worried peers. Over the 23 years of follow-up, researchers found that higher levels of worry were linked to a 10 to 13 percent higher risk of having six or more risk factors for heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes.

Dementia or Depression?

Depression in the elderly can lead to a phenomenon called pseudodementia, an apparent intellectual decline that stems from a lack of energy or effort, according to a special report from Harvard Medical School. People with this problem are often forgetful, move slowly, and have low motivation as well as mental slowing. They may or may not appear depressed. Since there’s no simple test that can reveal whether someone has dementia or depression, treatment is often worth trying. If depression is at the root, treatment can produce dramatic changes.

Transient Ischemic Attacks May Need a New Name.

A recent editorial in the JAMA written by two neurologists is calling for doctors and patients to abandon the term transient ischemic attack. It’s too reassuring, they argue, and too likely to lead someone with the passing symptoms of a TIA to delay going to a doctor or the emergency room. Since TIAs are minor strokes, which can cause visible and permanent brain damage, the sooner they are treated the better.

Help for Hearing Loss

  • CaptionCall is a free service, funded by the federal government, which provides a special telephone with easy-to-read text that automatically captions your conversations. It dials, rings, and works just like a regular phone. Also available for iPad and iPhone. For more information, email or call Claire Dittrich at 678-476-5682 or cdittrich@CaptionCall.com.
  • Adult Hearing Loss Support Group meets the first Friday of every month from 12n – 1 pm. at the UGA Speech & Hearing Clinic in Aderhold Hall. For more information, call 706-542-4598.

The Worst Habits for Your Brain

Many habits contribute to poor brain health, but four areas can have the most influence, say the experts at the McCance Center for Brain Health. They include:

  • Too much sitting. The average adult sits for six-and-a-half hours a day, and all this chair time does a number on the brain. One study found sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain essential to memory. Do this: Move around after 15-30 minutes of sitting. Walk around the house, do push-ups against the kitchen counter, do a few lunges, or take a power walk around the neighborhood.
  • Lack of socializing. Loneliness is linked to depression and a higher risk for Alzheimer’s and can accelerate cognitive decline. A July 2021 study in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B found that less socially active people lose more of the brain’s gray matter, the outer layer that processes information. Do this: You don’t have to interact with many people to reap benefits. Find two or three people with whom you basically can share anything – make this group your social pod. Text or call regularly.
  • Inadequate sleep. According to the CDC, one-third of adults don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Research shows cognitive skills such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving decline when people sleep fewer than seven hours a night. Do this: Don’t focus on getting more sleep. Instead, give yourself more time to sleep. Go to bed an hour earlier than usual. This will give your brain and body extra time to get enough sleep. Even if you are awake for a while, you still have that extra hour to make up for it.
  • Chronic stress. Ongoing stress can kill brain cells and shrink the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for memory and learning. A high expectation mindset can trigger negative reactions that raise stress levels whenever things don’t go our way. Do this: Be flexible with your reactions. When you sense you are about to get upset, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you don’t always know what is best and accept that other approaches might be fine.

Take the Right Steps to Prevent Falls

If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don’t “just happen.” Here are some tips to help you avoid falls and broken bones.

  • Stay physically active. Regular exercise improves muscles, and keeps your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible.
  • Have your vision and hearing testing. Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause you to fall. When you get new glasses, take time to get used to them.
  • Find out about side effects of your medications. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Get enough sleep. If you’re sleepy, you are more likely to fall.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your balance and reflexes. Studies show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.
  • Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop. Get your blood pressure checked when lying and standing.
  • Use an assistive device if you need help feeling steady when you walk. The appropriate use of canes and walkers can prevent falls. However, make sure it’s the right size for you and wheels roll smoothly. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices might be helpful and teach you how to use them safely.
  • Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last checkup, even if you aren’t hurt when you fall. A fall can alert your doctor to a new medical problem or problems with your medications or eyesight that can be corrected.

Falling isn’t funny unless you are comic book artist James Burns. Last October, Burns and his wife Rebecca were walking back to their Five Points home from the grocery store, when suddenly, he took a bad tumble and ended up in the ER. That saga and his attempt to figure out how in the heck it happened – how he did a face-plant on the pavement – is the subject of his newest comic book, The Fall: The True Story of a Bad Fall.

Burns, 63, has been a graphic artist for over 25 years but he says he’s always been interested in storytelling, which is what he likes about creating comic books. His health has been one of the main topics. Detached Retina was his first. Then, there’s House of Covid, and Speechless about a scare with thyroid cancer. His comic books can be found at Wuxtry on Clayton Street and online at Indyplanet.com and Amazon.com.

He notes that his father suffered many falls in his last years, necessitating numerous visits to the emergency room until the last fatal fall at age 92. Now, following his own tumble, which he says caused psychological as well as physical injuries, he says he’s a lot more careful. As he writes, “It’s a story about how everything can change in an instant, if you don’t watch your step…” To see a complete list of his comics, go to burnscomics.com.

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