How to Flush Out Kidney Stones

Have you ever heard that passing a kidney stone is more painful than giving birth? Each year, more than 1 million people in the U.S. rush to the emergency room with pain caused by a kidney stone. Kidney stones are hard, pebble-like pieces of material that form in one or both kidneys. They’re caused by high levels of certain minerals in your urine. Stones vary in size from tiny crystals that can only be seen with a microscope to stones over an inch wide. Tiny stones may pass out of your body without your even noticing. With larger stones, you won’t be so lucky. Stones that are larger than a pencil eraser can get stuck in the urinary tract—and that can really hurt.

Everyone is at some risk for developing kidney stones. “It is a very common condition,” says Dr. Ziya Kirkali, a urologist at NIH. “One out of 11 individuals in the U.S. is affected by this disease.” Kidney stones can form at any age, but they usually appear during middle age (40s to 60s). Of those who develop one stone, half will develop at least one more in the future.

“Probably one of the most important reasons why people form stones is dehydration,” Kirkali says. When urine is too concentrated, minerals can build up and form stones. “I can’t over-emphasize the importance of drinking plenty of water, because that’s the most effective way of preventing kidney stone disease.”

During the warmest months of the year, you’re at greatest risk of becoming dehydrated. “So it is really important to drink more than you usually drink during the cooler days or months,” Kirkali says.

To detect kidney stones, your doctor may order lab or imaging tests. Lab tests look in urine for blood, signs of infection, minerals (like calcium), and stones. Blood tests can also detect high levels of certain minerals. “About 80% of all stones are made of calcium oxalate,” Kirkali says. Knowing what the stones are made of can help guide treatment.

Treatment also depends on the stone’s size and location. CT scans or plain X-ray imaging can help your doctor pinpoint the location and estimate the size of a kidney stone. Depending on what your doctor finds, you may be prescribed medicine and advised to drink a lot of fluids. Or, you might need a procedure to break up or remove the kidney stone.

There are different procedures for breaking up or removing kidney stones. One method delivers shock waves to the stone from outside of the body. Other strategies involve inserting a tool into the body, either through the urinary tract or directly into the kidney through surgery. After the stone is located, it can be broken up into smaller pieces.

Once you’ve had a kidney stone, you have an increased chance for having another. NIH-supported scientists are studying ways to prevent kidney stones from returning. “We always tell our patients to drink more, but it’s not so easy to really increase your fluid intake,” Kirkali says. A new study is testing a method to encourage people to drink more fluids each day. Other NIH-funded studies are trying to unravel why some people seem more at risk of developing kidney stones. Still others are looking into how to better detect stones and treat them.

Don’t let the pain of kidney stones send you to the emergency room. Keep hydrated! But if you develop any of the symptoms shown in the “Wise Choices” box, see your doctor right away.

Written by: NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

What’s the Difference Between Bronchitis and Pneumonia?

Coughs help your body clear your airways of irritants and prevent infection. But a deep cough from your chest may signal bronchitis or pneumonia. Although they may have different underlying causes, their symptoms can be similar—and both can be serious enough to send you to the doctor.

Bronchitis and pneumonia both involve Inflammation in the chest. Both can cause coughs that bring up a slimy substance called phlegm to help clear out germs and pus. And both can cause shortness of breath and wheezing.
Bronchitis is a condition in which the bronchial tubes that lead to the lungs become inflamed. Viruses, bacteria, and even toxins like tobacco smoke can inflame the bronchial tubes. Most of the time, though, bronchitis is caused by an infection with one of several types of viruses. If you develop bronchitis during flu season, a likely culprit may be the flu virus. Cold viruses are also common causes at this and other times of year.

Pneumonia is caused by an infection of the lungs. “About 1/3 of cases are caused by viruses, but most of them are bacterial related,” says Dr. Kenneth Olivier, a lung infection expert at NIH. “They’re from bacteria that are quite common, like Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is the leading cause of bacterial pneumonias in all ages in the U.S.”
If you get a fever with bronchitis, it is usually mild (below 101 degrees Fahrenheit). In more serious cases, you may have chest pain, feel short of breath, or wheeze when you breathe in.

“Pneumonia, on the other hand, typically is associated with fever, sometimes very high, spiking fever,” Olivier says. Breathing problems, chest pain, and other symptoms also tend to be more severe with pneumonia. If you have a fever and chills, trouble breathing, or a cough that is bringing up thick phlegm, especially if it’s yellow or green, go see your doctor.

Your doctor can listen to your lungs by placing a stethoscope on your chest. “Frequently, the physician can hear areas where the breath sounds are altered,” Olivier says. If you have pneumonia, your doctor may hear bubbling, crackling, or rumbling sounds from the lungs.

You may be sent for a chest X-ray, which can show whether the lungs contain fluid or pus from an infection. An X-ray is the best way to diagnose pneumonia and rule out bronchitis. Whichever illness you have, resting and drinking plenty of fluids are important ways to care for yourself.

If you’re diagnosed with bronchitis, your doctor probably won’t give you antibiotics. Because viruses are the usual cause of bronchitis, antibiotics are seldom helpful. If you’re wheezing, however, you may be given medicine to open your airways. Your cough may last 10 to 20 days.

Because bacteria are often the cause of pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. It can take 1 to 4 weeks to recover from pneumonia. Some people require treatment in the hospital.

Germs that cause colds, the flu, and lower airway infections are contagious. The best way to prevent getting bronchitis or pneumonia is to avoid getting these infections. And when you’re sick, take care not to spread your germs to others (see “Wise Choices” box for tips).

Guard Against Airway Infections
-Wash your hands often with soap and water.
-Use alcohol-based hand gel if you’re unable to wash them.
-Cough into a tissue, your elbow, or your sleeve.
-Ask your doctor about vaccines for you and your children. Certain vaccines can prevent airway infections caused by harmful viruses and bacteria.
-Avoid people who are coughing or showing signs of infection.
-Avoid tobacco smoke.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

Preventing and Treating Drug Abuse

Drug abuse can be a painful experience—for the person who has the problem, and for family and friends who may feel helpless in the face of the disease. But there are things you can do if you know or suspect that someone close to you has a drug problem.

Certain drugs can change the structure and inner workings of the brain. With repeated use, they affect a person’s self-control and interfere with the ability to resist the urge to take the drug. Not being able to stop taking a drug even though you know it’s harmful is the hallmark of addiction.

A drug doesn’t have to be illegal to cause this effect. People can become addicted to alcohol, nicotine, or even prescription drugs when they use them in ways other than prescribed or use someone else’s prescription.
People are particularly vulnerable to using drugs when going through major life transitions. For adults, this might mean during a divorce or after losing a job. For children and teens, this can mean changing schools or other major upheavals in their lives.

But kids may experiment with drug use for many different reasons. “It could be a greater availability of drugs in a school with older students, or it could be that social activities are changing, or that they are trying to deal with stress,” says Dr. Bethany Deeds, an NIH expert on drug abuse prevention. Parents may need to pay more attention to their children during these periods.

The teenage years are a critical time to prevent drug use. Trying drugs as a teenager increases your chance of developing substance use disorders. The earlier the age of first use, the higher the risk of later addiction. But addiction also happens to adults. Adults are at increased risk of addiction when they encounter prescription pain-relieving drugs after a surgery or because of a chronic pain problem. People with a history of addiction should be particularly careful with opioid pain relievers and make sure to tell their doctors about past drug use.

There are many signs that may indicate a loved one is having a problem with drugs. They might lose interest in things that they used to enjoy or start to isolate themselves. Teens’ grades may drop. They may start skipping classes.

“They may violate curfew or appear irritable, sedated, or disheveled,” says child psychiatrist Dr. Geetha Subramaniam, an NIH expert on substance use. Parents may also come across drug paraphernalia, such as water pipes or needles, or notice a strange smell.

“Once drug use progresses, it becomes less of a social thing and more of a compulsive thing—which means the person spends a lot of time using drugs,” Subramaniam says.

If a loved one is using drugs, encourage them to talk to their primary care doctor. It can be easier to have this conversation with a doctor than a family member. Not all drug treatment requires long stays in residential treatment centers. For someone in the early stages of a substance use problem, a conversation with a doctor or another professional may be enough to get them the help they need. Doctors can help the person think about their drug use, understand the risk for addiction, and come up with a plan for change.

Substance use disorder can often be treated on an outpatient basis. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to treat. Substance use disorder is a complicated disease. Drugs can cause changes in the brain that make it extremely difficult to quit without medical help.

For certain substances, it can be dangerous to stop the drug without medical intervention. Some people may need to be in a hospital for a short time for detoxification, when the drug leaves their body. This can help keep them as safe and comfortable as possible. Patients should talk with their doctors about medications that treat addiction to alcohol or opioids, such as heroin and prescription pain relievers.

Recovering from a substance use disorder requires retraining the brain. A person who’s been addicted to drugs will have to relearn all sorts of things, from what to do when they’re bored to who to hang out with. NIH has developed a customizable wallet card to help people identify and learn to avoid their triggers, the things that make them feel like using drugs. You can order the card for free at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brain-wallet-card.

“You have to learn ways to deal with triggers, learn about negative peers, learn about relapse, [and] learn coping skills,” Subramaniam says.

NIH-funded scientists are studying ways to stop addiction long before it starts—in childhood. Dr. Daniel Shaw at the University of Pittsburgh is looking at whether teaching healthy caregiving strategies to parents can help promote self-regulation skills in children and prevent substance abuse later on.

Starting when children are two years old, Shaw’s study enrolls families at risk of substance use problems in a program called the Family Check-Up. It’s one of several parenting programs that have been studied by NIH-funded researchers.

During the program, a parenting consultant visits the home to observe the parents’ relationship with their child. Parents complete several questionnaires about their own and their family’s well-being. This includes any behavior problems they are experiencing with their child. Parents learn which of their children’s problem behaviors might lead to more serious issues, such as substance abuse, down the road. The consultant also talks with the parents about possible ways to change how they interact with their child. Many parents then meet with the consultants for follow-up sessions about how to improve their parenting skills.

Children whose parents are in the program have fewer behavioral problems and do better when they get to school. Shaw and his colleagues are now following these children through their teenage years to see how the program affects their chances of developing a substance abuse problem. You can find video clips explaining different ways parents can respond to their teens on the NIH Family Checkup website at www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup.

Even if their teen has already started using drugs, parents can still step in. They can keep closer tabs on who their children’s friends are and what they’re doing. Parents can also help by finding new activities that will introduce their children to new friends and fill up the after-school hours—prime time for getting into trouble. “They don’t like it at first,” Shaw says. But finding other teens with similar interests can help teens form new habits and put them on a healthier path.

A substance use problem is a chronic disease that requires lifestyle adjustments and long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure. Even relapse can be a normal part of the process—not a sign of failure, but a sign that the treatment needs to be adjusted. With good care, people who have substance use disorders can live healthy, productive lives. 

Written by: NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

Knowing the Symptoms of Brain Tumors

A tumor in the brain isn’t like tumors in other parts of your body. It has limited room for growth because of the skull. This means that a growing tumor can squeeze vital parts of the brain and lead to serious health problems. Learning about the possible symptoms of brain tumors can help you know when to tell a doctor about them.

A tumor is an abnormal mass of cells. When most normal cells grow old or get damaged, they die, and new cells take their place. Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body doesn’t need them, and old or damaged cells don’t die as they should. The extra cells can form a tumor.

A tumor that starts in the brain is called a primary brain tumor. People of all ages can develop this type of tumor, even children. And there are many different ways they can form.

“There are over 130 different types of primary brain tumors,” says Dr. Mark R. Gilbert, an NIH brain tumor expert. About 80,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with a primary brain tumor each year.

Cancer that has spread to the brain from another part of the body is called a metastatic brain tumor. Metastatic brain tumors are far more common than primary tumors.

Both primary and metastatic brain tumors can cause similar symptoms. Symptoms depend mainly on where the tumor is in the brain.

“The symptoms of brain tumors can be either dramatic or subtle,” Gilbert says. A seizure is an example of a dramatic symptom. About 3 of every 10 patients with a brain tumor are diagnosed after having a seizure, he explains.
Other symptoms are less obvious. For example, you might notice memory problems or weakness on one side of your body. Until symptoms develop, you may not know you have a brain tumor.

If you have symptoms that suggest a brain tumor, tell your doctor. Your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your personal and family health history. You may need to have additional tests. Tumors can be detected by imaging methods such as MRI or CT scans.

“Brain imaging technology has really changed the way we are able to visualize abnormalities,” Gilbert explains. It allows brain surgeons to learn as much as possible about the tumor and remove it more safely. NIH researchers are continuing to look for ways to better detect and treat brain tumors. Treatments differ depending on the type and location of the tumor. Treatment can involve surgery, radiation (beams of high energy rays aimed at the tumor), or drugs that kill or block the growth of cancer cells.

Usually, brain tumor treatment requires a team of health care professionals. This may include surgeons, cancer specialists, nutritionists, nurses, and mental health providers. The team does more than treat the tumor. They also try to minimize its impact on a patient’s quality of life.

“There is a definite advantage to being cared for by people who do this on a routine basis,” Gilbert says. A person who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor may want to seek treatment at a nearby cancer center, if possible. To look for a cancer center near you, visit www.cancer.gov/research/nci-role/cancer-centers.
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Possible Symptoms of a Brain Tumor
The symptoms of a brain tumor depend on its size, type, and location. The most common ones are listed below. These do not mean you have a brain tumor. But talk with your doctor if you experience any of the following:
-Severe headaches 
-Muscle jerking or twitching (seizures or convulsions)
-Nausea and vomiting
-Changes in speech, vision, or hearing
-Problems balancing or walking
-Changes in your mood, personality, or ability to concentrate
-Problems with memory
-Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms or legs

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison

Friends of the Library Present: Medicare 101

Press Release: Friends of the Library’s Adult Education Program is sponsoring an informative presentation exploring the many questions that arise in navigating the “ins” and “outs” of Medicare. The program, entitled Medicare 101, will be held on Tuesday afternoon, November 7th at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Fernandina Beach Library, 25 N. 4th Street, Fernandina Beach.

Learn the basics with an experienced Medicare agent. Some of the many topics that will be addressed include Original Medicare and other options; the meanings of Medicare Parts A, B, C and D; enrollment deadlines; the extent of coverage Medicare provides and other medical insurance options.

This program is free to the public. Participation is limited, so register in advance by calling the library at 904-530-6500, Ext. 1. If you are not able to attend, please call the library to cancel so someone on the waiting list may participate.

For further information regarding this event, on joining Friends of the Library, or to donate, please visit the Friends of the Library website at www.fernandinaFOL.org.

Keeping Your Gut in Check

Your digestive system is busy. When you eat something, your food takes a twisty trip that starts with being chewed up and ends with you going to the bathroom. A lot happens in between. The health of your gut plays a key role in your overall health and well-being. You can make choices to help your body stay on tract.

Your digestive, or gastrointestinal (GI), tract is a long, muscular tube that runs from your mouth to your anus. It’s about 30 feet long and works with other parts of your digestive system to break food and drink down into smaller molecules of nutrients. The blood absorbs these and carries them throughout the body for cells to use for energy, growth, and repair.

With such a long GI highway, it’s common to run into bumps in the road. About 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). GERD happens when your stomach acid and/or contents come back up into your esophagus (swallowing tube) or throat. This causes uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn and indigestion. IBS is a group of symptoms that includes pain in the abdomen and changes in bowel habits. People with IBS may have constipation, diarrhea, or both. Many more people have other digestive problems, like bloating and stomach pain.

“There are many factors that can impact gut health,” says Dr. Lin Chang, a GI expert at the University of California, Los Angeles. How your body’s built, your family and genetic history, how you manage stress, and what you eat can all affect your gut.

“I see a lot of lifestyle-related GI issues, and there are often no quick fixes for that,” she says. “In general, people do well when they create a more routine schedule, eat a healthy diet and smaller more frequent meals, add in some exercise, and get a good amount of sleep.”

Chang studies the connection between stress and IBS. Her research group has found that people who have early life stress are more likely to develop IBS. “However, this increased risk for IBS went down when people confided in someone they trust about the stress they experienced,” she explains. “Finding healthy ways to manage stress is important for GI health, and your health overall.”

What you eat can help or hurt your digestive system, and influence how you feel. “Increasing fiber is really important for constipation,” says Chang. “Most Americans do not eat a lot of fiber so you have to gradually increase the fiber in your diet. Otherwise you might get gas and more bloating, and won’t stick with [the changes].”
Chang says you should eat at least 20–30 grams of fiber a day for constipation. You can spread out your fiber in small amounts throughout the day. Start with small servings and gradually increase them to avoid gas, bloating, and discomfort.

Try to eat fruits and vegetables at every meal. A variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts can provide a healthy mix of different fibers and nutrients to your diet. An added benefit is that the more fiber and whole foods you eat, the less room you’ll have for less healthy options.

But some fiber-rich foods, called high FODMAP foods, can be hard to digest. Examples include certain fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and wheat and rye products. If you have IBS, your doctor may recommend a diet low in FODMAPS.

Researchers are coming to understand the complex community of bacteria and other microbes that live in the human GI tract. Called gut flora or microbiota, these microbes help with our digestion. But evidence has been growing that gut microbes may influence our health in other ways too. Studies suggest that they may play roles in obesity, type 2 diabetes, IBS, and colon cancer. They might also affect how the immune system functions. This can affect how your body fights illness and disease. Recent studies have found that microbes’ effects on the immune system may impact the development of conditions such as allergy, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

You might have heard that probiotics—live microbes that are similar to those found in the human gut—can improve your gut health. These are also called “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria.” Probiotics are available in dietary supplements and in certain foods, such as yogurt.

There is some evidence that probiotics may be helpful in preventing diarrhea associated with antibiotics and improving symptoms of IBS, but more needs to be learned. Researchers still don’t know which probiotics are helpful and which aren’t. They also don’t know how much of the probiotics people would have to take or who would most likely benefit from them.

Certain food additives called emulsifiers are something else that may affect your gut health. Emulsifiers are added to many processed foods to improve texture and extend shelf life. But studies show they can affect our gut flora.
“Our work and other research indicate that emulsifiers and other food additives can negatively impact the microbiota and promote inflammatory diseases,” says Georgia State University’s Dr. Andrew Gewirtz. His group has been studying the relationships between food additives, gut bacteria, and disease in mice. The team also plans to examine how different food additives may affect people.

Based on what his team and others have found, Gewirtz advises, “The take home message: Eat a balanced diet and less processed foods.”

“The GI system is complicated and such an important part of our health,” Chang says. “It takes a real partnership between patient and doctor to get to the root of issues. Everyone has to find a healthy routine that works for them.”

She encourages you to take an active role in finding a doctor who makes you feel comfortable. The right doctor will listen carefully to your health history and symptoms. You can help keep your gut in check by talking with your doctor and—together—making the right choices for you.

Wise Choices for Better Gut Health
-Eat slower. Chew your food well before swallowing. It may help you swallow less air and better sense when you’re full.
-Enjoy smaller meals. Eat in moderation to avoid overfilling your stomach and encourage digestion. A packed stomach may also cause reflux, or your food to come back up.
-Set a bedtime for your gut. Try to limit how much you eat after dark. Your GI tract is most active in the morning and daytime.
-Manage stress. Learn healthy ways to reduce stress like relaxation breathing, mindfulness, and exercise. Stress makes it harder to digest your food well.
-Create a routine. Try to eat around the same times each day. Your GI system may do best on a schedule.
-Consider probiotics. Talk with your doctor about taking probiotics (supplemental healthful bacteria). They may ease constipation and IBS symptoms.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

FSCJ Offers Free Oral Cancer Screening

Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) welcomes the public for a free event on the importance of oral cancer screenings as part of its Quarterly Health Series.

Eva Grayzel, a nationally-recognized Master Storyteller and performance artist, was diagnosed with stage IV oral cancer at age 33 and was only given a 15 percent chance of survival. Drawing on her own experience and success story, Ms. Grayzel now applies her stage skills to communicating the importance of regular screenings in a unique and powerful way.

For over a decade, she has captivated dental professionals worldwide using her story as a catalyst for change. The riveting details of her delayed diagnosis stimulate thinking about enhanced patient care and education. A champion for early detection, Eva founded the Six-Step Screening(tm) oral cancer awareness campaign.

Immediately following the presentation, attendees are invited to the FSCJ Dental Hygiene Clinic for complimentary oral cancer screenings with our students under the supervision of clinic dentists.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017, at 5-6 p.m.
Zeke Bryant Auditorium – FSCJ North Campus, 4501 Capper Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218

Dealing with Hurt Feelings and Self Injury

People deal with difficult feelings in all sorts of ways. They may talk with friends, go work out, or listen to music. But some people may feel an urge to hurt themselves when distressed. Harming or thinking about harming yourself doesn’t mean you have a mental disorder. But it is an unhealthy way to cope with strong feelings. Finding new ways to cope can help you get through difficult times.

Some unhealthy ways people may try to relieve emotional pain include cutting, burning, or hitting themselves. These behaviors can be difficult to detect. People usually keep them a secret. Wounds can often be treated at home and covered with clothing or jewelry.

“The largest percentage of people who engage in non-suicidal self-injuring behaviors are teenagers,” says Dr. Jennifer Muehlenkamp, an NIH-funded psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Around 2 out of 10 teens and college-aged students report trying this behavior at least once.

Those are the key ages because youths are changing environments, Muehlenkamp explains. “Transitioning into college or from junior high into high school creates a lot of potential change. You lose the familiarity of your social group, and your social support might shift. There’s a lot of new stress and pressures.”

People who are anxious, are depressed, or have an eating disorder are also more likely to turn to self-injuring behaviors. So are those in sexual minority groups who experience discrimination and bullying, such as those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual.

“Self-injury is a sign that someone is struggling,” says Muehlenkamp. “Many youths transition out of it. But those who engage in it more repetitively and chronically may benefit from a direct clinical intervention.”

If you’re a parent or caregiver who’s concerned, look for frequent unexplained injuries and clues like bandages in trash cans. Watch to see if the person wears appropriate clothing for the weather. Someone who is self-harming may wear long pants or sleeves to cover their injuries, even when it’s hot.

“The way most people find out is the person who is self-injuring will disclose it,” Muehlenkamp says. They often tell a friend or a sibling first.

If someone confides in you, “your first reaction is essential to whether or not they will seek help,” Muehlenkamp explains. “Be as nonreactive and nonjudgmental as possible.”

Not everyone who self-injures is suicidal. But the only way to know is to ask. If they express any suicidal thinking, get them connected with a mental health provider. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for advice.

Parents can open conversations with their kids by asking them if they’ve heard of self-harming behaviors or if they know friends who do it. If a friend has confided in them, they can offer to go talk to a trusted adult with their friend to get them help.

There are no medications for treating self-injuring behaviors. But some medications can help treat mental disorders that the person may be dealing with, like depression or anxiety. Mental health counseling or therapy can also help you learn new ways to cope with emotion. See the Wise Choices box for tips on handling strong emotion.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

Wellness Festival Discount Offered for Nassau County Residents

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – This fall, travelers and locals alike will have a new way to get fit and focused thanks to the inaugural Amelia Island Wellness Festival (Nov. 10-12), a three-day “well-abration” for renewing mind, body and soul. Nassau County residents are being offered a $250 “locals only” discount off the weekend package price, using code FBFLOVE. The festival will take place at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, where attendees can experience educational and inspirational sessions with acclaimed names in yoga, meditation and fitness, headlined by life transformation specialist Heidi Powell. The Amelia Island Wellness Festival is a ticketed event open to the public. More information, including tickets and accommodations, is available at ameliaislandwellnessfestival.com.

“We’ve partnered with some of the most qualified fitness and wellness advisors around the country to develop an all-encompassing wellness retreat designed to inspire self-discovery and healthy living,” said Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau “With 13 miles of pristine coastline and other breathtaking natural beauty, Amelia is an ideal setting to connect to one’s self and to nature.”

In addition to Heidi Powell, co-host of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss” series, the wellness festival will feature music and inspiration from MC YOGI, along with pop-ups, panels and instruction by yogi-influencer Laura Sykora (@laurasykora); dance-inspired cardio studio, DanceBody; and MNDFL, New York City’s fast-growing meditation center. The festival schedule of events (subject to change) includes the following classes and brands:

-Empowering thousands across the globe with her vision of transforming lives from the inside out, celebrity trainer Heidi Powell will lead the keynote speech and share advice on fitness, nutrition, parenting, marriage and finding balance. Powell will also lead the featured fitness class, introducing participants to her best practices – the first of its kind in the region.

-MC YOGI, recognized as a leading voice in the emerging genre of conscious music, will kick off the festival with his beat-happy, Krishna-crazed music that blends his love and knowledge of yoga culture with hip hop, reggae and electronic music. Enjoy inspirational talks about his journey and transformation through yoga, meditation and the power of music.

-Yogi-influencer Laura Sykora will lead several yoga classes, open to all levels of practice, in the fun and playful, yet challenging style for which she is known. Classes will be offered at various times.
DanceBody, one of New York and Miami’s hottest new workout crazes, combines dance-inspired cardio and toning set to motivating music to encourage attendees to move their bodies in new ways and work muscles they didn’t know existed. Well-rounded, full-body workouts, easy to follow classes and feel-good motivation offer an unparalleled dance-inspired fitness experience.

-Meditation is an increasingly popular wellness trend for all ages, and MNDFL is the New York City studio credited with bringing the contemplative practice to the masses in the Northeast. Two of MNDFL’s leaders will bring the transformative powers of meditation to Amelia Island to guide mindfulness and encourage refocus for participants.

In addition to the selection of sessions, on-site activities at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island host location will include a welcome reception, break-out sessions, morning yoga, and select food and beverage offerings. The weekend will culminate with a communal dinner on Saturday, including a panel discussion with the wellness masters.

Additional offers are available island-wide, including: standup paddleboard yoga instruction, offered by Kayak Amelia; nature kayak trips guided by Amelia Island Kayak Excursions and Kayak Amelia; Flexx It, Spin, Punchography and PIYO fitness classes at The Beat Fitness Studio; fitness instruction by Susie Dodge Fitness and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation; as well as a variety of yoga classes ranging from sunset yoga to beer yoga, offered by Centered on Yoga, Pajama Dave’s, and Café Karibo.

At a package price of $349 for Nassau County residents (code: FBFLOVE), participants enjoy access to official programming Friday through Sunday at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Tickets can be purchased at ameliaislandwellnessfestival.com. Additional activities, accommodation offers, and packages will be offered across Amelia Island. For more information and a full schedule of events, go to ameliaislandwellnessfestival.com.

Positive Parenting

Parents have an important job. Raising kids is both rewarding and challenging. You’re likely to get a lot of advice along the way, from doctors, family, friends, and even strangers. But every parent and child is unique. Being sensitive and responsive to your kids can help you build positive, healthy relationships together.

“Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic, a parent-child relationship expert. “What it means is recognizing what your child needs in the moment and providing that in an effective way.” This can be especially critical for infants and toddlers, he adds. Strong emotional bonds often develop through sensitive, responsive, and consistent parenting in the first years of life. For instance, holding your baby lovingly and responding to their cries helps build strong bonds.

Building Bonds
Strong emotional bonds help children learn how to manage their own feelings and behaviors and develop self-confidence. They help create a safe base from which they can explore, learn, and relate to others.
Experts call this type of strong connection between children and their caregivers “secure attachment.” Securely attached children are more likely to be able to cope with challenges like poverty, family instability, parental stress, and depression.

A recent analysis shows that about 6 out of 10 children in the U.S. develop secure attachments to their parents. The 4 out of 10 kids who lack such bonds may avoid their parents when they are upset or resist their parents if they cause them more distress. Studies suggest that this can make kids more prone to serious behavior problems. Researchers have been testing programs to help parents develop behaviors that encourage secure attachment.

Being Available
Modern life is full of things that can influence your ability to be sensitive and responsive to your child. These include competing priorities, extra work, lack of sleep, and things like mobile devices. Some experts are concerned about the effects that distracted parenting may have on emotional bonding and children’s language development, social interaction, and safety.

If parents are inconsistently available, kids can get distressed and feel hurt, rejected, or ignored. They may have more emotional outbursts and feel alone. They may even stop trying to compete for their parent’s attention and start to lose emotional connections to their parents.

“There are times when kids really do need your attention and want your recognition,” Crnic explains. Parents need to communicate that their kids are valuable and important, and children need to know that parents care what they’re doing, he says.

It can be tough to respond with sensitivity during tantrums, arguments, or other challenging times with your kids. “If parents respond by being irritable or aggressive themselves, children can mimic that behavior, and a negative cycle then continues to escalate,” explains Dr. Carol Metzler, who studies parenting at the Oregon Research Institute.

According to Crnic, kids start to regulate their own emotions and behavior around age three. Up until then, they depend more on you to help them regulate their emotions, whether to calm them or help get them excited. “They’re watching you to see how you do it and listening to how you talk to them about it,” he explains. “Parents need to be good self-regulators. You’re not only trying to regulate your own emotions in the moment, but helping your child learn to manage their emotions and behavior.”

As kids become better at managing their feelings and behavior, it’s important to help them develop coping skills, like active problem solving. Such skills can help them feel confident in handling what comes their way.
“When parents engage positively with their children, teaching them the behaviors and skills that they need to cope with the world, children learn to follow rules and regulate their own feelings,” Metzler says.

“As parents, we try really hard to protect our kids from the experience of bad things,” Crnic explains. “But if you protect them all the time and they are not in situations where they deal with difficult or adverse circumstances, they aren’t able to develop healthy coping skills.”

He encourages you to allow your kids to have more of those experiences and then help them learn how to solve the problems that emerge. Talk through the situation and their feelings. Then work with them to find solutions to put into practice. 
Meeting Needs
As children grow up, it’s important to remember that giving them what they need doesn’t mean giving them everything they want. “These two things are very different,” Crnic explains. “Really hone in on exactly what’s going on with your kid in the moment. This is an incredibly important parenting skill and it’s linked to so many great outcomes for kids.”

Think about where a child is in life and what skills they need to learn at that time. Perhaps they need help managing emotions, learning how to behave in a certain situation, thinking through a new task, or relating to friends.

“You want to help kids become confident,” Crnic says. “You don’t want to aim too high where they can’t get there or too low where they have already mastered the skill.” Another way to boost confidence while strengthening your relationship is to let your kid take the lead.

“Make some time to spend with your child that isn’t highly directive, where your child leads the play,” advises Dr. John Bates, who studies children’s behavior problems at Indiana University Bloomington. “Kids come to expect it and they love it, and it really improves the relationship.”

Bates also encourages parents to focus on their child’s actual needs instead of sticking to any specific parenting principles.

It’s never too late to start building a healthier, more positive relationship with your child, even if things have gotten strained and stressful. “Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that you love them and are on their side,” Metzler says. “For older children, let them know that you are genuinely committed to building a stronger relationship with them and helping them be successful.”

By being a sensitive and responsive parent, you can help set your kids on a positive path, teach them self-control, reduce the likelihood of troublesome behaviors, and build a warm, caring parent-child relationship.

Tips for Connecting with Your Kids
-Catch kids showing good behavior and offer specific praise.
-Give children meaningful jobs at home and positive recognition afterward. Don’t be overly critical; instead, help them improve their skills one step at a time.
-Use kind words, tones, and gestures when giving instructions or making requests. 
-Spend some time every day in warm, positive, loving interaction with your kids. Look for opportunities to spend time as a family, like taking after-dinner walks or reading books together.
-Brainstorm solutions to problems at home or school together.
-Set rules for yourself for mobile device use and other distractions. For instance, check your phone after your child goes to bed.
-Ask about your child’s concerns, worries, goals, and ideas.
-Participate in activities that your child enjoys. Help out with and attend their events, games, activities, and performances.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

Coping With Grief – Life After Loss

Losing someone you love can change your world. You miss the person who has died and want them back. You may feel sad, alone, or even angry. You might have trouble concentrating or sleeping. If you were a busy caregiver, you might feel lost when you’re suddenly faced with lots of unscheduled time. These feelings are normal. There’s no right or wrong way to mourn. Scientists have been studying how we process grief and are learning more about healthy ways to cope with loss.

The death of a loved one can affect how you feel, how you act, and what you think. Together, these reactions are called grief. It’s a natural response to loss. Grieving doesn’t mean that you have to feel certain emotions. People can grieve in very different ways.

Cultural beliefs and traditions can influence how someone expresses grief and mourns. For example, in some cultures, grief is expressed quietly and privately. In others, it can be loud and out in the open. Culture also shapes how long family members are expected to grieve.

“People often believe they should feel a certain way,” says Dr. Wendy Lichtenthal, a psychologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “But such ‘shoulds’ can lead to feeling badly about feeling badly. It’s hugely important to give yourself permission to grieve and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. People can be quite hard on themselves and critical of what they are feeling. Be compassionate and kind to yourself.”

Adapting to Loss 
Experts say you should let yourself grieve in your own way and time. People have unique ways of expressing emotions. For example, some might express their feelings by doing things rather than talking about them. They may feel better going on a walk or swimming, or by doing something creative like writing or painting. For others, it may be more helpful to talk with family and friends about the person who’s gone, or with a counselor.

“Though people don’t often associate them with grief, laughing and smiling are also healthy responses to loss and can be protective,” explains Dr. George Bonanno, who studies how people cope with loss and trauma at Columbia University. He has found that people who express flexibility in their emotions often cope well with loss and are healthier over time.

“It’s not about whether you should express or suppress emotion, but that you can do this when the situation calls for it,” he says. For instance, a person with emotional flexibility can show positive feelings, like joy, when sharing a happy memory of the person they lost and then switch to expressing sadness or anger when recalling more negative memories, like an argument with that person.

Grief is a process of letting go and learning to accept and live with loss. The amount of time it takes to do this varies with each person. “Usually people experience a strong acute grief reaction when someone dies and at the same time they begin the gradual process of adapting to the loss,” explains psychiatrist Dr. M. Katherine Shear at Columbia University. “To adapt to a loss, a person needs to accept its finality and understand what it means to them. They also have to find a way to re-envision their life with possibilities for happiness and for honoring their enduring connection to the person who died.”

Researchers like Lichtenthal have found that finding meaning in life after loss can help you adapt. Connecting to those things that are most important, including the relationship with the person who died, can help you co-exist with the pain of grief.

Types of Grief 
About 10% of bereaved people experience complicated grief, a condition that makes it harder for some people to adapt to the loss of a loved one. People with this prolonged, intense grief tend to get caught up in certain kinds of thinking, says Shear, who studies complicated grief. They may think the death did not have to happen or happen in the way that it did. They also might judge their grief—questioning if it’s too little or too much—and focus on avoiding reminders of the loss.

“It can be very discouraging to experience complicated grief, but it’s important not to be judgmental about your grief and not to let other people judge you,” Shear explains.

Shear and her research team created and tested a specialized therapy for complicated grief in three NIH-funded studies. The therapy aimed to help people identify the thoughts, feelings, and actions that can get in the way of adapting to loss. They also focused on strengthening one’s natural process of adapting to loss. The studies showed that 70% of people taking part in the therapy reported improved symptoms. In comparison, only 30% of people who received the standard treatment for depression had improved symptoms.

You may begin to feel the loss of your loved one even before their death. This is called anticipatory grief. It’s common among people who are long-term caregivers. You might feel sad about the changes you are going through and the losses you are going to have. Some studies have found that when patients, doctors, and family members directly address the prospect of death before the loss happens, it helps survivors cope after the death.

Life Beyond Loss 
NIH-funded scientists continue to study different aspects of the grieving process. They hope their findings will suggest new ways to help people cope with the loss of a loved one. Although the death of a loved one can feel overwhelming, many people make it through the grieving process with the support of family and friends. Take care of yourself, accept offers of help from those around you, and be sure to get counseling if you need it.

“We believe grief is a form of love and it needs to find a place in your life after you lose someone close,” Shear says. “If you are having trouble moving forward in your own life, you may need professional help. Please don’t lose hope. We have some good ways to help you.”

Wise Choices – Coping With Loss
-Take care of yourself. Try to exercise regularly, eat healthy food, and get enough sleep. Avoid habits that can put your health at risk, like drinking too much alcohol or smoking.
-Talk with caring friends. Let others know if you need to talk.
-Try not to make any major changes right away. It’s a good idea to wait for a while before making big decisions, like moving or changing jobs.
-Join a grief support group in person or online. It might help to talk with others who are also grieving. Check with your local hospice, hospitals, religious communities, and government agencies to find a group in your area.
-Consider professional support. Sometimes talking to a counselor about your grief can help.
-Talk to your doctor. Be sure to let your healthcare provider know if you’re having trouble with everyday activities, like getting dressed, sleeping, or fixing meals.
-Be patient with yourself. Mourning takes time. It’s common to feel a mix of emotions for a while.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

Home Sites at Amelia Island’s Crane Island Development Going Fast

AMELIA ISLAND, FL – The master planned community of Crane Island, located on Florida’s Amelia Island, has confirmed reservations for 27 lots, which is more than half of the available inventory in Phase I. Sales for the 169-acre community – with approximately 100 acres set aside for preservation – began Jan. 11. Phase I includes 48 lots, with a total of 110 home sites in all, starting from $300,000.
 
“In less than 40 days, we’ve seen incredible interest and intent for this community,” stated Crane Island Developer Jack B. Healan, Jr. “The location, access to resort-like amenities, exceptional homebuilder offerings and our dedication to preserving this natural setting have made Crane Island a highly sought after home site in Northeast Florida.”
 
The first new development on Amelia Island with deep-water access to the Intracoastal Waterway in 15 years, Crane Island is also the island’s last waterfront land available for new home construction with boat access.
 
Developed by long-time Amelia Island resident Jack B. Healan, Jr., Crane Island is designed as a low-impact development with minimal disturbance to the natural environment. The developers aim to create a small, but vibrant neighborhood that is surrounded by an extensive waterfront park.  The development will also include a private clubhouse, day dock, pool and walking paths. In addition, residents will have the opportunity for exclusive membership at Amelia Island Club, which includes privileges at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation for world class golf, spa, dining, tennis, beach service and more.  Builders for the development include Rutenberg Homes, Pineapple Corporation and Lendy Homes. 
 
The Crane Island Sales Team expects to break ground this summer on Phase I. For more information about Crane Island, visit the Sales Office Gallery (960185 Gateway Blvd., Suite 109, Fernandina Beach, FL), online at www.CraneIsland.com or call 904-432-8390.

2017 Fernandina Pirates Club Scholarship

The Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc. is calling for entries to their scholarship essay contest open to all Nassau County high school seniors. The gnarly scallywags offer two separate awards. One winner will be given some extra booty for college, and the other winner is chosen from the pool of students who enter the competition that have chosen to serve in our United States Armed Forces.

All contestants must submit a 750 word essay to the Pirates Club, by Monday April 10, 2017. The subject is to be about pirates or pirating: past, present or future, complete with proper citations and references. Eligible students may attend high school at home, in a public or private school, or in another county, but they must be a full-time resident of Nassau County, Florida.

The award for the college bound student is a check for up to $1,500.00 made payable to the winner’s chosen school upon acceptance, and must be applied towards tuition and/or books. The winning entry for the student entering military service will receive a check for $500.00 upon completion of basic training. Proof of completion is required.

The winner(s) must be available to join the Pirates on Sunday, May 7, 2017 on the Waterfront Stage during the “Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival” for a formal announcement, public relations photos and of course to grab the booty!

Fernandina Pirates Club, Inc.
P. O. Box 17243
Fernandina Beach, FL 32035

All entries must be submitted to the above address and post marked by April 10, 2017. For more information please visit FernandinaPirates.com.

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