Summer Water Safety Tips

Water Safety Tips From an Expert

Summer’s officially here, and so is plenty of time spent on the water! Whether you’re boating, tubing or taking a dip, practicing proper water safety and recognizing the specific dangers of swimming in rivers, lakes and other bodies of open water is essential.

Our team spoke with City of Waco Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Jeske and gathered information from our teams’ medical experts to provide you with this complete guide to summer water safety, including valuable water safety tips and educational resources to help you and your loved ones swim safely.

Open water, such as rivers and lakes, contains hazards that aren’t as common in enclosed home pools. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges that open water presents.

DANGER ONE: Low Visibility

Unlike most pools, it’s difficult to see the bottom of a river or a lake. Murky water makes it hard to see if a swimmer goes under the surface or a child falls in, so it’s especially important to stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings while in open water. In a 2019 study, Alive Solutions put 14 different swimsuits in a swimming pool and a lake to determine which colors stood out the most.

  • Neon orange, neon yellow, and neon green were the most visible colors in lakes and pools. When these colors have patterns, they become less visible in water. Bright, solid-colored swimsuits are the best choice for your child!
  • Neon pink performed well in pools but not as well in lakes.
  • The least visible colors included white, blue and green.

Hazards like rocks, logs and pieces of glass are also easily hidden, so watch your step and wear water shoes! The safest way to enter a body of open water is with your feet first, slowly wading further and further out.

DANGER TWO: Depth & Dropoffs

Low visibility also means varying depths and sudden drop-offs in open water can be hard to detect. Unlike pools, rivers and lakes don’t typically have distance and depth markings, requiring swimmers to exercise additional caution. “Follow the rules of the river or lake, and don’t venture outside the designated swimming areas,” says Tim Jeske. “You don’t know what the bottom looks like — it could drop from four feet to eight feet just like that.” Don’t dive headfirst into water if you don’t know how deep it is. Staying within marked areas helps ensure safety by minimizing encounters with unexpected hazards.

DANGER THREE: Currents & Tides

Currents in rivers can be unpredictable. Although they may be visible on the surface, some can flow undetected underwater. Waves and rip currents in lakes can also create a dangerous situation for even the most skilled swimmers. Before children swim in open water, make sure they know how to handle a crashing wave and escape a strong current.

DANGER FOUR: Lower Water Temperatures

When swimming in open water, it’s critical to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Lakes, rivers and other bodies of open water are typically colder than pool water, which can impact your ability to swim. Yes, even in Texas, there are spring-fed bodies of water that stay much colder than the air temperature all summer long. According to the National Weather Service, falling into cold water can result in shock and lead to panic or even drowning. If you’re traveling somewhere chilly, wear a wetsuit or other thermal clothing to shield yourself from the cold.

DANGER FIVE: Inclement Weather

The final key danger to watch for is paying close attention to the weather. Open water is far more susceptible to weather changes than pools. Heavy rain and flooding can create strong currents and dangerous swimming conditions, and man-made reservoirs can go from being shallow to overflowing in no time. Always monitor the weather and be prepared to leave the water at the first sign of bad weather to keep yourself and others safe.

Tip #1: Never leave children unattended.

This tip may seem like common sense, but we may feel comfortable leaving children unattended if they know how to swim. Lakes and rivers generally don’t have lifeguards on duty, so paying attention and having at least one adult supervising the area is especially important.

We all need to use the restroom, grab a snack or check our phone every once in a while. If you take a break, make sure that another adult is watching over your group of swimmers. Not paying attention for even a short time can have deadly consequences.

“It only takes half a cup of water in your lungs to drown,” says Tim Jeske. “People can drown within a few seconds. A child can slip under the water just like that.”

If someone is showing signs of drowning, follow these steps from the American Red Cross to perform drowning CPR. Drowning CPR is the combination of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (repeated chest compressions) and delivering rescue breaths (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation).

Drowning CPR for Adults

  1. Immediately call 911.
  2. Check the victim’s responsiveness using the Shout-Tap-Shout method.
    • Shout to get a response from the victim, tap their shoulder and shout again.
  3. Place the victim on their back on a firm, flat surface.
  4. Center both of your hands on their chest with your shoulders directly over your hands. Provide 30 chest compressions at a depth of 2 inches. Allow their chest to return to normal after each compression.
    • One of the most important parts of delivering chest compressions is maintaining a consistent tempo. Stick to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees (103 beats per minute).
  5. After the first 30 compressions, open the victim’s airway by slightly tilting their head back. Pinch their nose shut, take a normal breath and make a complete seal over the person’s mouth with your mouth.
  6. Provide two rescue breaths. Ensure each breath lasts about one second and you see the victim’s chest rise. Allow air to exit before administering the next breath.
  7. Alternate between 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths. Do not stop until help arrives or you notice an obvious sign of life.

Drowning CPR for Infants & Children

  1. Immediately call 911.
  2. Check for responsiveness using the Shout-Tap-Shout method.
    • If you’re performing drowning CPR on an infant, tap the bottom of their foot instead of their shoulder to check for a response. For children, you can tap their shoulder.
  3. Place the victim on their back on a firm, flat surface.
  4. For infants, place both thumbs side by side on the center of the infant’s chest. Provide 30 chest compressions at a depth of 1.5 inches. Allow their chest to return to normal after each compression. For children, follow the same method you would use on an adult.
  5. After the first 30 compressions, open the victim’s airway by slightly tilting their head back. Pinch their nose shut, take a normal breath and make a complete seal over the person’s mouth with your mouth.
  6. Provide two rescue breaths. Ensure each breath lasts about one second and you see the victim’s chest rise. Allow air to exit before administering the next breath.
  7. Alternate between 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths. Do not stop until help arrives or you notice an obvious sign of life.

Tip #2: Alcohol and water don’t mix.

According to the CDC, alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation. Alcohol use also contributes to nearly one in four emergency department visits for drowning and about one in five reported boating deaths in the United States. The bottom line? Your drink can wait — no life is worth it. Alcohol dulls your senses, clouds your judgment and impedes your ability to supervise children and stay ready to act to protect others.

Tip #3: Use the buddy system.

Always swim with a buddy, no matter how confident you are in your swimming abilities. You never know what could happen out on the water, and you’d rather be safe than sorry.

Tim Jeske’s number one piece of water safety advice? “Never swim alone.” This extends beyond just swimming. Whether you’re boating, kayaking, canoeing or participating in any other water activity, do it with a buddy and always inform someone who isn’t on the trip about your plans. Let them know where you’ll be and when you expect to return. This precaution ensures that help can arrive more quickly if something goes wrong.

Tip #4: Wear a life jacket.

According to Texas state law, a life jacket must be worn by each person aboard a vessel. All children under 13 are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on recreational vessels that are under 26 feet long and underway, or on the water. This law also applies when the vessel is drifting or not at anchor.

“A common misconception is that you don’t need a life jacket if you know how to swim,” says Tim Jeske. “It takes the average adult 60 seconds to drown. It only takes 30 seconds to put on a life jacket, and it buys you time to get rescued.”

If you wear a life jacket that doesn’t fit properly, it defeats the purpose of wearing it in the first place. Once your life jacket is properly fastened, raise your arms above your head, grab the shoulders and gently pull up. If the life jacket rides up over your chin or face or there’s room between your shoulders and the life jacket, your life jacket is too loose. Once you find a life jacket that passes this test, you’re good to go!

Tip #5: Always wear sun protection.

Although sunlight and vitamin D are essential to human survival, you don’t want too much of a good thing. Every day, approximately 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer. Even if the sky is overcast, clouds can only filter up to 25% of the sun’s UV rays. Wear sun protection while having fun on the water this summer, no matter the weather.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that all children and adults wear water-resistant, broad-spectrum protection sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher when spending time outdoors. Many retailers also offer sun-protective swimwear and clothing — look for UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) labels while shopping. Last but not least, don’t forget your hat and sunglasses!

 

Swim Lessons and Water Safety Education Resources in Central Texas

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones while enjoying time on the water is through education. Find your town below to learn about swim lessons and educational resources available in your area.

Tim Jeske’s Favorite Water Safety Education Resources

Gatesville Swim Lessons

  • The Gatesville City Pool offers swim lessons for children ages 4-12 starting May 28th. The program lasts from May 28th to July 26th. Registration is currently open and will remain open until July 21st or when slots fill up — you still have time to sign up your child!

Waco Swim Lessons

  • The Greater Waco YMCA offers swim lessons for swimmers as young as six months to adults. Whether you’re a parent wanting to swim with your child as they learn or you’re an adult wanting to improve your skills, they have plenty of options.
  • Swim Kids Waco provides summer swim lessons in Waco, Woodway, Hewitt, Lorena, West, McGregor, China Spring and Robinson. No matter where you’re located, there’s probably a session available for your child!

Temple Swim Lessons

  • Check out Sammons Park Indoor Pool for parent and child, preschool aquatics, Learn to Swim and adult swim lessons starting in June.

By remembering these tips and resources while on the water, you and your family can have a safe, fun-filled summer!

June is Wound Care Awareness Month

June is Wound Care Awareness Month, and the Coryell Health Advanced Wound Care Center is here to share the seven steps of wound management! For more information, call (254) 248-6204.

Bariatric Surgery Q&A with Dr. David Gochnour

Surgical Weight Loss Advice from an Expert

Are you struggling in your weight loss journey? Not enjoying your once-favorite activities due to a lack of energy? Not sleeping well? Bariatric surgery can be the solution.

In our Q&A interview, board certified bariatric surgeon Dr. David Gochnour answers common questions surrounding bariatric surgery and offers invaluable insights and clarity to those considering this step toward improved health and well-being.

What is Ozempic?

Dr. Gochnour: Ozempic is an injection that was approved for the management of diabetes by the FDA in 2017. While developing the drug, Novo Nordisk also observed notable weight loss results in their patient studies. Ozempic is what we call a GLP-1 agonist. Ironically, we know about GLP-1 agonists through studying bariatric surgery because GLP-1 was an upregulated hormone after patients underwent surgery. GLP-1 agonists have notable effects on our metabolic profiles. They help to increase satiety, decrease hunger and upregulate other metabolic parameters that all contribute to our energy homeostasis at any given time.

Is Ozempic safe for weight loss?

Dr. Gochnour: Ozempic is safe for weight loss — it’s been well-studied. You can expect approximately 10% of weight loss when you take Ozempic. However, if you weigh 300 pounds and lose 30 pounds, while that will be beneficial, it won’t significantly impact your health and longevity.

Some side effects of Ozempic include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in bowel habits and feelings of distention or bloating. The most dangerous side effect is when people’s blood sugar drops too low, and it’s a clinically relevant hypoglycemia, which may be deadly.

What is bariatric medicine?

Dr. Gochnour: Bariatric medicine focuses on using medications, such as GLP-1 agonists like Ozempic or Wegovy, to help somebody lose weight. Surgical therapy is a surgical alteration of the gastrointestinal tract that promotes permanent, durable weight loss.

It’s important to remember that both therapies help treat the disease process of obesity. They don’t have to be used separately. You can use medical therapy in conjunction with surgical therapy in order to maximize weight loss results.

Bariatric surgery vs. bariatric medicine — what’s the difference?

Dr. Gochnour: When comparing bariatric medicine with bariatric surgery, it’s important to know that this is a comprehensive approach to a disease process. Both are important when taking care of our patients.

When we look between the two, the biggest difference is effectiveness. Some weight loss medications are really advanced, and we’re getting up to 20-30% of body weight loss, which is outstanding. We’re happy to see that. But when we look at surgical weight loss, it’s pretty common for people to get 65-70% of their excess body weight loss. That sometimes translates to 100, 130 or 140 pounds. As you can imagine, that will go much further toward improving that person’s health and longevity.

The second difference would be durability. With medications, you have to keep taking them to maintain your weight loss. Bariatric surgery is much more durable. It’s a permanent procedure that creates the same desired weight loss effects for the remainder of your life.

A third factor is cost. Unfortunately, a lot of these newer medications can be very expensive. It can be hard to get approved by your insurance company, so some people are spending $500-$800 a month on these weight loss medications. Even if someone had to pay a cash fee for their surgical weight loss, there’s a much larger cost saving over time. Once that cost is incurred, you’re done.

Whether a patient’s looking at medically supervised weight loss with medications or surgical therapy, it’s imperative to understand that these are just tools to augment healthy lifestyle habits like diet and exercise. That doesn’t mean you have to rip your sleeves off your shirt and join a CrossFit gym, but it does mean that you have to practice daily active living and exercise habits. When we eat, we have to focus on eating high-quality, nutritious foods in the proper proportions.

What are the requirements for bariatric surgery?

Dr. Gochnour: Most insurance companies will require a patient to have a BMI of 40 or a BMI of 35 with other medical morbidities. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recently published new recommendations to drop that threshold so that patients with a BMI over 30 with comorbidities or a BMI of 35 with no comorbidities can also access this critical part of healthcare.

Your bariatric surgeon may have requirements such as seeing a nutritionist and getting a mental health clearance. Some bariatric surgeons will perform an upper endoscopy to evaluate the upper gastrointestinal tract before surgery. At most, you will undergo a laboratory analysis before proceeding with surgery. Insurance companies may have additional requirements like medically supervised weight loss and visits with a nutritionist, primary care physician or surgeon before proceeding with surgery.

Is bariatric surgery safe?

Dr. Gochnour: When we started performing bariatric surgery, many people considered this to be a low-volume, high-risk procedure. With technological advancement and the modernization of our procedures, the bariatric process has become a high-volume, low-risk procedure.

For instance, the mortality rate after bariatric surgery is somewhere between .04 and .09%. That’s less than 1 in 1,000 patients. Gallbladder removal, one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States, has a mortality rate of approximately .15%. By and large, bariatric surgery is one of our safest surgeries.

Risks of bariatric surgery explained

Dr. Gochnour: The complication rate of bariatric surgery is generally less than 5% when well-trained hands perform it with the right technology. We decrease those risks even more using minimally invasive techniques like the da Vinci Surgical System.

The risks of bariatric surgery aren’t any different than any other surgical procedure we perform. You’re going to have risks like bleeding and infection, although using the minimally invasive techniques that we use decreases those risks exponentially. Some people may not tolerate the changes to the gastrointestinal system as well as others. Still, generally speaking, people will resolve those symptoms and lead very happy and healthy lives.

When you consider obesity and the contributions it makes to the comorbidities and other medical problems that are killing our society, bariatric surgery is a very low-risk, high-reward procedure.

How much does bariatric surgery cost? Is bariatric surgery covered by insurance?

Dr. Gochnour: Today, most insurance companies will have bariatric benefits. Now, how much of that cost is borne by the patient? That variable depends on their insurance plan specific to that particular insurance company.

When people don’t have the insurance coverage for bariatric surgery, it’s important to recognize the profound cost savings over time. This has been studied at length, and millions of dollars are saved in total life healthcare after bariatric surgery.

Is getting bariatric surgery in another country like Mexico safe?

Dr. Gochnour: There are fantastic surgeons around the world, including in Mexico or other places where people will usually go to seek surgery when they’re looking for more affordable options than here at home. However, you have to ask yourself these questions:

  • “Do I know that they’re a fantastic surgeon or not?”
  • “Who’s going to do my follow-up?”
  • “Who am I going to call if I have a problem?”
  • “What’s going to happen if I start gaining weight? Who will I go to?”

The problem with medical tourism is you don’t have the coaching or mentorship that comes with an established, comprehensive bariatric surgical program.

Dr. David Gochnour specializes in minimally invasive bariatric surgery using a da Vinci robot. He decided to specialize in surgery after witnessing how surgery can change patients’ lives for the better, and he can change your life, too. To schedule an initial consultation with Coryell Bariatric Medicine, call (254) 404-2500. Visit our bariatric surgery page for more information.

About the Doctor

Dr. David Gochnour earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University. He attended medical school and completed his residency in general surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Gochnour also completed specialty fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery, robotics and bariatric surgery at UTHSC. Dr. Gochnour is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Top 10 Reasons to Choose Coryell Bariatric Medicine

The Key to Your Weight Loss Success

Losing weight can be a daunting task, but with Coryell Bariatric Medicine, it doesn’t have to be. Our bariatric surgery program, led by Dr. David Gochnour, has changed countless patients’ lives for the better, and it can change yours, too. Not convinced? Here are the top 10 reasons you should choose Coryell Bariatric Medicine as your partner in your weight loss journey.

1. Board Certified Expertise

While serving our country in the Army as a combat medic and EMT, Dr. David Gochnour found his calling in medicine. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University, and then attended medical school and completed his residency in general surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. After seeing surgery positively impact many patients’ lives, he decided to complete specialty fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery, robotics and bariatric surgery at UTHSC. To top it all off, Dr. Gochnour is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. He uses his gifts and qualifications to change people’s lives, and he can change yours, too!

2. Minimally Invasive, Robot-Assisted Bariatric Surgery

Coryell Health’s da Vinci Xi surgical system allows our bariatric team to perform gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures using minimally invasive techniques. Here’s how robot-assisted surgery with Coryell Health works:

  1. The surgeon creates several small incisions and uses a high-definition 3D camera for a magnified, clear view of the surgical area.
  2. Using the camera, the surgeon guides the instruments to perform the procedure.
  3. The da Vinci system translates the surgeon’s hand movements in real-time, bending and rotating the instruments so he or she can operate on the digestive system.

When physicians utilize the precise capabilities of the da Vinci surgical system, patients typically have a shorter recovery post-surgery. Dr. Gochnour, our lead bariatric surgeon, underwent specialty fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery, robotics and bariatric surgery at UTHSC, Memorial Hermann Hospital, Texas Medical Center. When you undergo minimally invasive bariatric surgery with Coryell Health, you’re in highly capable hands.

3. Physician-Led Approach

Unlike other medical weight loss programs, Coryell Health’s bariatric program is led by a physician. Dr. Gochnour combines bariatric surgery, expert nutritional advice and behavioral health counseling to maximize results and keep you on the right track post-surgery. Although bariatric surgery is a more permanent weight loss solution compared to taking weight loss medications like Ozempic, bariatric surgery patients still need to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle habits following their procedure. Coryell Bariatric Medicine emphasizes sustainable lifestyle changes and provides ongoing support to help patients achieve their weight loss goals for life.

4. Competitive Pricing

Achieving your weight loss goals doesn’t have to break the bank. Coryell Health currently offers the most competitive price for bariatric surgery in Central Texas. We provide patients with flexible financing options to help make bariatric surgery more accessible and affordable. Many insurance companies cover bariatric surgery under their plans, however, coverage varies for each patient. If bariatric surgery isn’t covered under your plan, we offer several financing options to assist our patients. Please us at (254) 404-2555 for any questions about the cost of bariatric surgery, and we’ll be happy to help you.

5. Convenient Location

When it comes to your weight loss journey, the last thing you need is the added stress and expense of traveling long distances for medical care. Coryell Health understands the importance of convenience and accessibility for our patients, which is why we’re proud to offer top-notch bariatric services in the heart of Central Texas, with clinics conveniently located in Gatesville, Waco and Temple. Gone are the days of having to drive to Dallas or fly to Mexico to receive bariatric surgery. With Coryell Health, you can access cutting-edge medical technology and the expertise of highly qualified surgeons without traveling far from home.

6. Personalized Treatment Plans

At Coryell Health, we understand that each patient is unique. That’s why our medical team provides a customized care plan to meet individual patient needs. Each patient’s treatment plan is tailored to their specific wellness goals, medical history and other factors, ensuring the best possible outcome and long-term success. Our treatment plans for patients undergoing bariatric surgery may include:

  • A medical evaluation by a physician
  • Treatment of possible medical issues contributing to weight gain
  • Laboratory blood tests
  • Body composition analysis
  • Nutritional counseling
  • An EKG or bone density screening
  • Prescription weight loss medication
  • Psychotherapy

7. Holistic Patient Education

Coryell Health offers comprehensive educational resources to empower patients with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed both before and after bariatric surgery. Before undergoing bariatric surgery, it’s essential for patients to thoroughly understand the procedure, its potential risks and benefits, and what to expect during the recovery process. From the initial consultation to preoperative assessments, our team is here to answer questions, address concerns and ensure that patients feel confident in their decision to pursue bariatric surgery. We also support our patients long after they leave the operating room through ongoing education and behavioral health counseling to ensure their long-term success.

8. Multidisciplinary Team of Specialists

Coryell Health’s bariatric team includes surgeons, nutritionists, psychologists and other specialists who collaborate to provide comprehensive patient care before, during and after surgery. We understand that achieving your long-term weight loss goals requires a multidisciplinary approach to address the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral aspects of weight management. Our team members work together closely to provide you with expert, personalized care every step of the way.

9. Proven Track Record of Success

Coryell Health’s bariatric program has a proven track record of success, with many patients achieving significant weight loss and improvements to their overall health and quality of life. Before undergoing bariatric surgery with Dr. Gochnour, patients experience a variety of health symptoms related to being overweight, including prediabetes, sleep apnea, joint pain, a lack of energy and more. Patients may have an underlying health condition that makes it difficult to lose weight. With the help of Dr. Gochnour and the Coryell Bariatric Medicine team, patients’ lives are forever changed for the better.

10. Big City Medicine and Small Town Care

Coryell Health’s bariatric program combines cutting-edge medical technology and expertise typically found in larger cities with the personalized, compassionate care that defines Central Texas. When you choose Coryell Health, you’re not just choosing a medical provider — you’re choosing a partner in your journey to better health and wellness.

Start your journey to becoming a happier, healthier you with Coryell Bariatric Medicine. From our minimally invasive surgical techniques and physician-led approach to our personalized treatment plans for each patient, Coryell Health goes the extra mile to ensure your weight loss story is a success. Change your life and call (254) 404-2555 today.

About the Doctor

Dr. David Gochnour earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M University. He attended medical school and completed his residency in general surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dr. Gochnour also completed specialty fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery, robotics and bariatric surgery at UTHSC. Dr. Gochnour is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Color The Shivaree Fun Run/Walk

Join us on Saturday, June 1, 2024, for the annual Color the Shivaree Fun Run/Walk, hosted by Coryell Health!

Run/walk through Gatesville and get covered in color as you go.
Color the Shivaree is fun for the whole family- the course is a comfortable 1.5 miles- children of all ages are welcome. A 5k route will also be offered. This race is not officially timed.

*Guaranteed t-shirt deadline: May 10th. After the deadline, it is first come, first serve.

**PRICING: Age 4-10 $15  | Age 11-17 $20   | Age 18+ $25

Sign up here: runsignup    

Note: Age-Based Pricing will be applied at checkout. This pricing will not be reflected on the sign-up page.

 

Coryell Health celebrated all of our medical practitioners to honor them for their commitment to their patients and the communities they serve. Now more than ever, it takes hard work and dedication to care for patients, yet they do it with compassion and a warm smile. National Doctors’ Day is a holiday to go above and beyond to let our physicians know how grateful we are for what they do for us, our families and the world.

Left to right: Left to right: Zoe Walker, MD; Rhonda Mangum, APRN, FNP-BC; Jantzen Matli, DO; Adrian Dirk, MD; Diedra Wuenschel, DO; Alecia Eads, FNP-C; Amy Stewart, FNP-C; Karly Keith, PA

Many of our amazing physicians are not pictured.

Eclipse Sun Protection Tips

When viewing a total solar eclipse, it’s critical to wear sunscreen, a hat and other protective clothing. If you’re watching the entire eclipse, you may be in direct sunlight for hours, and it’s essential to cover up while drinking plenty of water.

Even though the sun is partially or completely covered during the phases of a total solar eclipse, that doesn’t make the sun’s rays any less dangerous for your skin. “We have noticed the paper eclipse glasses don’t stay on well, especially for young children whose heads are smaller than the glasses frames. Wearing a hat or a cap can help prevent the sun rays from shining through the top of the glasses gap,” adds Diedra Wuenschel, DO: https://coryellhealth.org/eclipse-safety-tips/.

The Truth About Ear Piercing: What You Need to Know Before You Go

If you’re considering a new piercing or your children are asking for their ears to be pierced, you need to know these safety precautions and tips to protect from injury and infection.

What Are the Complications Associated With Ear Piercings?

You might not hear about it often, but many people who get their ears pierced experience complications, discomfort or infection afterward. In a survey, 35% of people questioned following a piercing stated that they experienced various complications. These can arise for several reasons, from unclean piercing instruments to an allergic reaction to the jewelry used in the process.

Where Should I Get My Ears Pierced?

If you choose to get a piercing or allow a minor to get a piercing, choosing a reputable, clean establishment is vital. “If you make the choice to get an ear piercing, it’s vital you choose a reputable piercing provider who abides by the Texas Health and Human Services’ regulations,” said Coryell Health provider Amy Bass, APRN, FNP-C.

You should look for this standard setup:

Are Piercing “Guns” or Needles Safer?

Piercing guns are never a good alternative to piercing needles, according to the Association of Professional Piercers. Piercing guns can’t be properly sanitized, are prone to malfunctions and may cause significant tissue damage. Needles create a small hole in the tissue where jewelry is then inserted, so the skin heals around the new path created by the needle. A piercing gun, which tears through the skin, is usually more painful and may cause swelling and potential infection. On top of these issues, training for gun piercing is not standardized, which can lead to inadequate expertise and misuse of the device.

“For young children, you also may want to select an earring with a screw locking mechanism that reduces the risk of the earring back coming off and becoming a choking hazard,” said Coryell Health family nurse practitioner Amy Bass.

How Important is Earring Selection?

Choose earrings made of hypoallergenic materials, such as sterling silver and 14-, 18- or 24-karat gold. These types of metals are not likely to cause an allergic reaction. Note that nickel frequently causes allergic reactions, so be sure the jewelry selected for piercing doesn’t have nickel during the piercing process and wait to replace the earrings until completely healed. 

Some individuals will still react to stainless steel, silver and even white gold, as they may be mixed with nickel, which could lead to an infection depending on your skin’s sensitivity. Wearing 14K yellow gold earrings consistently throughout the first year may help avoid irritation and complications. Consider the upfront cost of quality metal earrings as an investment in long-lasting, healthy piercings.

“About 35% of ear piercings result in a complication of some kind, so you’ll likely need some sort of medical intervention,” Amy Bass, APRN, FNP-C, said. “Sometimes the back or front of the earring can get embedded in the skin of the ear, which could also become a problem. If you notice an embedded earring back or pain, redness, puss or swelling that lasts longer than 24 hours after the piercing, we advise you to contact your doctor for an examination.”

How Can You Prevent Complications?

What can you do at home?

  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before touching your ears or earrings.
    • If you touch your new piercing with dirty hands that haven’t recently been washed, germs will transfer and could lead to an infection.
  • Clean with saline solution.
    • Use the saline solution provided by your piercer three times a day for six weeks for an earlobe piercing. After the healing period has ended, it is recommended that you continue using your ear care solution as needed to keep your new piercing and earrings clean. 
  • Avoid harsh cleansers.
    • Avoid cleaning your piercing with hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial soaps, which can damage your healing skin.
  • Don’t touch.
    • Avoid touching the new piercings, except when cleaning them.
    • Moving or rotating jewelry is not necessary during cleaning/rinsing and may actually irritate the piercing.
    • Leave jewelry in your ears at all times. Even well-healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes! If removed, reinsertion can be difficult or impossible.
  • Try to keep your hair away from your new piercings.
    • To prevent bacteria from transferring from your hair to your new piercings, try braiding, using a hair tie or wearing a headband to pull your hair back at night for at least the first month.
    • Having hair pulled away from piercings will also keep hair from getting caught on your earrings. Ouch!
  • Use petroleum jelly as needed.
    • Using the squeeze tube variety to prevent contamination, gently apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly around each opening. This will keep the piercings moist and less painful.
  • Avoid swimming until piercings are fully healed.
    • While healing, stay out of pools, hot tubs, lakes, and oceans because this could increase the risk of infection.
  • Don’t remove earrings too early.
    • Leave earrings in for eight weeks, giving your ears time to heal.

“To prevent irritation or damage to your freshly pierced ears, it’s crucial to avoid harsh products and excessive touching,” adds Amy Bass, APRN,
FNP-C.

If you choose to get a piercing, it is important to note that complications are possible even if you follow these precautions, but these safety precautions can reduce the risks! If you have concerns about a possible current infection, call your doctor right away.

Save and print this Caring for New Piercings PDF and post it in a visible spot so the information is easy to access. If you’re thinking about a piercing for you or your child and are still worried about how it might affect your health, call (254) 248-6204 to speak with Amy Bass, APRN, FNP-C with Coryell Health’s Advanced Wound Center for more information

Eye Injury First Aid Tips

The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that there is no treatment for solar retinopathy, which is why it is so important to wear eye protection during the eclipse. Eye damage from the eclipse is unlikely to cause pain or discomfort due to the retina’s lack of pain nerves. Instead, you would notice symptoms including blurry vision, headache, distortion and blind spots within four to six hours. If you believe you have suffered eye injury due to the eclipse, schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist. The Coryell Health staff will be ready to care for illnesses or injuries that occur during the event. Want to know where to go? https://bit.ly/4aci1Dh

Did you know daylight savings time is even harder on teens?

Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep “for optimal health,” according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. We all know most teens are getting much less sleep than the recommended hours, and this is before factoring in the additional hours lost due to the implementation of daylight savings time. Due to their youth, many people assume that teenagers can get by skimping on sleep, but the opposite is true. Early school start times, combined with teens’ natural inclination to stay up late, can result in shortened sleep, an increase in accidents, and a higher risk of depression. Parents need to know that these negative effects can be mitigated, but vigilance is needed. Planning for the time change can be key to lessening the impact of time change. Experts say starting an earlier-to-bed routine of 15 to 20 minutes each day for at least several days in advance of the time change can make a difference. If that’s not possible, do your best — every little bit helps. For most younger children, moving their bedtime and wake time by about 10 to 15 minutes earlier, starting three days before the time change, can help them adjust.

Don’t forget about yourself- parents also need to make sure they are getting the rest they need. – Emily Leib, PA, Coryell Health Sleep Specialist

For more information, contact your Coryell Health primary care physician or Coryell Health’s sleep center at (254) 248-6296.