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Wash your hands! This simple action is the number one way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The CDC recommends handwashing to reduce diarrheal disease-associated deaths, reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness outbreaks, and reduces risks for medical workers. There’s lots of ways our hands get dirty – changing diapers, pumping gas and any time you encounter bodily fluids. 

We’ve always known that routine handwashing is the best way to fight back against colds and flu – and it’s more important now than ever! Handwashing helps keep you from getting sick and from spreading germs by removing bacteria and viruses before they can enter your body or spread to others. Many illnesses begin when you come in contact with a child’s excreta, after using the toilet, touching other people’s hands or other contaminated surfaces. 

When should you wash your hands? 

when you return home from being out 
after using the bathroom 
before cooking or eating
after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
after touching animals, even family pets
after cleaning the house, especially toilets and sinks
before and after visiting or taking care of someone who is sick 

Handwashing the Right Way  

The World Health Organization recommends following this proper handwashing technique to be most effective in stopping the spread of germs. Teach this routine to your kids – and practice washing your hands together often so they understand how important this habit is to good health. When you wash, it should take about one minute from start to finish. Use a timer or count from 1-10 for each of the following steps. 

1. Wet hands with water and apply enough soap to cover the entire surfaces of the hands. Let the water run smoothly to avoid touching the tap later on. 

2. Rub hands palm to palm to obtain a good quantity of foam, then rub right hand over left hand with interlaced fingers and vice versa. 

3. Rub again palm to palm with fingers interlaced. 

4. Rub your left thumb rotationally into your right palm. Repeat with the right thumb. 

5. Rinse hands thoroughly with running water. 

6. Dry hands thoroughly with a single use towel. If the tap is not single use operated, use the towel to turn off the tap. 

Your hands are now clean and safe! When soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer than contains at least 60% alcohol. 

Essential Sleep

July 13th, 2020

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book" - Irish Proverb


We all know that sleep is important, yet it’s one of the easiest things to skip over when you’re busy, stressed or both. The value of sleep can’t be understated and plays an important role in your physical, mental and emotional health. It’s just as essential as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. When you sleep, your body uses that time to heal and repair muscles, organs and other cells. Sleep causes the body to release hormones that relax muscles and slow down your breathing, and this process is thought to reduce inflammation and even speed healing. 

What are the benefits of a good night’s right? Better concentration, for one. Lower risk of weight gain and heart disease and a stronger immune system have all been linked to adequate slumber. If sleep doesn’t come easily for you or it takes a long time to get or stay asleep, try these simple swaps to get the most out of your nighttime rest. 


As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day – like walking or biking – can improve the quality of your sleep and help battle insomnia. Not only does exercise improve the quality and quantity of sleep for many people, it can also help reduce stress and relieve anxiety – two areas that often keep people awake. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins in the brain, so the timing of exercise may matter. Most people should exercise at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime, allowing your body and brain time to wind down. 

Limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

Stimulants like these can interfere with sleep, especially if you partake later in the day. Set a cut off time for coffee or other caffeinated drinks (like around lunch time) and have a drink in moderation. Alcohol can help you fall asleep faster but can interfere with sleep in the middle of the night when your body is processing the alcohol. 

Get outside.

Exposure to natural light is important in maintaining your body’s sleep/wake cycle, known as your circadian rhythm. Exposure to light early in the day encourages wakefulness and energy throughout the day and helps signal to your body when it’s time to go to sleep at night. 

Create a sleep oasis.

Your bedroom should be a place to escape from the stresses of the day. Many experts recommend using your bed for sleep and sex only to help foster good sleep. Start by setting your thermostat to between 60 and 67 degrees, the temperature range for optimal sleep. If possible, keep lights low in the evening, especially after 9 pm, plug in your phone in another room and avoid TV time. Eye masks, white noise machines and fans can also make the environment more relaxing.  

Invest in blackout curtains.

Just like getting light during the day is important, it’s equally important to shut out the light at night. Light from a television, streetlamp outside your window or even the glow of an alarm clock can make falling asleep more difficult. And if it’s not dark enough in your bedroom, it could cause you to wake frequently in the night (and make it more difficult to fall back asleep). 

Set a bedtime.

Most adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night, so count back from the time you need to be up for work the next morning. Even adults benefit from going to bed at the same time each night, and your body will naturally fall into a rhythm when you go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. If you have trouble sticking to a bedtime, set a daily alarm for 30 minutes ahead of when you want to be in bed. This will give you a cushion of time to pick up, prepare for the next day and get settled.  

Most adults spend one-third of our lives sleeping, but its impact reaches to all other aspects of our lives. An occasional sleepless night is common for many people, but if it persists and you often have trouble sleeping – it’s time to talk with your doctor. Diagnosing and treating sleep issues can help you get the rest you need to lead a more full, energetic and successful life. 

Before any surgical procedure, your surgeon evaluates your individual risk for complications – including your medical history, current health conditions and risk factors – before deciding that surgery is safe. There are some risk factors you can’t change, like if you have a family history of heart disease or if you have type 1 diabetes. One major modifiable risk factor is a person’s weight. 

In hernia repair surgery, obesity greatly increases a person’s chance for complications – as well as the need for a second hernia repair. The general surgeons at USA Hernia Center want the very best for patients – and that means operating at a safe weight where the risk of complications is as low as possible. 

“Hernia repairs are technically elective procedures, meaning we want them to be medically optimized in every way. And obesity is one of the main contributing factors for complications in elective procedures,” says Robert Jean, MD, general and trauma surgeon at USA Hernia Center. “Most complications from hernia repair result from a mesh infection. People who are obese are at three times higher risk for a surgical site infection than people who are at a normal or normal-high body mass index.” 

Not only does extra weight impact infection risk, it also increases the likelihood that you’ll need surgery again. In the first 6 to 8 weeks after surgery, the hernia repair is relying on a synthetic material to hold the repair together as the scar becomes strong enough to fix the hernia completely. 

Excess weight increases the amount of pressure on the repair, making it more likely to tear. Extra pressure from other factors can also lead to this complication – like smokers who have a chronic cough, people who suffer from chronic constipation, or anyone who is pregnant or planning to get pregnant. The mass of a baby alone is enough pressure on a repair to cause it to fail. 

Personalized Risk Analysis 
When patients are asked to lose weight, some believe they’ll never be eligible for surgery. Dr. Jean stresses that the goal isn’t to lose 50 percent of their body weight. The surgeons at USA Hernia Center do a risk/benefit analysis for each individual seeking surgery, looking closely to see what changes can be made to ensure the surgery is safe. The effect of excess weight on surgical outcomes is very well studied, and surgical safety calculators demonstrate specifically how weight loss can improve surgical outcomes overall. 

To put it in perspective, a person who has a body mass index (BMI) of 48 may be asked to lower their BMI to between 40 and 45, which translates to a 20 to 30-pound weight loss for most people. And individuals who lower their BMI from 40 to 30 decrease their risk of complications by 50 percent! 

When you need a hernia repair – or any surgical procedure – it can be disheartening to hear that you need to lose weight before it’s safe. But you aren’t alone. The USA Hernia Center can connect you with resources and provide information to help you on the path to success. It’s important to remember that no one is being singled out because of obesity, and there are other groups who also receive recommendations about changes that must be made before surgery. Because safe surgery is always the goal. 

“Safety is our highest priority, and we ask patients in several situations to make changes that are necessary to reduce their risk of complications. We require heavy smokers to stop smoking. When a person has diabetes or heart disease, we want those conditions under control. Obesity is just a piece of the puzzle, and it’s one risk factor we can control,” explains Dr. Jean. “I know that it’s not easy, but it’s something you can do to increase your chances of a good outcome. I can perform any kind of surgery at any weight, but my question is ‘should I do it?’”

“When I’m having these conversations with patients, I understand that no likes getting advice about how to live their life. We truly want the best for those under our care and want to point them in the right direction,” says Dr. Jean. “Because of the complex nature of hernia surgery and the many factors that contribute to success, preparation at the beginning makes all the difference in the end.”  

For more information and services available at University Surgical Associates, visit To schedule an appointment, call 423.267.0466. 

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