Whisper n Thunder

You & Your Health

kʌ- kayaˀtakenháhslaˀ ótyahke

You & Your Health is the first phase of Whisper n Thunder's  Health Initiative Project. You & Your Health is an online Q & A page for questions around health issues. We are delighted to have Shelley Ninham-Corey, RN, writing this area for us. She is from The Oneida Tribe of Indian, of Wisconsin.


What health questions do you have? Shelley will answer questions, as well as pull in other medical specialists as needed. Whether to examine what diabetes is or what nutrition needs are best, tips for general health or how to combat depression, questions about substance abuse etc, please email your question to Shelley at: scorey_rn@ymail.com .

Q & A - Last update: 10.12.13

SPF: sun protection factor

During the summer the general recommendation is that everyone should use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 daily. Sunscreens with SPF of 15 or more filter 92% of the UVB responsible for skin redness and make sunburn unlikely in most individuals.

FYI: The effects of years of exposure to the sun are cumulative and damaging to the skin.

The ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun cause degenerative changes in the dermis that result in premature aging from loss of elasticity and thinning, wrinkling, and drying of the skin.

Prolonged and repeated sun exposure is a major factor in precancerous and cancerous lesions.

Did you know that vitamin D3 is produced in the skin and is necessary for vitamin D synthesis; however only a few minutes of sun on small areas of the body meet this need.

What do blood pressure numbers mean?


ex110/68 mm Hg This number would read as "110 over 68 millimeters of mercury"

: The top number (110) measures the amount of pressure in     the arteries when the heart pumps the blood out of the heart to the rest     of the body. The heart muscle is contracting.

: The bottom number (68) measures the amount of pressure in     the arteries when the heart is filling up with blood from the body. The heart muscle is resting at this time.

                                                                                              ~ Shelley


I'm wondering how often should I have my cholesterol checked?

The American Heart Association recommends that everyone 20 and older have a fasting "lipoprotein profile" every five years. You want to do this because to much cholesterol in the blood can lead to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.  

       ~ Shelley

Shelley, What are are the symptoms of a stroke?
Stroke symptoms include:
  • SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body.
  • SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.           ~ Shelley


Recently after a minor heart attack I have had three stents put in. Can you tell me how these work? Will they ever have to be replaced? I’m in my early 60s. Thanks! ~ Tom


A stent is a small metal mesh tube that acts as a scaffold to provide support inside your coronary artery.  It holds open the area that has blockage.  I've never heard of stents having to be replaced.  I am sure that the hospital will provide cardiac re-hab and nutritional teachings for you.  It's very important that you follow these guidelines strictly.  It's common that people who do not follow the diet and exercise program will frequently continue to have blockage and need continued cardiac procedures.  I can't stress it strongly enough to make sure you follow an exercise program, diet and lifestyle changes for the remainder of your life.  I hope I'm not scaring you but many times people start feeling better and go back to their old lifestyle.  If you have more question please ask.  I wish you my very best in your healing process. 


                                                                           ~ Shelley

How can I tell if someone is having a stroke?  What should I do?

FACE     Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
ARMS    Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one of the arms drift downward?
SPEECH     Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech should slurred or strange?
TIME     If you observe any of these signs call 911 immediately!

                                                                                                    ~ Shelley

I heard on the radio there are 86,000 amputations per year due to diabetes. How does a person go from being on insulin to getting their leg cut off? Does it happen eventually to everybody? ~ David


Diabetes is very hard on all of the body's organs! If a person with diabetes takes precautions to help slow down the progression of the disease it could make a huge difference in their life. It can be reversible! If a person changes their lifestyle. Eating healthy and exercising can make all the difference Eating lean mets, low fat, low cars, low sodium, lots of veggies and some fruits daily with exercise can turn things around. If you take steps to make a lifestyle change this I would have to say..."no" - everyone with diabetes will not have an amputation.

~ Shelley

"Why does the humidity affect my energy level so much? Living in poverty with almost no access to electricity and the summer coming - am depressed... - Vianay


Our bodies have a built in tempature regulation. If the environment is hot and humid our body attempts to keep our core body tempature from going too high. If our body tempatures go to high we can ultimately die. Our body perspires, we lose salt and water which increases our metabolic rate and muscle activity. Dehydration can occur because of increased sweating and evaporation of sweat that results in loss of salt and water. Our body is working very hard to keep us safe! Your energy level is greatly affected by lower sodium levels from sweating. Make sure you wear loose fitting cotton clothing, stay in the shade, take some cool down showers, don't do strenous activities and most of all drink A LOT of water. 

If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. I hope this helps you.


                                                                                             ~ Shelley

Shelley - I have gotten a high total chloresterol report. Help!
~ Natalie

Hi Natalie

I would recommend  you go to, The American Heart association website.


The link above will take you to a cooking guide about dietary changes to lower cholesterol. Type in the search box; How to lower cholesterol.  There are things you can do to lower cholesterol:   exercise, diet and quit smoking if you smoke. The things you cant do anything about are:  heredity, age and sex.  You will have to make a lifestyle change in order to lower your cholesterol. Here is a link that will give you some ideas about changing your lifestyle.


I hope this helps you to get started. If you have more questions let me know.
  Remember to ask your Doctor if it's OK with him or her before making changes.


                                                                                          ~ Shelley                       

What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease is a progressive mental deterioration.
Symptoms include:
  • confusion
  • memory failure
  • disorientation
  • restlessness
  • agnosia  (or loss of knowledge)
  • speech disturbances
  • inability to carry out purposeful movement
  • hallucinations
If you have any questions or would like to hear more information send it to my personal email address scorey_rn@rocketmail.com 

                                                                                               ~ Shelley

Dear Shelley,
I take a medication called furosemide.  I recently was hospitalized and had four iv bags of potassium because my level was low.  I don’t understand how my potassium got so low or what low means.  I was at my clinic doctor 2 days before and they said my lab results were fine.  Can you explain potassium for me please.

Thank You, Ann

Potassium is also called an electrolyte.  A major function of potassium is the maintenance of regular heart rhythm and is critical to the function of cells.  A potassium level below 3.5 mEg/L is considered low potassium (hypokalemia).  It can be caused from a list of reasons and one of them is called diuretic therapy.  The medication furosemide (lasix) is considered diuretic therapy, a water pill.  It depletes the level of potassium in your body.  It's very important to have your blood potassium level checked regularly.  It's a good practice for you to ask your doctor about your potassium level.  Keep a notebook record with the potassium level written down.  If your told it's below 3.5 mEq/L then also ask questions about what to do about the low level.  Being aware and asking as many questions it takes until you understand is a good practice as a patient.   No question is too small. 

                                                                                          ~ Shelley

I'd like to know if there's a specific way to remove a wood tick?
Apply vaseline to the tick where it is attached to your skin.  The tick only has it's head inserted and needs to breathe.  When vaseline is applied around the insertion site the tick will pull out.  Dispose of the tick with a tissue.  Usually flushing it down the toilet is a good place.
                                                                                          ~ Shelley

Hi Shelley,
Is it true that a person can develop skin cancer after just one sunburn?

Dear Jessie,
That's a great question!  The answer is yes. Sunburns may be first or second degree burns.

One should immediately speak to a dermatologist if one develops a skin lesion that has an asymmetrical form, has darker edges than center, changes color, or becomes larger than 1/4 inch (6 mm).

Reference: httP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunburn 
                                                                                                                     ~  Shelley

Is it true that too much tylenol can cause severe problems? 
Yes, In fact tylenol (aceteminophen) can cause liver failure.  It can happen from the very first time a person takes more than 4000 mg in 24 hours.  If you look at the back of a bottle it will tell you how many milligrams each pill contains.  One extra strength tylenol (aceteminophen) contains 500 mg's. That means 8 extra strength tylenol pills contain 4000 mg's.  No more than eight pills in 24 hours is allowed.  Also, there are many over the counter medications that contain aceteminophen.  Check the back of the medication bottles for ingredients.  The local pharmacist is a good resource, make sure you ask before taking too much. 

                                                                                        ~ Shelley

The following post is from WnT RN Shelley...

Well there is something happening that usually never happens.  My Husband is considered a young, healthy adult 42!  Takes no meds and has a clear bill of health.   



Day 1: He started feeling like he was getting a flu because all his muscles ached.   A general feeling of malaise. (tiredness) 

Day 2:  Woke feeling the same except his skin was pale and had a low grade fever, 99.1F.


Day 3:   Woke feeling like he has the flu except was very weak and skin looked pasty pale, temp of 101.1F in the afternoon.  Gave extra strength Tylenol and ibuprofen for increased temp and generalized pain.  Could not get his temp below 103.7 even though he had topped the dosages for both XS Tylenol and ibuprofen.  After listening to his lungs, the right lower lung had signs of possible pneumonia which are diminished breath sounds in that lung field .  Which is very strange due to his age, and healthy past medical history.  He became short of breath very fast so we went to the hospital ER.  Where he got worse very quick. Temp increased to 104.1 after 1000mg (5000mg total) Tylenol and 2300mg ibuprofen, this could indicate very serious problems occurring fast.   The ER Physician ordered 2-3 breathing treatments done, blood cultures drawn, labs done. ER professionals filled our room quickly!  The MD then entered our room very quick and stated that he's diagnosed my Husband with right lower lobe pneumonia; it showed up on the chest x-ray.  Immediately gave IV antibiotics, IV fluids and treated the pneumonia quite aggressively.


I have NEVER heard this statement from an ER DOC: "For some reason, Pneumonia is going around young, healthy adults… for some reason.”  My husband is on day 9 and his right lung is not clear yet.  He's seeing NP at 0830 today.  I will keep you updated.


This is VERY, VERY scary because this strain of Pneumonia is virulent enough to put down young healthy adult.  I have some serious concerns for the mortality or morbidity of persons with respiratory problems, eg. asthma, copd, chf, heart problems  ect.....Please DON’T wait to get to your Doctor!


Shawano, WI to Milwaukee, WI


Day 9:  Family Nurse Practice wrote a note stating he has a serious acute illness and cannot work as of yet, must be seen for re-evaluation on March 4th.  Another round of antibiotics started due to still being sick.  My husband has been off of work maybe 3 or 4 days in the 14 years I've known him, and that was due to having surgery… ay.


I hope not to scare anyone one but to make everyone very aware right now to keep your body, mind and spirit as healthy as possible ~ right now.  Use proper hand hygiene and if you’re having symptoms, don't dismiss them!! See your doctor immediately!


Thank You!

                                                                                         ~ Shelley

Luci Buchanan,
Are there any medical issues that might come up with hypo-thyroidism even when one seems to be keeping on top of it?

If you are on top of hypothyroidism, meaning you keep your appointments with your physician and are getting lab work done on a regular basis and taking the prescribed medication you most likely will not have problems arise.  I will mention that if you are getting sick or are hospitalized for any reason that changes things.  It's important to see your physician if you have signs and symptoms of getting sick because thyroid levels change with illness.  You can also mention that you'd like your thyroid levels checked.  There are many medical issues that can arise if you don't keep on top of hypothyroidism.  If you have more questions feel free to ask me.
                                                                                       ~ Shelley

Dear Shelley,
What do the numbers mean for my blood pressure?  I’d like to know if there are symptoms or ways to tell if my blood pressure is high?

There are two numbers for your blood pressure, which are measured in millimeters of mercury.  A top number and a bottom number.  The top number is called systolic and the bottom number is called diastolic.
Eg.  110/60 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) The top number is 110.  That’s your systolic pressure.  That measures the amount of pressure in your arteries, it takes to get the blood to your body.  The heart is contracted, like a fist.

The bottom number is 60.  The diastolic pressure.  This is the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats.  Your heart is resting. 

This chart reflects blood pressure categories defined by the American Heart Association.
(http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp) 01/25/2011.


Blood Pressure                     Systolic                                        Diastolic
Category                        mm Hg (upper #)    ___________mm Hg (lower #)_________

Normal__________________less than 120       ____and             less than 80 __________

Prehypertension ___________120 – 139                   or              _80 – 89 ____________

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1 ___ ___140 – 159        ____or     ___ ___90 – 99 ____________

High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2 _____160 or higher    _____or         ____100 or higher________

Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)____Higher than 180 ____or ________Higher than 110_____  

You can’t rely on symptoms for detecting an elevated blood pressure.  There are usually no symptoms until you are having a medical emergency.  Keeping track of your own blood pressure daily would be a much better thing to do.  You can buy BP kits for the wrist pretty reasonable.  Remember to follow up with your Physician and ask questions!  

                                                                                                  ~ Shelley         

Dear Shelley,
I've just learned I'm diabetic. What kind of diet do I have to follow? Am I stuck eating salads forever?

Dear Dave,

Make sure to ask your physician before following my advice. I know being
newly diagnosed is probably overwhelming. So, I will address only the
question regarding your diet.

Your Doctor will order a special type of diet for you to follow, that a
nutritionist will go over with you in detail. Make sure if you have any
questions, write them down and ask your provider everything you possibly

The diabetic diet that is used in my area is called a low carbohydrate
diabetic diet
. I know that sounds a little foreign. A good place to start
is with getting to know your own body. Every person is so very different,
so knowing yourself is very important. Diet and exercise are very

A diabetic diet will generally consist of breakfast, lunch and supper with
an evening snack. It's important to eat consistently 3 meals per day with
a snack in the evening. The American Diabetes Association has a tool that
may be helpful. Its called My Food Advisor and can track what you eat, help with meal planning, tips, recipes and much more. Here's the site


One little tip to remember.

**EXERCISE can be the first and foremost thing you can do to lower blood

Dave, you are not doomed to eating only salads forever. There are A LOT of great meals for you to enjoy.
                                                                                        ~ Shelley

Why does it seem that Native Americans are more adversely affected by diabetes?

At nearly 17 percent, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups.  (American Diabetes Association)

"Obesity and Native Americans:  According to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the "thrifty gene" theory proposes that African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans inherited a gene from their ancestors which enabled them to use food more efficiently during "feast and famine" cycles. Today there are fewer such cycles; this causes certain populations to be more susceptible to obesity and to developing type 2 diabetes."

             http://vltakaliseji.tripod.com/Vtlakaliseji/id2.html , 01/17/2010

There are only theories and statistics that can give us an answer to this question. Now that we are aware that we are predisposed to diabetes we can take steps to prevent it. Approximately 3.3 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives have diabetes and 30% are pre-diabetic. Let’s stand together to stop this epidemic.

                                                                                             ~ Shelley

* Whisper n Thunder is not responsible for any liability associated with questions and answers or resulting actions, that appear in this column. Shelley is not repsonisible for any liability associated with her answers or resulting actions by readers. All people are asked that if you have a health concern, you schedule an appointment with your doctor and seek appropriate medical care.
The advice in this column is for information purposes only, and in no way should be considered as treatment or diagnosis.

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