Health Tips

Oak Valley Hospital District is pleased to present you healthy living information:

What is MRSA?

Weight Loss - Strategies for Success!

Weight Loss for Children - Strategies for Success!

What is MRSA?

MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Everyone normally has Staphylococcus aureus on their skin. When it turns into MRSA, it becomes a potentially dangerous type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics.  MRSA may cause skin and other infections. As with all infections, obtaining early treatment reduces the risk of the infection becoming severe.

How do you get MRSA?
MRSA is spread by:
• Having direct contact with another person’s infection
• Sharing personal items, such as towels, clothes, sheets, athletic equipment, and razors
• Touching surfaces or other items that have become contaminated (dirty) with MRSA

What are the signs and symptoms of an MRSA infection?
Most MRSA infections begin as a bump or infected area on the skin. A lot of people think they have a spider bite. The area may be:
• Red, swollen, or painful
• Warm to the touch
• Full of pus or other drainage
• You may have a fever

What if I think I have an MRSA infection?
Wash your hands and cover the area with a clean bandage. When finished, wash your hands again. Contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

How are MRSA infections treated?
Treatment for MRSA usually includes taking antibiotics. In some cases, your healthcare professional may drain the infected fluid from the area. Do not attempt to do this yourself! This could cause the infection to worsen or spread to others. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to take all of the medication, even if the infection looks better.

How can I protect my family and others from getting an MRSA infection?
• Encourage frequent and regular hand washing, using soap and water
• Discourage the sharing of personal items between family member and friends
• Keep all cuts, scratches and scrapes clean. Use an antibacterial ointment or spray on them.
• Keep the cuts, scratches or scrapes covered with a clean, dry bandage until healed
• Change the bandage when it becomes soiled.
• Keep household surfaces clean and disinfected.
• Wash towels and clothing after each use.
• Wash sports equipment and allow to air dry after each use.
• Don’t be afraid to ask others to wash their hands too

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Weight Loss - Strategies for Success!

Obesity continues to be one of the leading causes of chronic illnesses.  Many of us have tried more than one of the various diets or one of the readily available over-the-counter medications to lose weight.  All too often, we are not successful and the weight stays on – and sometimes we even gain more.

We get discouraged and frustrated.  Often, we turn to food to make us feel better, creating a cycle of a little weight loss and a lot more weight gain.

It is time to take a different view of the problem based on a few simple principles!

First – our bodies need food.  It is like gasoline in your automobile or truck.  Food provides the energy to make our bodies work – to keep our hearts beating, to keep our muscles working and to keep our brains sharp and functional.  So if we skip meals, our “tanks are running on empty.”  It is important that we eat enough of the right foods to provide the energy we need every day.

Next – we have to be careful about the kind and amount of food we put into our bodies.  It is like buying “cheap gas,” causing a vehicle engine to run poorly.  If we do not eat a balanced diet with the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats, our bodies cannot function properly.  For most adults, the right amount is between 1,800 – 2,200 calories per day and includes 5 – 6 servings of fruits and vegetables.

To start your new approach to proper weight, you may wish to speak with your doctor.  Your doctor can help determine your ideal weight. 


How you set the goal is the most important part of your plan.  When you think of needing to lose 10, 20 or 30 pounds, it can very quickly become overwhelming. 

Start very small.  Pick something that you can accomplish and when you have mastered that, move on to something a little bigger or harder.  For example, your first step might be to eliminate dessert after your evening meal.  The next step would be to eliminate dessert after your noon meal in addition to your evening meal. Losing just 10% of your current weight can make a huge difference in your overall health.

Remember that it is not so important how fast you lose the weight but how healthy you are eating.  Stay focused and enlist the help of a friend to avoid becoming discouraged because it will take some time to make this change. Find ways to celebrate each success, no matter how small. 

Here are a few more tips:

1. Start a “food diary.”  Write down everything you eat, how much you ate, and the time you ate it for two weeks.  This will help you identify when you have trouble controlling your diet and how it gets out of balance. 

Some people like to include how they are feeling in their diary when they eat.  This helps you understand why you are eating certain foods such as chocolate and snacks.

2.  Start your day with breakfast, being sure to include some protein such as low-fat cottage cheese or egg whites.

3.  Reach for low fat yogurt, an apple or other fruit if you find you are getting hungry at certain times of the day.  Make sure you are eating enough protein throughout the day to help reduce these cravings – it can help you lose up to 5 pounds in six months.

4.  Drink at least a half-glass of water just before each meal.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Researchers have found that people lost more weight when they decreased consumption of carbonated beverages, even sugar-free and caffeine-free soft drinks during the day.

5. Take a walk if you find you eat when you are stressed.  We eat when we are stressed to make ourselves feel better.  Taking a walk causes our bodies to respond in the same way as eating a cooking or eating a salty snack does.  Even a 5 – 10 minute walk will do the trick.  This approach can help you lose 5 – 10 pounds or more in a year.

6. Stay informed – check out information about healthy eating on reputable Internet sites, such as or talk to a registered dietician. 

Many people have more success when they take part in classes with a group of people.   It helps to talk first-hand to others who have the same challenges as you do.  If this sounds familiar, Oak Valley Hospital District offers a program for you!

“Strategies for Success” – A weight loss program sponsored by Oak Valley Hospital District. It is open to anyone for a one-time registration fee of $10.00.  For more information, call 209-848-4164. 

Foods to include in your diet: 

• Fatty fish, such as salmon –contains omega-3 fatty acids
• Sweet potatoes – they contain fiber and are packed with nutrients
• Low-fat or fat-free yogurt – contains protein and supports your digestive tract
• Fresh fruits and vegetables – they are high in fiber, contain antioxidants, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates
• Plenty of water – stay hydrated
• Whole grain breads – they contain fiber and complex carbohydrates
• Low-fat cottage cheese – high in protein

With a new approach to setting goals and some changes in your diet, you can achieve your ideal weight!

In our next posting:  Weight Loss for Children

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In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that as many as 20% of children between the ages of  6 – 11 years and 18% of children between 12 – 19 years old are obese or overweight.  It is as high as 26% in some areas of the country.  Sadly, these figures are steadily increasing.

It is estimated that 80% of these children will be overweight as adults.  They will be at a much greater risk for many serious medical problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and sleep disturbances. 

Just like adults, children who consume more food than they need will gain weight when the calories in those foods are converted to fat.  The amount of food and calories required by a child depends on how fast the child is growing and level of physical activity.

Parents of overweight children often become frustrated when trying to help their child lose weight.  Children obtain food from friends; use their own money to buy snacks and soda; and may have episodes of disruptive behavior related to food consumption.

What You Can Do to Help Your Child Lose Weight

First, it is important to make an appointment with your child’s doctor or pediatrician.  The physician can assist in determining the appropriate weight for your child and will check to make sure there are no medical problems contributing to the weight gain. If you do not have a physician or pediatrician, you may want to check Oak Valley Hospital’s website,, to locate a physician or clinic in your neighborhood.

Next, set goals with your child.  It is important that your child is involved with the process and choices.  Start with little changes and when those are successful, work toward bigger changes.  For example, substitute fruit for an after school snack two days per week and then three days per week, and so on, celebrating each small gain.

For children, one of the most important action steps is regular exercise.  This change alone can result in a weight loss of 10 pounds over a few months.

Get enough sleep.  Recent studies have shown that children who do not get enough sleep tend to be overweight or obese.  Make sure your child gets 8 – 10 hours of sleep every night.
Stay motivated!  It will be easier for your child to lose weight if he or she is motivated and sees parents setting a good example.  Parents need to help children plan meals and plan daily exercise to meet their goals. Ask your child what he or she thinks will be important for success and use these ideas to create a plan.

Family involvement.  Research has shown that when the entire family adopts a healthier approach to eating and exercise, everyone benefits.  Ask your child to get involved in developing goals for everyone in the family to eat healthy and exercise.

Stress healthy choices.  Avoid referring to foods as “good” or “bad”. Instead, stress healthy choices.

Provide praise for your child. Stay positive even when your child has not been successful – avoid “nagging” him or her about food.  Never make your child feel that he or she is not loved or not wanted because of being overweight, but stress that his/her health today and in the future depends on establishing healthy eating and exercise patterns at a young age and maintaining them through teen and adult years.

Avoid strict diets and build into your child’s plan the opportunity for social events, such as birthday parties with pizza or ice cream and cake.

Other Tips:

• Limit television, computer games and social networking activities to no more than 1 ½ - 2 hours per day and only after your child has exercised.  Watching television doesn’t burn up calories and actually encourages unhealthy foods and snacks through advertising.

• Teach your child about healthy eating.  Healthy eating includes adding fresh fruits and vegetables to the diet, maintaining average servings of each food consumed and avoiding drinks and snacks with sugar. 

• Switch to low fat or fat-free milk. 

• Avoid “second helpings” or second servings.

• Read food labels, watching for hidden sugars (fructose) or fats and avoid those foods.

• Avoid high-calorie, high-fat snacks.  Instead, substitute raw vegetables or fruit for snacks.

• Teach your child to drink plenty of water.  Drink a glass of water before each meal.

• Eat at the table without the television.  Encourage conversation.

• Help your child keep a diet journal.  Children often eat when they are stressed, sad or in response to changes in their lives.  A food diary will help you and your child understand eating habits so corrective measures can be taken.

• Exercise.  Walk, ride a bicycle, or just play outside to stay active.  A child needs exercise every day.  Help your child become involved in sports if possible.  If not, create an exercise plan for the backyard or neighborhood park to get the child moving. Getting the entire family involved will help your child stay active.

• Stay informed.  Work with your child to discover reputable Internet sites to stay informed about healthy eating, such as

Be very patient. 

It will take some time for your child to be successful since many unhealthy behaviors need to change.  There are many success stories of children who have lost weight.  These children feel better about themselves, have more self-confidence, and do better in school.  With your love and support, your child can lose weight! 

Watch for information about Methicillin Resistant Staph Infections or MRSA.

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