CONDITIONS 101 

Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your nail may thicken and become discolored or begin to crumble around the edges as the fungal infection grows deeper. The condition can affect multiple fingernails and toenails at the same time, and is more common in toenails. 

For severe cases of nail fungus – often causing pain and thicken nails – self-care treatment or medications might be called for. Even if treatment is successful, however, nail fungus often comes back. 

When this kind of fungus infects the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it is known as athlete's foot. 

Symptoms 

If you are concerned that you might have nail fungus, check if your nails are: 

Thickened.  Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration.  Brittle, crumbly or ragged.  Distorted in shape.  A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail.  Smelling slightly foul.  

When to see a doctor 

You should consider seeing a doctor if self-care steps haven't helped and the nail becomes increasingly discolored, thickened or deformed. Also see a doctor if you have diabetes and think you're developing nail fungus. 

Risk factors 

The following factors may increase your likelihood of developing nail fungus: 

Being older, owing to reduced blood flow, more years of exposure to fungi and slower growing nails.  Sweating heavily.  Having a history of athlete's foot.  Walking barefoot in damp communal areas, such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms.  Having a minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition, such as psoriasis.  Having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system. 

Complications 

“A severe case of nail fungus can be painful and may cause permanent damage to your nails,” says the Mayo Clinic. “And it may lead to other serious infections that spread beyond your feet if you have a suppressed immune system due to medication, diabetes or other conditions. If you have diabetes, you may have reduced blood circulation and nerve supply in your feet. You're also at greater risk of a bacterial skin infection (cellulitis). So any relatively minor injury to your feet – including a nail fungal infection – can lead to a more serious complication. See your doctor if you have diabetes and think you're developing nail fungus.” 

Prevention 

The following preventative measures can help reduce the likelihood of athlete's foot infection or reinfection, which can lead to nail fungus: 

Wash your hands and feet regularly. Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Moisturize your nails after washing.  Trim nails straight across, smooth the edges with a file and file down thickened areas. Disinfect your nail clippers after each use.  Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day.  Choose shoes made of materials that breathe.  Discard old shoes or treat them with disinfectants or antifungal powders.  Wear footwear in pool areas and locker rooms.  Choose a nail salon that uses sterilized manicure tools for each customer.  Give up nail polish and artificial nails. 

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STUDY SAYS 

COVID took toll on health system’s employees, trainees 

A new study, published in JAMA, has found that employees and trainee at an academic health care system experience major stress and work disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The study, published in JAMA, surveyed faculty, staff and trainees at the University of Utah Health, an academic health care system that includes multiple hospitals, community clinics and specialty centers, between Aug. 5-20. Of the 5,030 participants, 51% had clinical responsibilities, 48% had at least 1 child aged 18 years or younger. Sixty-six percent were staff, 16% were faculty and 13% were trainees. Almost half of the parent participants reported that parenting and managing virtual education for children increased their stress.  

Across all participants, 21% considered leaving the workforce entirely, and 30% considered reducing the number of hours they worked. Fifty-five percent of faculty participants and 60% of trainees perceived decreased productivity, and 47% of participants were worried about COVID-19 impacting their career development, with 64% of trainees being highly concerned. 

The study concluded that, “respondents were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, even after investing substantial amounts of time in years of training, many were considering leaving the workforce because of stress and caregiving responsibilities related to the pandemic. Health systems must develop effective strategies to ensure that the workplace acknowledges and supports employees during this unprecedented time, not only within the work environment, but also in managing unanticipated childcare responsibilities due to lack of childcare or in-person school. In doing so, health systems will improve the likelihood of retaining generations of well-trained clinicians, scientists, and staff.” 

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NUTRITION STATION 

Magnesium basics 

Magnesium is a mineral vital for your body. However, many people are deficient in this nutrient.  Here’s what Harvard Medical School has to say: 

“You need magnesium for many tasks. It's involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Muscles need this mineral to contract; nerves need it to send and receive messages. It keeps your heart beating steadily and your immune system strong. Most people can get enough magnesium by eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and fish. … Even with an adequate diet, some people are at increased risk of magnesium deficiency, including people with digestive disorders, such as celiac disease and chronic diarrhea. Also, certain medicines (including some "water pills" and antibiotics) can lower blood magnesium levels. In these situations, magnesium supplements may be necessary, but taking too much can cause or worsen diarrhea. People with chronic kidney disease should not take supplements unless prescribed by their doctor. If you're concerned about low magnesium, ask your doctor for a blood test. To maintain a healthy magnesium level, it's best to get this mineral from food, especially high-fiber foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, unrefined grains, and beans. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium for adults is 420 milligrams (mg) per day.” 

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HEALTH STAT 

14: Even if you’ve been fully vaccinated, if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, the CDC recommends that you stay away from others for 14 days and get tested. 

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