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Lifestyle and Wellness

Nutritionist vs. Dietician: What You Need to Know

The wellness industry continues to boom thanks to social media, but it can be overwhelming with endless information and opinions and self-proclaimed experts.

Two terms you are likely familiar with are nutritionist and dietician. The two are often used interchangeably, but there are some major differences that you need to understand, especially if you are looking to enlist the help of someone to help you on your nutrition journey.

Nutritionists and dieticians work toward the same goal of supporting healthier food choices and lifestyles through sustainable changes, but the main differences are related to education and training and what they’re legally allowed to do in their areas of work.

All dieticians are nutritionists,
but not all nutritionists are dieticians.


Dieticians operate under strict regulations and must undergo rigorous training, often involving nutrition science, anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. They can also specialize in certain areas, such as sports, pediatrics, gerontology, obesity and weight management, renal nutrition, and oncology nutrition.

Dieticians can work in hospitals, care facilities, private practices, and other areas. They are qualified to provide medical advice to treat eating disorders, diabetes, and cancer, prescribe supplements and facilitate feeding tubes or IV feeding. Registered Dieticians (RD) are also authorized to conduct nutritional research, administer medical nutrition therapy, and recommend relevant protocols.


You might consider seeing a dietitian if you:

  • Are diagnosed with a chronic condition (diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease) that requires a change in your eating habits
  • Suffer from food allergies or intolerances
  • Want to gain or lose weight
  • Play sports and are looking for a plan to optimize performance
  • Have a disordered relationship with food and eating
  • Have concerns about whether or not you are getting what you need from your current diet

As of January 1, 2024, dieticians need a master’s in nutrition
or a related field from an ACEND-accredited program
(Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics).

Oftentimes, seeing a registered dietician can be covered through preventive care benefits for diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease or obesity screening and counseling. (Once, however, someone has a diagnosis of a disease, these visits are likely subject to copay, coinsurance, and deductible.)



Nutritionist education requirements vary by state, but certain states — including OK, OR, CA, and CO — don’t regulate the title of nutritionist. Other states may require basic certifications or certain areas of study during undergrad. Nutritionists may offer generalized advice, nutrition counseling, and meal planning.

Choosing Who’s Right for You

When selecting a nutritionist or dietician (or any health-related professional), you should seek out someone who is best equipped to address your needs. Some tips for finding a good fit for you include looking at their credentials, ensuring their specialty aligns with your goals, and looking at verified reviews from a trusted source.

It is also important to remember that many professionals have a social media presence, so you should see if someone you’re considering is making too-good-to-be-true claims or promoting products and partnerships.

Healing Hobbies

Hobbies can bring a lot of enjoyment into your everyday life, but did you know they can also aid healing and support good mental health?

Hobbies vary by person, but if you’re looking to quiet your mind and provide a distraction from everyday stress, look for something that makes you feel calm, peaceful, restorative, reflective, and quiet (not environmentally per se, but that can quiet intrusive thoughts) to support your relaxation efforts.


Get Outside in Nature

Going outdoors and exploring nature — whether walking, hiking, or running — is a great opportunity to see picturesque locations, challenge yourself physically, release stagnant energy that’s building up, and support your cardiovascular health.

You can customize your activity to meet your energy levels and fitness abilities. In addition to the physical health benefits, these activities can help you shift your focus away from your racing mind and onto your breathing and movement — leaving you with a sense of balance and release.


Mind-Body Exercises

Finding a form of exercise that requires a deliberate focus on your movements, coordination, and breathing can also be physically and mentally beneficial. Yoga and Pilates are excellent examples of exercise routines that can be gentle and healing on the body. They require you to listen to your body, and they can be modified for injury and energy levels.

Dancing is another exercise form that can boost your mood (who doesn’t like moving around to their favorite tunes?) while releasing pent-up stress. You can freestyle dance or focus on specific choreography.


Arts, Crafts & Music

Art and music therapy programs have been gaining popularity in professional medical settings, but you don’t need a prescribed program to benefit from the profound impact of these on your own. Listening to music has proven to reduce anxiety and stress, manage Alzheimer’s

and Parkinson’s, reduce depression in the elderly, and improve self-expression and communication.

Art therapy has been shown to be effective and have healing properties in times of crisis, trauma, and grief. Creating art can help regulate emotions and impulses and strengthen identity and self-image.



Volunteering is a way to meet like-minded people in a rewarding setting. There are many volunteer opportunities — you just have to search your community for animal shelters, food banks, local libraries, retirement homes, or even community centers that may be looking for an extra set of hands to help.


Journaling is a great way to clear your mind when it’s clouded with buried thoughts. Releasing them from your body and mine so they’re out of your headspace. Even if you spend only 10 minutes a day with a scrap of paper and a pen, journaling you to reflect on your thoughts and emotions so that you don’t carry them with you wherever you go.

Puzzle Games

If you’re looking for something that uses your brain a bit, crosswords, word searches, or sudoku can be a great option. Luckily, there are many of these available on your phone or online, so you can play them on the go!

Hand-related Crafts

Using your hands to knit, crochet, and assemble puzzles can help calm your nerves. A bonus is you can do these activities while conversing or watching TV. The repetitive nature of these can be as complex or simple as you’d like, and you can get lost in designs.

The Importance of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates often get a bad reputation.

Maybe it’s because carbohydrates are processed as sugar (the body turns carbs into glucose during digestion), and people immediately associate it with weight gain or unhealthy spikes in blood sugar and issues with insulin. But that isn’t always the case. Fiber, starch, and sugars all fall under the umbrella term of carbs. And when your body turns the carbs into glucose, it gives your body and organs the energy it needs to perform basic functions.


Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equal

Carbs can be complex or simple and can be digested at different speeds. The longer it takes, the less your blood sugar spikes. Complex carbs include fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. These are less likely to cause a large blood sugar spike.

Simple carbs digest quicker and are more likely to contribute to weight gain or the risk of diabetes. Some examples of simple carbs are lactose, sucrose, fructose, and glucose. They can be found in items like candy or highly processed food items where the fiber has been stripped away.



Fiber is found in plant-based foods and helps your body regulate blood sugar and healthy cholesterol levels. It also keeps you feeling fuller throughout the day. Good sources of fiber are:

  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Brown rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole-wheat bread or pasta


Starchy foods — beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc. — provide your body with micronutrients and stabilize blood sugar levels, similar to fiber.


Carbs Have a Place in Your Diet

Restricting your carb intake can be hard to sustain long term, and it can be detrimental if you deprive your body of all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that come with (specifically) complex carbohydrates.

Most importantly, carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source that fuels your body’s ability to breathe and move and your brain’s ability to think. The whole grains and dietary fiber found in complex carbs are known to lower the threat of heart disease and stroke, protect against obesity and colon and rectal cancers, and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.

When in doubt, follow the Mayo Clinic’s advice to “choose your carbohydrates wisely. Limit foods with added sugars and refined grains, such as sugary drinks, desserts, and candy. These are high in calories but low in nutrition. Instead, select fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is based on how your thoughts, emotions, and actions are connected.

At its core, cognitive behavioral therapy treats psychological problems rooted partly in faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking and learned patterns of unhelpful behavior. It aims to teach better coping methods to relieve symptoms and improve one’s quality of life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help treat certain emotional conditions, including:

  • Depression or anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Phobias
  • Sleep disorders
  • Managing stressful life situations
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

It can also help you work through everyday challenges regarding relationship issues, grief, divorce, professional work issues, etc.

Some steps taken during cognitive behavioral therapy appointments include:

  • Identifying the situations in your life (illness, divorce, grief, anger, etc.) causing obstacles in your life
  • Tune into the thoughts and interpretations you have about these situations
  • Developing confidence in one’s abilities
  • Recognizing any thinking or behavioral patterns that contribute to the problem(s) or distort your understanding of a situation
  • Working to reshape negative or inaccurate thinking through problem-solving and coping skills

It can be done in one-on-one settings, in a group setting, or with family members. Some of the strategies employed in cognitive behavioral therapy are facing your fears, role playing to prepare for anxiety-inducing or potentially problematic interactions, and learning tools to calm and relax your mind and body. It can be particularly effective when combined with other forms of treatment, including medication, when appropriate.

While cognitive behavioral therapy may not completely solve your problem, it can help you cope more effectively and feel better about your situation.

If your symptoms worsen, contact your healthcare provider right away. Call 988 to get help immediately if you have suicidal thoughts or are thinking about harming others.

Acupuncture for Pain

The insertion of very small needles in specific points of the body — known as acupuncture — is known to relieve pain and treat health issues.

Most people don’t like being poked and prodded with needles. Still, the insertion of very small needles in specific points of the body — known as acupuncture — is growing in popularity throughout western parts of the world to help relieve pain and treat health issues.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, acupuncture is part of the
ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
that has evolved over thousands of years to
prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

The belief is that your body’s vital energy (called qi) flows along specific meridian channels and lends itself to spiritual, emotional, and physical health when balanced. When unbalanced, it can lead to health issues, but one approach to restoring the balance and flow is acupuncture. Acupuncturists believe 2,000+ acupuncture points on the body are linked through the various meridians. The actual practice of acupuncture includes placing thin needles into the skin on certain points of a meridian. These are then activated by the provider’s hands or through electrical stimulation.

In Western practices, acupuncture points are seen as places to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissue and stimulate pain management naturally in the body.

The needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin, causing little pain to the recipient. Instead, many feel relaxed or energized through the practice of acupuncture. Other forms of stimulation may also be used in the sites, including heat, pressure, friction, and suction.

Professionals use acupuncture to relieve discomfort and treat conditions like:

  • Chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Dental pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches (tension and migraines)
  • Labor pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Tennis elbow

Other studies show acupuncture can also support treatment for addiction, asthma, digestive issues, emotional conditions (including anxiety, depression, insomnia, nervousness), and sinusitis.

The risks of acupuncture are low. They include soreness or minor bruising and bleeding at the needle insertion sites. The widespread adoption of single-use needles helps mitigate the risk of infection.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some insurance policies cover acupuncture while others do not, and coverage can be limited based on what is being treated.

LGBTQIA+ Mental Health

Stressors put on the LGBTQIA+ community put these individuals at a higher risk for mental health issues. Prioritizing mental health care is crucial, and the good news is there are several resources available that specialize in LGBTQIA+ issues and experiences.

Anyone can experience mental health challenges — and that is especially true for members of marginalized groups such as the LGBTQIA+ community. Mental health struggles can manifest itself differently in each person, such as:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Anger
  • Paranoia
  • Disordered eating
  • Insomnia
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal feelings or ideation

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s experimental Household Pulse Survey (HPS), “Regardless of age, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults have consistently reported higher rates of symptoms of both anxiety and depression than non-LGBT adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Minority Stress

Identifying as part of the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t cause mental health struggles, but rather they form around the experiences of discrimination, stigma, isolation, exclusion, and rejection.

Dr. Jennifer Vencill, a psychologist, told the Mayo Clinic that anxiety, depression, stressors and family relationships are often heightened for “the LGBTQ community because of their marginalized sexual and gender identities.” This is termed minority stress.

Mental Health America, the nation’s leading national nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health, cited a study1 that found “LGBTQ+ people used mental health services at 2.5 times higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts.”

June is Pride Month

The month of June is celebrated by the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies as Pride month. It’s a chance to celebrate and reaffirm individuals who are living authentically and support them and their mental health in a safe, joyful space.


Supporting Mental Health

  • Talk to a Trusted Source: Having someone listen can be extremely helpful. There are also several LGBTQIA+ helplines, including the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender National Hotline (888-843-4564).
  • Peer Support: Connecting with people with shared or similar experiences can be therapeutic. Seek out support groups that may be local to your community, online, available through your workplace, or elsewhere.
  • Self-care: Prioritize exercise, nutrition, sleep, and activities that bring you joy. Volunteering is also an excellent option.
  • Medical Support: A doctor can help you get a diagnosis and explore possible medications for treatment.
  • Start Therapy: Speaking to someone about traumatic experiences, difficult emotions, depression, anxiety, health issues, or relationship issues can help you develop coping skills. Some therapists specialize solely in LGBTQIA+ issues.


Mental Health Resources

If you’re looking for more LGBTQ+ mental health resources, the following are a great place to start:



1Platt, L. F., Wolf, J. K., & Scheitle, C. P. (2018). Patterns of mental health care utilization among sexual orientation minority groups. Journal of Homosexuality, 65(2), 135-153

Tick Talk

Blood-sucking ticks pose significant health risks this spring.

Ticks are tiny arachnids that latch onto hosts, including humans, pets, and wildlife, and carry a range of pathogens for several diseases. For example, in 2019, 50,865 cases of tickborne disease were reported to the CDC by state and local health departments. Ticks thrive in wooded, grassy, and humid environments. The most common tick-borne illnesses include Lyme Disease, Alpha-gal Syndrome, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Anaplasmosis.

More than 34,000 people tested positive for
alpha-gal IgE antibodies in the United States during 2010-2018.

Drawing of a tick

Know Your Tick

Lyme Disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted primarily by the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Early symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash resembling a bull’s-eye. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications affecting the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), also known as red meat allergy, is triggered by the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). This tick’s bite can induce an immune response to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in red meat. Symptoms include hives, gastrointestinal issues, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), and can cause fever, headache, and a spotted rash. If not promptly treated with antibiotics, it can lead to serious complications affecting the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

Anaplasmosis is transmitted by the black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus). Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. Severe cases may result in respiratory failure or organ failure.



  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed shoes.
  • Wear tick-repellent clothing and/or use permethrin.
  • Apply EPA-approved insect repellents.
  • Perform regular tick checks.
  • Maintain tick-safe landscaping.


Treatment for Tick-Borne Diseases

Learn how to remove ticks if you find one on your skin. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment. If you experience symptoms after a tick bite, consult with a healthcare professional promptly for proper diagnosis and treatment. Most tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics when diagnosed early.

Boosting Hair Growth

Most of us are no stranger to having our bodies change and evolve, but hair loss seems more personal. Hair loss — whether in men or women — can have a profound impact on one’s confidence.


What Causes Hair Loss?

Hair loss has many causes, and determining the cause can influence the appropriate course of treatment.

  • Age: Hair growth slows as you get older, which causes hair on the scalp to start thinning, losing its color, and the hairline to recede.
  • Hereditary: According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, this is the most common cause of hair loss worldwide, impacting both men and women. Hereditary hair loss occurs when the genes you’ve inherited cause shrinking in your hair follicles until hair stops growing.
  • Scalp Disorders: Some conditions that could impact hair loss on the scalp include alopecia areata, scarring alopecia, scalp ringworm, and scalp psoriasis.
  • Cancer Treatment: Chemotherapy and radiation treatments often cause all or most of your hair to fall out within the first few weeks.
  • Thyroid Disorders: If you have a problem with your thyroid, you may lose your hair in clumps.
  • Hormones: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), changes in hormonal birth control, menopause, or if you’ve given birth recently can all have an impact on your hair health.
  • Diet and nutrition: If you aren’t getting enough biotin, iron, protein, or zinc, it can impact your hair health. Too much vitamin A can also cause hair loss.
  • Hair Care: The way you style and wear your hair can also impact your hair follicle health. If you wear your hair pulled back too tightly, or color, perm, or relax your hair regularly, it can damage the follicles, causing hair to not grow out of them.

But all is not lost. Depending on your situation and the recommendations from an expert (i.e. dermatologists specialize in treating skin, hair, and nails), there are different options to explore for hair regrowth.


Treatment Options

There is not a single, one-size-fits-all solution for encouraging hair growth. In some situations, hair may regrow on its own — for example, treating an underlying condition, after undergoing cancer treatment, or if you recently had a baby or lost weight. There are other treatment options you may consider if you want to prevent further loss or quicken the regrowth pace:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Products: These often contain ingredients like biotin, zinc, collagen, azelaic acid, omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and tea tree oil.
  • Rogaine®: This is also an OTC topical option that is FDA-approved to treat hereditary hair loss.
  • Prescription Medications: Finasteride, Spironolactone, and other medications prescribed may boost hair growth. It’s important to discuss these with your healthcare provider because they each can have different side effects.
  • Microneedling: Microneedling, using a device with tiny needles, can stimulate hair growth on the scalp when used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Corticosteroids Injections: Corticosteroids can slow the speed of hair loss when injected into bald or thinning areas.
  • Hair Transplant Surgery: This is typically reserved for people who have tried less invasive hair loss treatments. The transplant takes small pieces of skin from a donor site (where hair grows healthily on the body) and is moved to the balding part of the scalp. Types of hair transplant surgery include grafting, scalp reduction, flap surgery, and tissue expansion.
  • Low-level Laser Therapy: Short periods of medical-grade light therapy on your scalp can stimulate hair follicles and result in hair regrowth after several sessions. Laser therapy has helped regrow the hair that was lost from hereditary causes, alopecia, and chemotherapy. It can also further stimulate hair growth after a transplant.
  • Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP): PRP speeds up your hair regrowth (and overall healing in the body) by separating platelets from blood plasma and then injecting the plasma back into the body during a blood draw.

Be cautious of advertisements, influencers, and promoters that try to sell a quick miracle fix for hair loss. It’s important to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about what you’re experiencing and the best approach for regrowth.


Embracing a New Style

While waiting for your hair to regrow, there are ways to both embrace or camouflage your hair’s current state:

  • Avoid harsh chemical treatments like hair dyes, perms, or relaxing.
  • Incorporate hats, scarves, or accessories to disguise areas you may feel uncomfortable with.
  • Get a shorter haircut that helps the regrowth blend better and reduce breakage.

Remember, it can take time before you see the results from your treatment. Be sure to take care of your mental and emotional health during the process, which can be overlooked when you experience hair loss.



Child Trauma Therapy

Traumatic events affect children in different ways, but therapy can help them heal.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), two-thirds of children experience a traumatic event by the age of 16. Sadly, there is no age immune to the impacts of trauma.

It’s vital we understand what are considered traumatic events, recognize the signs children exhibit (though they vary in age and developmental stage), and know what treatments are available to support those affected.

Children experiencing trauma responses may have experienced:

  • Physical or emotional bullying
  • Involvement in an accident
  • Natural disasters
  • Sexual abuse or exploitation
  • Terrorism
  • Community violence
  • Serious illness
  • Physical abuse
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Neglect
  • Grief or coping after the death of a loved one

Recognizing Signs of Traumatic Stress in Children

A child may exhibit symptoms of traumatic stress when they are triggered by something that reminds them of the traumatic event. And while everyone exhibits reactions to stress, traumatic stress can manifest in ways that interfere with a child’s daily life and how they relate to those around them. Some signs include:

  • Intense episodes or ongoing emotional upset
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Regressing in established skills
  • Nightmares and trouble sleeping
  • Difficulties self-regulating
  • Poor eating and weight loss
  • Displaying feelings of guilt or shame
  • Struggling to form attachments or relate to others
  • Older children may exhibit risky behavior in the form of drug or alcohol use, as well as unhealthy sexual activity

Treating Trauma with Therapy

Treatment can help children understand their traumatic responses and identify triggers, as well as decrease their stress symptoms, develop healthy coping skills, re-establish safety, and process their experience so their related memories and emotions are less disruptive. There are different therapeutic approaches to treating trauma.


Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or TF-CBT) understands parents and/or caregivers significantly impact a child’s trauma response, and this treatment approach can sometimes require their participation. In those instances, it typically begins with separate sessions for the child and parent (non-offending parent in cases of abuse) before moving into joint sessions.

TF-CBT aims to help the child modify distorted thinking, overcome negative behaviors, challenge invasive thoughts, restore a sense of safety and security, and empower the parent or caregiver to better help the child going forward. TF-CBT incorporates several core features and techniques, including psychoeducation (teaching normal reactions to traumatic experiences), coping skills, gradual exposure, cognitive processing for regulating emotions, and rebuilding trust in relationships with adults.


Prolonged Exposure Therapy

It’s common for children who’ve experienced trauma to try and shut out their memories and avoid any feelings associated with it, but that can hinder their ability to heal. Prolonged exposure therapy focuses on approaching traumatic memories gradually to decrease PTSD symptoms and responses over time.



The goal of EMDR, which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, is to overwrite the earlier, unprocessed version of an event’s memory and put it into context — making it something that’s remembered rather than relived.

EMDR involves having the child focus on the traumatic event and accompanying memories while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements). This can reduce the intensity and emotion surrounding the memory. EMDR treatment can be tailored to the child, but it works best for those who experienced a trauma with a clear beginning and end (an accident, for example).

Art Therapy

Art therapy is another approach that can help children process trauma in a way that makes them more comfortable expressing themselves, boosts their self-esteem, and even improves cognitive and sensory-motor functioning in young children.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is an approach for working through a child’s trauma because by allowing the child to express and communicate in a way that feels natural. The act of play is a fundamental component of children’s growth and expression, so it can have a therapeutic impact and feel more natural when they use it to address difficult topics.

While the memories of a traumatic event will remain after therapy, they can have less control over children’s everyday lives, and healthy coping skills can help them succeed and thrive moving forward.


CPR Basics: A Lifesaving Technique

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an incredibly critical technique that saves lives.

While many professions — from EMTs and childcare providers to flight attendants and swim instructors — require CPR certifications, understanding the basics of CPR is fairly simple and valuable to almost everyone.

When and Why Someone Could Need CPR

Cardiac arrest happens when the heart can’t pump blood, and it can occur in someone anywhere and anytime — even when you least expect it. When this happens, the heart cannot circulate blood to the brain and other vital organs.

The signs that someone may need CPR are they collapse, are unresponsive, stop breathing, and you cannot locate a pulse. Someone who is talking or showing breath movement does not need CPR (though they may still require some type of medical attention!).

CPR is instrumental in giving a person the best chance of survival while medical help is on the way. According to The American Heart Association, 350,000 people in the U.S. die from cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year, and immediate CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

The Steps of CPR

When effective, CPR can give someone without a pulse the ability to breathe on their own. Chest compressions are a key part of CPR because they help blood flow to vital organs.

A simple way to remember the steps of CPR is the acronym CAB, which stands for:

  • Compressions – Chest compressions
  • Airway – Open the airway
  • Breaths – Give rescue breaths

But the breakdown is a little more detailed:

  • First, check the surrounding area to ensure it is safe for you to perform CPR.
  • Check the collapsed person for breathing or responsiveness. Try tapping them on the shoulder or shouting.
  • Call 911, mention cardiac arrest, and ask them to bring a defibrillator (commonly referred to as an AED). If someone else is around, ask them to do this while you being performing CPR.
  • If the person isn’t breathing, place them flat on their back on a firm, flat, and stable surface.
  • Place the heel of your dominant hand in the middle of the unresponsive person’s chest (imagine a line between the nipples), and then place your other hand on top. Deliver chest compressions using your weight and pushing down at least 2 inches deep at 100–120 compressions a minute. A common tip is to try and match the musical beat of Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.
  • Tilt the person’s head back and lift their chin to open the airway and give two big breaths (each lasting one full second) by blowing into their mouth while pinching their nose. Look for their chest to rise and allow the air to exit after each breath.
  • Repeat the cycle of 30 chest compressions and two breaths until medical help arrives.

These steps may differ if the unresponsive person is a child or infant.

CPR in Children

For a child who requires CPR, the steps are similar to those for adults and teens, with a few modifications:

  • Place one hand on top of the other and interlace the fingers. Use the heel of your stacked hands for the compressions while keeping the interlaced fingers off the child’s chest. If the child is particularly small, you can use a single hand only.
  • During the breathing component, if you don’t see the chest rising, double-check that the airway is open and try to form a seal around the mouth so air doesn’t escape when you breathe into their mouth.

CPR in Infants

Because infants are extremely fragile, there are additional precautions to take. When you need to deliver CPR to an infant, first flick the bottom of the foot to check for responsiveness and look for signs of breathing. Other important modifications for an infant include using your thumbs to push down roughly 1.5 inches during compressions and letting the chest return to normal between each one.

You want to place your thumbs on the center of the chest right below the nipples and then provide additional support by wrapping the other fingers around the infant’s chest. If you cannot deliver a 1.5-inch compression using your thumbs, the next step is to try a single hand.

Look into a CPR certification course near your location for more hands-on experience and to feel better prepared should an emergency arise.