Follow “Signs of Stress”

As one of the industry’s most renowned forage specialists, Corey Catt helps farmers strike that delicate balance between nature, science and technology. Corey is passionate about helping farmers produce healthy meat, milk and eggs. He also is passionate about how food sources affect human health. Corey says that many health maladies are closely related to one’s nutrition and vice versa. And it’s something he’s seen first-hand as a 911 paramedic, providing advanced life support for a large rural community. Corey also works part time in the emergency room at a Regions Hospital Level 1 Trauma Center in St. Paul, Minn.

This late spring is adding a bit more stress as farmers worry about getting their crops planted in a timely manner. First of all, I want to remind everyone there is no need to panic! There’s still nearly a 20-day planting window for optimal corn yields, so work your crop plan.

Secondly, I know that practicing patience and trying to relax is easier said than done! Many farmers will have a tendency to work longer days and at a faster pace to make up for lost time in April. This push and rush to get crops planted while the sun shines will lead farmers to: skip a meal, forget to drink enough water, as well as cut a few corners that could pose a safety risk.

Proper nutrition is key to making good decisions, staying alert and fueling your body. Not drinking enough liquids can alter a person’s mood, decrease his energy level or affect his ability to think clearly.

Symptoms of dehydration include, but are not limited to: increased thirst, dizziness, confusion and an inability to sweat. Remember to drink plenty of water.  Dairy products, tea and fruit or vegetable juices can help you stay hydrated, too.

With added stress and time constraints, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen. Sometimes, added stress can cause a person chest pain or result in high blood pressure. That’s why it’s important to recognize – and obey – the signals your body is sending. Today I’m reviewing what to do if you or someone with whom you’re working exhibit symptoms of common, potentially life-changing emergencies.

Three Potentially Life-Changing Emergencies:

  1. Chest Pain / Cardiac Arrest – Because added stress increases the heart’s workload, it’s no wonder we hear stories of farmers experiencing a heart attack while driving the tractor or combine. A larger workload can be enough to cause chest pain, and cardiac arrest, especially in someone with a heart condition or who is out of shape.

    Be aware of signs.  If you have chest pain, act fast and call 911!  If you encounter someone who needs CPR, calmly encourage them to seek help.  If you find someone not breathing, you can help by starting CPR.  A person’s brain needs oxygen immediately, and CPR is the only way.  Review the procedure by watching this video from the American Heart Association.  While it can be scary, it’s necessary. Have courage and help! The American Heart Association has put together a very useful summary for “Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke & Cardiac Arrest”  Click here to check out this website.

  2. STROKE – Stress can result is high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke.  Increased activity like spring work can result in high blood pressure, especially if you have a history of high blood pressure.  Another cause of stroke is from a blood clot traveling to the brain from another area of the body.  If you spend long hours sitting in tractor, a blood clot can form in your leg from inactivity.  This clot can release and go to the brain. It’s good to get out of tractor and stretch.  If you or someone you know exhibits signs of stroke, call 911.
  3. DIABETIC EMERGENCIES – The extra workload requires more energy.  The fast pace of spring changes one’s workload and could change also change his body’s insulin/ glucose balance. If you’re a diabetic, be extra diligent watching glucose levels and eating habits. If you work with a diabetic, know that a change in behavior could signal they’re having a diabetic reaction.  You may need to call an ambulance.

Farmers are strong, stoic and are sometimes stubborn when it comes to self-care. (I’m speaking these words of truth with the utmost admiration and respect. Truly.)  Because we care about your health and well-being, please take the time to listen to your body and to also watch for signs of stress from those around you.  Put safety first this spring planting season – and always.  A little time now could save you lots of “time off” later!