Archive for April, 2012


ICE Your Cell Phone

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Have you programed your cell phone with an address of ICE?  “ICE” stands for “In Case of an Emergency” and would designate a contact person, if you were unable to respond for yourself in an emergency.  A brainchild of a British paramedic who found it difficult to get important contact details from patients who were unconscious or in shock.  By programming your cell phone with ICE, not only will paramedics and hospital personnel have a method of contacting loved ones, to advise them of your situation and your location, but also a method to get pertinent information about your medical history.  Your contact person should be aware of your blood type, medical allergies, current medications or any other information that would be relevant.

Fueled by the London bombings and a  news story by the Washington Post, this idea has begun to circulate and is becoming a recognizable and established method for getting  information.   It has an even greater significance with kids.  Many children do not carry a wallet or other types of identification, but many now carry cell phones.   By programming your child’s cell phone with ICE (with your phone number), gives medical personnel an immediate means to contact you when a disaster strikes.  This time saving system can help expedite treatment which may mean the difference in life or death.

Realize this is not a fool proof system, there are some drawbacks.  Such as, if you lock your cell phone, the phone becomes damaged in the accident or the battery discharges.  You may want to consider other methods as well, such as affixing a card next to your drivers license which gives similar information.

Unfortunately there has been an email being passed around that states a random virus is being sent out to cell phones, searching for the address “ICE” or “I.C.E.”.  If found, it would download a virus that would charge a premium rate, use up existing minutes or drain available credits.  The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) has dismissed this advisory as a hoax.  It is a shame there are some small minded individuals who would pull such a prank, that may cause somebody additional suffering or death.  This is a safe process, there is no danger in programming your cell phone with an emergency contact number under the acronym “ICE”.

And lastly you can program more than one number such as ICE1, ICE2 or ICE3.  Make sure the person or persons you are using can make medical decisions on your behalf and knows your medical background.  If a child, the ICE number must or should be a parent or guardian.  It’s a great idea, store it in your cell phone then pass on the information to your family and friends.

Apple has a free and paid App to use for your iPhone.

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Texting While Driving

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One study suggests that teens text while driving 46% of the time!  This is almost half the time a teen, who is vastly under experienced, is operating a moving vehicle.  The average teen sends or receives approximately 3,000 text messages each month.  Many of these are read or sent while behind the wheel.  When texting, our focus is diverted from the road on average 4.6 seconds.  This is enough time to travel the full length of a football field at 55mph.

Teens are not the only ones performing this unsafe act.  Many States are considering bans on texting while operating a vehicle.  How are they going to enforce this?  In California, we have a ban on using a cell phone in a vehicle, unless it is used with a hands free device.   Each day I must pass 5 to 10 drivers with their cell phones to their ears.  Many in law enforcement believe that texting or the use of cell phones creates the same endangerment as someone operating a vehicle while drunk.

Last week I came across this Public Service Announcement (PSA), on YouTube, which details a horrific incident created by a person texting on her cell phone.  Please be aware that this video is very graphic and disturbing, but perhaps it may give you pause before reaching for your cell phone to review an incoming message or typing out a quick response, while you are driving.


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Stroke in Infants and Children

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Strokes in children is not as rare as we once thought.   As medical science advances, previously undiagnosed strokes suffered by children are now being identified and protocol’s are being developed to treat this condition.  The usual treatment for adults experiencing a stroke is the administrations of a drug called, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).  Unfortunately this drug, in most cases, can be to strong for infants and children.

In newborns the first symptoms, are often seizures that involve the chaotic spasms of one arm or one leg.  For children, migraines, head trauma, dehydration and sickle cell are the common symptoms and risk factors.  The risk of stroke in children is greatest in the first year of life, particularly in the first two months.

Prevention in adults is in modifying behaviors and taking medication to prevent the first stroke.  For children, since it is more difficult to identify and prevent the first stroke, the primary prevention techniques are to prevent second or additional strokes.

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Poisonous Plants

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It is time for spring plantings.  Did you know that many of the plants in your yard may be poisonous?  As you begin to select varieties of flowers and plants for your landscape, you may want to consider if the plant or flower you selected is toxic.  Tiger lilies are among the worst poisonous plants for cats and jasmine for dogs, while castor bean is the source for the deadly toxin ricin and a poor choice to grow especially if you have children.

Always check with your local nursery before purchasing any type of plant or flower.  Here is a list of just a few common plants:

Wisteria Vines  –  Not to be confused with the Desperate Housewives that live on Wisteria Lane.  If ingested in sufficient quantities (which, for a young child, would be a relatively small amount), the seeds and pods of wisterias can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea.

Winter-berry Shrubs – Ingesting the bright red berries can cause vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea.

Azaleas and Rhododendron Bushes – These are the most popular landscape plants, but ingesting their leaves or flowers can cause vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea — or worse.

Juniper Shrubs – Using this ground cover helps control erosion and weeds, but ingesting too many of the berry like cones can lead to kidney damage.

Bulb Plants – Hyacinths and daffodils bring much delight in spring with their blooms, but these poisonous plants bring nausea, vomiting, and in some cases, even death.

Winter Jasmine Vines – These vines are poisonous to humans and dogs alike.

So this spring, as you decide the colors of your garden and landscapes, you may want to consider the potential consequences, especially if you have animals and young children.

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Want To Lose Weight? Eat More Chocolate.

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A new government study shows that people who frequently consumed chocolate weighed less than those who indulged less often.  Some researchers are theorizing that the calories in chocolate are being offset by other ingredients that help boost metabolism, such as caffeine.  Chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine which can rev a person’s metabolism and increase the number of calories they burn even while at rest.

Nutritionists not involved in the study say they are not convinced that chocolate can help in the process of losing weight.  Some suggest that other factors must be playing a part, though in the study the researchers state that the chocolate eaters did not exercise more or engage in any other activities or behaviors compared to the non or less frequent chocolate eaters.

Dr. Katz, MD, MPH, director at the Yale Prevention Research Center, says that dark chocolate or a chocolate that contains at least 60% cocoa, is the best choice for the dieter.  Dark chocolate is bittersweet and the bitterness can help suppress a person’s appetite.  Also chocolate is high in fat which slows the digestion process and can make you feel less hungry.

Both the researchers and nutritionist agree that this is not an endorsement to go ahead and fully engage in consuming large amounts of chocolate.  Chocolate is full of fat and sugar and has a high calorie count, but a chocolate regiment of around 5 grams or the size of a Hershey’s Kiss, a day should be acceptable and help increase the rate of your metabolism.

So when the chocolate pangs occur during the day, you can now enjoy a small piece of chocolate without the guilty feelings, because in fact it may be helping you lose weight.

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Fragrances That Kill

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Can the fragrances in laundry products or air fresheners hurt you?  A new study states many of these products contain or emit different chemicals, some of which are regulated as toxic or
hazardous under federal law.  Though none of these chemicals are listed on the labels.  Chemicals that produce a fragrance are not required by the FDA to be listed on the outside label.  “I didn’t find a brand that didn’t emit at least one toxic chemical, ” said Anne C. Steinemann, PhD. the professor at the University of Washington, Seattle who conducted the study.

Many representatives in the industry protested the study stating their products were safe.  They state that the amount of the toxic chemicals used, were at levels below that which would cause a problem.   And the segment of the population that is sensitive to their products should just avoid them.

Steinemann decided to do the study after, “I actually witnessed someone having a seizure when exposed to an air freshener.”  In her laboratory she put products in an isolated space at room temperature and then measured the surrounding air for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  She detected up to 100 different VOCs at levels above 300 micrograms.  Many consider this a level to pose potential concern.

Other than the problem of toxins in our products, is that, there are no laws requiring these substances be identified on the outside label.  As stated earlier the FDA does not require companies to list the chemicals used in the development of a products fragrance.  Consumers are not aware or able to avoid products that they have a sensitivity to these compounds.

To be safe, pick laundry products that do not have a fragrance.  Use natural alternatives for air fresheners, such as baking soda, open a window, cut open an orange or use spearmint leaves.  If you have other suggestions for air fresheners, please send them to me and I will include them in the Octobers Newsletter.

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Do We Learn While We Sleep?

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An article out of the Harvard Gazette suggests we do. Experiments have associated intense periods of daytime learning with longer periods of sleep. In a sleep study, people were awaken repeatedly during their dream cycles. What researchers found was that these people had a hard time retaining what they had learned the previous day. Whereas, those who had  un-interrupted sleep, produced significant differences in remembering the previous day’s activities and information. Dreams are a way for the brain to categorize thoughts, activities and acquired knowledge from the previous day. That sleeping and the process of dreaming are what helps us learn and retain knowledge.

Dreams are the brains way of synchronizing thoughts, repeating the process over and over to help build and strengthen neural pathways. In essence the more we dream the better we are able to retain information that we learn. For athletes, the suggestion from their coaches of getting a good night’s rest maybe be more important than previously thought. Our dreams of running, throwing and catching are another way of practicing. Just like when practicing physically, dreams help us improve and strengthen the new connections we create in our brains when we learn new information.

Nightmares may even help you learn. It has been theorized that some nightmares maybe Mother Nature’s way of practicing for dangerous events. Back in our history, cavemen where constantly aware of possible dangers and many times had to react to dangerous situations. Our life styles now do not present the same dangers, our brains thinks differently in the subconscious. It must be prepared and remain ready. In an attempt to preserve itself, the brain runs scenarios of dangerous situations teaching us to either run or fight, the fight or flight
response. How we behave in our dreams is how we most likely will behave in an extreme situation. Our brain runs these games to re-enforce our neural pathways to danger in an effort to protect itself or us.

Not all dreams and nightmares may not fall within these categorizations, but many scientist believe good sleep with dreams help the body to stay in good physical and mental health.

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Bad Breath or Possible Disease

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Can your breath detect breast cancer and other diseases?  Someday in the near future it just might.  Currently doctors use several breath odors in diagnosing certain diseases.  A strong fruity odor from your breath may indicate untreated diabetes or other irregular odors can signify either liver or lung disease.

The process of expelling breaths from your lungs is one way the body uses to excrete waste.  Gases are filtered out of your blood as they pass through your lungs.  As diseases develop in the body, they create certain wastes or bio-markers that are excreted as gases in our blood.  These gases are then released out of the body through your expelled breath.  The idea is to measure these gases or combination of gases to assist in diagnosing developing illnesses or disease.

Scientist are currently developing a technique that can measure these gases or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in your expelled breath.  There are approximately over 3000 of these compounds in every breath.  They currently have machines that are so sensitive, that they can detect a single molecule amid several billion air molecules.  This process will be initially used to study breaths of patients with renal disease and to study children with respiratory problems such as asthma or cystic fibrosis.

The next goal in this evolving technology would be, to detect one molecule in a trillion. This would broaden the applications and it is theorized that scientist and doctors would then be able to identify the beginnings of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease as well as several other life threatening conditions.  The earlier they can detect these diseases and begin treatment, the higher the chance of a patients survival.

The existing machines are very expensive and the type that will eventually be needed to detect even smaller samples, no doubt will be pricey, but with all technology, as you are able to mass produce, the cost would invariably decrease.  So it is not to hard to imagine, sometime in the near future, that when you visit your doctor, he/she can possibly do a fast, low cost, easy to preform, non-invasive breath test to diagnose a broad range of medical conditions and irregularities.

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Allergy First Aid Kit

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Here’s a few suggestions for a simple allergy first aid kit.  Now that the weather is getting better and we are planning more outdoor activities with our families, you may want to consider carrying a few items to help guard and treat any type of an allergic reaction.  Bees, plants and pollens can turn an enjoyable afternoon in the outdoors into a sneeze, itchy and  comfortable situation.  In certain occasions it can be life threatening.  By carrying a few essential items you can help combat many of these irritants.

Here are a few items we suggest:

  • Moisturizer – Eases skin irritation due to dryness.
  • Hydro-cortisone cream – Helps treat itchy skin reactions.
  • Eye drops – Can reduce inflammation, reddening, itchy, tearing and swelling of the eyes.
  • Decongestants and Nasal Sprays – Reduce the discomfort of nasal swelling and stuffiness.
  • Antihistamines – A powerful relief for allergy symptoms.
  • Inhaler and Bronchodilators – For those who have asthma or other pulmonary distresses.
  • Epi-pen – Many of us can have a serious reaction to a substance like bee stings, shellfish or peanuts. This self-induce injection can save a person life with this sensitivity. Only a doctor can prescribe.
  • Vaseline – Rubbing a small amount of Vaseline on the inner portion of the nose with a Q-Tip has given many relief from recurring nosebleeds. When seasons change and the air gets dryer, many children suffer from frequent nose bleeds. Applying a thin layer of Vaseline to the inner portion of the nasal canal helps keep the nasal passages moist and has reported to reduce the number of nosebleeds. Apply in the morning and just before bedtime.

Reference: First Aid – 274


Meta tag: allergy, first aid, allergy kit, allergic

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Easter Safety Tips

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The annual tradition of coloring and hidding Easter eggs is upon us.  To make sure this continues to be a fun family activity, we should take a few precautions.  When dealing with eggs we need to be aware of the risk of Salmonella or food poisoning.  Also it is important to keep our family pets safe as well.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

–  Buy eggs that are refrigerated and keep them refrigerated before you boil them in preparation for decorating. Always check expiration dates.
–  Water temperature must be 185-190 degrees F, when boiling eggs. Cool your eggs in cold water or allow cooling slowly at room temperature.
–  When boiling eggs, the protective coating is washed away, leaving open pores in the shell where harmful bacteria could enter. Be sure to refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week.
–  Discard cracked or broken eggs.
–  Do not leave eggs un-refrigerated for more than two hours. If so, discard them.
–  Hide easter eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets, and other bacteria sources.
–  Limit the hiding and hunting time for real eggs to two hours. Harmful bacteria will begin to grow after eggs have been unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.
–  Any eggs found hours later or the next day should be thrown out — not eaten!
–  You may want to consider using plastic eggs instead of real eggs for Easter egg hunts.
Animal Safety
– Easter Lily is toxic and can be fatal to cats.
– The Easter Lily leaves can cause feline kidney failure, if chewed.
– Artificial “grass” in most Easter baskets can be ingested and cause obstruction in cats an dogs.
  (Signs can be loss of appetite and/or vomiting)
– Don’t forget that chocolate contains xanthines, which can be toxic to dogs.
  (Signs can be hyper excitability, restlessness, increased heart rate, muscle tremors, vomiting and diarrhea)
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