Mar
07

Spider Bites

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As the weather begins to warm and we begin more activities outside, the potential of getting bitten by a spider increases.  Not all spiders are dangerous, in fact only two that are dangerous to humans are present in the contiguous United States, the black widow and brown recluse.

Both of these spiders prefer warm and dark places and often live in woodpiles, closets, under sinks and in undisturbed areas.  Most bites occur when moving rocks or pieces of wood that haven’t been moved in a long period of time.  Grasping the underside of these objects, where a spider might be living can increase the opportunity for a potential spider bite.

Black Widow

Though rarely lethal a black widow bite can be serious.  You can identify the black widow spider by the red hourglass marking on its belly.  The black widow spider bite is not painful at
first.  In fact, you may not even feel the bite.  Soon you will notice a bit of swelling and red marks developing.  If not treated immediately, intense pain will develop stiffness, chills, fever,
severe abdominal pain and vomiting will occur.

Brown Recluse

The brown recluse is identifiable by the violin shaped marking on its back and it can produce a mild sting when it bites.  Within a few hours local redness will develop at the bite site along with intense pain.  A fluid filled blister will develop and pop leaving a gaping ulcer in the skin.

If Bitten:

  • Clean the wound site with plain soap and water.
  • Tie a snug bandage just above the bite site and towards the heart to slow the progression of the venom.  DO NOT tie the bandage so tight that it cuts off circulation.
  • Apply a cold cloth or a bag of water and ice combined to the injured site.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

The venom can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people.  Also child and the elderly may also have severe reactions to these bites which could lead to death.  Many other insect bites may look like a spider bite, but will not have the same severe reactions.  Play it safe, treat all insect bites seriously especially in the elderly and the very young and if the victims condition worsen, call 911 immediately.

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Color of Baby eyes

Without even looking at your baby, I can guess the color of their eyes – they are blue. Most babies are born with blue eyes. You inherit the color of your eyes from your parents. Melanin is a
protein that produces the brown pigmentation for your hair, skin and eyes. This coloring protein has not been fully deposited into the babies eyes at birth and may take a while for it to fully develop, which then will change the color of their eyes. The more melanin the darker the eye color. So people with dark brown eyes have a lot of melanin in the iris and those with blue or green eyes will have less.

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Several over-the-counter nasal sprays contain a compound called Oxymetazoline which may kill the virus that causes the common cold.  In a recent study by the University of Virginia, this health drug compound showed to have an antiviral effect, especially against the rhinovirus, the virus responsible for the common cold.

People who volunteered for the study were given either a nasal spray that contained oxymetazoline or a saline solution. The participant that received the saline solutions showed no significant reduction in virus levels. While participants receiving the nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline showed a reduction in the rhino-virus levels.

Many of the popular brands such as Afrin, Dristan 12 Hour Nasal Spray, Duramist Plus and Vicks Sinex 12 Hour Nasal Spray, contain oxymetazoline. The study cautioned that not only do these sprays reduce virus levels and provide temporary relief of nasal congestion, continual or long term use (5 or more consecutive days) could lead nasal tissue damage and chronic congestion.

Reference: Health – 157

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In a short answer, absolutely.  The intake of alcohol can interfere with the absorption of many antibiotics or antifungals–like cefoperazone (Cefobid), ketoconazole (Nizoral), metronidazole (Flagyl), and tinidazole (Tinda_max).

Complete refrain is recommended.  Even a small sip of alcohol can lead to nausea, cramping, headaches, flushing, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.  In some situation the reactions can be so severe it may even become life threatening.

So when you are sick or ill and your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic, it would be best to refrain from your favorite glass of wine or adult beverage.   Once you have completed you regime of medications, and make sure to finish taking all the medications that are prescribed, you can then enjoy your favorite drink.

Reference: Health – 127

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Feb
14

Is It a Cold or Flu?

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Both colds and flu’s are respiratory illnesses causes by different viruses. Though they have similar symptoms, the flu is much worse than the common cold. Also people with a cold are more likely to have stuffy or runny nose. In general, colds do not result in serious health problems, but a flu can progress into pneumonia or a bacterial infections which could result into hospitalizations.

Always see a doctor with the onset of any cold or flu symptoms. Even better, protect yourself by getting vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Each year the World Health Organization (WHO) meets to determine the vaccine composition for the upcoming year. This process looks at the potential of which viruses have the highest likelihood of circulating in a specific region. Based upon this hypothesis a recommendation is made to the type of vaccine to be produced.

Remember this is a best guess scenario. You can still get the flu if another strain of the influenza virus begins to circulate that is not anticipated.

To help protect yourself, carry out good sanitation practices. The best form of protection is frequent and thorough hand washing. Plain soap and water are the simplest and best form of defense.  Start by using warm water and any type of soap.  Create a good lather making sure to rub in between each finger and under your fingernails. It is best to wash for at least 15 to 20 seconds or as long as it takes you to sing “Twinkle, twinkle little star”. A fun way to get children involved, though you may want to sing to yourself if you are in public.

Reference: Health -257

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Feb
11

Children and Vick’s Vapo Rub

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Can this mainstay of cough/cold/flu relieve be harmful?  Vick’s Vapo Rub has been around for over 100 years.  Formulated back in 1891, it wasn’t extensively marketed until 1905 and gained popularity during the Spanish Flu of 1918.  Lately there have been many emails going around extolling other virtues of the camphor ointment.  Such as, relieving toe nail fungus and cough relief when applied to the bottom of the feet.

Each of these remedies have not been proven in any medical studies, and in cases which the email quotes a source, these sources reject or dispute that they ever offered any validation to the rumor.  The only treatment medically acknowledged for the use of this topical ointment is to apply it liberally to the chest. The vapors help to control coughs.

Children under the age of 2 should NEVER use this product.  In fact, many pediatricians do not recommend its use on children 4 years and under. Another common practice is applying this ointment under the nose.  This is not a recommended process and certain studies have shown a 59% increase in the production of mucus, which could increase coughing and in  extreme cases inhibit the ability to breath, especially in children.

This is not a negative article about Vick’s. Vick’s and its family of products have been used for a century in the relieve of coughs due to colds and flu.  What I’m advocating is to follow the directions “for use” on all products.  Always consult your physician if you have any questions about any over-the-counter medications and do not rely on emails or the Internet as the ultimate source or authority for the use of any medical product.  Even this article.

reference: Safety -276

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Feb
10

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News

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Doctor

Is your doctor telling you the truth?  A recent survey  suggests that many times they are not.  From a collection of data from 2009 by the Charter of Medical Professionals, found that openness and honesty in communications between doctor and patient wasn’t always present.

Of the 1,891 physicians that participated in the survey, 10% admitted to lying to a patient within the past year.  Another 40% felt it was unnecessary to disclose a financial relationship they had with a drug company before prescribing medications.

On the bright side, the vast majority of surveyed physicians agreed that patients should be fully advised about the risk and benefits of interventions, and they should never disclose a patients confidential information to an unauthorized person.

The most startling part of the survey is that nearly 1/3 of the participating physician admitted to not telling patients of a mistake they may have made in their care, for fear of being sued.  It’s important that patients have a form of recourse in cases where a physician is clearly negligent, but doctors are human and mistakes will happen, we must find a way to allow a physician to feel confident in making full disclosures to a patient especially when it come to their health, without the constant fear of litigation.

Reference: Health – 222

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Feb
10

RICE That Injury

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Injuries to soft tissue such as sprains and strains, though not life threatening are still pretty painful. It is universally accepted to RICE those injured sites. We are not suggesting that you use “Uncle Ben’s” or “Risotto” on these injuries, instead using RICE as an acronym for steps to take in the treatment of soft tissue injuries. It’s best to perform these treatments within the first 48 hours of the injury. If fact, the sooner you can begin treatment the better.

For soft tissue injuries complete the following steps:

R – Rest the injured site, get off of it or greatly reduce the use of that injured body part.

I – Ice to control swelling. The best formula for icing is to ice the area for 20 minutes and then remove the ice for at least the same period of time before reapplying. Continual icing of a limb or injured area can actually cause more swelling. Interval icing, as suggested, is the best process.

C – Compression. Wrap the injured area with a Ace Bandage to also help control swelling, as well as adding support to the injury.

E – Elevation. Elevate the injured body part above the heart as much as you can during the day and evening.

Following these easy first aid steps can help reduce the pain the victim is experiencing, as well as reduce the overall recovery time.

 

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Feb
09

Avoid Night Time Heartburn

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Many people suffer from heartburn that wakes them during the middle of the night.  Here’s a tip from a recent health study for nighttime heartburn sufferers. This study, conducted by the Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, found that patients who slept on their left side experienced less incidents of nighttime heartburn.

Scientists found that lying on your left side while sleeping, allowed acid to leave your stomach more quickly reducing the possibility of acid reflux. Though sleeping on your right side increased heartburn symptoms, because the acid took longer to clear out of your stomach and esophagus.  People who slept on your back also had heightened symptoms from the acid slipping back.

This health study found that keeping your head elevated during sleep also reduced symptoms. The elevation allowed gravity to assist in keeping the acid in your stomach.

Reference: Health – 138

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As simple as dropping and breaking a CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb).  Just ask Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine.  After breaking a CFL in the process of rearranging her daughters room, she was forced to hire a environmental cleanup firm, which quoted her a price of over $2,000.00 to clean just one bedroom.

Why such an exaggerated response?  Every CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb) contains
approximately 5 milligrams of mercury, which is released as a vapor upon breaking.  This level of mercury vapor release exceeds the federal guidelines for chronic exposure by 100 times and easily exceeds all states, including California’s, exposure level standard.

Though CFL’s last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy, they have some significant downfalls.  Cleanup of broken bulbs is a  hazardous process (which we detail below) and is not described on the bulbs packaging.  Legally CFL’s are  considered hazardous waste and need to be disposed of at a universal waste collection site or program.  Home Depot and Ikea have started a voluntary recycling program, but realistically many homeowners will dispose of expired CFL bulbs in their regular garbage, which then contaminates our local landfills.  It is estimated that up to 4 tons of mercury are currently being released into the environment from CFL’s and will continue to grow exponentially each year as states, local government and environmental groups continue to push the idea of converting to CFL’s as a method to save money and protect
the environment.

Steps for cleanup

  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner.  This will help spread the mercury vapors and dust and may contaminate your vacuum.
  • Keep adults, children and pets away until cleanup is complete.
  • Ventilate by opening a window and leave the room for at least 15 minutes to let the vapors settle.
  • Wear rubber gloves, mouth and face shields. Mercury can be easily absorbed through your skin and mucous membranes.
  • Remove large pieces and place them into a secure container such as a mason jar or a glass jar with a solid seal.
  • Use pieces of paper to collect the smaller pieces.
  • Then use the sticky side of duct tape to get the minute pieces.
  • Wipe areas with a wet paper towel to collect finer pieces.
  • Put all materials used for cleanup in glass containers as well.
  • Label all containers as “Universal Waste – broken lamp” and dispose of properly .
  • Continue to ventilate the room for several more hours.
  • Consider disposing of or at least wash the clothing you wear during the cleanup process in a separate wash.  Soles of your shoes can help distribute mercury throughout your home.
  • When a break occurs on carpet, it is recommended to remove throw rugs, cut and remove sections of exposed carpet as a precaution.  Particularly if the rug or carpet is frequented by children, infants or pregnant women.
  • Remove, dispose or wash separately all bedding, stuffed animals or any cloth or material items that could have been exposed to the mercury vapors.
  • Finally make sure to ventilate the room each time you vacuum for at least the next several times.

Even with these precautions, studies show that levels can still reach beyond acceptable levels and spike duringdisturbances in the area such as playing or vacuuming.  Mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in fetuses and children and is considered one of the most poisonous forms of pollution.  Breathed as a vapor, it can cause tremors, neurological effects, kidney failure, respiratory failure and possibly death.

If you decide to use CFL’s in your home, place a drop cloth on the floor when it is time to replace your bulbs.  Avoid using CFL in areas used extensively by infants and
children, such as bedrooms or carpeted areas where they like to play.  To reduce the possibility of breakage, refrain from storing too many used or spent lamps at one time.  And finally remember to recycle your used fluorescent bulbs at a designated recycling facility, so they do not end up in our landfills and poison our environment.

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