Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Health Care and COPD

COPD is a debilitating disease that affects your ability to breathe well. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a lung condition usually caused by smoking. It affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., or 6 percent of the population as of 2013. It is the third leading cause of death in America.

According to the COPD Foundation, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. In the early stages of the disease, you may not notice the symptoms.

COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. You begin to see the symptoms in the more developed stages of the disease. That’s why it is important that you talk to your doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. Ask your doctor about taking a spirometry test.  What are the symptoms?

·         Increased breathlessness
·         Frequent coughing (with and without sputum)
·         Wheezing
·         Tightness in the chest.

Most cases of COPD are caused by inhaling pollutants; that includes smoking (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.), and second-hand smoke. Fumes, chemicals and dust found in many work environments are contributing factors for many individuals who develop COPD. Genetics can also play a role in an individual’s development of COPD—even if the person has never smoked or has ever been exposed to strong lung irritants in the workplace.  See more at: http://www.copdfoundation.org/ .

Additionally, COPD is a serious and progressive lung disease that can make it difficult to breathe and get enough oxygen into the body. Normally, air flows into the lungs via the nose, mouth, and air tubes (airways) leading to the lungs. In the lungs, oxygen (O2) from the air passes through air sacs and into blood vessels, which carry the oxygen to all parts of the body. At the same time, carbon dioxide (CO2) passes out of the blood vessels into the air sacs and is blown out of the lungs when you exhale, according to the American College of Chest Physicians.

COPD is made up of two diseases that obstruct, or block, the normal flow of air and oxygen. Emphysema damages the airways and air sacs, making it difficult for the body to effectively exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by swollen and inflamed airways that produce large amounts of mucus. The inflammation and mucus narrow the airways, making it difficult for air and oxygen to flow freely through the body. Many people with COPD have a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Some also have asthma-like symptoms or reactive airway disease.

COPD is a progressive disease, which means that it can get worse over time. But proper treatment can control the disease and its symptoms, making it easier for you to breathe and enjoy life. You can work with your health-care provider to learn ways to improve your breathing and fitness and prevent quick and serious worsening of your disease. It IS possible to live well with COPD.  More details can be found at this site: http://www.chestnet.org/Foundation/Patient-Education-Resources/COPD .

According to the American Thoracic Society, when symptoms first occur, most people ignore them as they think that they are related to smoking, i.e. "It’s just a smoker’s cough" or "I’m just winded/breathless from being out of shape". These symptoms can worsen to the point that people are motivated to stop smoking in order to control the symptoms. Others let the symptoms control them.

These signs and symptoms of COPD (breathlessness, tiredness, cough and sputum production) are an indication that the lungs are not normal, even though the lungs are actually responding "normally" to the irritation. Many people with COPD develop most, if not all, of these signs and symptoms. More detailed material can be also found at this website: http://www.thoracic.org/clinical/copd-guidelines/for-patients/what-are-the-signs-and-symptoms-of-copd.php .

The American Lung Association additionally has many valuable resources for anyone who may be diagnosed with COPD. You can learn more at their website for this disease: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/copd/ .

More than 50% of adults with low pulmonary function were not aware that they had COPD; therefore the actual number may be higher, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The following groups were more likely to report COPD:

·         People aged 65–74 years.
·         Non-Hispanic whites.
·         Women.
·         Individuals who were unemployed, retired, or unable to work.
·         Individuals with less than a high school education.
·         People with lower incomes.
·         Individuals who were divorced, widowed, or separated
·         Current or former smokers.
·         Those with a history of asthma.

Treatment of COPD requires a careful and thorough evaluation by a physician. COPD treatment can alleviate symptoms, decrease the frequency and severity of exacerbations, and increase exercise tolerance. For those who smoke, the most important aspect of treatment is smoking cessation. Avoiding tobacco smoke and removing other air pollutants from the patient’s home or workplace are also important. Symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated with medication, according to the CDC.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an individualized treatment program that teaches COPD management strategies to increase quality of life. Plans may include breathing strategies, energy-conserving techniques, and nutritional counseling. The flu can cause serious problems in people with COPD.

Vaccination during flu season is recommended and respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics, if appropriate. Patients who have low blood oxygen levels are often given supplemental oxygen. More material on this health care topic can be found at this website: http://www.cdc.gov/copd/ .

If you feel that you may be experiencing breathing issues or other symptoms that could be COPD, make sure you contact your family doctor or a professional medical provider that can begin testing you for this disease. Since the disease can be fatal if not properly treated, it is always in your best interest to seek health care advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

Until next time.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Health Care and Depression

Are you suffering from a depressed state of mind, or have you dealt with bouts of depression over your life time? Do you know people who suffer from depression? Some people get upset or sad over circumstances, and they may be in a state of temporary depression that lasts for a short time. However, a depressed mood that is long term is classified as clinical depression.

According to PsychCentral, clinical depression goes by many names -- depression, "the blues," biological depression, major depression. But it all refers to the same thing: feeling sad and depressed for weeks or months on end (not just a passing blue mood). This feeling is most often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, a lack of energy (or feeling "weighed down"), and taking little or no pleasure in things that gave you joy in the past.

A person who's depressed just "can't get moving" and feels completely unmotivated to do just about anything. Even simple things -- like getting dressed in the morning or eating -- become large obstacles in daily life. More details can be found at this website: http://psychcentral.com/disorders/depression/ .

Sadness or downswings in mood are normal reactions to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness, according to Help Guide online.

Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.  Although depression varies from person to person, there are some common symptoms:

·         Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.

·         Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.

·         Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.

·         Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).

·         Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.

·         Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.

·         Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.

·         Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.

·         Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.

·         Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It's not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it's a cry for help. Much more detail on depression can also be located at this site: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm . 

The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that each year depression affects 5-8 percent of adults in the United States. This means that about 25 million Americans will have an episode of major depression this year alone, but only one-half receive treatment. Without treatment, the frequency and severity of these symptoms tend to increase over time. All age groups and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups can experience depression.

Depression can lead to serious impairment in daily functioning and even suicide, as noted earlier in this material, which is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Researchers believe that more than one-half of people who die by suicide are experiencing depression. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and represents a global public health challenge.  

According to the World Health Organization, it is the forth-leading contributor to Global Burden of Disease, and by 2020, depression is projected to be the second-leading cause. Devastating as this disease may be, it is treatable in most people. The availability of effective treatments and a better understanding of the biological basis for depression may lessen the barriers that can prevent early detection, accurate diagnosis and the decision to seek medical treatment, as reported by NAMI. See more detailed information here: http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=depression .

Depression is a disorder of the brain according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). There are a variety of causes, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and biochemical factors. Depression usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, and is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter.

Depression is one part of bipolar disorder. There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and talk therapy. Most people do best by using both. More resources can be found at this website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html .

According to NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health), Depression, even the most severe cases, can be effectively treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is.

The first step to getting appropriate treatment is to visit a doctor or mental health specialist. Certain medications, and some medical conditions such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same symptoms as depression. A doctor can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests. If the doctor can find no medical condition that may be causing the depression, the next step is a psychological evaluation.

The doctor may refer you to a mental health professional, who should discuss with you any family history of depression or other mental disorder, and get a complete history of your symptoms. You should discuss when your symptoms started, how long they have lasted, how severe they are, and whether they have occurred before and if so, how they were treated. The mental health professional may also ask if you are using alcohol or drugs, and if you are thinking about death or suicide.

Other illnesses may come on before depression, cause it, or be a consequence of it. But depression and other illnesses interact differently in different people. In any case, co-occurring illnesses need to be diagnosed and treated.

Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder, often accompany depression. PTSD can occur after a person experiences a terrifying event or ordeal, such as a violent assault, a natural disaster, an accident, terrorism or military combat. People experiencing PTSD are especially prone to having co-existing depression.

Alcohol and other substance abuse or dependence may also co-exist with depression. Research shows that mood disorders and substance abuse commonly occur together. Depression also may occur with other serious medical illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease.

People who have depression along with another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both depression and the medical illness, more difficulty adapting to their medical condition, and more medical costs than those who do not have co-existing depression. Treating the depression can also help improve the outcome of treating the co-occurring illness. Additional significant information on this topic can be also located at this site: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml . 

Regardless of your mental state, clinical depression must be dealt with by professionals. Anyone with this state of mind can be a danger many times to themselves and to others. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, seek a counselor, minister, or professional medical advisor to assist you in finding a solution. Being depressed is no laughing matter.

Until next time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Health Care and Heat Exhaustion

During the summer months, you can become overheated without realizing what is happening to you. Heat exhaustion can be deadly. If you are playing or working outside in hot weather, one of the most dangerous health situations from overexposure to the heat can result in major difficulty for you. Heat exhaustion can lead to serious physical and mental fatigue, as well as the possibility of not being able to recover.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot. The hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls thirst and hunger, also controls the body's core temperature. Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. When you are exposed to high temperatures for a long time (working outdoors in the summer, for example) and don't replace the fluids you lose, the body systems that regulate temperature become overwhelmed.

As a result, your body produces more heat than it can release. Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention because it can progress to heat stroke, a life threatening illness. People with heat exhaustion may experience the following signs and symptoms:

·         Heavy sweating
·         Fatigue
·         Headache
·         Pale, clammy skin
·         Thirst
·         Rapid heartbeat
·         Dizziness, fainting
·         Nausea, vomitin
·         Muscle and abdominal cramps
·         Mild temperature elevations
·         Weakness

If body temperature goes above 104 °F, or if coma or seizure occurs, the patient may have heat stroke. If left untreated, heat stroke can quickly lead to heart attack and death. More details can be found at this website: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/heat-exhaustion .

For children, the diagnosis for heat exhaustion is similar, but the situation can deteriorate much more rapidly for them. Here is a good website for more on heat safety for kids: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/sheets/heat_exhaustion_heatstroke_sheet.html .

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), if someone is exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion, take these precautions:

·         Move to a cooler location.
·         Lie down and loosen your clothing.
·         Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
·         Sip water.
·         If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

People who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to get heat-related illness. Here are ways to limit risk  for heat exhaustion, if you work outside in particular:

·         Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
·         Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
·         Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
·         Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
·         Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
·         Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
·         Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
·         Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Additionally, people who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness, as well as individuals with severe or chronic medical conditions. You can see more about this topic at this site: http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html .

Avoid heat exhaustion by not engaging in strenuous activity in hot, humid environments. People not used to the heat should be particularly careful. Intersperse periods of rest in a cool environment with plenty of available fluids to drink. Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest part of the day, according to this website: http://www.onhealth.com/heat_exhaustion_and_heat_stroke_health/article.htm .

Review the weather report before strenuous activity and look specifically for the heat index (which combines temperature and humidity). Heat stroke often occurs in infants, children, and adults who are unable to modify their environments: the elderly, overweight, and bed-ridden people.
 
People who are taking types of blood pressure, allergy, or depression medication may also be particularly at risk and should avoid hot environments. Individuals in supervisory positions such as coaches, trainers, and lifeguards should be trained to specifically recognize signs of heat illness and what preventive measures to take.

The prognosis is related to the severity of the heat exposure and the patient's general medical condition, according to OnHealth.com. The very young and the very old have the worst outcomes. In general, the prognosis with heat exhaustion is excellent, with full recovery expected. However, with heat stroke, permanent nerve, heart, liver, or kidney problems, or even death, can occur.

Be careful in the heat. Take proper precautions to avoid heat exhaustion, and stay hydrated. Heat exhaustion can change rapidly to heat stroke, and worse. If you are in a high risk category, or are around people who are, take care to properly prevent exposure to hot temperature situations or locations, especially in the summertime. If you feel like you are having problems leading to heat exhaustion, or see someone who is, get immediate medical help.  Heat exhaustion should not be ignored.

Until next time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Health Care and Coffee Drinking

How is your Java consumption? Are you a one, two, or three cup a day drinker? Or do you just keep a pot going with an IV attached all day? There are studies that can prove drinking coffee is good for you and some that say it’s not that healthy. What do YOU think?

According to HellaWella, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, but is seemingly also one of the most maligned. However, after hundreds of years of consumption and decades of research, it seems the benefits of drinking coffee far outweigh the risks. However, unfiltered coffee — such as that prepared in a French press — proves an exception, as it can elevate cholesterol levels.

In multiple studies comparing people who drink three to five cups of coffee per day with those who drink zero to two cups per day, it has been found that those who drink more coffee are significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and have a reduced risk of developing dementia.

Moreover, drinking caffeinated coffee has been associated with a lower incidence of gallstones and gallbladder disease in both men and women. Similar to the results of the aforementioned Alzheimer’s studies, it has been found that heavy coffee drinkers — those consuming approximately 3.5 cups a day — are significantly less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease later in life, compared with nondrinkers.

Other health benefits of coffee include reducing one’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to half, reducing the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver, and reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. Generally, coffee contains a substantial amount of antioxidants.

As with any significant change in diet, you should talk to your doctor before increasing your coffee intake. And also be mindful of what time you are drinking your coffee, as the caffeine can have a negative impact on your sleep patterns, which will in turn have an effect on your overall health.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), often people think of coffee just as a vehicle for caffeine. But it’s actually a very complex beverage with hundreds and hundreds of different compounds in it. Since coffee contains so many different compounds, drinking coffee can lead to very diverse health outcomes. It can be good for some things and bad for some things, and that’s not necessarily flip-flopping or inconsistent.
 
Few foods are good for everything. That’s why studies are done on very specific health effects—for example, studies of how coffee affects the risk of diabetes—but studies are also conducted such as a recent one looking at coffee consumption and mortality over a long period of time, which better reflects the overall health effect.

Coffee is also a bit more complex to study than some other food items. Drinking coffee often goes along together with cigarette smoking, and with a lifestyle that’s not very health conscious. For example, people who drink lots of coffee tend to exercise less. They are less likely to use dietary supplements, and they tend to have a less healthful diet. So in the early studies on coffee and health, it was hard to separate the effects of coffee from the effects of smoking or other lifestyle choices.

Over the several decades that coffee has been studied, there have been some reports that coffee may increase the risk of certain cancers or the risk of heart disease. But in better conducted studies, such as the one we just published—larger studies that have a lot of information about all other lifestyle factors and make a real effort to control for these lifestyle factors—we do not find many of these health effects that people were afraid of.

HSPH also reports that if people are not used to using any caffeine, and they start to use caffeine, their blood pressure goes up substantially. Within a week of caffeine consumption, however, we see that the effect is less pronounced—there is less of an increase in blood pressure. After several weeks of continued caffeine consumption, however, a little bit of increase in blood pressure remains.

In studies that look at the incidence of hypertension in the general population, drinking caffeinated coffee is not associated with a substantial increase in risk. But if people have hypertension, and are having a hard time controlling their hypertension, they could try switching from caffeinated coffee to decaffeinated coffee, to see if it has a beneficial effect.

With diabetes, it’s a bit of a paradox. Studies around the world consistently show that high consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee is associated with low risk of type 2 diabetes. But if you look at acute studies that just give people caffeine or caffeinated coffee, and then have them eat something rich in glucose, their sensitivity to insulin drops and their blood glucose levels are higher than expected.

There isn’t any long-term data on coffee consumption and glucose control. But if people have diabetes and have trouble controlling their blood glucose, it may be beneficial for them to try switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee. Making the switch from caffeinated to decaf may be better than quitting coffee altogether, because some research suggests that decaffeinated coffee actually reduces the glucose response. Much more information on this topic can also be found at this website: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/coffee/ .

According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that coffee may have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes (as noted by the Harvard information) and liver disease, including liver cancer. It also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. However, the research appears to bear out some risks.

High consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. And some studies found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific — and fairly common — genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. So, how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk. 

Although coffee may have fewer risks compared with benefits, keep in mind that other beverages, such as milk and some fruit juices, contain nutrients that coffee does not. Also, adding cream and sugar to your coffee adds more fat and calories. Some coffee drinks contain more than 500 calories. More details can be found at this site: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/coffee-and-health/faq-20058339 .

Coffee is actually very healthy, according to Authority Nutrition.  It is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health. For thirteen very good health reasons why you should drink coffee, visit this website: http://authoritynutrition.com/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee/ . In fact, there are many advantages to being one of the 54 percent of Americans over 18 who drink coffee every day. Coffee can be pretty amazing for your brain, your skin, and your body. 

Until next time.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Health Care and Fireworks Safety

America’s Independence Day is a gigantic celebration of the nation’s founding and freedoms. July 4 is the nation’s birthday, and this year marks the 238th anniversary. Let freedom ring! Here is what John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers and America’s second President had to say about it in 1776:

“The most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival… It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade with shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these common sense safety tips for using consumer fireworks in hopes that injuries to consumers can be greatly reduced this season:

·         Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
·         Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
·         Observe local laws and use good COMMON SENSE.
·         Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
·         A responsible ADULT should supervise all firework activities.
·         Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
·         Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
·         Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; AWAY from buildings and vehicles.
·         NEVER carry fireworks in your POCKET.
·         Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
·         Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
·         Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
·         Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
·         Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
·         Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

“Using consumer fireworks on the nation’s birthday is as traditional as cookouts and parades. And it is equally safe if a few common sense rules are followed”, says Nancy Blogin, President of National Council on Fireworks Safety. “We want consumers to be safe from beginning to end when enjoying their fireworks. We want there to be a safe place to shoot, to have a designated shooter that takes responsibility for the show and to have the fireworks disposed of properly.” More info can be found at this website: http://fireworkssafety.org/ .

According to the National Fire Protection Association, despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks - devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death. Here are the deadly statistics about misuse of fireworks:

·         In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 40 civilian injuries and $32 million in direct property damage.

·         In 2012, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,700 people for fireworks related injuries; 55% of 2012 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 31% were to the head.

·         The risk of fireworks injury was highest for young people ages 15-24, followed by children under 10.

·         On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

Additionally, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission says fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. You can help us prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths. How? By working with a national, state or local organization where you live to promote fireworks safety in your community. Follow these additional safety tips when using fireworks:

·         Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

·         Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.

·         Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.

·         Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.

·         Never point or throw fireworks at another person.

·         Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.

·         Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.

·         Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.

·         After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

·         Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

The USCPSC reports that 240 people on average go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. Be very careful when handing fireworks. This organization provides more helpful hints at this website: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/Fireworks/ 

On the 4th of July, when you celebrate America’s freedom and gather with family and friends to watch fireworks and enjoy the nation’s  greatest national holiday, please take a moment to thank the men and women of the United States military who have given the greatest measure of devotion in defending our country for centuries. Ask God to preserve and protect America, and provide continued liberty, wisdom, and freedom for you and your children.

Until next time. Let Freedom Ring!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Health Care and Eyewear

Chances are, if you are over 50, you are wearing glasses, or at least contacts some of the time. Eyewear has been around in one form or fashion for hundreds of years. According to this website, www.glasseshistory.com most historians believe that the first form of eyeglasses was produced in Italy by monks or craftsmen in Pisa (or perhaps Venice) around 1285-1289. These magnifying lenses for reading were shaped like two small magnifying glasses and set into bone, metal, or leather mountings that could be balanced on the bridge of nose.

The first known artistic representation of the use of eyeglasses was Tommaso da Modena's painting in 1352. His painting depicts monks reading and writing manuscripts. One monk uses a magnifying glass, but another wears glasses perched on his nose. The first eyeglasses can only be used to rectify hyperopia and presbyopia. And those eyeglasses for myopia appeared much later, sometime in the early 1400's.

Throughout history and even today, eyeglasses have served as one of the oldest and improved upon accessories around the world. Yes, there are now contacts and laser surgery, but if you are conscious of the way you look and the way you are perceived by others, know that eyeglasses can drastically improve your appearance and the way others view you. More info can be found at this website on styles and how glasses have changed over time: http://www.vintageiwear.com/history.html .

According to this website: http://inventors.about.com/od/gstartinventions/a/glass_3.htm, in 1784, Ben Franklin developed bifocal glasses. He was getting old and was having trouble seeing both up-close and at a distance. Getting tired of switching between two types of glasses, he devised a way to have both types of lenses fit into the frame. The distance lens was placed at the top and the the up-close lens was placed at the bottom.  

And, Sam Foster started the Foster Grant Company in 1919. In 1929, Sam Foster sold the first pair of Foster Grants sunglasses at the Woolworth on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Sunglasses became popular in the 1930s. More details about eyewear can be located at that site.

Choosing the right eyeglasses often depends on individual traits such as hair color, face size and even the type of vision correction you need, according to this website: http://www.allaboutvision.com/eyeglasses/. If you have an unusually wide face, for example, you may need to shop around for extra-large eyeglass frames. On the other hand, smaller faces may require a petite frame size. Unusually strong corrections also can make lenses look thick or distorted when eyeglass frames are oversized.

For example, a rough-and-tumble teenager who engages in all manner of outdoor activities will have far different needs for eyeglasses than an office worker who spends hours at a desk. Active people also may need to consider extra eye protection such as sports or safety goggles. For those who love fashion, designer eyeglasses with embellishments such as crystals and logos are a fun option.

If you have reached your 40s, you will need to consider different eyeglass options for correcting near vision problems caused by presbyopia such as:

·         Progressive lenses
·         Bifocals or trifocals
·         Occupational lenses
·         Reading glasses
·         Computer glasses

In some cases, you may need different pairs of eyeglasses depending on whether you are driving down the highway or sitting indoors in front of a computer screen. Your eye doctor or optician can advise you about the right fit for you, as well as discuss coatings and tints that can help you see your best in different circumstances such as low lighting at dusk. Much more detail about this subject can be referenced at the website.

One drawback to purchasing ready-made ("drugstore") reading glasses is that they are essentially "one-size-fits-all" items. The prescription is the same in both lenses, and the location of the optical center of the lenses is not customized for each wearer. Most people do not have exactly the same prescription in both eyes, and almost everyone has at least a small amount of astigmatism correction in their prescriptions.

Headaches, eye strain, and even nausea can result from wearing reading glasses that are too far off from your actual prescription or that have optical centers too far away from the center of your pupils. If you experience these problems, visit your eye doctor for a customized reading glasses prescription.

Also, don't confuse reading glasses with computer eyewear. If you're using reading glasses to try to view your computer screen, it's probably not working very well. For one thing, reading printed matter is done at a closer range than reading text on a computer screen. And, if your reading glasses are the type that force you to lean your head back in order to view your monitor, you're placing unnecessary strain on your neck muscles. Computer users really should invest in prescription computer glasses.

When choosing ready-made reading glasses, always examine the lenses for little bubbles, waves, or other defects. Insist on the best quality, and if you can't find it in ready-made readers, buy a custom-made pair, which many eye care practitioners offer at special prices. Much more information can be found at this website: http://www.allaboutvision.com/over40/readers.htm .

Getting your eyes examined at least once a year is very important, especially if you are over 40. Prior to that, unless you are experiencing problems with your vision, perhaps once every 3 to 5 years is acceptable. Children and teens should be tested to make sure they can see classroom materials. One major problem that has developed since the advent of the smart phone and computers is an increase in vision issues, particularly with kids and teenagers. If you have similar problems with your vision, it’s time to see your optometrist or opthalmologist.

Until next time.