Monday, November 30, 2009

Health Care and Abortion

Tackling a subject like abortion in a blog can be tantamount to delivering a message to Mother Nature that Father Time is not interested in extending the world's calendar past midnight. You want to make sure she knows that the world may come to an end, but you are pretty sure she will not be happy about the notice. The topic of abortion is one of those controversial subjects, similar to evolution versus creationism, or discussing the pros and cons of the dealth penalty as a deterrant to violent crime. Abortion also stirs up more heated debate than the arguments made over a nation's decision to wage war on another sovereign country, or having to pay higher taxes.

Who draws the line when the merits of abortion are discussed? Usually, there is no middle ground on this issue. People line up either on one side or the other as far as their opinions are concerned, and much of the fervor of the debate is based on religious preference, and much of it is based purely on the law itself (Roe v. Wade) and whether the case was adjudicated with merit or just bad judicial decisions. Also, in most situations, the social view of abortion has been largely been seen as an acceptable way to terminate a "mistake" and remove an inconvenience to a woman's lifestyle. Although, abortion has been going on for countless years in clinics and physician offices who practice the procedure, it largely was given a green light in America by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. Since then, there have been about 50 million abortions that have happened in the United States.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), in many ways, it is interesting that pro-choice activists still celebrate Roe. Since 1973, scores of state laws, Supreme Court decisions, and presidential directives have, in effect, overruled its basic principles. In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut , the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that several of the rights contained in various amendments in the Bill of Rights, when coupled with the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process of the laws, created a zone of privacy that prevented states from prohibiting physicians from counseling about or dispensing birth control to married couples. The shocker, however, came in 1973, when the Court, by a vote of 7 to 2, relied on Griswold's basic underpinnings to rule that a Texas law prohibiting abortions in most situations was unconstitutional, invalidating the laws of most states. Relying on a woman's right to privacy—in consultation with her physician—the majority opinion written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun divided pregnancy into three terms. During the first term, the court put the decision to terminate a pregnancy as well as the reason for it clearly in the hands of the pregnant woman. In the second trimester, the interest of the state allowed for some regulation for the health of the mother, and by the third trimester, the court found the interest of the states sufficient to regulate or prohibit abortions except when they were necessary to save the " life or health of the mother. "

Roe quickly divided the country and mobilized interest groups and religious factions on both sides of the issue, according to the CSM. In fact, by 1980, it led to a schism between the two political parties, forcing Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left. Roe also was the constant target of conservative groups, whether through the ballot box, legislation, or judicial challenges. By 1989, and then again in 1992, Roe experienced two major hits from the Supreme Court when a plurality of the justices ruled that abortion was no longer a fundamental right protected by a constitutional right to privacy. Instead, a majority of the court essentially divided pregnancy into semesters, ruling that states could enact abortion restrictions in the second trimester so long as they did not pose an undue burden to the woman. To date, the court has only found one "undue burden": states requiring a woman to obtain her husband's permission to undergo an abortion.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, some amazing statistics show who has abortions:

1.) Fifty percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20–24 obtain 33% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 17%.
2.) Thirty-seven percent of abortions occur to black women, 34% to non-Hispanic white women, 22% to Hispanic women and 8% to women of other races.
3.) Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic.
4.) Women who have never married obtain two-thirds of all abortions.
5.) About 60% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.

The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life, according to Guttmacher. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.

Various studies have found that 65 to 70 percent of women seeking abortions have a negative moral view of abortion, according to Only 6 to 20 percent of women receiving induced abortions report that they would have been willing to seek illegal abortions if abortion had not been legal. The vast majority of aborted women, therefore, can be classified as "soft core" aborters for whom abortion was a marginal choice which they would not have pursued if it had been illegal. The ambivalence which the majority of women feel with regard to the morality of abortion is compounded by the ambivalence which many feel about keeping the baby. Researchers report that 30 to 60 percent of women seeking abortion express some desire to keep the child. Of women who suffer post abortion trauma, 45 percent went to the clinic still hoping for a "miracle" option which would have allowed them to avoid the abortion and/or keep the baby. From studies published on the characteristics of women seeking abortion, it can be estimated that up to 70 percent of all abortion patients fall into the category of high-risk patients because of the presence of coercive pressures and/or ambivalent feelings at the time of the abortion. It is noteworthy that the two criteria for high risk abortion patients -- feelings of being under pressure to abort and feelings of ambivalence -- are typical of women who abort for reasons of physical health, psychological health, fetal malformation, rape or incest.

In the United States abortion is legal throughout pregnancy, as noted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Yet abortion is a violation of human rights incomparable in magnitude and an atrocity for the whole human family. While Roe v. Wade appeared to create a right with some limitations, Doe v. Bolton, which was decided the same day, erased those limitations by creating a "health" exception so broad that it effectively allows abortion for any reason at any time. The lack of any limits to legal abortion was never more clear than in the case of Stenberg v. Carhart in 2000, when the Supreme Court ruled that even the horrific partial-birth abortion procedure could not be restricted. Most Americans are surprised and shocked to learn about the lack of any meaningful legal limitations for abortion. Most know things have gone too far. Among those who defend abortion, there are many who do so despite the pain abortion has brought into their lives, or even sometimes because of it. Many contemplating abortion believe they have no other choice.

According to the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM), the main concern of the "Pro-Choicers" is not the guarded protection of the life in the womb. Instead, the main concern is the "rights" of the mother over and against the rights of the child growing in her. The child, who cannot exercise its own will, is killed. And, in order to make the killing more palatable, the baby is called a "fetus", or "non-viable", or "not yet human", etc. This eases the conscience. But, for those who say the baby isn't 'viable', have you ever seen a sonogram of an abortion? You can see the 'non-viable fetus' retracting from the instruments of death and seeking self preservation. It wants to live. Some would respond by saying that even a rodent wants to live. But what is in the womb of the mother is human. The Bible says for people to protect the weak and down-trodden. But with abortionists, the rights of the baby are sacrificed for the rights of the mother -- and the father doesn't even have any rights. The mother cries out that the life in her is part of her body and that she has the right to do with her body as she wills. Abortion is the ultimate in selfishness. It puts the mother's convenience and desires above the life of her own baby. To kill the baby in the womb means to consider oneself more important than anyone else. A rational case against abortion can be found at

According to, prior to 1973, there were approximately 100,000 to 200,000 illegal abortions each year. Compared to the rate of 1.6 million abortions which are now occurring each year, the rate of abortion has increased 10-15 fold. This increase in the number of abortions performed has occurred primarily at the expense of high risk abortion patients, the "soft core" aborters. Women who have undergone post-abortion counseling report over 100 major reactions to abortion. Among the most frequently reported are: depression, loss of self-esteem, self-destructive behavior, sleep disorders, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, chronic problems with relationships, dramatic personality changes, anxiety attacks, guilt and remorse, difficulty grieving, increased tendency toward violence, chronic crying, difficulty concentrating, flashbacks, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities and people, and difficulty bonding with later children. Among the most worrisome of these reactions is the increase of self-destructive behavior among aborted women. In a survey of over 100 women who had suffered from post-abortion trauma, fully 80 percent expressed feelings of "self-hatred." In the same study, 49 percent reported that they began to use or increased their use of drugs and 39 percent began to use or increased their use of alcohol. Approximately 14 percent described themselves as having become "addicted" or "alcoholic" after their abortions. In addition, 60 percent reported suicidal ideation, with 28 percent actually attempting suicide, of which half attempted suicide two or more times. Suicide counseling services have reported that a exceptionally high number of their clients are aborted women, especially among women between the ages of 15 and 24.

Over time, pro-life Americans have become very agitated to the point of violence, demonstrations, and in some cases murder of abortion practitioners. Although the practice of abortion may be abhorrant to many individuals, especially based on moral and religious grounds, the Bible does not condone violating the laws of the nation or of God. America has rights granted by the U.S. Constitution that protect the individual for freedom of speech and of lawful assembly but does not permit destruction of property or life. Abortion from the perspective of those who believe in the sanctity of life must be constantly viewed as reprehensible and seen as taking innocent life, no matter what the reason for terminating the pregnancy may be. From a moral perspective, abortion is wrong. From a religious perspective, abortion is murder. From a legal perpective, it is the law of the land until overturned by future judicial mandate at the Supreme Court level. The challenge that pro-life Believers have is to constantly monitor the cases that come before the courts and to push for the end of those federal statutes that currently give approval to abortion. Also, more efforts should be put forth both in the public and private sectors to make available assistance to those who are seeking abortion to be counseled about their decision to end the innocent life of the child and provide meaningful alternatives, such as adoption and other resources.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Health Care and Snake Bites

Who doesn't fear snakes? Fear of snakes for their venom is rational fear...a healthy respect for the danger some snakes represent, according to Ophidiophobia is irrational fear of all snakes...those on the ground, in a cage, on TV, even in your imagination. When the anxiety is extreme, irrational, even to panic attacks or disability, it has moved from fear to phobia. While many think fear of snakes stems from some childhood experience, there is some evidence that other causes may exist. The snake is a Biblical symbol of evil, which may tend to heighten the fear in some. Of course, the many snake attacks in TV and movies only add to the anxiety of some.

According to, since Adam and Eve snakes have long been portrayed as evil creatures to be feared. Our history is long, and myths and phobias are hard to break. Built into their religious practice, Pentecostal Movement preachers in the hills of Tennessee handle rattlesnakes. They now struggle with local law enforcement since rattlesnakes are protected in many states. Aboriginal groups in Australia hold the snake in high esteem, and it is a symbol of fertility. Native Americans felt that snakes symbolized life cycles and truth. There are widespread myths regarding snakes:
--Snakes hold their tails in their mouths to create a circle and will chase you.
--When you kill a snake, another one will chase you (ironically, what IS true is excessive killing of snakes leads to the overpopulation of rodents and more disease states).

There are two types of venomous snakes, falling into two separate categories, the pit vipers which include the rattlesnakes, copperheads and coppermouths, and the elapids, which are coral snakes, according to Survive Outdoors. Due to the internet, more and more exotic/foreign snakes are being brought into the United States illegally. This is an extremely dangerous practice, posing enormous diagnostic and treatment risk for emergency rooms across the United States. Every month, there are incidents that occur where someone is tired of their exotic and most likely illegally owned pet and releases it, or possibly it escapes. Here are some facts about snake bites:
--In the United States, only about 12 people a year die from snakebites.
--The estimated chances of dying from a snakebite in the outdoors is approximately 1:10 million. --Victims of snakebites in North America usually have two common denominators, tattoos and alcohol intake.
--There are approximately 23 different subspecies of rattlesnakes in the United States including the coral snake, copperhead and cottonmouth (or water moccasin), which comprise the venomous snakes indigenous to the United States.

However, snake bites of any kind are dangerous. Each year, nearly 8,000 people receive poisonous snake bites in the United States, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Even a bite from a so-called "harmless" snake can cause infection or allergic reaction in some people. People who frequently visit wilderness areas, camp, hike, picnic, or live in snake-inhabited areas should be aware of the potential dangers posed by venomous snakes. While each individual may experience symptoms differently, the following are the most common symptoms of poisonous snake bites: bloody wound discharge, fang marks in the skin and swelling at the site of the bite, severe localized pain, diarrhea, burning, convulsions, fainting, dizziness, weakness, blurred vision, excessive sweating, fever, increased thirst, loss of muscle coordination, nausea and vomiting, numbness and tingling, and a rapid pulse.

According to the UMMC, call for emergency assistance immediately if someone has been bitten by a snake. Responding quickly in this type of emergency is crucial. While waiting for emergency assistance:
--Wash the bite with soap and water.
--Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
--Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to minimize swelling and discomfort.
--Monitor vital signs.

If a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, the American Red Cross recommends:
--Apply a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood from a vein or artery - the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it.
--A suction device can be placed over the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. These devices are often included in commercial snake bite kits.
--Most often, physicians use antivenin -- an antidote to snake venom -- to treat serious snake bites. Antivenin is derived from antibodies created in a horse's blood serum when the animal is injected with snake venom. Because antivenin is obtained from horses, snake bite victims sensitive to horse products must be carefully managed.

First aid is critical to administer as soon as possible when a snake bite occurs, according to the Medline Plus Encyclopedia by the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
1. Keep the person calm, reassuring them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
2. If you have a pump suction device (such as that made by Sawyer), follow the manufacturer's directions.
3. Remove any rings or constricting items because the affected area may swell. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area.
4. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change color, the snake was probably poisonous.
5. Monitor the person's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure -- if possible. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot, and cover the person with a blanket.
6. Get medical help right away.
7. Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done safely. Do not waste time hunting for the snake, and do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill the snake. Be careful of the head when transporting it -- a snake can actually bite for up to an hour after it's dead (from a reflex).

According to the NIH, here are some tips about what NOT to do for snake bite victims:
--Do NOT allow the person to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the person to safety.
--Do NOT apply a tourniquet.
--Do NOT apply cold compresses to a snake bite.
--Do NOT cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
--Do NOT try to suck out the venom by mouth.
--Do NOT give the person stimulants or pain medications unless a doctor tells you to do so.
--Do NOT give the person anything by mouth.
--Do NOT raise the site of the bite above the level of the person's heart.

According to, venoms of the pit viper, like a rattlesnake, contain peptides and proteins. The venom leads to damage of vascular cells and red blood cells. Proteolytic enzymes damage muscle and are responsible for tissue death. There is also a histamine release by the body after the bite. There are many symptoms associated with the bite of a pit viper. Fang marks are always present, followed by swelling, pain, and black and blue marks on the skin. Sweating, chills and muscle twitching are commonly seen. Some feel numbness on the tongue, and reports of a metallic taste are not uncommon. Coral snake venom is different than pit viper venom. it is thought that adult coral snakes carry enough venom to kill 4-5 adults. The coral snake venom is primarily a neurotoxin. Fang marks are rarely seen. Swelling is rare. Symptoms may not occur until 10-14 hours later. Symptoms may begin as nausea, vomiting and sweating. Neurological symptoms may include lethargy, difficulty speaking, hard to swallow, drooping eyelids, and in severe cases, respiratory depression or arrest. Dry bites are referred to as “misses,” no venom injected due to the lack of venom, a glancing blow, or penetration could not occur because of the clothing worn by the individual. Dry bites account for about 20-30% of all snakebites.

The UMMC recommends tips to avoid snake bites. Some bites, such as those inflicted when you accidentally step on a snake in the woods, are nearly impossible to prevent. However, there are precautions that can reduce your chances of being bitten by a snake. These include:
--Leave snakes alone. Many people are bitten because they try to kill a snake or get too close to it.
--Stay out of tall grass unless you wear thick leather boots and remain on hiking paths as much as possible.
--Keep hands and feet out of areas you cannot see. Do not pick up rocks or firewood unless you are out of a snake's striking distance.
--Be cautious and alert when climbing rocks.

Make sure that you are familiar with how to respond to snake bite emergencies, especially if you spend alot of time hiking, camping, or doing any other outdoor activities. Knowing what to do in a moment of instant fear can make the difference in life or death when you experience a bite from a venomous snake. Keep first aid supplies handy, and keep your cell phone charged to call for help. Snake bites can be life threatening in cases where individuals are highly allergic to snake bites or when the snake is a deadly reptile.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health Care and Thanksgiving 2009

Americans are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is usually a time for families to gather and give thanks. In 1789, according to, President George Washington proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving in honor of the United States Constitution. In 1846, Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of a Godey's Lady's Book magazine, began a campaign to have the last Thursday in November designated as a national Thanksgiving Day. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln decided that the national Thanksgiving Day would be held on the last Thursday in November. In 1941, Congress named the fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day rather than the last Thursday of the month.

The history of this holiday pre-dates these official recognitions. According to BeliefNet, the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 when the the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast. Only half the colonists had survived the first winter, and in the spring the Wampanoag Indians shared their seeds and showed the colonists how to grow corn. Harvest celebrations had been a tradition among many Native American tribes and in Europe before the arrival of Christianity.T he act of giving thanks can be both spiritual and secular. Gratitude as an every day practice is one of the most powerful things people can observe.

According to, the Pilgrims, as every school child used to know, arrived in 1620 and, save for the local natives, especially a conveniently (providentially) placed English-speaking Christian native named Squanto, would have starved. By the fall of 1623, things were looking up. So William Bradford, governor of Plimouth Plantation, proclaimed a day to "render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God" for survival, abundant food and protection from the "ravages of the savages." Bradford's proclamation said nothing about consumption, conspicuous or otherwise, but ordered "all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones," to get themselves to "ye meeting house" and "listen to ye pastor."

Today, the biggest event of the holiday, though competing with watching parades and football games on TV all day, is the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving Day is a time-honored American tradition, a time for family gatherings and a holiday meal that encourages over-the-top decadence, according to And for many (some 97% of us), the thought of a Thanksgiving without turkey is heresy. Americans gobble up roughly 45 million turkeys to celebrate the annual holiday.

Do you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner has over 2000 calories? It can be a real challenge if you are watching your waistline, according to The following are some eating tips so that you can still look good and be healthy after the Thanksgiving dinner without having to deprive yourself. Here are some healthy tips for the day. If you are a guest of a Thanksgiving dinner:
1.) Don't go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry: we often eat faster and more when we are hungry - therefore eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch on the day to avoid overeating at dinner time.
2.) Thanksgiving dinner is not an all-you-can-eat buffet: Fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with a lean meat and the rest with a starch of your choice. Eat slowly and stop when you are full.
3.) Turkey - go skinless: choose your 4-oz turkey portion skinless to slash away some fat and cholesterol. Save your appetite for the side dishes and desserts.
4.) Side Dishes - watch your portion size: go for smaller portions. This way you can sample all the different foods. Moderation is always the key.
5.) Make a conscious choice to limit high fat items: high fat food items can be found in fried and creamy dishes as well as cheese-filled casseroles in a traditional Thanksgiving meal . For instance, mashed potatoes are usually made with butter and milk; green bean casseroles are often prepared with cream of mushroom soup, cheese and milk and topped with fried onions; candied yams are loaded with cream, sugar and marshmallows. If you cannot control the ingredients that go in to a dish, simply limit yourself to a smaller helping size. Again moderation is the key.
6.) Drink plenty of water: alcohol and coffee can dehydrate your body. Drink calorie-free water to help fill up your stomach and keep you hydrated.

If you are the honorable chef of a Thanksgiving dinner:
1.) Substitute high fat ingredients with lower-fat or fat-free ingredients.
2.) Leftover Turkey? Instead of turkey sandwiches, use the leftover turkey to make a pot of soup with fresh chunky vegetables.
3.) Experiment with new recipes: Do a search on Google for numerous delicious yet healthy low-fat contemporary Thanksgiving recipes. Experiment!

According to, it's always important to follow safe food handling practices to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. This year, consumers may also be worried about the potential for bird flu in their turkeys. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service reassures us that bird flu (avian influenza) is not transmissible by eating poultry. The real concern, as always, is viruses and bacterial contamination. The Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) encourages all holiday cooks to add food safety to their list of necessary kitchen ingredients. In the home or in a restaurant, preparing food involves both health and safety, so please observe the following advice:
--Remember to cook turkey to the proper internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). --Cook roast, pork, and fish to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground beef to at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Sauces, soups and gravy must come to a boil when reheating.
--Do not cross-contaminate, and be sure to cool foods properly. Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
--Always cook dressing separately from the turkey. Place the dressing in the turkey after both are cooked.
--Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Wash your hands with hot soapy water after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
--Wash surfaces often. Those preparing the meal should wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
--Refrigerate or freeze prepared food and leftovers within two hours.
--Do not overload your refrigerator: space items loosely so that cool air can circulate.
--Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling.
--Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave — never defrost food at room temperature.

The National Turkey Federation and USDA suggest following these guidelines -- along with using a meat thermometer -- when roasting an unstuffed bird:
8-12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12-14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14-18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18-20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20-24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours
As you prepare for your upcoming celebration, keep these safety and preparation tips in mind to make sure you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday.

In modern times, Americans observe Thanksgiving as a time to be with family and friends, to watch football on TV, to indulge in lots of food all day long, and figure out when to get to the mall on "Black Friday," the biggest shopping day of the year. The holiday has lost much of its original meaning. However, in keeping with the spirit of the day, Americans should recognize the source of blessings. Thanksgiving is kept alive even today through our undying faith in what our forefathers believed in, the freedom of the soul to chose between what is right and what is wrong and our inner strength to practice this faith in God and ourselves openly. According to, in our national songs, “In God We Trust” or our Pledge of Allegiance “one nation under God”, this faith finds special attention as well. Thanksgiving in America is an embodiment of goodness and contentment. In a land partaking in plenty, this secular festival marks the coming together of distant family members to celebrate and pray for each other's well being and thank God for his immense grace.

Additionally, and most importantly, the spiritual health of a nation must be constantly guarded, strengthened, and encouraged by its people and its leaders. George Washington, in an address in 1789, proclaimed with these words, "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor...[we] recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God." Hence for all of America, Thanksgiving is a time to rediscover the spiritual being within, look to God for our strength and source of blessings, and draw strength from our founders and political zealots whose prolific faith has created a nation that all citizens as well as our progeny will be proud of for all time.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Health Care and Dog Flu

Americans have a love affair with dogs. Big dogs, small dogs, and dogs of all shapes, sizes, colors, and breeds. When was the last time you saw puppies for sale at a pet store and didn't want to take one home. They are so cuddly and cute, and they are bursting with boundless energy. Then there is the old faithful house pet that is your friend for life. People love dogs for a variety of reasons. Dogs are friendly, and they can be helpful to those who depend on them for companionship or assistance, like "seeing eye" dogs who assist the blind or handicapped. Guard dogs serve a purpose for protection, and dogs especially trained for "K-9" police work and drug detection are extremely valuable. Dogs can be taught to do tricks and, therefore, are entertaining. And, dogs can be a source of friendship to those who are lonely and in need.

However, dogs, like any pet, sometimes require a great degree of maintenance to keep them healthy. One issue that has become more prevalent within the last 5 years is canine influenza (H3N8 virus), or dog flu. And it is spreading. According to Discovery News, dogs often move in and out of shelter systems over long distances, such as via breed and rescue groups. Boarding kennels and even elite doggie day care centers can also result in cases, since, as for kennel cough spread, the virus is highly contagious and dogs may catch it from one another. Canine influenza virus was discovered in Florida in 2004, when University of Florida researchers sent to the virology center at Cornell's Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory fluid and tissue samples from greyhound race dogs that had died from a then mysterious respiratory illness at a Florida racetrack. determined the cause was the H3N8 equine flu virus, which jumped from horses to dogs. In addition to spreading from dog to dog, canines can also catch it from humans, who may have come into contact with infected animals. To date the illness has not yet sickened any people.

According to Discovery News, symptoms in dogs can include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and a respiratory infection that may last a few weeks. One to five percent of victims die from related hemorrhagic pneumonia. Although 30 states have reported cases over the past five years, the outbreaks are sporadic and usually die out. The virus at present is more adapted to horses than to dogs, so wiping out the illness now would prevent future possible mutations within the canine population. Since dogs are in regular contact with their owners and other people, the illness could potentially spread from dogs to humans in the future, given that it has already jumped from one species of mammal to another. Recently, a vaccine was released for canine influenza. In clinical trials, it reduces viral shedding and diminishes signs of the illness. It's given in two doses, three weeks apart. According to CBS News, the pet medication is called a lifestyle vaccine. If you have a dog that's at home, stays in your yard and never comes in contact with other dogs, it probably doesn't need this vaccine. But if you travel, or go to kennels, this vaccine is for your dog. The mortality rate is about 5 percent. It's very similar to the human H1N1 in that generally it's mild, there's cough, nasal discharge, sometimes with a secondary bacterial infection, many recover from it except for those who go on to pneumonia.

According to, a study of 700 dogs showed no adverse side effects; but owners might worry that their dog might be the first of their breed to try it. Unfortunately, dogs most at risk of dying from dog flu -- the very old, very young and the frail -- are also those most at risk of getting sick from the vaccine. Some vets worry that dogs with pushed in noses, such as pugs and bulldogs, could fare worse because it's harder for them to breathe.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the number of dogs infected with this disease that die is very small. Some dogs have asymptomatic infections (no symptoms), while some have severe infections. Severe illness is characterized by the onset of pneumonia. Although this is a relatively new cause of disease in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection, about 80% of dogs will have a mild form of disease. Canine influenza virus can be spread by direct contact with respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by contact with contaminated objects, and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not participate in activities or bring their dogs to facilities where other dogs can be exposed to the virus. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.

Testing to confirm canine influenza virus infection is available at veterinary diagnostic centers, according to the CDC. The tests can be performed using respiratory secretions collected at the time of disease onset or using two blood samples; the first collected while the animal is sick and the second 2 to 3 weeks later. Treatment largely consists of supportive care. This helps the dog mount an immune response. In the milder form of the disease, this care may include medication to make your dog more comfortable and fluids to ensure that your dog remains well-hydrated. Broad spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected. If your dog has a cough or other symptoms similar to flu, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so that they can evaluate your dog and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is not recommending vaccinating all dogs, according to USAToday. But dogs that receive the Bordetella vaccine, the association says, should be considered strong candidates for flu vaccination because they've been determined to be at risk for the much-less-serious kennel cough through regular contact with many dogs, and that puts them at higher risk for CIV. Unless your dog is regularly in close contact with other dogs, especially if you live in a "hot zone" where there's an outbreak or where there have been multiple past outbreaks — the vaccination probably isn't necessary. Dogs with weakened health or those traveling to hot zones are special cases that require discussion with a veterinarian.

According to the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists at, here is how vaccines work:
There are three basic strains of the flu virus: A, B and C. A is the most common and most severe strain. The flu vaccine works by triggering the body's immune system response. The body recognizes the vaccine as a foreign invader and produces antibodies to it. However, flu strains differ from year to year, so different vaccines are needed each year. Flu vaccines are made by incubating the three strains of the virus expected to strike in a given year (they are injected into millions of chicken eggs to multiply), then extracted and packaged. It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming technique that is much the same as when it was first invented in the 18th century.

If your dog is exhibiting flu like symptoms, going to the vet is a safe bet. If the canine influenza is not the issue, perhaps your veterinarian may diagnose a different problem and recommend a course of action to get your pet back to health. It's always a great idea to keep your pets immunized against various types of medical concerns, and it never hurts to get your dog to the vet for regular checkups to keep it healthy. Although pet insurance can be very expensive, it pays to have some type of plan in place to help keep your expenses low. Discount plans are a great way to help save money with veterinarian services. You can get a membership and sign up through plan administrators like Careington who offers a nationwide stand alone pet program with Pet Assure.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Health Care and November 11

Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Veterans Day was first established in the United States as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I, according to In 1954, the national holiday was changed to Veterans Day, and President Dwight Eisenhower called on all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifices of America's veterans. Since then, Veterans Day has been observed as a national holiday, but like so many other things today it has lost its meaning. Veterans Day is not about supporting war or about supporting a certain political party or agenda. Veterans Day is about the veterans. It is about honoring their service for our country. Veterans Day is about recognizing that these brave men and women are ready at any time to serve America when it is in danger.

President Eisenhower, according to, called on all Americans to "solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain." Fifty-five years later, we continue to honor those brave Americans who have served our nation in uniform; some 48 million men and women whose service spans our history — from the War for Independence to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our Veterans Day observance has evolved over the years. Our nation's custom of observing the end of World War I in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month became a legal holiday known as Armistice Day in 1938. In recognition of military service members' sacrifices in World War II and Korea, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day.

In World War I, America's veterans answered the call to fight the war to end all wars, as noted by They fought to keep freedom and liberty in countries a world away from home. In World War II, America's veterans stormed the beaches of Normandy. They fought for the boys of Pearl Harbor, for the defenseless in Europe and for freedom. They raised the flag at Iwo Jima and brought peace and freedom back to the world. In Korea, they fought for the ideals and beliefs that founded America. They fought to preserve what their comrades had fought for in WWII. In Vietnam, veterans answered the call to fight for America's way of life. Even as those they fought for turned their backs on them, they held their heads high and fought valiantly for God and country. In Desert Storm, they fought once again to prevent the innocent from being destroyed by the evil aggression of a mad man. In Afghanistan and in Iraq, America's veterans fight against a faceless evil, one that is bent on opposing freedom and democracy at all costs. Now, perhaps more than ever they are being tested and are prevailing. Across America, veterans and their families and friends will gather in American Legion Posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts to remember. It is the duty of citizens to thank them. That is all Veterans Day is about. It's not about elaborate parades or ceremonies, or even about helping veterans. Veterans Day is about remembering the sacrifices of America's veterans and of their families.

This year on Veterans Day 2009, we honor not only those who fought in our nation's wars, but all who took that solemn oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies" as members of America's armed forces as reported by Of course, we remember and honor the more than 1.1 million patriots who died while in military service to America. We must never forget them, or the 24 million other American veterans who passed on since their service. But the beauty of Veterans Day is that we take the time to remember and thank those who have defended us, or stood ready to do so, while they are still with us. And, more than 23 million veterans are still here with us. Three-fourths of them served during time of war; all of them served and all deserve our gratitude.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs at, World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…". The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m. Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

Consider the selflessness of America's veterans - they do not seek this attention as reported by the In fact for many veterans, Nov. 11 is about their friends and fellow soldiers that did not make it home to celebrate Veterans Day. Veterans are not just aged men in VFW Posts, they are everywhere. They are parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. They are our peers in classes and our friends. Just as they are altruistically ready to take up their country's call and defend America's freedoms and its way of life, America's veterans return and seek no gratification for putting their country before themselves and their families. Nothing can repay a veteran for the sacrifices they have made. No amount of money or thanks can dilute the memories of the living hell that is war. Nothing can replace the amount of time spent away from loved ones who remain at home. Nothing can bring back the lost friends and family members that died in the service of our country. However, simply acknowledging a veteran's service and the sacrifices that accompany it is more than enough. Veterans Day is also about the families of America's veterans who remain at home. They are they ones who wait anxiously every day for any news of their loved ones who are abroad. The families of America's veterans also deserve recognition on Veterans Day. Some have said goodbye to their loved ones for the last time. These families deserve our support. As a service to America's service men and women, it is our duty to help their families who remain at home.

At some point today, think about what Veterans Day means. It doesn't have to be at 11 a.m. According to, think about the countless sacrifices that our veterans go through every day of their service so that all Americans can live better lives than anyone else in the world. Think about how some soldiers left America's shores and never came home. Think about how the ones that lived to come back to us carry physical and mental scars from their service. If possible, thank a veteran, whether they are a stranger you meet for a brief moment at a Veterans Day ceremony or whether they are a friend or family member that you have known forever. Let them know that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed and that America is eternally grateful for their service. If you can't thank a veteran for their service, mark the day. Take a minute to remember what America's veterans have done for each of us, think about the sacrifices veterans and their families make every day. On this Veterans Day, let all Americans, as President Kennedy urged, "join together to honor those who made our freedom possible" and let us continue to work every day of the year to provide veterans the benefits and care they so richly deserve, as noted by the

May God bless America's men and women in uniform serving throughout the world.

May God bless our Veterans and their families.

And may God bless the United States of America!

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Health Care and Student Insurance

Health insurance is an absolute necessity for students, yet a surprising number of students, both studying medicine and other fields, rely on their university's student health care clinic rather than paying for insurance. In short, student health clinics are not that great, according to They really don't provide the coverage you need while at school. Rates and benefits can vary widely across different insurance providers. You need to comparison shop for insurance - just like you would for anything else. Don't be shy about comparing insurance plans and companies - information is the key to proper coverage. All providers and insurers are bound to HIPAA regulations that cover your privacy, but make sure they also have good customer support, with easily located contact information and toll-free telephone numbers.

With any type of insurance, there are basic questions to ask. According to StudentDoc, here is a short list of questions especially for student insurance:
--What is the maximum I would be covered for?
--What is the deductible?
--How much will this cost - and how does the cost change with different deductibles?
--What am I not covered for (for example, some insurance plans don't cover varsity or even intramural sports injuries)?
--Are there restrictions on which physicians I can use?
--Do I need a referral to see a specialist?
--What if I get sick or hurt while I'm traveling?
--Do I need pre-approval from the insurance company before I can go see a health-care provider?
--Am I covered as a graduate student, or is the restricted to undergrads?
Does it provide for well-visits or healthy patient visits to a physician?

The congressional Government Accountability Office in 2006 reported 20 percent of college students nationwide lacked coverage, according to the Finding insurance coverage that will suit your exact needs isn t easy, so make sure to ask help from the ones who are more knowledgeable about it, like your parents. If you have friends who already have student coverage, then ask them about their plans so that you ll be able to compare them with what you already know, according to As a student going through your scholarly life, you think you wouldn t need student insurance, don t you? Well, unless your family is already covered by group insurance, chances are you re going to need a policy as well, given the many accidents and untoward incidents you may face as a student (especially if your course requires a lot of field or machine work). In finding student insurance plans , try to begin with the one closest to you your parents. If you still can t find it through them, then you may inquire with your school about the coverage they may provide, or receive recommendations from them instead.

Here are some tips from if you are a student considering insurance, especially for the first time:
1.) Search your usual search engines. One of the widest resources of information is the Web, and there s no better place to start searching about student insurance plans than your everyday search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Simply input the keywords student health insurance plans in the search field, and you will be presented with all the possible places to acquire student coverage. Be careful, however, about bogus sites that turn up in the search engine, because they tend to swindle you of your money.
2.) Browse through the catalogs of insurance companies. If you live near downtown, then maybe you can walk around the block and enter the shops of different insurance companies and inquire about their catalogs. Most insurance companies carry student insurance as part of their services. The best thing about this method is that you get to ask around and consult the insurance companies about the details of the coverage.
3.) Ask an insurance agent. Insurance agents may not be the easiest people on earth, but they can very well assist you in your search for student insurance. The good thing about insurance agents is they cannot only answer your questions; they can also assist you with processing your papers as well.
4.) Consult your school guidance officer or administrator. Your school guidance officer or administrator is the one who usually communicates with other companies for student-related concerns that do not involve the academy. Go to your administrator's office and see if he has brochures and leaflets regarding student insurance, medical insurance and life insurance offerings by reputable companies.
5.) Ask your parents if their coverage can be supplemented. Most health insurance coverage provided by employers can be supplemented or extended to cover the employee's children as well. Ask about your parents' coverage to see if it can be extended to you. If not, then you might get student coverage from the same company as theirs instead.

According to, a college student may need a variety of insurance. Always keep in mind when selecting the perfect insurance use good judgment and sensibility. Make sure that you read the terms and conditions so you know what you're covered for, and how long the coverage lasts. Another approach is to check with your school and see if they offer insurance policies for current students. This way you won't be duplicating insurance. If you are going out of the country, you may deem travel indemnity insurance particularly if you travel over long distances to your university, or if you are setting up to take part in study-abroad programs. Travel accidents and medical costs that occur during your travel should be covered by this insurance. Make sure to read and look up all the terms and benefits provided by competing insurance providers. When you select insurance you need good common sense, as well as wise decision making skills. Think about whether your college years will be a greater risk for you and what are the best insurance plans that students need.

There are several insurance areas you should consider as a student, according to Here are a few:
--Health Insurance:
You might be in year late teens or early twenties and pursuing a plan for your life, but you are not indestructible. Without health insurance, you may not be adequately prepared if a medical emergency happens. Medical treatment can be very expensive. Making sure you have health insurance can provide you with peace of mind in knowing that you likely won't have to pay huge medical bills in the event of a serious illness or accident. If you are a full time student, the majority of insurance companies will allow to you remain on your parent's plan. Talk to your parents' insurance agent to clear this up. You should think of getting dental insurance, as well as health insurance.
--Car/Vehicle Insurance:
Since you will probably be using your car or a bike a great deal while you are in college, it is a good idea to have them insured. In addition, some countries, including the United States, actually require drivers to purchase vehicle insurance. Student possessions insurance can also include bicycles. When it comes to an automobile you may choose to be on your parents' policy or purchase your own. Know that car insurance companies may quote students at higher premiums because students are more likely to crash. Having insurance early on would enable you to build up your No Claims bonus and therefore assure you of lower premiums later on. Other insurance discounts are available, including a "good student" reduction if the insurer has high grades at a university.
--Insurance for Student Property:
Student dormitories and apartments are inviting places for home invaders. This is the reason that having student possessions insurance is so critical while you are at college. Consider problems that are caused by theft, water, and fire, so look for the proper policy. To determine how much insurance you need, make a list of your belongings and their total value. Your insurance policy should allow you to replace your possessions if an unpredictable bad event happens. In addition, you might think about insuring your valuables (i.e. your laptop), since most insurance companies set maximum limits on basic coverage.

Purchasing any type of insurance product can be an almost overwhelming task, and most students are clueless when it comes to finding coverage. Many students are included on their parents plans, but many more are not and are left to their own devices to find help. Seek professional advice from counselors who can assist your search, and then purchase products that are affordable and make the most sense for your situation. Remember, you can always change policies if the one you buy does not fit your needs.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Health Care and Recalled Foods

What happens when a food manufacturer or distributor makes a mistake with a food product? What possible ramifications are there in the market place when food has to be recalled? What is the cost in terms of liability and taking the products of the shelves of thousands of stores? When food products that have major safety and health issues are not recalled, the potential for catastrophy is enormous.

One minute you're happily munching; the next, your snack is all over the news. According to, if you consume food that's just been recalled, check the batch info on the label and call the product's toll-free number or contact the shop manager. Recalls cast a wide net, and you may not be affected. If your batch is involved, don't schedule anything strenuous for the next 24 to 72 hours, when symptoms (nausea, diarrhea) may arise. Drink lots of fluids, and have your doc's number handy just in case. Be wary of hidden ingredients, like sliced pistachios in biscotti.

The US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) website:, and the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website: have tips for consumers to find out what the latest recalled products are and how to avoid problems. They also tell consumers what to do in case of coming in contact with items that have been recalled. According to, the food industry is responsible for producing safe food. Several government agencies are responsible for setting food safety standards, conducting inspections, ensuring that standards are met, and maintaining a strong enforcement program to deal with those who do not comply with standards.

According to FSIS, the inspection and grading of meat and poultry are two separate programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Inspection for wholesomeness is mandatory and is paid for out of tax dollars. Grading for quality is voluntary, and the service is requested and paid for by meat and poultry producers/processors. In these efforts to protect the safety and integrity of meat and poultry products, FSIS works with many other agencies, including other agencies within the USDA, State inspection programs, the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Since the Federal inspection program began at the turn of the century, the meat and poultry industries have grown and changed significantly. In the early 1900's, most meat came from local slaughter plants and was used locally. Further processing was limited to simple products such as sausages. Today, however, a wide variety of meat and poultry products are on the market. Animals are slaughtered and meat is processed in sophisticated, high-volume plants. The meat is often shipped great distances to reach consumers. As the industry changed, FSIS began changing inspection. In earlier days, the primary concern of the inspectors was animal diseases, and they relied almost exclusively on visual inspection of animals, products, and plant operations. However, refinements in animal production reduced disease and created a more homogeneous animal population. Thus, the concerns of today's inspectors are broader and include unseen hazards such as microbiological and chemical contamination.

But what about foods produced internationally and exported to the US for domestic consumption? Americans who consume imported beef, poultry and egg products can be confident that the products are safe, regardless of their origin, according to the FSIS. The federal government has oversight for all foods imported into the US:
--FSIS employs about 74 inspectors to monitor food brought into the United States from foreign destinations.
--Customs has hundreds of entry points, and much of the meat and poultry imported into the United States can come through any of them. It then needs to go to an import inspection facility. --These facilities are located at about 30 border locations.
--Imports are inspected in official import establishments as opposed to boats, planes or trains.
--The United States imports more than $8.5 billion worth of meat, poultry and egg products each year.
--Approximately 6 to 8 percent of meat consumed in the United States comes from outside our borders.
--n 2006, 44 percent of the meat and poultry products imported to the United States came from Canada.
--The United States imports more eggs than it raises here. Most of these imports are processed into low-cholesterol egg substitutes or commercial eggs prepared for restaurants and other institutional settings such as hospitals.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, for the consumer, safe food handling begins in the grocery store. Pay attention to the following tips:
--When you're running errands, grocery shop last. In the store, grab the cold (and frozen) foods just before check-out so they don't have a chance to thaw out.
--If you live some distance from the grocery store, use coolers for perishables.
--Take food straight home to the refrigerator. Do not leave food in a hot car.
--Buy what you can use by the "use-by" date. If you eat food after the use-by date, it may be spoiled or diminished in quality.
--Do not buy food in poor condition. Make sure cold food is cold and frozen food shows no signs of "freezer burn" or leakage. Canned goods should be free of dents, cracks or bulging lids; if you notice any of these, let the store manager know.

Consumer reactions to a food recall are often mixed, according to a report by Rutgers and available through the Food Policy Institute. While many hear about the recall and discard or return the product, not every consumer responds appropriately, so people continue to become ill as the result of eating contaminated food. This happens for several reasons. Some consumers are unaware of particular recalls because the right information never reaches them. Others hear about the recall but ignore it, wrongly assuming that the information does not apply to them. And, some consumers hear about the recall, but for a variety of reasons do not check their homes for the recalled product and may ultimately consume it. Finally, some consumers who are aware of the recall simply choose to disregard it, and eat the recalled product anyway. At the other extreme, some consumers may change their purchasing, food preparation, and
consumption practices in ways that are not necessarily warranted by the recall. Some may avoid the recalled product for months (or years) after the recall has ended. They may also shun other products made by the same company or avoid products from other manufacturers similar to that which has been recalled. In doing so, consumers may unnecessarily avoid otherwise healthy, nutritious foods. This can result in severe financial losses for the companies involved, and can have ancillary economic effects across and beyond an entire food category.

Therefore, according to, after identifying a contaminated food product, the challenge faced by public health officials, food manufacturers, distributers, and retailers is to quickly and efficiently provide information to the public, get consumers to pay attention to the recall, and motivate them to take appropriate actions. In doing so, they must convince consumers that the problem warranting the recall is significant, that the recall applies to them personally, and that ignoring the recall or failing to take the recommend actions might result in serious consequences. At the same time, consumers must be reassured that the problem has been identified, is limited in scope, and that the recall will effectively eliminate the immediate risks associated with it. Moreover they must be convinced that the underlying cause has been corrected, ensuring the future safety of the product. In short, to be effective, recalls must generate sufficient attention and motivation among consumers that they take appropriate protective actions, but must not be so alarming as to unnecessarily frighten consumers such that they avoid food products that are otherwise safe.

What should you do if you've already eaten a recalled product? Wait and see, according to Just because a product was recalled doesn't mean it was contaminated. (That's why companies like to emphasize the word voluntary when they pull food off the shelves.) And exposure doesn't mean you'll get sick. But most people exposed to salmonella—bacteria that originate in the feces of animals and humans—do develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours. If this happens, you should call a doctor, who might prescribe antibiotics or just tell you to drink lots of fluids. Often the sickness will pass in four to seven days, although in more severe cases—when bacteria get into the bloodstream—salmonella poisoning can lead to arterial infections, heart inflammation, and Reiter's syndrome, a form of arthritis. These extreme reactions are most common among the young, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems. If you find a defective item in your pantry at home, most companies will either replace it or give you your money back.

Make sure that you keep aware of any notices about recalled foods, and that you properly dispose of any food products that have been recalled. Eating contaminated food can make you sick, and to avoid any possible health issues related to consumption of recalled food products you should heed any warnings that you hear or read about. Safety first is a great precaution. And remember, if food looks bad, smells bad, or tastes bad it likely is bad. Be smart, and listen to your senses. Pay attention to the news, and watch what you eat.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Health Care and Gaining Time

Everyone needs change in life, so does the clock! The Daylight Savings time change schedule for fall 2009 in North America happened on November 1st, 2009, at 2:00am, according to, and you put your clocks back one hour. The practice of Daylight Savings time can be controversial as some benefit from the time change but many also do not. The term ‘DST’ (Daylight Saving Time), according to, was first introduced by George Vernon Hudson (New Zealand) in 1895. In order to save more daylight during the summer, George Vernon Hudson an entomologist from New Zealand came up with the unique idea in the year 1895 for the first time and today a number of other nations also follow the Daylight Saving Time theory. For this very purpose, the clocks and all kind of time devices are adjusted forward exactly an hour as a rule (at the start of spring particularly) in the United States as well as in countless other countries, in order to let the afternoons have more daylight in comparison to morning hours.

The United States and Canada always observe second Sunday of March and first Sunday of November to begin and end, respectively the Daylight Saving Time tradition. Following is a permanent guideline to further explain the aforesaid:
Beginning of Daylight Saving Time:
--2 a.m. on the Second Sunday of March for most of the United States.
Reverting of Daylight Saving Time:
--2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November for the United States.(Different time zones follow different time schedules for the same activity twice each year).

According to, Every spring we move our clocks one hour ahead and "lose" an hour during the night and each fall we move our clocks back one hour and "gain" an extra hour. But Daylight Saving Time (and not Daylight Savings Time with an "s") wasn't just created to confuse our schedules. The phrase "Spring forward, fall back" helps people remember how Daylight Saving Time affects their clocks. At 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, we set our clocks forward one hour ahead of standard time ("spring forward"). We "fall back" at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November by setting our clock back one hour and thus returning to standard time. The change to Daylight Saving Time allows us to use less energy in lighting our homes by taking advantage of the longer and later daylight hours. During the eight month period of Daylight Saving Time, the names of time in each of the time zones in the U.S. change as well. Eastern Standard Time (EST) becomes Eastern Daylight Time, Central Standard Time (CST) becomes Central Daylight Time (CDT), Mountain Standard Time (MST) becomes Mountain Daylight Tome (MDT), Pacific Standard Time becomes Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), and so forth.

Daylight Saving Time, according to, was instituted in the United States during World War I in order to save energy for war production by taking advantage of the later hours of daylight between April and October. During World War II the federal government again required the states to observe the time change. Between the wars and after World War II, states and communities chose whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time is four weeks longer since 2007, due to the passage of the Energy Policy Act in 2005. The Act extended Daylight Saving Time by four weeks from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, with the hope that it would save 10,000 barrels of oil each day through reduced use of power by businesses during daylight hours. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to determine energy savings from Daylight Saving Time and based on a variety of factors, it is possible that little or no energy is saved by Daylight Saving Time. Arizona (except some Indian Reservations), Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa have chosen not to observe Daylight Saving Time. This choice does make sense for the areas closer to the equator because the days are more consistent in length throughout the year.

Daylight saving time decreases the amount of daylight in the morning hours, so that more daylight is available during the evening, according to However, not everyone benefits from the daylight saving time change. Farmers and others who rise before dawn may have to operate in the dark a while longer before daybreak. And some experts suggest that the extended hours implemented in 2007 to save energy won't actually do the trick. That's because people may use more electricity during the darker mornings, canceling out any savings from not using as much power at night. Daylight saving time, though, can bring many benefits. Research has shown that more available daylight does decrease the number of traffic accidents, traffic fatalities, and incidences of crime. Congress noted other advantages while updating legislation in 1986, including "more daylight outdoor playtime for the children and youth of our Nation, greater utilization of parks and recreation areas, expanded economic opportunity through extension of daylight hours to peak shopping hours and through extension of domestic office hours to periods of greater overlap with the European Economic Community." More details can be found at and at,

According to the University of Oklahoma, twice a year, when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, make it a habit to not only change your clocks, but do a few other semi-annual tasks that will improve safety in your home. Do these things every 6 months when you reset your clocks:
1.) Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Replace any smoke alarms older than ten years. Replace any CO alarms older than five years.
Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets). Once you've created your home disaster kit, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries).
2.) A COLD winter is coming! Make a "winter car-emergency kit" now and put your vehicle! (Don't know what to include? Do an Internet search for "car emergency kit" and you'll find lots of ideas!) It's a good idea to carry a car-emergency kit in your car year-round, but be sure to add cold-weather gear to your general car-emergency kit each fall. (Having a separate duffle/gear bag clearly marked "Cold Gear" specifically for your cold weather emergency gear makes it easy to add or take out of the car, seasonally.) Like a Boy Scout, "Be Prepared!" In cold weather, even a very minor car problem or flat tire can be deadly serious, or at the very least, miserable to deal with, unless you're well prepared.
3.) Check home and outbuilding storage areas for hazardous materials. Discard (properly, please) any which are outdated, no longer used, or in poor condition. Move any which are within reach of kids or pets.
4.) Check and discard expired medications - those dates really DO have meaning - some very common over-the-counter medications can cause serious problems due to change through aging.

According to, turning the clock back may mean more sleep, but it may mean trouble for your body. There are ways to keep the time change from disrupting your body clock. Stay away from caffeine and other stimulants, especially during the days before and after the time shift, and avoid napping for a few days because it can disrupt your sleeping at night.
- Sleep through that extra hour if you can instead of trying to get things done.
- Don't drive if you feel sleepy because of the time shift. Consider taking public transportation for a few days to give your body time to adjust.
- Relax, avoid stress and remember to take your regular medications over the weekend of the time change.
For those who have trouble sleeping overall, here are additional tips:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same times, even on weekends. No sleeping in.
- Avoid food and drinks with caffeine after lunch, including coffee, tea, soda and chocolate.
- Take 15 to 30 minutes to wind down before heading off to bed.
- Don't work or study right before bedtime, in order to allow yourself to relax.
- Don't exercise strenuously right before bedtime.
- Keep your room dark, quiet and cool; ear plugs and eye masks can help.
- Keep in mind that time in front of screens — the computer or television varieties — before bedtime can disrupt sleep.

Despite the controversy, one thing is certain—DST will be around for a long time, according to So here are some time-tested tips for dealing with the time change:
--Start early. The time change is usually scheduled for the wee hours of Sunday morning, in order to reduce the disruption of the workweek. To give yourself more time to adjust before the workweek begins, reset one of your clocks at the start of the weekend, such as Friday night or Saturday morning. Try to eat meals, sleep, and wake according to that clock. When Monday comes, you’ll be on your way to feeling adjusted. However, if you have activities and events during the weekend, make sure you don’t get confused about the correct time!
--Exercise. Working out releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps our bodies adjust. Exercise regularly, preferably outdoors, and early in the day. A brisk morning walk is perfect. Avoid exercising too late in the evening though, as this could interfere with the quality of your sleep.
--Nap wisely. Try to resist the urge to take long naps late in the day. If you get tired, take a short, energizing walk around the block instead. If you must nap, keep it earlier in the day and limit your snooze time to no more than 20 minutes.
--Don’t imbibe. Alcohol interferes with normal sleep cycles, so don't rely on a nightcap to fall asleep.
--Digest. After the time changes, you may be hungry for meals earlier or later than before. Be sure to give yourself ample time to digest your dinner before heading off to bed. A heavy meal in your stomach will interfere with the quality of your sleep, too.
--Lighten up. The right combination of light and dark can help your body's circadian rhythm readjust so you can fall asleep on your new schedule and sleep more soundly. In the morning, open the shades and brighten the lights. Try to spend time outside during the day, if possible. Dim the lights in the evening, so that your body understands that it’s time to wind down. Hopefully these suggestions will help you adjust more easily to the biannual time changes. If you’ve tried all of these suggestions, and you’re still having trouble adjusting to the time change after a few weeks, call your health care provider for more assistance.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.