Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health Care and Head Lice

Head lice. Even the mention of the words and mere thought of those pesky varmints makes anyone shake with disgust. Formerly in days of old it was common for most people to have them. The earliest records of head lice treatment in the United States is from the early 1800’s. However, in our modern times the majority of cases in America are caused by very close contact with someone infested with lice or using items like combs or brushes that another person has used who has head lice. Children are often the victims, especially when school is in session.

According to, historically, lice were common and extended all orders of society, surfs to royals. The presence of bugs and parasites was inevitable. Lice are responsible for the transmission of the epidemic typhus. The first recorded typhus epidemic caused by lice infestations was located in Europe and Asia. Head lice became less prevalent during the period of World War II (mid 1900’s). This was due to the use of a chemical agent. This chemical agent was a powerful pesticide that was utilized to destroy mosquitoes that spread malaria. It also had effects on decreasing the populations of lice that spread typhoid. This chemical agent is still carefully utilized today as a pesticide agent, but it remains to have many harmful side effects including toxicity.

The first treatments were not medicinal, but home made, according to These include the use of such substances as Vaseline, mayonnaise, and olive oil. By completely covering the scalp and hair with one of these substances, it is possible to suffocate the lice and nits. These treatment methods are not commonly utilized today. Another household treatment involved the use of gasoline. Gasoline would be put on the hair and scalp of the individual, with the thought that gasoline would be toxic to the lice and nits. This has been repeatedly disproved. Do not try this at home. Gasoline is dangerous!

Current treatment methods are typically prescribed by a medical provider or over the counter methods. Most involve the use of a comb for the removal of nits, and a shampoo or topical additive. This process must be repeated and the home must be properly cleaned to prevent re-infestation. Most over the counter or prescription treatments can be dangerous and more so if the treatment must be repeated a number of times. There exist all natural methods for the treatment of lice infestations that are much safer and less dangerous.

According to Google Health, Head lice are tiny insects that live on the scalp. They can be spread by close contact with other people. These lice only live in hair and occasionally eyebrows and eyelashes. Lice on scalp and clothing may be difficult to see, unless the infestation is heavy. If you see something moving, it's called a louse. Head lice infect hair on the head. They are easiest to see on the neck and over the ears. Tiny eggs on the hair look like flakes of dandruff. However, instead of flaking off the scalp, they stay put.

Head lice can survive up to 30 days on a human. Their eggs can live for more than 2 weeks. Head lice spread easily. You can get head lice when you come in close contact with a person who has lice, or by touching their clothing or bedding. Head lice are more common in close, overcrowded living conditions. Lice spread easily among school children. Having head lice does NOT mean the person has poor hygiene or low social status. Having head lice causes intense itching, but does not lead to serious medical problems. Unlike body lice, head lice never carry or spread diseases.

According to, Head lice and body lice, which are different forms (subspecies) of Pediculus humanus, are very similar in appearance. Lice are wingless insects whose legs have claws that grip and hold onto hair shafts. Their abdomens are distinctly longer than they are wide. Their are 6 pairs of breathing spiracles. Their color, which varies from dirty-white to rust to grayish-black, usually approaches the hair color of the host. Head lice almost always occur on the head where they attach their eggs (nits) to the hair; body lice prefer to live in the seams and linings of unwashed clothing, blankets and sheets from which they periodically crawl onto the skin to feed. Although body lice usually deposit their nits on unwashed clothing fibers, the nits are sometimes found on body hair as well.

Head lice can change to become the color of the host's hair. Female head lice produce from 50 to 150 eggs (6 to 10 nits per day) which they usually attach to hair behind the ears, on the nape of the neck and occasionally to other body hairs. Nits may also be found in sports headgear, hats, combs, barrettes, scarves, brushes, etc. and other common means of infecting a host. The incidence of infestation is greater among persons with long or dense hair, particularly when regular and thorough grooming and washing is neglected.

The eggs hatch in 5 to 10 days, and the young, which resemble the adults except for size, mature in 8 to 22 days during which time they undergo three skin molts to allow for their ever increasing body growth. Adults normally live only about 3 weeks or more, depending upon conditions. They do not resist starvation well - at 75 degrees F. all head lice die after 55 hours without a blood meal.

Lice are usually killed with proper treatment, according to Google Health. However, lice may come back, especially if the source is not corrected. For example, a classroom with many infected children can cause kids to repeatedly get lice. When one case is detected in a family or a school or child-care center, every child at that location should be examined for head lice. This can help prevent further spreading. Never share hair brushes, combs, hair pieces, hats, bedding, towels, or clothing with someone who has head lice. If your child has lice, be sure to check policies at schools, day-care centers, preschools, and nurseries. Many do not allow infected children to be at school until the lice have been completely treated. Some schools may have policies to make sure the environment is clear of lice. Sometimes, the insects or their eggs get into areas such as carpets. Frequent cleaning of carpets and all other surfaces in child-care centers prevents spread of all types of infections, including head lice.

According to, head lice is an increasing problem because lice-killing medicines are becoming less effective. Head lice is a very common condition, especially among children ages 3-10. As many as 6 million to 12 million people worldwide get head lice each year. Scratching can lead to skin sores and skin infections. Anyone can get head lice. Getting rid of head lice requires treating the individual, the family, and the household. Treat the individual and the family. This requires using an over-the-counter or prescription lice-killing medicine. Treat only persons who are infested. Remember that all lice-killing products are pesticides. Follow these treatment steps:

--Remove all clothing.
--Apply lice-killing medicine, also called pediculicide, according to label instructions. If the affected person has extra-long hair, you may need to use a second bottle.
--WARNING: Do not use a creme rinse or combination shampoo/conditioner before using lice-killing medicine. Do not re-wash hair for 1-2 days after treatment.
--Have the affected person put on clean clothing after treatment.
--If some live lice are still found but are moving more slowly than before treatment, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair. The medicine sometimes takes longer than the time recommended on the package to kill the lice.
--After treatment, if no dead lice are found and lice seem as active as before, the medicine may not be working. See your health-care provider for a different medicine. Follow treatment instructions.
--Remove nits and lice from the hair shaft using a nit comb, often found in lice-killing medicine packages. Flea combs used for cats and dogs can also be used.
--After treatment, check, comb, and remove nits and lice from the hair every 2-3 days.
--Re-treat in 7-10 days.
--Check all treated persons for 2-3 weeks until you are sure all lice and nits are gone.

Treat the household:
--To kill lice and nits, machine wash all washable clothing and bed linens that the infested person touched during the 2 days before they were diagnosed. Wash clothes and linens in the HOT water cycle (130 F). Dry items on the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes.
--Dry clean clothing that is not washable (coats, hats, scarves, etc.). OR
--Seal all non-washable items (clothing, stuffed animals, comforters, etc.) in a plastic bag for 2 weeks.
--Soak combs and brushes for 1 hour in rubbing alcohol or Lysol, or wash with soap and hot water.
--Vacuum the floor and furniture. Do not use lice sprays; they can be toxic if inhaled.

--Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use head-lice medications.
--Consult a health-care provider before using lice-killing products on a person who has allergies, asthma, or other medical conditions.
--Do not use extra amounts of lice-killing medicines.
--Do not use lice-killing medicines on the eyebrows or eyelashes.

Here is a resource for lice that is a great resource for this healthcare issue.  Healthline has a lice buyer’s guide that allows you to find the best lice treatment for your family. You can see the guide here:
According to Google Health, call your health care provider if symptoms continue after home treatment, or if you develop areas of red, tender skin, which could mean a possible infection. And remember to always check with your child's school about their procedures if a head lice outbreak should occur. They are common enough to cause concern to parents and educators. Although families are usually not infested, head lice can be a major source of health care inconvenience when they show up. Keep your kids and your house clean to help prevent issues with head lice.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Health Care and Smoking Cessation

This article originally was published June 11, 2010, by Corporate Wellness Magazine, from information I submitted to them for publication about Smoking Cessation--entitled "Kicking Your Own Butt."

Have you ever smoked? Ever sneak a cigarette when you were a teen, behind the school or someplace where your parents didn’t see you and your friends thought you were cool? How about now as an adult? Are you a social smoker, only lighting up when it’s acceptable at a club or restaurant, or perhaps at someone’s home or a party? Ever meet some guys at a cigar bar for some male bonding involving thick tobacco smoke and good times? Way back in the days before smoking was seen as a major health issue, it was deemed cool to smoke. Most of the major Hollywood stars smoked on screen, and the public emulated those images.
When you smoke, how does that make you feel? Are you in control, or is the nicotine in control of you? Have you tried to quit; and if so, how many times?

According to the National Institutes of Health and Medline Plus, tobacco use is the most common preventable cause of death. About half of the people who don't quit smoking will die of smoking-related problems. Quitting smoking is important for your health and provides many benefits. Soon after you quit, your circulation begins to improve, and your blood pressure starts to return to normal. Your sense of smell and taste return and breathing starts to become easier. In the long term, giving up tobacco can help you live longer. Your risk of getting cancer decreases with each year you stay smoke-free. Quitting is not easy. You may have short-term effects such as weight gain, irritability and anxiety. Some people try several times before succeeding. There are many ways to quit smoking. Some people stop "cold turkey." Others benefit from step-by-step manuals, counseling or medicines or products that help reduce nicotine addiction. Your health care provider can help you find the best way for you to quit.

There are some very ugly facts about smoking, according to Here’s how smoking affects your body internally:
A. Smokers have a limited sense of smell.
B. Both active and passive smokers are at a greater risk of developing chest infections.
C. Smokers are at greater risk of developing cancer, especially in the throat, lungs.
D. People with asthma who are exposed to smoke may experience significant worsening of their condition.

Each cigarette you smoke shortens your life by 14 the math. That's over 4 hours per pack! According to, you can eat salad and broccoli till your face turns green, exercise more than Madonna, watch your carbs and your calories, but if you don't stop smoking you're destroying your insides. Did you know that smoking is the leading cause of blindness? Smoking is one of the most common causes of visual impairment and blindness in wealthy countries. The blood vessels in the retina are sensitive, and can be easily damaged by smoke. Substances in cigarettes cause a kind of chemical inflammation in the ocular conjunctiva, giving rise to a bloodshot appearance in the mucous membrane of the eye, as well as an itchy sensation.

Smoking can cost you your eyesight, according to Macular degeneration is the deterioration of the retina of the eye, resulting in the gradual loss of eyesight. Today, macular degeneration is the most common form serious visual impairment and blindness in the wealthy countries of the world. The condition affects heavy smokers twice as much as non-smokers.

Unfortunately, the risk of macular degeneration is only slightly reduced after giving up smoking. In addition to macular degeneration, smokers also run an increased risk of cataracts. According to a major American study, smokers are 60 per cent more likely to suffer from age-related cataracts. This applies particularly to the form of cataract that appears on the inner surface of the lens of the eye. Cataracts of this type (posterior subcapsular cataracts) affect smokers 2.6 times more than non-smokers. Additionally, smoking affects these parts of your mouth:
A. Lips.
B. The floor of the mouth, under tongue.
C. The tongue.
D. The palate.
E. The root of the tongue.

Smoking causes oral cancer. According to, smoking is dangerous for your teeth and gums. The teeth may fall out, as smoking can cause periodontal disease. Smoking delays the healing of wounds, and stains the teeth, gums and fillings. The worst consequence is the increased risk of mouth cancer. Periodontal disease is a condition where the tissues that support the teeth - the gums and the bone - slowly deteriorate, and the teeth become loose and finally fall out. Anyone can suffer from periodontal disease, but smoking increases the risk. Heavy smokers are six times more likely to suffer from periodontal disease than non-smokers. The risk of contracting periodontal disease depends on how much you smoke. If you smoke 30 cigarettes a day, you are six times more likely to contract periodontal disease than a non-smoker. If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day or less, the risk is still three times higher than for a non-smoker. If you smoke, the risk of contracting cancer of the mouth is four times higher than for a non-smoker.

Smoking kills your looks. The appearance of wrinkled, pale and grayish skin is four to five times more frequent in smokers than non-smokers. In 1971 an extensive study showed that the facial skin of long-term smokers was so terribly wrinkled that they looked as if they were 20 years older. Talk about not aging well! Smoking causes the microscopic muscle fibers in the walls of the blood vessels to contract. This is why smokers have pale skin. Some smokers even say their fingers become cold when they smoke. A single cigarette can reduce the blood supply to the skin for more than an hour. Giving up smoking will improve the blood supply to the skin and give previously pale skin a more 'natural' appearance. A smoker's skin is also wrinkled because its vitamin A content is low compared with that for a non-smoker. Vitamin A protects the skin against strong chemical substances that may damage or destroy it.

According to the American Heart Association and, about 23 percent of adult men and 19 percent of adult women smoke. This figure is down considerably from 42 percent in 1965. Changes in smoking habits during the late 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s have very likely contributed to the drop in cardiovascular deaths that occurred at the same time in the United States.

Why Quit?:
After one year off cigarettes, the excess risk of coronary heart disease caused by smoking is reduced by half. After 15 years of abstinence, the risk is similar to that for people who've never smoked.
In 5 to 15 years, the risk of stroke for ex-smokers returns to the level of those who've never smoked.
Male smokers who quit between ages 35 to 39 add an average of 5 years to their lives. Female quitters in this age group add 3 years. Men and women who quit at ages 65 to 69 increase their life expectancy by 1 year.

More than four in five smokers say they want to quit. And each year about 1.3 million smokers do quit. With good smoking cessation programs, 20 to 40 percent of participants are able to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes for at least one year. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence, new, effective clinical treatments for tobacco dependence have been identified in the past decade. Combining interventions such as physician advice and follow-up with nicotine gum and behavior modification may increase success rates. Smoking cessation programs seem especially helpful for people who smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day. Since 1965, more than 49 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit. Amazingly enough, though, there are 52 MILLION Americans who are cigarette smokers. 400,000 people in America DIE every year due to smoking related illnesses. There is no reason to remain in the count.

Smokers are generally less healthy than nonsmokers, according to Smoking affects the immune system. Illnesses in smokers last longer and smokers are more likely to be absent from work. Smokers also use more medical services, both outpatient services and hospitalizations — about 25% more than nonsmokers. All in all, smoking low-tar and low-nicotine cigarettes does not make smoking safer. It does not offer a health benefit over smoking regular cigarettes. This conclusion supports and adds to the findings of a scientific monograph on low-tar cigarettes that the National Cancer Institute issued in 2001. Unfortunately, many smokers still view low-tar cigarettes as a safer alternative. The only way to avoid the health hazards of smoking is to quit completely. In fact, where the health hazards of smoking are concerned, there are still many areas where public awareness and understanding needs to be improved. Even though virtually everyone knows generally that smoking is bad for health, many fewer people truly believe how bad smoking is. On average, smokers lose more than 13 years of life. Those are years that could have been productive, years that could have been spent enjoying children and grandchildren. Those lost years are not just numbers; they are tragic losses.

Here are some tips for quitting a smoking habit from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
1. Get Ready
--Set a quit date. --Change your environment. --Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and place of work. --Don't let people smoke in your home. --Review your past attempts to quit. Think about what worked and what did not. --Once you quit, don't smoke—NOT EVEN A PUFF!

2. Get Support and Encouragement
--Tell your family, friends, and co-workers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them. --Talk to your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking cessation coach or counselor). --Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Counseling doubles your chances of success. --The more help you have, the better your chances are of quitting. Free programs are available at local hospitals and health centers. Call your local health department for information about programs in your area.

3. Learn New Skills and Behaviors
--Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. --When you first try to quit, change your routine. Use a different route to work. Drink tea instead of coffee. Eat breakfast in a different place. --Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. --Plan something enjoyable to do every day. --Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

4. Get Medication and Use It Correctly
--Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved seven medications to help you quit smoking: Bupropion SR—Available by prescription. Nicotine gum—Available over-the-counter. Nicotine inhaler—Available by prescription. Nicotine nasal spray—Available by prescription. Nicotine patch—Available by prescription and over-the-counter. Nicotine lozenge—Available over-the-counter. Varenicline tartrate—Available by prescription.
--Ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package. All of these medications will at least double your chances of quitting and quitting for good. Nearly everyone who is trying to quit can benefit from using a medication. However, if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, nursing, under age 18, smoking fewer than 10 cigarettes per day, or have a medical condition, talk to your doctor or other health care provider before taking medications. To find out more about prescriptions, contact your health care provider.

5. Be Prepared for Relapse or Difficult Situations
--Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don't be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit. The following are some difficult situations you may encounter:
a.) Alcohol: Avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking lowers your chances of success.
b.) Other smokers: Being around smoking can make you want to smoke.
--Weight gain: Many smokers will gain some weight when they quit, usually less than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet and stay active. Don't let weight gain distract you from your main goal—quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
--Bad mood or depression: There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking. Some smoking cessation medications also lessen depression. If you are having problems with any of these situations, talk to your doctor or other health care provider.

The bottom line for anyone who smokes is that you will eventually cause yourself irreparable damage to your own health. Long term exposure to smoking is deadly, and even short term exposure is bad. Learn to live without the need to smoke. If you need help, get it. There are plenty of resources and support systems available to help you. Kick the habit, and kick your own butt!

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Health Care and Summer Swimming

Everyone loves to go swimming in the summer. When it's hot, there is nothing more fun and relaxing than to get to the beach, the pool, or the lake for a dip in the water to cool off. Kids and adults alike look forward to any opportunity they can get into the water to have a great time. Swimming during the summer can be an outstanding way to get exercise, stay cool when the sun is climbing high in the sky, and enjoy the great outdoors. Even going to an enclosed pool at the gym or a hotel is worth the cost, especially when the end result is to provide yourself with an inexpensive way to have alot of fun and relaxation.

According to, swimming is one of the best activities that you can perform for overall physical fitness for the following reasons:
1.) First, swimming involves almost all of your major muscle groups. For example, the standard crawl stroke uses the neck, shoulder, chest, back, triceps, and biceps muscles of the upper body, the abdominal, low back, and oblique muscles of the midsection, and the gluteal, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles of the legs.
2.) Second, swimming is an excellent exercise for conditioning your cardiovascular system. Although you won't go as far in a 20-minute swim as you will during 20 minutes of walking, running, or cycling, the cardiovascular benefits are essentially the same.
3.) Third, swimming seems to enhance joint flexibility, especially in the neck, shoulders, hips, and midsection area. Much of this is due to the repetitive twisting movements as your body turns from side to side during the crawl stroke.

According to, swimming is also a great way to tone up without the harsh impact on your joints that other sports can have. Because there is no running or jumping, swimming is a great activity for those who haven’t exercised in a while or may be recovering from injury. Incorporating swimming into your regular workouts gives you variety to keep you from getting bored and ensures that you’ll work more muscle groups than you would if you just stuck to one activity. Another benefit of swimming is that it’s a valuable life skill. People of nearly all ages and abilities can learn to swim and know that they can enjoy water-based activities with safety and confidence. Expert opinions vary on the right time to learn to swim, but most children can begin swimming successfully sometime around age 3.

Of course, exercising in water is a totally different experience than land-based activity, according to For one thing, swimming requires a horizontal body position, that places less stress on your heart with respect to blood circulation. The gentle pressure of the water against your skin also enhances blood circulation. Because water is an isokinetic medium, the resistance varies in proportion to your muscle force. That is, when you give low muscle force against the water you encounter relatively low resistance from the water, and when you give high muscle force against the water you receive relatively high resistance from the water. Another advantage of aquatic exercise is the cooling effect of the water. Unlike hot weather activity on land, you are unlikely to overheat when swimming. What could be better than a cool pool, lake or ocean in which to exercise on a hot summer day.

However, according to, every aquatic environment poses risks, but knowing the specific risks associated with different types of environments can help you determine what steps to take to ensure your family's safety this summer. Open-water environments include beaches, lakes, rivers and ponds. These areas are often unguarded by lifeguards. According to the CDC, at beaches that have staffed and guarded hours, three-quarters of all drownings occur outside of those hours. And, by contrast, when those same beaches were guarded, the chances of drowning were one in 18 million. When possible, swim at areas that have lifeguards present. Swimming pool environments include public facilities, private facilities and residential facilities. In children ages 1 to 4, residential swimming pools pose the greatest risk for drowning. Make sure you take your family to facilities that have fences or other barriers surrounding the swimming pools so that the risk of a child slipping away unnoticed is diminished.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2005 there were 3,582 unintentional drownings in the U.S. About a quarter of those drownings occurred to children under 14 years old, and for every fatal drowning, there were four times as many nonfatal hospitalizations of children in this age group. The facts are clear: Aquatic deaths are a real and present danger in America, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the water this summer. You just need to follow basic aquatic safety guidelines, according to The American Red Cross has a number of suggestions when it comes to water safety. Some of these include: Never swim alone, never trust one child's safety to another, enroll yourself or your child in swim lessons, wear a life jacket when boating or if you are not a proficient swimmer, and swim in areas that are being protected by a lifeguard. Drownings can occur in a matter of seconds, so make sure you are alert and aware while in an aquatic environment. Keep a constant eye on your children and survey the area for any potential dangers. Scan the area that you are swimming in about every 20 seconds to ensure everyone is still present and having fun.

Purchase life jackets for everyone in your family, and whenever boating or participating in open-water activities, require that they be worn. Make sure your life jackets are Coast Guard approved (this approval is on the tag or printed on the jacket) and that they are designed for the weight of the person wearing it, according to Children should not wear adult-sized jackets. Life jackets are designed to keep a person at the surface of the water, face-up so that they can breathe. Reaching and throwing equipment, like ring buoys or rescue hooks, are required by law at all swimming pools, but unfortunately are not always present at open-water environments. These tools are used to reach a victim without risking injury to the rescuer. If you know you will be at a river or lake that is unguarded, purchase a ring buoy and practice how to use it before your trip.

The American Red Cross suggests having a cell phone, first aid kit, throwing equipment and life jackets with you whenever you are around water. The Red Cross suggests that if a child goes missing, check the water first. In an aquatic emergency, if the victim appears to be unconscious or if the victim is submerged, immediately call 911. If the victim is conscious, try to throw a ring buoy to him and tow him to safety. If this does not work, approach the victim from the behind and grip the victim with your forearms by reaching under the victim's armpits and grasping the victim's shoulders. You should then either swim to safety, or wait for additional help. Never risk your own safety to save someone else. And, alcohol and water do not mix well together. The CDC reports that about half of all drownings with adults and adolescents involve alchohol. Plus, avoid swimming outdoors in bad weather. If strong winds, thunderstorms, or bad currents are happening, postpone your outing for another day, according to Better safe than sorry.

When swimming in a small pool with a deep end, caution your children about diving in the deep end, according to Small pools like you find in most backyards and motels have a very short deep end which slants up to the shallow end. The slope is an accident waiting to happen. Children tend to have a major growth spurt around age 12. The increased height and body weight cause them to go deeper and faster then they expect. If they are diving toward that slope, they could hit it, which can cause sever back injuries or even death. And, horseplay around and in the pool is inevitable, but, before you hoist the six year old on to your shoulders to play “chicken fight” think about the cement edge of the pool and its proximity to your child’s head when you get knocked down. In other words use common sense. If you are stopping at someone else’s home for a visit and they have a pool, make sure the gate that closes off the pool is closed. Check to see if your child can open the gate or easily climb the fence. If there is no fence around the backyard pool do not let the child out without a responsible adult who is aware that they are watching the child.

Every year emergency rescue is busy all over the country because someone dove of the rocks into the good old swimming hole and hit a rock. Remember river bottoms change as the current slowly moves the rocks on the bottom, according to Don’t assume that last years diving hole is as deep this year as it was last. Sometimes a boulder only has to shift a few feet to create a major hazard. Know what hazards are typical in the geographical region you are visiting. Are there water snakes? Are they poisonous? Are there alligators? How is the water quality? Some swimming holes do get polluted. This is especially true after a good rain. All the fecal matter and other pollutants get washed into the river, lake or pond. It is safest to wait at least 3 days after a good rain to enter the water. Natural swimming areas are not chlorinated. Bacteria are always a concern. For the sake of fellow swimmers don’t let the young members of your family just strip down out of the diaper and go into the water. Use swim diapers. If the cost to your wallet and the environment bother you, there are reusable eco friendly swim diapers available for about $10.00 a pair. Remember while you are keeping the baby from polluting the water you are also giving a certain amount of protection in reverse.

Swimming during the summer can be great fun. Just be careful, and follow the rules when you are out at the beach, the lake, or the pool. Don't be the next story on the six o'clock news.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Health Care and Cadmium

Cadmium. Sounds like a super cool name for a new car, doesn't it? Wow, here the voiceover on the commercial: "Be the first on your block to drive the new Cadmium." Actually, you likely would not want to because of what that name means. According to, Cadmium can be very toxic, and is dangerous if it is swallowed or inhaled. It is used in a large number of industrial applications. In the United States, over 10 million pounds of cadmium are used industrially every year. While spontaneous recovery from mild cadmium exposure is common, doses as low as 10 milligrams can cause symptoms of poisoning. There is no accepted fatal dose amount.

Cadmium has no constructive purpose in the human body, according to Plus, cadmium and its compounds are extremely toxic even in low concentrations, and will bioaccumulate in organisms and ecosystems. In the 1950s and 1960s industrial exposure to cadmium was high, but as the toxic effects of cadmium became apparent, industrial limits on cadmium exposure have been reduced in most industrialized nations and many policy makers agree on the need to reduce exposure further. While working with cadmium it is important to do so under a fume hood to protect against dangerous fumes. Silver solder, for example, which contains cadmium, should be handled with care. Serious toxicity problems have resulted from long-term exposure to cadmium plating baths. Food is another source of cadmium. Plants may only contain small or moderate amounts in non-industrial areas, but high levels may be found in the liver and kidneys of adult animals. Cigarettes are also a significant source of cadmium exposure. Although there is generally less cadmium in tobacco than in food, the lungs absorb cadmium more efficiently than the stomach.

The uses for cadmium, according to, include:--component of several metal alloys.--Component of solder (metallic cement), particularly solder for aluminum.--Electroplating.--Nickel plating.--Engraving.--Cadmium vapor lamps.--Nickel-cadmium batteries.--Treatment of parasites in pigs and poultry.According to, the symptoms of ingested cadmium poisoning are: increased salivation, choking, vomiting, abdominal pain, anemia, painful spasms of the anal sphincter. And, when cadmium dust or powder is inhaled, the first symptoms are a sweet or metallic taste, followed by throat irritation.

Other symptoms that may appear in three to five hours include:
--Dry throat.
--Chest pain.
--Pulmonary edema, a congestive lung condition.
--Bronchospasm, the abnormal tightening of airways that may be accompanied by wheezing and coughing.
--Pneumonitis, inflammation of the lung.
--Muscle weakness.
--Leg pain.

When a person has exposure to cadmium in low doses over a long period of time, symptoms may include loss of sense of smell, cough, shortness of breath, weight loss, and tooth staining, according to Chronic cadmium exposure may cause damage to the liver and kidneys. The most common cause of cadmium poisoning is a lack of proper precautions in places where cadmium is used. In such industries, air quality should be regularly monitored. Cadmium-plated containers should never be used to store acidic foods such as fruit juices or vinegar. Fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, release cadmium fumes into the air. Chronic cadmium poisoning is also possible through soil or water contamination. This problem may occur with improper disposal of nickel-cadmium batteries used in items such as cameras.

Know the symptoms of cadmium poisoning, according to
Step 1: Inhalation of cadmium dust quickly causes respiratory and kidney problems, which can be fatal. Ingestion of even small amounts of cadmium can cause immediate damage to the liver and kidneys. The kidneys are usually affected first because most of the cadmium absorbed by the body is stored in the kidneys.
Step 2: Get a medical examination to diagnose cadmium poisoning. This is usually done clinically by diagnosing the symptoms, especially if cadmium exposure is already suspected. Cadmium poisoning generally may be confirmed by elevated levels of creatinine in the blood and urine.
Step 3: Provide gastric lavage or induce vomiting within 1 hour if cadmium salts have been ingested. Remove the patient from the cadmium exposure immediately and administer oxygen.
Step 4: Treat cadmium poisoning symptomatically because no effective treatment against the poisoning itself exists. Chelation therapy is contraindicated because it is generally toxic to the kidneys when combined with cadmium.
Step 5: Prevent future exposure to cadmium. Stop smoking and check products in your home for cadmium-containing compounds, especially fungicides. Store any nickel-cadmium batteries out of the reach of small children. If you use a well, have the cadmium level in your water checked.

Approximately 512,000 workers in the United States are in environments each year where a cadmium exposure may occur, according to Regulations that set permissible levels of exposure, however, are enforced to protect workers and to make sure that levels of cadmium in the air are considerably below levels thought to result in harmful effects. For much more detailed information about cadmium poisoning, the U.S. Department of Labor has posted the health effects on the OSHA site:

According to the Los Angeles times, for a metal that most Americans would be hard-pressed to locate on the periodic table much less when it's trying to pass itself off as an innocuous everyday component of innocuous everyday objects, cadmium certainly seems to be the "it" element of the day. McDonald's has decided to recall a lot -- a whole lot -- of Shrek drinking glasses because they're contaminated with cadmium, a heavy metal that can do unpleasant things in, and to, the body--about 12 million glasses because federal regulators found they contain the toxic metal cadmium, which poses health risks. The glasses have been sold for $2 apiece at McDonald's restaurants across the country as a promotional tie-in with the movie "Shrek Forever After." Purchasers will be advised to keep them away from children and to return them to McDonald's for a refund. That followed Wal-Mart's announcement in May that it was pulling Miley Cyrus-branded kids jewelry because it was tainted with, yes, cadmium.

Be careful if you work in areas that provide exposure to cadmium, and follow OSHA guidelines. Also, don't play around with batteries that contain cadmium. If you think you have been exposed to high levels of cadmium, you should consult your physician immediately, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Cadmium can be measured in blood, urine, hair and nails. Kidney and liver function tests can be done to see if cadmium has damaged them. These tests are often done in combination with other tests, such as a chest X-ray. You need to be aware of the possible sources of cadmium to limit your exposure. Not smoking cigarettes and eating a nutritious diet will help reduce your exposure and prevent adverse health effects. If your drinking water comes from a private well near a source of cadmium, you may want to have the water tested. Public water systems test for cadmium on a regular basis. If you live near a source of cadmium, you may want to have your garden soil tested for cadmium.

If you bought a Shrek drinking glass at McDonald's recently, return it to get your two bucks back and save your health. And, oh, yeah. If you get an offer to test drive a Cadmium, you may wish to pass up the temptation.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Health Care and Summer Time

During June, July, and August, most Americans go on vacations or work on a variety of projects that can be done outside. There's nothing like the classic road trip, in the family car or van with the kids and pets, headed out for a great time. Whether you are going to visit family or friends, traveling during the summer can be lots of fun. It pays to be prepared before you go, and to be careful while you are away. If you are staying home, those tasks you take on should be handled safely and with a game plan. Nothing says "job well done" like a project that is completed without accident.

Traveling or working during the summer is great, but with the heat that comes during these months, you should take preventive methods to avoid any health issues that can be brought on by exposure to the sun and high temperatures. The same principle applies when you are traveling. Be careful when it's hot. According to, staying healthy during the summer months requires more than just eating the right foods. Below is a partial list of things to do that will help you stay cool and healthy during the hot summer months:

--Drink plenty of water. It is very important to drink water. Your body needs water to prevent dehydration during warm summer days. Take special care to make sure infants and toddlers drink enough water. They can become dehydrated much more easily than adults.
--If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, keep a careful watch on the daily air quality reports. Also, don't forget to take your inhaler or other medication with you when you go out.
--Take a rest or nap. Don't push yourself beyond your physical limits.
--Wear Sunscreen. Sunburn is painful and unhealthy. Use a sunscreen that is right for your skin.
--Stay Cool. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing to help you stay cooler.
--Wear Sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun's UV rays.
--Maintain your energy level by limiting your intake of fat and sugar; focus on carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables.
--Before leaving for vacation pack a few items (calamine lotion, baking soda) that will help with itchy or painful insect bites.
--If you have allergies and plan to be traveling/vacationing, find out which plants will be pollinating in your vacation spot
--Know your body. If you are feeling ill, see a doctor. An average of 400 people die each year in the United States due to extreme heat.

No matter what summertime activity you choose to participate in - some fun and games with family or friends at the park, a refreshing swim, or a backyard barbecue - those hot and humid days can take a toll on you physically, as well as present some hidden dangers. According to, here are some tips on how you can manage the heat and keep cool during the dog days of summer:
--The risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke rises along with the temperature and humidity. Heat illnesses occur when the body's cooling mechanism becomes overloaded. When the heat starts to rise - slow down. Regardless of your activity level, drink more fluids - your body needs water to prevent dehydration during warm summer days. Stay away from liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar. Stay indoors or in shaded locations; wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing; and limit your outdoor activity to morning or evening hours when it is cooler outside.
--Summer time means fun in the sun, and plenty of fun and games in the water - but did you know that germs could contaminate swimming water? Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are spread by swimming in contaminated recreational waters such as: pools, water parks, lakes, and the ocean. Germs causing RWIs can be killed by chlorine, but it doesn't work right away. It takes time to kill germs, and some are resistant to chlorine and can live in pools for days.
--No matter what time of the year, more and more people are cooking outdoors. But outdoor cooking during the summer seems to pose a few extra challenges - leaving food out for just a short period of time under the hot sun can result in harmful bacteria rapidly multiplying and it increases the chance of getting foodborne illness.

According to, summer is a great time to build up your fitness program, enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, take a vacation, and have fun. It’s also a time to pay attention to your health and safety. Sun protection is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. Take steps to help prevent skin cancer and other conditions. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet many people succumb to extreme heat each year. Take steps to lower your risk for heat-related illness. Also, be careful around fireworks. Males are injured by fireworks about three times as often as females. About 47% (nearly half) of persons injured from fireworks are young people under twenty years of age. Injuries are most commonly associated with fire-crackers, sparklers, and bottle rockets. And, men are at increased risk for some injuries and conditions. Motor vehicle traffic, poisonings, drownings, and falls are the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths for males ages 15-44. Men take their own lives at nearly four times the rate of women and represent 79% of all U.S. suicides. When you are driving on your vacation, be careful and observe the rules of the road. Drivers and passengers can cut their risk of dying in a crash by half simply by buckling up. The summer is a great time to play outdoor games, garden, or walk. Start a new routine that combines fun and physical activity. Active people are less likely than inactive people to be obese or to have high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, coronary artery disease and stroke, depression, colon cancer, and premature death.

On a lighter side, there are many summer time myths that have been told and re-told generation after generation. According to, as children, most everyone heard lots of health advice. Unfortunately, some of it, however well-intentioned, was medically incorrect. See if you've ever heard - or believed - any of these common summer health myths:

1.) "Wait a half hour after eating before you can safely go swimming." This one seemed almost universally accepted and is still believed today. The myth involves the possibility of suffering severe muscle cramping and drowning from swimming on a full stomach. While it's true that the digestive process does divert the circulation of the blood toward the gut and to a certain extent, away from the muscles, the fact is that an episode of drowning caused by swimming on a full stomach has never been documented. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Red Cross makes any specific recommendations about waiting any amount of time after eating before taking a swim. There's a theoretical possibility that one could develop a cramp while swimming with a full stomach, but a person swimming in a pool or controlled swimming area could easily exit the water if this happens. As with any exercise after eating, swimming right after a big meal might be uncomfortable, but it won't cause you to drown.

2.) "Sunburn will fade into a tan," or "You need to burn first before you start to tan." Sunburn is a burn and not a prerequisite stage for a tan. Sunburn will result in skin damage, redness, and eventual peeling. Any amount of sun exposure poses an increased risk for the development of skin cancers and premature aging, but sunburn poses an even stronger risk.

3.) "Dark-skinned people don't need sunscreen." People with lighter skins have less melanin, the pigment that absorbs UV radiation and protects skin, than darker-skinned people. While light-skinned people will be very sensitive to the effects of UV rays from the sun, those with darker skins can still be affected by damaging UV radiation. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends routine sunscreen use (with an SPF of at least 15) for dark-skinned people.

4.) Finally, there's the watermelon-seed myth. No, the seeds won't germinate and grow in your stomach if you swallow them. There is a very small risk of damage to the intestine (inflammation, obstruction, or a wound or tear in the bowel) from swallowing any small, sharp object such as a seed. A watermelon or other type of seed could potentially lodge inside the appendix and lead to appendicitis, but this is very unlikely to happen. The benefits of including fruit in your diet far outweigh any risks associated with swallowing seeds.

The American Heart Association has some tips to help you stay active, safe and heart healthy when it’s hot outside. You can stay active and beat the heat by:
--Going to a gym for a nice, cool environment with a variety of activities.
--Visiting your favorite local swimming hole or taking swimming lessons at a pool.
--Starting a walking group with your friends at the mall.
--Taking up an indoor sport, such as racquetball, basketball or volleyball, or taking an aerobics class.
--Going ice skating.
If you exercise outside when it’s hot and humid, wear light, comfortable clothing and work out in the early morning or late evening. Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you experience symptoms, stop exercising and cool down immediately by dousing yourself with cold water. You may need medical attention. Heat exhaustion can progress quickly to heat stroke, which can kill you.

Headed to a family reunion this summer? Reunions are a wonderful way to stay connected, and to learn about your family heritage and traditions, according to the American Heart Association. It's also a great time to inform and remind family members that stroke is a major health threat; and if your parent, grandparent, brother or sister has had a stroke, your risk of having one is greater. Headed to the pool, lake or ocean this summer? Make sure you’re prepared. Drowning is a leading cause of death in infants, children and adolescents. Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) so you can act quickly to prevent drowning.

Whatever your summer time activities, always remember to be safe. Whether traveling or at home, your medical needs and personal health care situation always are more important than skipping safety just to have fun. Remember to check with your doctor before you leave if you are going out of town. Your family physician should be able to work with you if you need extra medications or special arrangements for any health care concerns if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time during the summer. Also, you may wish to consult your pharmacist if you need to have medicine refills while you are away. They can consult with you on getting prescriptions filled if you plan to be traveling for more than 30 days away from home. Then, go have a good time. If you are staying home for the summer, chill out between projects. Learn to take those outside fix-its one step at a time so you don't stress out, have an accident, or overheat.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Health Care and DEET

During the warmer months of the year, Americans face the perennial battle against the peskiest of bugs--the inimitable mosquito. Of all the flying insects, these winged instruments of torture seem to invariably find a landing pad of soft skin to do their dirty deed. Have you ever been outside at a party, or lounging on a hammock in the back yard, or fishing with your buds, or doing countless other activities when all of a sudden you feel the sting of the mosquito? Happily, he is there with his probiscus buried snugly in your epidermal layers and sucking your life's blood out. He is blissfully content to stay there until the damage has been done leaving you to suffer the consequences of his bite. Well, there is a way to counter the itchy effects of this pest.

According to, bites from mosquitoes and other insects, as well as ticks (which officially are arthropods, not insects), are more than just annoying. They can lead to lasting health issues and can even result in death. Through proper use of DEET-based repellents, you and your loved ones can enjoy outdoor activities more comfortably. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll help reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease, West Nile virus and a host of other serious illnesses spread by these pests. DEET has been available for more than 50 years in the U.S. and has been studied more extensively than any other repellent ingredient. It is the most widely used active ingredient in repellents worldwide and is unequalled when it comes to keeping mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs away. DEET-based repellents are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and state and local public health officials, among others. The AAP says they can be used on all family members over the age of two (2) months in concentrations up to 30%.

According to the CDC, insect repellents can help reduce exposure to mosquito bites that may carry viruses such as West Nile virus that can cause serious illness and even death. Using insect repellent allows you to continue to play and work outdoors with a reduced risk of mosquito bites. Apply repellent when you are going to be outdoors. Even if you don’t notice mosquitoes there is a good chance that they are around. Many of the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus bite between dusk and dawn. If you are outdoors around these times of the day, it is especially important to apply repellent. In many parts of the country, there are mosquitoes that also bite during the day, and some of these mosquitoes have also been found to carry West Nile virus. In general you should re-apply repellent if you are being bitten by mosquitoes. Always follow the directions on the product you are using. Sweating, perspiration or getting wet may mean that you need to re-apply repellent more frequently. Repellents containing a higher concentration (higher percentage) of active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection.

Typically, according to the CDC, the more active ingredient a product contains the longer it provides protection from mosquito bites. The concentration of different active ingredients cannot be directly compared (that is, 10% concentration of one product doesn’t mean it works exactly the same as 10% concentration of another product.) DEET is an effective active ingredient found in many repellent products and in a variety of formulations. Based on a 2002 study:
--A product containing 23.8% DEET provided an average of 5 hours of protection from mosquito bites.
--A product containing 20% DEET provided almost 4 hours of protection.
--A product with 6.65% DEET provided almost 2 hours of protection.
--Products with 4.75% DEET were both able to provide roughly 1 and a half hour of protection.
These examples represent results from only one study and are only included to provide a general idea of how such products may work. Actual protection will vary widely based on conditions such as temperature, perspiration, and water exposure. In some cases you will note the chemical name in addition to/instead of the “common” name: DEET is N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide.

According to, every year, approximately one-third of the U.S. population is expected to use DEET. Products containing DEET currently are available to the public in a variety of liquids, lotions, sprays, and impregnated materials (e.g., wrist bands). Formulations registered for direct application to human skin contain from 4 to 100% DEET. Except for a few veterinary uses, DEET is registered for use by consumers, and it is not used on food. DEET is designed for direct application to human skin to repel insects, rather than kill them. After it was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, DEET was registered for use by the general public in 1957. Approximately 140 products containing DEET are currently registered with EPA by about 39 different companies. DEET is approved for use on children with no age restriction. There is no restriction on the percentage of DEET in the product for use on children, since data do not show any difference in effects between young animals and adult animals in tests done for product registration. There also are no data showing incidents that would lead EPA to believe there is a need to restrict the use of DEET. Consumers are always advised to read and follow label directions in using any pesticide product, including insect repellents.

Consumers can reduce their own risks when using DEET by reading and following products labels. According to the EPA, all DEET product labels include the following directions:
--Read and follow all directions and precautions on this product label.
--Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
--Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
--Do not allow young children to apply this product.
--Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.
--Do not use under clothing.
--Avoid over-application of this product.
--After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
--Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
Use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases. The following additional statements will appear on the labels of all aerosol and pump spray formulation labels:
--Do not spray in enclosed areas.
--To apply to face, spray on hands first and then rub on face. Do not spray directly onto face.

People can, and should, use both a sunscreen and an insect repellent when they are outdoors. Follow the instructions on the package for proper application of each product. In general, the recommendation is to apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent. It's recommended NOT to use a single product that combines insect repellent containing DEET and sunscreen, because the instructions for use of insect repellents and use of sunscreen are different. In most situations, insect repellent does not need to be reapplied as frequently as sunscreen. While no recommendations are available at this time regarding products that combine other active ingredients and sunscreen, it is important to always follow the label on whatever product you are using, according to the CDC.

There are no reported adverse events following use of repellents containing DEET in pregnant or breastfeeding women, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. If you do not want to use a product containing DEET, or if your physician advises you to avoid DEET, there are other products that can give you limited protection. These repellents generally use plant-based oils to repel insects. In comparison to DEET-based products, plant oil-based repellents are generally effective for a shorter time (usually less than about two hours). Note: Vitamin B, ultrasonic devices and incense have not been shown to be effective in preventing mosquito bites.

According to, Before DEET and other repellents may be legally distributed, sold or used in this country, they must be evaluated and registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). When used according to label directions, millions of people have used DEET repellents to provide protection against mosquitoes and ticks with minimal risk. Nevertheless, no repellent is 100 percent safe and all repellents must be used carefully. Use of DEET concentrations above 50 percent have been associated with increased skin irritation and similar reactions. In very rare circumstances, slurred speech, confusion and seizures have been associated with the use of DEET, particularly in children. However, some of these persons had a history of long-term, excessive or improper use of DEET repellents. The risk of experiencing any adverse health effects is reduced when products containing DEET are used according to label instructions and concentrated DEET products are avoided. A fact sheet by USEPA about insect repellents may be found at Additionally, an article reviewing DEET and other repellents, "Mosquitoes and Mosquito Repellents: A Clinician's Guide," may be found at

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other experts suggest that it is acceptable to apply repellent with low concentrations of DEET to infants over 2 months old. Other guidelines cite that it is acceptable to use repellents containing DEET on children over 2 years of age. Repellent products that do not contain DEET are not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as products containing DEET. Non-DEET repellents have not necessarily been as thoroughly studied as DEET, and may not be safer for use on children. Parents should choose the type and concentration of repellent to be used by taking into account the amount of time that a child will be outdoors, exposure to mosquitoes, and the risk of mosquito-transmitted disease in the area. Persons who are concerned about using DEET or other products on children may wish to consult their health care provider for advice.

So, you want to stay safe and bug bite free when you're outside? Use insect repellents with DEET to ward off those pesky little critters that are literally looking for a blood bath, and always FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! Have a safe and bug free time. Fight back. Remember, it's your health. Put insects in their place--away from you!

Until next time. Let me know what you think.