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  • Health in Hydration: Tips for Avoiding Dehydration

    Health in Hydration

    Dehydration

    Summer or winter, spring or fall, staying hydrated is essential to maintaining good health. After all, water makes up the majority of our body weight. Countering dehydration is the best way to treat it, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at how dehydration can come about.

     

    How Dehydration Occurs

    Sweating, going to the bathroom, and even breathing are all contributing factors to losing water. Basically, the more that leaves your body, the faster you’ll become dehydrated. For example, diarrhea and vomiting can bring about rapid water loss. Hot climates and being physically active will also speed up the dehydration process. When losing water, be sure to replace it with more.

     

    Symptoms of Dehydration

    Dehydration Headaches are one sign of dehydration.

    Dehydration is more than just being really thirsty. Learn these symptoms so you will always know what your body is telling you, and when it’s time to take immediate action.

    • Dry mouth
    • Little/no urine, or darker than normal
    • Headache
    • Confusion
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue

     

    Dangers of Dehydration

    Staying hydrated has many benefits, which means the adverse is also true. The National Institutes of Health has identified many ways in which dehydration hurts you.

    • Physical performance
    • Cognitive performance
    • Delirium
    • Gastrointestinal function
    • Kidney function
    • Heart function

     

    For more information regarding the dangers of dehydration, you can read the full study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

    Some people are more prone to becoming dehydrated than others. The elderly are especially at risk, since as people age, they may not be able to recognize or sense the signs of dehydration. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also be careful to remain hydrated. Others who are at greater risk of dehydration are people who are exercising, have a fever, or are trying to lose weight.

     

    Tips for Staying Hydrated

    Health in Hydration Dehydration

    The amount of water needed for proper hydration varies from person to person, but Ready.gov recommends about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily for normally active people. Use that as a baseline and adjust depending on age, health, climate, and physical condition and activity.

    Sometimes you may need to be more conscientious about your water intake. If you find you have difficulties staying hydrated, try out some of these tips from the CDC and FamilyDoctor.org.

    • Don’t wait until you’re thirst – drink water constantly!
    • Avoid alcohol or sugary liquids
    • Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
    • Add a slice of lemon to your water – this improves the flavor and can help you drink more
    • Drink water when you’re hungry. Thirst can be confused with hunger, so try water first

     

    It’s more obvious that you need to be more careful about staying hydrated during the hot summer months, but you can still become dehydrated during the colder times. No matter what time of year it is, pay attention to what your body is telling you and take the necessary steps to always remain hydrated.

     

    What steps do you take to remain hydrated?

     

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  • 6 Questions to Ask Yourself About Zika Virus

    On April 11, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned about the threat posed from the Zika virus.

    "Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a deputy director there.

    Yet Americans don’t know that much about it. A poll taken by the Associated Press found forty percent of Americans had heard little or nothing about the Zika virus.

    So, let’s learn about it.

    Below are some of the questions from the poll. Think about them, then read a little more about what the experts say.

     

    How much have you heard or read about the Zika virus?

    As of April 13 - via CDC Countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission as of April 13, 2016 - via CDC (click to enlarge)

    The Zika virus appeared for the first time in 1947 in Uganda. Until Recently, it was considered a localized, minor virus, especially when compared with other mosquito-borne diseases like malaria. Last year alone, 214 million people contracted malaria and 438,000 died. Until 2007, scientists knew of 14 human cases, though more unreported cases were likely. Zika appeared in Brazil in May 2015. It is spreading rapidly through the Americas, the Caribbean, and many Pacific islands. The World Health Organization declared the virus a Public Health Emergency on February 1, 2016.

    The illness itself is fairly mild. The Brazilian Health Ministry said 80% of people who catch it displayed no symptoms. According to the CDC, the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint, and red eyes. people rarely get sick enough to go to the hospital and rarely die. What's the worry?

     

    How worried are you that...

    1. The U.S. will see a large number of cases of the Zika virus in the next 12 months?
    2. You or someone in your family will be infected by the Zika virus?
    3. You or someone in your family will need to change travel plans to avoid the Zika virus?

    The worry is threefold. First, the two mosquito species that transmit Zika have been found in 30 states. Therefore, localized outbreaks could occur in many U.S. states, according to the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. In U.S. states, 358 cases have been reported, but only in people who traveled abroad. The virus has taken hold in the U.S. territories, however. Puerto Rico may already have hundreds of thousands of Zika infections, a CDC director said.

     

    As far as you know, can a person become infected with Zika virus from each of the following, or not?

    1. The bite of a mosquito carrying the virus
    2. Having sex with someone who is infected
    3. Casual contact, like shaking hands, with someone who is infected

     

    Mosquito bites are not the only way to contract Zika, although they are the main way, according to the CDC. A pregnant woman can pass the virus to her unborn child. Men can pass the virus through sexual contact. The virus could also be transmitted through blood transfusion.

     

    To the best of your knowledge, is the Zika virus linked to birth defects in babies born to infected mothers, is it not linked with birth defects, or have you not heard enough to say?

    microcephaly-comparison - via CDC Microcephaly comparison - via CDC (click to enlarge)

    The second big concern about Zika is that it’s been shown to cause several severe disorders. It’s especially bad for pregnant women. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine said ultrasounds found major abnormalities in 29 percent of fetuses of 88 pregnant women in Brazil who tested positive for Zika. Fetuses in women without Zika showed no abnormalities. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, in which a baby’s skull and brain don’t properly develop.

    According to a story in USA Today, Zika has been associated with Guilaine-Barre syndrome, when the immune system attacks the nervous system. Last week, scientists announced it was also linked to acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, swelling in the brain and spinal cord that affects the coating around nerve fibers.

     

    To the best of your knowledge, is there…?

    1. An effective test to determine if an individual is currently infected with the Zika virus, is there not an effective test, or have you not heard enough to say?
    2. An effective medicine to treat people who have gotten sick with the Zika virus, is there not an effective medicine to treat people, or have you not heard enough to say?
    3. An effective vaccine to prevent people from becoming infected with the Zika virus, is there not an effective vaccine to prevent infections, or have you not heard enough to say?

     

    The third major concern is there’s no way to treat Zika. Scientists have developed a test to determine if someone is infected with Zika, but it’s not widely available.

    There are no vaccines or medicines to treat Zika.

     

    In response to reports of the Zika virus, have you or has someone in your household done any of the following or haven’t you done this?

    1. Zika Health Advisory Zika Health Advisory - via CDC (click to enlarge)

      Removed sources of standing water from your yard or household that provide mosquito-breeding sites, such as tires, buckets, toys, or trash containers

    2. Applied insect repellent when spending time outdoors
    3. Closed windows and used air conditioning or put screens in windows to keep mosquitoes outside
    4. Worn long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes
    5. Changed past or future travel plans to areas affected by the Zika virus
    6. Avoided people you think may have recently visited areas affected by the Zika virus

     

    The best way to protect yourself from Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

    Wear long sleeves and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or use window and door screens. Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent. Also, get rid of mosquito breeding sites like containers with standing water.

    Use a condom correctly to keep from getting Zika though sex.

    Right now, experts don’t think Zika will be an epidemic in the U.S. because air conditioning and window and door screens are fairly widespread.

    However, they think pockets of the virus are likely to break out, in more places than they had originally anticipated. So take care of yourself this mosquito season.

    The original Associated Press survey results are here.

     

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  • Tips for Improving Home Accessibility and Safety as We Age

     

    Accessible House - via Flickr by Living in Monrovia Image via Flickr by Living in Monrovia

     

    Tips for Improving Home Accessibility and Safety as We Age

    Research from AARP finds that 73% of people ages 45 and older want to remain in their current residence as long as possible, while 90% of older adults ages 65 and older wish to do so. For many seniors, this decision is motivated at least in part by finances. With the cost of senior living on the rise – from independent living communities to assisted living and nursing homes – staying in a private home can offer substantial savings over moving to an expensive senior housing complex.

    In order to age in place, however, it’s often necessary for seniors to make home modifications to ensure accessibility and safety as the activities of daily living become more challenging. Still, the cost of such modifications is often a more affordable approach than paying for care in a senior living community. These tips will help you improve home accessibility and safety:

     

    Keep Costs Down By Hiring a Trustworthy Contractor

    Some home safety improvements, such as eliminating clutter and ensuring clear walkways, can be achieved on your own. But for homes that require more extensive modifications, such as installing a bathroom on the first floor, you’ll need to hire a contractor.

    Finding a trustworthy, efficient contractor is one way to keep the costs of your home modifications as low as possible. Eldercare.gov provides advice on what to look for in a contractor. The site suggests finding a contractor that is “licensed, bonded, and insured” and checking with friends and family members to get recommendations.

    You might also check out consumer review pages to find quality contractors in your area. As the YP page for Massachusetts roofer, Duval Roofing, shows, it and similar sites offer an easy way to see what other customers have to say about area contractors.

     

    Embrace Technology

    Technology such as medical alert systems and remote monitoring tools can facilitate better communication between family, caregivers, and healthcare providers to keep aging adults safer in their homes.

    For older seniors, technology adoption may be initiated by a family member but is typically well-received. The Merrill Lynch-Age Wave survey found that 76% of retirees “are interested in technologies to monitor their health at home such as sensors, alerts or medication reminder apps,” and 64 percent expressed interest “in home technologies that connect them with family and friends, such as video chat and interactive devices.”

     

    Install Hand Rails and Grab Bars

    One in three older adults experiences a fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, one in five falls causes a serious injury, such as a broken bone or head injury, making falls a major risk to the health and safety of older adults who choose to age in place.

    Installing hand holds in key areas is a great way to protect against falls. Ensuring that existing hand rails are sturdy in stairways can help to prevent accidents on the stairs, and installing grab bars in other areas where older adults are prone to falls – such as in the bathroom – can help seniors safely enter and exit the bath tub or shower. Other modifications, such as the use of non-skid surfaces in the shower and installing carpeting on stairs, can also help to reduce the likelihood of trips and falls.

     

    Ensure Adequate Lighting

    Poor lighting is another issue that can increase the likelihood of slips and falls. But dim lighting can also lead to other accidents, such as turning the stove top temperature too high or taking the wrong medication. Check light bulbs throughout the home and use the maximum wattage safe for use with light fixtures. In some homes, particularly older homes without many built-in lighting options, adding light fixtures to areas that are generally dim can also improve visibility.

    The National Institutes of Health suggests that each room, entryways, and outdoor walkways should be well-lit, as well as stairways, ideally with light switches at both the top and bottom of the stairs. Nightlights should be placed in the bathroom, hallways, bedrooms, and kitchen. Make sure that lamps are easily accessible on either side of the bed, and store a flashlight in an easily accessible bedside area for quick access in an emergency or power outage.

    With more older adults choosing to remain in their own homes as long as possible, more resources are becoming available to facilitate safe aging in place. Advancements in technology allowing for remote monitoring and care-giving, innovative safety adaptions for the home, and financial assistance options for seniors who require more extensive home modifications are just a few of the options that today’s seniors can take advantage of to live safely and happily in their own homes long into their golden years.

     

     ______

    Angela Tollersons is a former business owner turned full-time mom. The mother of a son on the autism spectrum, she truly believes that every family is special in their own way. She started ForFamilyHealth.net with her husband to provide parents a resource for information, ideas, and inspiration on giving children of all abilities healthy and happy lives. Angela lives in the ’burbs of North Carolina and is an active member of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center and Parents Helping Parents.

     

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