Tag Archives: First Aid

  • How NOT to Get the Flu

    How NOT to Get the Flu

    When Gwen Zwanziger’s teenaged daughter came down with the flu last month, she did everything she was supposed to: had her checked at the local clinic, kept her hydrated, and insisted on plenty of rest. So when Shannon passed away a week later, Gwen was not only heartbroken, but baffled.

    “I just cannot figure out why she died from this,” she said in a recent interview with Indiana's Fox59.

    Though we’re not even halfway through flu season yet, we’re already hearing troubling stories, like the Zwanzigers’, and even more troubling numbers. At the time of writing, 15 American children have succumbed to the common illness since fall of 2014—a statistic that has parents understandably spooked.

    Part of what’s at issue this particular flu season is a timing glitch. Viruses mutate regularly, but this virulent strain mutated just after the vaccine was completed, making the vaccine ineffective against it. Experts stress that the vaccine is still worthwhile and explain that each year, the vaccine is newly redesigned and covers several, but never all, strains of influenza.

    Additionally, some context might help ease fears. The CDC’s definition of an “epidemic” depends on the ratio between cases of the disease and deaths from the disease. Because the number of cases changes as the season progresses, that percentage fluctuates, creeping above and falling below epidemic level (7.7%) sometimes several times in a year.

    Not only that, but the numbers the CDC deals with are only marginally reliable. Pediatric deaths from disease are required by law to be reported to the government agency, but adult deaths are not. So, while the elderly are actually more vulnerable than children, we have no really fantastic way of knowing how deadly any bug actually is.

    That doesn’t really help, does it? Okay, let’s talk about some stuff that does.

    Across the board, expert advice falls into the categories outlined by flu.gov’s three-pronged approach to flu prevention. Let’s walk through each of those.

    1. Get the flu shot.

    Despite all the problems with the 2014 version, the flu vaccine is still the best way to avoid getting the flu. While a shot in the arm may not be your favorite way to spend a morning, the sore muscles are worth it! And as for that historical worry about getting the flu from a flu shot, you can cross that off your list of things to worry about. The vaccine is made from either dead or severely weakened viruses that can’t survive the warm temperatures of the inner body beyond the nose. No excuses!

    2. Consider antiviral medications.

    If you know you’ve been exposed to a flu virus, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication, though they’re usually reserved for those especially at risk. Antiviral meds are a bit controversial—inconclusive studies, worrisome side effects, and the larger risk of breeding stronger and more drug resistant viruses—so this ought to be considered as only a last resort.

    3. Take common-sense precautions.

    No offense to the human race, but this is generally where our efforts break down. I can say that because I’ve spent months now taking care of my very small children (two year-olds are not known for their common sense) who have contracted every single cold virus in existence this season! I shudder in horror every time my toddler moves her thumb toward her mouth, and my preschooler thinks all the world is his sensory bin—especially those lovely grooves on the underside of restaurant highchairs. Gah!

    While my impulse is to douse my children in hand sanitizer every five minutes, there are more practical strategies. Here’s the official tip list from flu.gov:

    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub or hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
    • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
    • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

    Want some other smart ideas? Here are a handful of doctors’ recommendations to make staying healthy a little easier:
    • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or anything else that messes with sleep patterns.
    • Carry your own pen, water bottle, or anything else you might need on an outing so as to avoid handling something that a thousand other people have touched.
    • If touching stuff is inevitable—say, at the gym or the grocery store—carry your own sanitizing wipes.
    • Clean a little more frequently. Both at home and in the office, certain items get more love than others—door, fridge, and microwave handles; copier or elevator buttons; phones and remotes—and could use a wipe down every couple of days.
    • My doctor is a big fan of nasal irrigation; and either as treatment or prevention, it works wonders to flush out impurities.

    And finally, don’t forget to check our website for gear that could help keep everyone in your house safe and healthy. Our pandemic supplies include everything from hand sanitizer and respirator masks to biohazard waste bags. And the pandemic protection kit fits everything you might need in a handy 4-gallon bucket.

    If better health is one of your new year’s resolutions, start out right with smart prevention practices! Keep yourself and your family safe this season, and let us know if you have any other tips and tricks for keeping the flu at bay.

     

    --Stacey

     

     

    Sources:

    http://fox59.com/2014/12/31/teens-death-shows-horror-of-flu-epidemic/

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2003/12/outbreaks_vs_epidemics.html

    http://www.flu.gov/prevention-vaccination/prevention/

    http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20752945_21,00.html

    http://www.flu.gov/prevention-vaccination/vaccination/

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/01/should-i-take-tamiflu-to-treat-the-flu/index.htm

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Current Events, First Aid

  • Can you Recognize the Signs of a Stroke?

    |15 COMMENT(S)

    Can you recognize the signs of a Stroke?

    Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.  Approximately 800,000 people suffer strokes each year, and almost 130,000 of those victims die. According to the experts at stroke.org, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States will have a stroke and one stroke will take a life every four minutes.

    Strokes can happen to anyone at any time regardless of age, sex or race.  In fact, 34 percent of the 130,000 stroke-related deaths reported each year are to people under the age of 65. Women will suffer about 55,000 more strokes a year than men, and African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as Caucasians.

    So would you know how to recognize the signs of a stroke?  Here’s what you should know to act F.A.S.T if someone you love (or a stranger, for that matter) experiences a stroke.

    Types of Strokes

    Ischemic strokes occur when arteries are blocked by a small blood clot or as plaque and other fatty deposits build up in the arteries.  Almost 90 percent of all strokes are ischemic

    Hemorrhagic strokes: Happen when a blood vessel in the brain breaks open and starts to leak. Hemorrhagic strokes account for just over 10 percent of all strokes.  However, hemorrhagic strokes account for more than 30 percent of all stroke-related deaths.

     

    Act F.A.S.T.

    Learning to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and getting help immediately are very important.  Over 2,000,000 brain cells die every minute during a stroke, and can quickly cause irreversible brain damage. The faster you can recognize the signs of a stroke and get treatment, the more likely any permanent damage can be reversed.  To recognize the signs of a stroke, remember the acronym F.A.S.T.

    Face drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does their face look uneven?

    Arm weakness: Ask them to raise both arms out in front of them. Does one arm drift downward?

    Speech difficulty: Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound strange?

    Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms call for help fast. Call 911!

    It’s very important to learn to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911 as soon as possible.  Time saves brain tissue and could even save a life.  Just remember to act F.A.S.T. Always note the time of day you recognize the first symptoms of a stroke.

    For ischemic strokes, if treatment with clot busting medication is given within the first three hours of the first symptom, long term disability can be reduced greatly.

    There are also other stroke treatments available that may help reduce the effects of the stroke.  Hemorrhagic strokes most likely will need surgical intervention to relieve the buildup of blood in the brain and to fix the leak in the blood vessels.

    -Rick

    Sources

    www.stroke.org

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: health, health and wellness, First Aid

  • Salmonella: The Outbreak that Just won't Quit

    Salmonella: The Outbreak that Just won't Quit

    Over the last couple of months, we’ve been warned about possible outbreaks of measles and MERS; norovirus on cruise ships and at resorts; and strains of Ebola spreading through Africa and worrying health officials. So, this headline should make us all feel better:

    U.S. salmonella outbreak widens, 574 now sick from Foster Farms chicken

    Yeah, remember that salmonella scare from last March? Turns out that hasn’t actually ended yet. At the end of May, the outbreak was still rampant. Fortunately, the year-long outbreak hasn’t resulted in any fatalities, but that doesn’t make me any less wary about the disease—especially this particular strain, which is proving resistant to drugs and increasingly leading to blood infections.

    An AP article, “5 Things to Know About Salmonella in Chicken,” outlines the current situation (including an explanation of why the CDC doesn’t seem to be able to get this in hand), describes the symptoms, and reminds us of the number one preventative practice: cook your chicken.

    And, not to pile it on here, but did you know that chicken is not the only carrier of salmonella? According to the CDC, just about any raw dairy, meat, fruit, or veggies can be contaminated; so can water sources that come into contact with human or animal waste, as well as certain domestic animals themselves. In fact, an info sheet from Utah’s Bureau of Epidemiology reports “Utah as well as the rest of the U.S. has seen an increase in Salmonella infection as the result of increased ownerships of exotic animal species such as reptiles.”

    Okay, yuck!

    So, besides sealing myself in an anti-septic bubble for the rest of my life, what can I do? The CDC’s “Salmonella Prevention” page has a comprehensive list of tips to keep from contracting the bug (my favorite: “Don't work with raw poultry or meat, and an infant [e.g., feed, change diaper, etc.] at the same time.” I mean, I know we moms gotta multitask, but really?).

    Another helpful resource is “How to Prevent a Salmonella Infection,” from about-salmonella.com. And if you’re worried about your own water sources (either at home or on the trail), read through our article, “Making Water Drinkable: Ways to Filter and Purify Water You Have on Hand.”

     

    Be prepared to stay healthy, and jump into the discussion here to share your best prevention tips!

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: health, health and wellness, Current Events, First Aid

  1. 1-3 of 36 items