Poison Centers are your lifeline in an emergency
Millions of people use the services of a poison center when faced with a poisoning emergency.
Set up to provide expert advice and information to healthcare professionals and the public, the 55 poison centers around the country, are available 24 hours a day, all-year-round. Specially trained nurses, pharmacists, and doctors offer a free and confidential service that includes interpretation services in 161 languages, emergency advice, as well as, the provision of educational materials on poison prevention and treatment.
According to data collected between 1980 and 2008, poisoning is the leading cause of injury-related death in the US. Coming into contact with a dangerous or potentially dangerous substance is called an ‘exposure’ and in 2014, there were about 2.2 million exposures and a call to a poison center every 11 seconds, Almost half of these exposures involved children under the age of 6, though the more serious cases occurred among adolescents and adults.
More than 75 percent of recorded exposures are unintentional and according to the 2015 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). The top 5 substances that affected adults were analgesics, household cleaning substances, cosmetics/personal care products, sedatives/antipsychotics, and antidepressants. Cosmetics, household cleaners, analgesics and foreign bodies/ toys were among the substances that affected children. Most exposures involve ingesting something harmful but also include inhalation and contact with the skin and eyes. People also call the poison center in the event of insect bites and carbon monoxide poisoning.
One of the roles of poison centers, which are partly financed by congressionally mandated federal funds, is to collect real-time data to help detect possible public health emergencies.
Recent studies have seen a rise in the annual rate of calls to poison centers related to cannabis exposure and an increased risk of unintentional cannabis ingestion and overdose by children. Data collected between 2000 and 2013, show that rates of cannabis exposures in children under the age of 6 in states where medical cannabis was legalized before the year 2000 were more than 2.82 times higher than in those where the drug remained illegal in 2013.
With Americans living longer than in the past, planning for long-term care has become a priority.
In March, the results of a Nationwide Retirement Insurance survey revealed that many women over the age of 50 are hiding a big retirement worry from those they love: the fear of burdening family if long-term care is needed. But, it doesn’t have to be such a worry, or such a secret. With planning ahead of time, people can feel secure in their futures.
Some of the issues families must consider:
1. Housing: Will Dad sell the house and move to a long-term care facility if he can no longer live alone? Does he agree? Has he chosen some places he likes? If he does not agree, what are the options for the family?
2. Health care: If mom stays healthy and active, she may avoid the move to long-term care. It could be helpful now, while she is strong, healthy and of sound mind, to create a living will or health care directive that lays out exactly what they want to happen if they get sick and need long-term care. Getting that information on paper and signed can help to protect her and ensure that wishes will be followed if they cannot make those decisions on their own.
3. Legal decisions and planning: There are several documents that are helpful and important in situations where long-term care is a possibility. The first of these is a living will or health care directive, as outlined above. The second is a health care power of attorney. This designates a specific person to make medical decisions if a person cannot make them.
4. Financial planning: Long-term care can get expensive. To reduce this expense and stress, it is important to consider purchasing a long-term care policy that will pay for costs when that help is needed. Having long-term care insurance can lessen the financial impact.
Flu season is upon us and one shot could save you two weeks of suffering, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
This is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, except for those who may be adversely affected because of a weakened immune system.
There are a variety of vaccine options available to help individuals avoid the virus, or to lessen its impact, and they come in multiple forms – typically a shot, or a nasal spray.
This year, the CDC says that the nasal spray vaccine should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season.
The CDC recommends the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). There are vaccines with three components (a trivalent shot) or four components (a quadrivalent shot). No matter which you choose, it usually takes about two weeks for the vaccination to fully take effect.
If you’re interested in getting a flu shot, there are a variety of places where you can go to get that vaccination, including your doctor’s office. A local health clinic, a pharmacy or even a drive-through flu shot clinic, if you can find one, are all places where you can get a flu shot.
If you’re going to get a flu shot, now is the time to do it – too early and you may suffer later on, from waning immunity around the time that flu peaks next January or February.
Forget those scary needles; an anesthetic nasal spray is on its way to the dentist’s office.
Kovanaz is a pain-killing nasal spray which has now received FDA approval for use in dentistry. Patients must weigh at least 88 pounds to use the spray, according to the FDA. More tests might expand use to smaller children.
According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, Kovanaz is a combination of the anesthetic Tetracaine and the nasal decongestant Oxymetazoline. In its Phase 3 trial, the spray was demonstrated to be as effective at preventing pain as a shot for 88 percent of patients during a simple filling operation. This is comparable to the success of numbing injections. Side effects were minimal.
The product was developed by medical research company St. Renatus, named after the 5th-century patron saint of anesthesia.
It was discovered after a serendipitous accident. Co-founder Mark Kollar took a basketball to the chin and required 21 stitches. The doctor who stitched him up also diagnosed him with a deviated nasal septum. On Kollar’s follow-up visit, the doctor gave him a nasal spray containing Tetracaine to remove a nasal stent.
But Kollar noticed that his teeth were numb. And, it so happened that other patients had reported this.
A practicing dentist, Kollar tested his teeth with a pulp stimulator and found that his teeth were, in fact, numb.
The company hopes the new anesthetic will make trips to the dentist much less stressful.
A new gyroscopic glove that reduces tremors from Parkinson’s Disease by 80 percent is currently in the prototype stage.
GyroGear will begin shipping the first gloves in 2017 for use by patients with a wide range of conditions that cause hand tremors.
The device works with an electric gyroscope mounted on the back of a fingerless glove. The gyroscope spins and the wearer’s hand is held level, resisting tremors, but allowing for voluntary hand movement.
See gyrogear.co (not .com) for more information.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have found that fitness counts when surgery is scheduled. Increasing evidence shows that being fit before surgery may reduce the length of your hospital stay, as well as your risk of post-operative complications.
People who can walk a few blocks or climb several flights of stairs with no problem have fewer complications after surgery than those who aren’t able to do these things.
Recommended exercises are: regular walking or cycling and strength training with resistance bands or free weights. One study found that several weeks of walking and performing breathing exercises improved fitness in a group of volunteers awaiting colorectal surgery.
Other pre-habilitation steps include:
* Stop smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for surgical complications, cardiovascular problems and pneumonia.
* Control blood sugar. If you have diabetes, getting blood sugar under control can reduce the risk of complications.
* Get enough sleep. Sleep apnea increases the risk of post-surgery breathing and blood oxygen problems.
* Improve your diet. Being underweight, especially if you have had rapid weight loss, is a risk factor, as is being significantly overweight.
* Manage stress. Stress management skills can help you cope with anxiety about your surgery and recovery. Pacing your activities and accepting help from family and friends can have a positive impact on your recovery time.
Because many retirees are healthier and wealthier than those of previous generations, their bucket lists sometimes look like travel logs.
Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist in Miami, asks “What’s not to love about a life of dream vacations?”
His answer: “After talking with patients and colleagues, rather than feeling exhilarated by a life of adventures, they often end up feeling depressed and disconnected.” Dr. Agronin is the author of How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Heart of Growing Old.
As we travel and soak up new experiences, we may lose track of what really matters: connections with family, friends and community. The high from an adventure doesn’t last. We may see our time between trips as boring interludes, and our trips as escapes from fears or failures.
Most of us finally give up the bucket list and spend time with family and friends. According to Dr. Agronin, this tends to be more satisfying.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Agronin says chasing bucket-list thrills ignores a deep psychological truth: You don’t need to make yourself happier in old age. We get happier naturally as we grow older.
Hypertension is thought to be responsible for 50 million deaths per year nationwide. It’s a major risk factor for stroke, heart attacks, heart failure and peripheral vascular disease.
Many studies have shown that patients with systolic blood pressures (the top number) below 140 have a lower risk of heart disease and death than those above 140.
The cardiac game changer
Results of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) represent a game-changer in the field of hypertension. The study, presented to the American Heart Association, shows that patients who maintained a blood pressure of 120 or less had a 25 percent lower risk of heart failure, heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death than those whose blood pressure was maintained at 140.
They had a 43 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death and 27 percent lower risk of death from any cause than those whose target systolic blood pressure was 140.
It can be difficult to achieve
Lowering blood pressure can be difficult. In order to reach the 120 systolic level, some patients could need more than one medication.
In the SPRINT trial some patients who were able to reach 120 suffered adverse effects, such as fainting and kidney problems. But the trial has been called “one of the most important achievements of 2015.”
It’s not the whole answer.
Researchers at Duke Medicine say the 120 number is no magic bullet. It was chosen because it was significantly lower than 140.
What the trial did show was that bringing systolic blood pressure levels down below 140 can be beneficial in many ways as long as it’s done safely.
Note that no diabetic patients were included in the trial.