The Importance of Swim Safety

Posted by & filed under Advice, Kids Health.

Swimming is not just a recreational activity for the summer or an exercise that gets you into great shape—it’s also a valuable life skill that can potentially save your life. With National Learn to Swim Day just around the corner (May 18th), experts say that more than half of the U.S. population cannot swim.

Alison Osinski, a water safety expert and the current president at Aquatic Consulting Services, reports that only 35% of Americans know how to swim—and about two to seven percent are actually proficient swimmers.

Unintentional drowning is still a major concern for young children who lack swimming skills. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

“Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.”

In light of this growing concern for improved swim safety, let’s dive into some ways you can protect your child against unintentional drowning.

Water Safety for Toddlers

Mother and Son at Swimming PoolDrowning is a silent killer in young children and it can happen in places where parents least expect it—a sink, a paint bucket, an outdoor fountain, or other small bodies of water in and around your home. Because toddlers have an increased risk of drowning, the CDC urges parents to actively supervise their children anytime a body of water is present—even if the water is only a couple of inches deep.

If you have a swimming pool or hot tub at home, there are several safety products you can purchase to safeguard your pool and protect against accidental drowning. Pool alarms, for instance, can be installed to alert someone in the house when a person or object falls into the water—and some can be paired with a child wristband that will sound an alarm when submerged in water. Other safety products for the pool include removable fences, safety nets, video cameras, and floatable buoy alarms.

Pool safety products work well to avert situations where a child may accidentally fall into the water, but swim lessons teach children how to survive in the water alone.

Survival Swimming

While the typical age for a child to start swim lessons is four years old, Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) offers a unique swim technique for children as young as six months old. Referred to as “survival swimming,” this unique technique teaches children to safely roll onto their backs, float at the surface, and remain above water until a person can help. Older children (1-6 years old) are taught to float as well as swim to safety.

Survival swimming by ISR has successfully administered more than 7,750,000 ISR Self-Rescue™ lessons and saved more than 800 lives from accidental drowning. Here is a short video to see how survival swimming works:

Water Safety Tips

For adults and children alike, the CDC recommends the following safety tips to stay safe in the water:

  • Take swim lessons
  • Wear a lifejacket when riding in a boat
  • Never swim alone (use the “Buddy System”)
  • Only swim in places where a lifeguard is on-duty
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while swimming or supervising children in the water

Allergy Shots vs. Medications: What’s the best option?

Posted by & filed under Advice, Treatment.

Springtime is a beautiful season marked by warmer weather and blooming flowers, but if you’re susceptible to allergies this time of year can seem dreadful—and doctors are calling for yet another intense allergy season.

“Not only has there been an increase in the release of pollen, but the pollen itself is more allergenic, more potent,” says Dr. Ravi Gutta, an allergy specialist at UC Irvine Health.

While there are several ways that you can prepare for the allergy season, there are even more treatment options for allergy symptoms. Let’s take a look at a few of these methods.

Allergy Shots

Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, are typically administered to people who suffer from severe allergies and they are used to prevent symptoms. Most doctors agree that allergy vaccinations are the most effective way to build your immune system against common allergens. There is no cure for allergies, but regular vaccinations (every 2-4 weeks) can limit symptoms and reduce the severity of an allergic attack. Over time, allergy symptoms may subside entirely after receiving vaccinations (sometimes our bodies even outgrow allergies), but this may vary for each person. 

Allergy Medications

allergy suffering

Allergy medications offer a range of benefits and may be used to alleviate symptoms or even as a way to prevent them altogether. Here are a few common medications that are used to treat seasonal allergies:

  1. Antihistamines—These liquid or tablet medications will help your body fight off the histamine (the chemical released during an allergic reaction that causes irritation). Antihistamines will help prevent common symptoms such as itchiness or congestion, but they will not alleviate your existing symptoms.
  2. Decongestants—A decongestant comes in a tablet or liquid form and it’s designed to reduce allergy symptoms, not prevent them.
  3. Nasal Sprays—Nasal spray is a liquid treatment that is applied to the nasal cavity to alleviate congestion or stuffiness from allergies. Like decongestants, nasal spray will not prevent your allergy symptoms.
  4. Steroids—Steroids are similar to antihistamines except they are slightly more potent. Known medically as corticosteroids, steroids can be taken in pill or liquid form to prevent serious allergic reactions or asthma.

 

Bottom Line: Get Tested!

While most allergies are nothing more than a harmless annoyance, some allergens can cause a potentially life threatening reaction, especially food allergies. If you’re planning to be outside for any length of time and you haven’t been tested for allergies, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor before the sneezing, itchy eyes, and sore throats get you down for the count.

testing for allergies

An Apple a Day…

Posted by & filed under Advice, Kids Health.

The phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” originates from 1866 edition of  Notes and Queries magazine, at least that’s the earliest known printed example. The phrase was actually printed as “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from making his bread.”

How much truth is behind this well-known quote?

Well, turns out—quite a bit!

According to research published by the British Medical Journal, eating just one apple a day could prevent deaths from heart attacks and strokes in people over 50. The study also showed that those who ate an apple gain the same benefits as those opting to take the drug, statin, which was developed to reduce cholesterol levels.  While researchers are certainly not saying that apples can replace prescribed medication—they’re simply trying to prove that a slight change in lifestyle and adding more fruits and vegetables in your diet is beneficial in many ways, and should be used alongside traditional medications.

The Upside of Apples

  • Contain zero cholesterol, fat or sodium
  • Only 80-100 calories per apple—the perfect sweet alternative to an unhealthy snack
  • 22 grams of carbohydrates—provides an energy boost from complex carbs
  • Chalked full of vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants
  • The juice from fresh apples prevents tooth decay
  • Contain phenols which reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol
  • Extremely low on the glycemic index (GI)
  • Very filling
  • Contains pectin which is a soluble fiber that works to maintain healthy digestive system

Picking Apples: How well are you able to identify different types of apples?

How well are you able to identify different types of apples?

Understanding the Measles Outbreak

Posted by & filed under Advice, Kids Health.

Measles was virtually eradicated from the United States in 2000, but last year the number of reported cases tripled—the highest number in nearly two decades.

This leaves many puzzled and asking the question: why the sudden change?

Jason McDonald, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the main reason stems from the alarming number of parents in the U.S. not vaccinating their children.
“If you are unvaccinated and you come in contact with measles, there’s a 90% chance you will get it,” according to McDonald.
This is a concern since vaccinated people can carry the disease and when they come into contact with unvaccinated people these people contract the illness. “Ninety percent of the time unvaccinated people get the illness” said Dr. Greg Wallace, Head of the CDC Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio team.

While measles was all but eliminated in the US for the last decade, throughout the world the disease is still very common.  Those not protected against the disease are at risk of getting infected when traveling abroad and then transporting measles back to the US to infect others. The unvaccinated put themselves, and others, at risk for measles and its serious complications.

The last four years, outbreaks are popping up throughout the country—this map shows outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases since 2008 (click through the ‘filters’ in the upper right-hand corner to cycle through diseases and locations).

What is Measles?

Measles, or rubeola, is an extremely contagious infection of the respiratory system, immune system, and skin. The following symptoms usually develop within a week or two after exposure to an infected person.

Symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Blotchy rash
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Feeling run down, achy
  • Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth

Complications

Measles is certainly unpleasant, but it can also be quite dangerous, especially for young children. As many as one in three people with measles develop complications that can include: pneumonia, miscarriage, brain inflammation, hospitalization and even death.  Infants under one year of age and people who have a weakened immune system are at highest risk of severe complications.

Depositphotos_10296393_s

The Vaccine

Measles is the most contagious of the vaccinated diseases. Live attenuated measles virus vaccine is incorporated into combination measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccines. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are required—the first is administered between 12-15 months and the second when the child is between 4 and 6 years old.

Why People Don’t Vaccinate

You may be asking yourself, “why would someone be against vaccinating their child against infectious diseases?”

Well, some of the reasons include religious beliefs, fears that vaccines contain chemicals or other poisons, a lack of trust of the government and large pharmaceutical companies, and a fear that vaccinations are connected to autism diagnoses.

An article from U.S. News and World Report laid it out clearly:

“At the end of the day, it is the parents’ choice. But folks do need to understand that it’s a choice that not only impacts that individual child. It has implications for others who are around that child,” says Dr. Kristine Sheedy, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. ‘We are a victim of our own success. We’ve made these diseases disappear for the average person so the outcome of that is that parents don’t necessarily feel threatened, they don’t feel that urgency to get vaccinated.’”

What About the Rest of the World?

If you looked closely at the map from earlier you’ll notice that measles is far from elimination on a global scale, but it’s getting there. Global vaccination coverage has grown from 72% in 2001 to just over 84% in 2013 and nearly every country in the world has committed to completely eradicate the disease by 2020.  Learn more and contribute to the global vaccination cause, here.

Spring Break Buzzkill

Posted by & filed under Advice.

A few years back a study was conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) examining the relationship between spring break vacation and changes in alcohol consumption. Okay, I’m going to stop right there—first of all, why are experts in biotechnology concerned with how much Amber had to drink at Lake Havasu last year—and also, how are the finding going to reveal anything but “college students drink more when they’re with friends in destinations known for excessive partying.”
So, it comes as no surprise that the NCBI found:

“Students who vacationed with friends during spring break dramatically increased their alcohol use. In contrast, students who stayed home or vacationed with parents during spring break were at low risk for excessive alcohol use.”

Shocker, right?

All joking aside, the lighthearted introduction was meant to serve a purpose—underage and binge drinking are viewed as rights of passage in society, somewhat of a joke we’re all in on, rather than posing any serious threats to our children’s health. But that’s just not the case. Don’t bury your head in the sand and learn some of the real dangers of binge drinking and how to talk to your kids about forming healthy habits surrounding alcohol consumption.

I know—what a buzzkill, right?

Well, let’s jump into it.

Binge Drinking Explained

According to a recent study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly half of all college students routinely binge drink—and during spring break it seems to be pushed to the limit. Males reportedly averaged 18 drinks a day while females put back 10 drinks during a typical day at Daytona Beach. The NIAA defines binge drinking for men as more than four drinks, three for women, within just under two hours. The discrepancy between sexes is because alcohol doesn’t break down as quickly in women as it does men and women are generally smaller than men, so it takes less alcohol to produce an elevated blood alcohol level.

FYI— One drink is considered:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
  • 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
  • 5 ounces of wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)

It’s also important to note that mixed drinks may contain more than one serving of alcohol and take even longer to metabolize.

drinking at the bar

Alcohol Poisoning

Nearly 2,000 US college students die each year from alcohol-related, unintentional injuries. A large portion of those deaths are attributed to alcohol poisoning—but what is it exactly?

Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions in your body, such as your gag reflex, breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. Drink too much too quickly and these vital functions fail and can potentially lead to coma and death. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, drinking in excess can cause vomiting and poses a threat of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a binge drinker who has passed out.

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning seek immediate medical care. Not all symptoms need to be present before you seek help.

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Slow/irregular breathing (less than eight breaths a minute or a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Unconsciousness and cannot be awakened

If you suspect alcohol poisoning…

  • Call 911
  • Be prepared to provide medical information and details concerning the quantities of alcohol consumed
  • Never leave the unconscious person alone
  • Don’t try and make the person vomit
  • Help a person who is vomiting by sitting him or her up. If the person must lie down ensure their head is turned to the side to prevent choking.

A few tips to staying safe on spring break

  • Stay hydrated—and don’t be cute and tell me there’s water in beer and ice in your gin and tonic
  • Know your limits and don’t test yourself
  • Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you suspect alcohol poisoning
  • Never leave your drink unattended and don’t accept drinks from strangers
  • The obvious ones: never drink before 21 and don’t drink and drive

What do you know about: Asthma

Posted by & filed under Advice, Treatment.

asthma

First, a little history

Asthma has been recognized throughout history as far back as Ancient Egypt. Around 450 BC, the respiratory problem was coined from the Greek word: ἅσθμα or asthma, meaning, “panting.” While epinephrine is commonly referred to the first asthma treatment in 1905, ancient societies have been treating asthma for centuries with a variety of substances, such as kyphi (an Egyptian incense), chloroform liniment, and pilocarpin.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames sufferer’s lungs and narrows the airways. Asthma causes periodic bouts of wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. Coughing often occurs late at night or early in the morning.

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during adolescence. In the US, more than 25 million people are known to have asthma—and about 7 million of afflicted are children.

Symptoms

People who have asthma have inflamed airways—the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs. Their airways are swollen and very sensitive and tend to react strongly to certain inhaled substances. The reaction causes muscles around the airways to tighten and narrow—leaving less air to flow into the lungs. In people  who have sensitive airways, asthma symptoms can be triggered by breathing in  substances called allergens or triggers (pollen, cat hair, dust, mold, tobacco smoke, etc.) Many with asthma have a family history of allergies, and/or eczema.

Treatment

The primary goals of treatment are:man coughing from asthma

  • Control airway swelling
  • Stay away from substances that trigger your symptoms
  • Help sufferers be able to take part in normal activities without asthma symptoms

While asthma has no cure, with today’s knowledge and treatments most asthma sufferers are easily able to manage the disease and have few, if any, symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

Could I have Asthma?

Below are a couple of questions that may help you and your healthcare provider discuss whether or not you have asthma.

Please remember, only your healthcare provider can truly determine if you have asthma. Upon completion of the quiz, print the page or record your answers for reference when talking to your doctor.

Kids Health: Preventing Sports Injuries

Posted by & filed under Kids Health, Treatment.

kids soccer

Although the value of sports is to teach children the importance of teamwork and discipline, there is one concern that has some parents quite nervous: sports injuries.

Sprainsbroken bones, and concussions are some of the most common sports injuries that young athletes face and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most sports-related injuries are preventable.

Here are a few tips to keep your all-star athlete injury-free this season.

Schedule a Sports Physical

If your child has a history of injury, then it’s a good idea to schedule a sports exam before sign-ups. Without proper treatment, many athletes are more prone to re-aggravate a previous injury, which may lead to more serious damage or chronic problems in the future.

A sports physical will not only determine if your child is at an increased risk for sports injury, but a doctor will also be able to recommend preventative strategies that can rehabilitate old injuries so they don’t become problematic.

Encourage a Warm-Up and Stretching

Many sports injuries occur from not properly stretching before and after play. Because a child’s body is still growing, adequate stretching is imperative to reducing the risk of injury. You can encourage a pre-game warm-up by simply explaining to your child how stretching provides a greater range of motion and, therefore, enhanced performance.

A warm-up run and a stretch routine that includes going through the same motions made in the game will lower your child’s risk for injury.

Importance of Adequate Rest

Active children who play sports every day need plenty of rest to allow time for their muscles and connective tissues to repair themselves. Pushing children to play sports when they feel intense fatigue or pain is especially dangerous, and may increase their chances of injury.

Encourage your child to take frequent breaks and to drink plenty of fluids when playing sports.

Proper Safety Equipment

Purchasing proper safety gear and or repairing old equipment will greatly reduce your child’s risk for sports related injuries. According to Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, roughly 3.5 million children are injured from sports each year, and half of those injuries can be prevented by using proper safety equipment.

To ensure your child’s safety when playing sports, a parent or coach should inspect all equipment for proper fitting or possible damage before use.

The Health Benefits of Being in Love

Posted by & filed under Advice.

C

Being in love can effect more than just your heart fluttering and your knees weakening—it may actually provide some benefits to your health and well-being.

Research has shown that in terms of health and life-expectancy, married men are much better off than their bachelor buddies—while married women are less likely to suffer from depression than their unmarried girlfriends, and that’s only the beginning. Studies are beginning to be published that determine exactly how sex, kinship, and caring all seem to make us healthier, stronger, and live longer.
So, let’s jump in!

Helps Beat Cancer

Starting out with a bang here!
Researchers at the University of Iowa found that ovarian cancer patients with a strong sense of connection to others and/or were involved in satisfying relationships had more white blood cell activity, the body’s natural cancer killer, at the site of the tumor than those without strong social ties.

Defuses Stress

As we all know, stress is a catalyst for an immense amount of issues that plague us everyday—from headaches to back pain and everything in-between. Well, it turns out that some studies have found that happy couples produce less of the hormone cortisol when they’re stressed. This is positive since too much cortisol suppresses the immune system leaving us in harms way to colds, muscle aches, flu, and worse.

Mild Pain Control

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study of more than 127,000 adult—married people were less likely to complain of headaches and back pain.

Strong Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, weak pelvic muscles can cause incontinence later in life. Routine intercourse strengthens these muscles and actually improves sexual performance in the future.

Improved Self Esteem

Researchers from the University of Texas reported that people in committed relationships have much higher self-esteem and self worth than their single friends.

Live Longer

Since 1979, the National Longitudinal Mortality Study has been examining more than a million subjects and has concluded that married people generally outlive single people.

Stronger Heart

Intimacy, and even a simple hug, releases high levels of oxytocin, a hormone occasionally referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” The University of North Carolina reports that oxytocin plays a role in social bonding and has an extremely powerful effect on our cardiovascular systems.

Elite Care Coppell Participates in Market Street Health and Wellness Fair

Posted by & filed under Elite Care News.

Elite Care Coppell Was Invited to Participate in the Market Street Health and Wellness Fair and “Build a Better Basket” Expo Weekend

On Saturday and Sunday January 11-12, 2014 Our Elite Care location in Coppell, TX participated in the Market Street Health and Wellness Fair.

This health fair was put on as a part of Market Street’s “Build a Better Basket Expo” that took place at all Market Street locations from 11 AM-5 PM on Saturday, Jan 11 and Sunday, Jan 12. The “Build a Better Expo” featured dietician-recommended products as well as complimentary blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol screenings. Additionally, expo attendees were able to sample healthy foods and drinks offered at Market Street supermarkets.

Robin Hawkins, MS, RD, LD, director of health and wellness for United Supermarkets LLC, parent company to Market Street said, “Our goal with this expo, and with many of our special events in 2014, is to help our guests make small changes to their food purchases which will allow them to build a better basket.”

We were able to contribute goodie bags and offer blood pressure checks to the attendees. We enjoyed interfacing directly with the community and being asked to participate in this fantastic Market Street event.

Market Street Health Fair Coppell

Digital Detox: Don’t text and…walk?

Posted by & filed under Digital Detox.

Seriously, it's dangerous

In a continued effort to combat our own digital addiction we present another article in Elite Care’s digital detox series.

The past several years, the “Don’t text and drive” slogan has been engrained into our heads—and probably for good measure. Back in 2009, 18% of traffic fatalities involved distracted drivers (not just phone-use but also applying makeup, eating, talking to passengers, adjusting the radio, etc). But wait, the plot thickens.

In 2013, the National Safety Council (NSC) released findings from a study analyzing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (or FARS for short, since that’s a mouthful). The NSC scrutinized over data dating back for over two years, breaking down statistics involving fatal motor vehicle crashes and their causes to determine how the government had classified the accidents. The findings revealed a considerable discrepancy in how states coded cellphone-related crashes, and ultimately uncovered considerable underreporting of cellphone-related accidents.

The NSC estimates that 1 in 4 motor vehicle crashes involve cellphone use—a considerable jump from the 5% reported by the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Whatever the numbers are, it’s clear that distracted drivers cause accidents. In fact, on December 30, 2009 a Presidential Executive Order was released that restricted more than 4 million federal employees from texting and driving. From there, the states followed suit and began to enact their own laws.

Here in Texas, we are one of 32 states that prohibit novice drivers from cell phone use—but before we all start patting each other on the back, we’re actually one of the most lenient states. Louisiana, and 38 other states prohibit all drivers from texting, while 10 states throughout the country don’t allow any driver to put the phone to his/her ear while driving.

Okay. Get to it already—Accidents while texting and walking…really?

Now that we’re all well aware that distracted drivers cause accidents—what about distracted pedestrians?

In the past decade, emergency room visits due to pedestrians sustaining injuries while walking with cell phones have soared (nearly tripled in three years). According to a study published by Ohio State University, more than 1,500 pedestrians nationwide were treated in the emergency room from injuries sustained while using a cell phone while walking in 2010—with the number increasing dramatically each year. Ok, that was anticlimactic. But just think of the number of unreported incidences, similar to the auto accidents, in which cases go unreported—most likely due to embarrassment since they, quite literally, “walked into it.”

Jack Nasar, co-author of the study and professor at Ohio State, believes the trend will continue, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015.”

Some of the injuries in the report lists injuries such as:

“One 14-year-old boy walking down a road while talking on a cell phone fell 6 to 8 feet off a bridge into a rock-strewn ditch, suffering chest and shoulder injuries.  A 23-year-old man was struck by a car while walking on the middle line of a road and talking on a cell phone, injuring his hip.”

As anyone old enough to remember the Carter administration may expect, those “young people” are the most likely to be injured by distracted walking:

“The 21- to 25-year-old age group led the way, with 1,003 total injuries during the seven years covered by this study. The 16- to 20-year-olds were not far behind, with 985 total injuries.”

The answer? For starters, don’t play Candy Crush™ on the freeway

What’s the solution to curb this dangerous, slightly ridiculous trend?

“We need to start changing norms for cell phone use in our society, Nasar says, “and it all starts with the parents.”
Set a good example for your kids and others by waiting to answer that email or pick up that call until you’re in a place where your attention can afford to be diverted. Easier said than done, we know. As we recommended in our smartphone addiction post, try a “phone basket”—not only in the car to keep temptation out of reach, but also in certain rooms of the house, thus eliminating the craving to check or respond in scenarios that require your full attention. Making a habit of ditching the device in particular situations is a great way to get unglued from your smartphone. In the long run, it’s simple stuff—just watch where you’re going and remember that no matter what it is, it can wait!