Avoid Winter Health Hazards

Children and adults play in it while they snowboard, ski, build make-shift igloos and lie on the ground and create angels. Yet, being outdoors in snow, particularly when removing the cold, white stuff from around vehicles, driveways and sidewalks, can pose health risks if people do not use snow removal equipment properly.

Safe Removal Health Hazards

Medical News Today reports in their January 23, 2009 “Smart and Safe Snow Shoveling” article that annually over 100,000 people in North America alone are injured removing snow using a shovel or snow blower. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that following a December 1982 blizzard in Denver, Colorado where 24-36 inches of heavy snow covered the area, 26 people visited hospitals due to injuries related to using a snow blower. Fourteen of these 26 injured persons had a limb amputated while using a snow blower.

Shoveling snow can also present its own set of health hazards. Each year people run the risk of over exerting their heart while they perform what might be considered a simple act – shoveling snow. In their “Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Safety and Health” brochure, the CDC states that, “cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart.” Even more, specialists at Spine Universe are far too familiar with back injuries related to shoveling snow.

Snow Removal Safety Tips

An important first step to take before removing snow with a shovel or snow blower is to consult a physician. People with high blood pressure or a history of heart disease are encouraged to check in with their physician throughout the wintry season as removing snow during the first snow fall of the season might not be as stressful on the heart or spine as the fifth or tenth removal. Other tips that people can take to be safe while removing snow include:
  • Avoid cigarettes, caffeine and heavy meals prior to removing snow. These events, particularly consuming caffeine, can cause the heart rate to increase. Cigarettes and caffeine can also cause blood vessels to constrict.
  • Wear a good hat and pair of gloves. New York City’s Office of Emergency Management and Spine Universe report that most body heat is lost through the head. If hats and gloves become overly wet or cold while outdoors, remove and replace them with a dry, warm hat and glove pair.
  • Take breaks. When people feel out of breath or icy cold, they are encouraged to go indoors. People who are outdoors might find it easier to warm their car, turn on their favorite radio station, and relax for five to 10 minutes before they resume removing snow.
  • People who live alone are encouraged to let a neighbor, friend or relative know when and where they are going outdoors to remove snow. That way, if the person is not back home after a certain amount of time, their friend, relative or neighbor will know where to go to check on them and insure that they are okay.

Stay Connected and Safe When Using Shovels and Snow Blowers

In this age of cell phones and Blackberries, people can benefit from taking an electronic communication device outdoors with them so that they can easily contact someone if they needed assistance. Additional steps people can take to be safe when removing snow with shovels and blowers are:
  • Lift the snow with one’s legs and not with the back. Bend one’s knees and turn in the same direction that one is placing the snow.
  • Because the average shovel holds approximately 15 pounds of snow, people are advised to pace themselves when removing snow.
  • Follow instructions and guidelines that accompany snow blowers. At the start of winter check the equipment to insure that the motor and hand controls are functioning properly. Throughout winter check that the blower is not clogged with snow.
  • Do not stick one’s hands in snow blower chutes to unclog the blower. The blades might still be spinning even though it might sound like they are stilled.
  • Stay hydrated by taking breaks to drink water.
Adults and children can have lots of safe fun in the snow. However, when removing snow, people are advised to take a few simple precautions. Consult a physician, dress warmly and dryly, protect one’s back, avoid sticking hands in snow blower chutes, avoid caffeine and cigarettes and drink plenty of water before and while removing snow.

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Swine Flu Vaccine

swine flu
The swine flu vaccine is being ushered out five months after H1N1 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Health care workers and emergency responders will be among the first to receive the vaccine. The government is expected to give out 25 million doses by the end of 2009.

Swine Flu Vaccine Safety

Since the swine flu vaccine was rushed out in record time, people have concerns over the safety of the product. Health officials have stated, though, that testing was thorough and corners were not cut to get the vaccine out in time.

Concerns over rare side effects, such as Guillian-Barre syndrome, that occurred from the 1976 swine flu vaccine, are legitimate because it is impossible to know in advance what rare side effects may occur from a vaccine. However, officials have stressed that the 1976 vaccine was a less purified version and Guillian-Barre paralysis affected 2 out of every 100,000 people.

The swine flu vaccine will be monitored closely for side effects. The military, who are required to take the vaccine, will be closely watched for any side effects. In addition, electronic medical records of hospitals and health insurance companies are being monitored in “real time” for any evidence of side effects.

Swine Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy

Government health officials are strongly advising all pregnant women to get the swine flu vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 pregnant women have been hospitalized and 28 have died from the end of April to the end of August. The rate of hospitalization and death for pregnant women is six times that of the general population.

A pregnant woman’s immune system undergoes changes when she is pregnant causing her to be more susceptible to viruses. Health officials have seen no indication of side effects from the H1N1 vaccine in pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Swine Flu Vaccine and Children

Health officials are recommending that children and young adults up to 24 years old be among the first to get vaccinated, especially if they have underlying health problems such as asthma. Several states, including Arkansas and Pennsylvania, have ear-marked their first shipment of swine flu vaccines for in-school vaccinations.

Children under age 10 will require two doses of vaccine, three weeks apart. Swine flu has affected mostly younger children, perhaps because their immune systems have not been exposed to as many viruses as adults.

Swine Flu Vaccine and Seniors

Unlike the regular flu vaccine, seniors are not recommended to get the initial dose of swine flu vaccine. The swine flu has rarely affected those age 65 or older. The Centers for Disease Control urges seniors to get the seasonal flu vaccine first and see a health professional if they come down with flu-like symptoms.

Nasal Spray Vaccine is the First Dose of Swine Flu Vaccine

FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine, is being offered initially because it was made available sooner than shots. Because the FluMist is made of live but weakened flu virus, it should only be used for healthy people aged 2 to 40. People with egg allergies should also use the FluMist. Pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions should not use the FluMist.

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Alanine Aminotransferase Screenings

ALT is contained primarily inside the liver, but also in lesser quantities in the kidneys, muscles, and pancreas. ALT at one time was referred to as blood serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT).

alanine aspartate

ALT is valuated to check if the liver is impaired or unhealthy. Decreased amounts of ALT are generally contained in the bloodstream. However once the liver has been injured or diseased, it brings out ALT into the blood, which causes ALT amounts to rise. The majority of increases in ALT amounts are created by liver-related injury.

The ALT procedure is often completed along with other screenings that look for liver impairment, like aspartate aminotransferase (AST), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin. Both AST and ALT amounts are reliable screenings for liver injury.

Why Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) Tests are Performed

The alanine aminotransferase (ALT) procedure is completed to:
  • Discover liver illness, particularly cirrhosis of the liver and hepatitis produced by alcoholism, medications, or viruses.
  • To find out if jaundice was made by a blood disease or liver problem.
  • Keep track of the consequences of cholesterol-lowering drugs and other medications that can harm the liver.

How to Prepare for the Alanine Amino Transferase Test

Keep from any strenuous physical exertion just prior to getting an ALT screening.

Notify the doctor if you're using any drugs. A lot of drugs may interact with test results. The physician could instruct you to cease taking specific medications for a few days prior to getting an ALT test.

Certain herbs and natural items (like echinacea and valerian) also may affect ALT results. Speak with the doctor regarding any concerns you have about the need for the procedure, the risks, how it may be completed, or what the final results could imply.

As the Alanine Aminotransferase Test is Carried Out

The health care provider taking a sample of the blood for the ALT screening may:
  • Wrap a rubber band on the upper arm to block the flow of blood. This causes the veins beneath the elastic band to get larger so it is easier to put a needle in the vein.
  • Wipe the needle region with alcohol solvent.
The person will then place pressure on the region and give you a bandage.

Results of the Alanine Aminotransferase Test
Having an excessive amount of of alanine aminotransferase, meaning approximately ten times the normal amount, can indicate acute hepatitis.

In a patient suffering from acute hepatitis, the ALT levels normally stay elevated for approximately 30-60 days. However, ALT levels can take up to 90-180 to return to normal.

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Hypertrophic Pyloric Stenosis

hypertrophic pyloric stenosis
Hypertrophic stenosis is a condition in which the pyloric muscle around the lower part of the stomach leading to the intestines becomes larger than normal. This causes the outlet of the stomach to become narrow, making it difficult for the stomach to empty its contents into the intestines.

Hypertrophic pyloric stenosis is a pediatric disorder that occurs between the ages of two weeks and five months. It is more common in male children and full term infants are more likely to be affected than premature infants. The cause of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis is unknown.

 

Symptoms of Hypertrophic Stenosis

A child with this condition will show the following signs:
  • constipation or a decrease in bowel movements because food fails to reach the intestines.
  • failure to gain weight or weight loss.
  • excessive hunger.
  • dehydration as evidenced by fewer wet diapers than normal for the baby or a decrease in urinating, crying without tears and weakness or fatigue.
  • yellowing of the eyes.
The cardinal sign of hypertrophic stenosis is projectile vomiting, where the infant vomits forcefully about 30 minutes after eating. The contents of the vomit may travel up to 30 feet away from the child. It may start off as spitting up which eventually increases in frequency and intensity. Vomiting occurs after a meal and along with the initial food contents eaten, there may be blood in the vomit. Wave-like motions may be seen on the stomach after an episode of vomiting.

Hypertrophic Stenosis Treatment

Initial medical management of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis is focused rehydrating the infant. Corrective surgery then follows once the child is sufficiently hydrated. The surgical procedure for this disorder is called pyloromyotomy and is aimed at reducing the size of the pyloric muscle.

Pyloromyotomy may be done by making an open incision around the infants navel to visualize and work on the enlarged pyloric muscle or by inserting a laparoscope (a viewing instrument which has small surgical instruments and a laser attached to it) into a little incision made near the infant's navel. The laparoscopic procedure leaves a smaller scar and is as safe and effective as the open procedure.

What to Expect After Treatment

The pyloric muscle returns to its normal size about 12 weeks after surgery. Some vomiting will occur postoperatively but should stop after about 48 hours. Symptoms of hypertrophic pyloric stenosis are usually absent 24 hours after surgery and postoperative complications that may occur include a leak in the intestines or stomach due to perforation, infection of the incisions and persistent vomiting.
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Anemia: Serious or Minor Illness?


Anemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells in the body, or there is not enough protein (hemoglobin) in the red blood cells. There are many different types of anemia ranging from mild to moderate, moderate to severe. According to Women's Health.gov, over three million people in the United States have anemia. Women and people with chronic health conditions are at greater risk than others (1).

anemia

Is anemia really a serious condition? The answer is yes. Not having enough healthy red blood cells in the body, the cells that carry oxygen to vital organs, means the body is not getting the supply of oxygen it needs. Vital organs are effected and can be damaged, and eventually could lead to death. Anemia can be temporary or long term, diet induced or hereditary, and also could be an indicator of other medical conditions.

What are the Types of Anemia and the Symptoms?

Some types of anemia include:
  • iron deficiency anemia (IDA)
  • sickle cell anemia
  • aplastic anemia
  • vitamin deficiency anemia
  • thalasemia
Symptoms vary, but some types of anemia share common symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic vitamin deficiency anemia symptoms can include: fatigue, pale or yellowish skin, diarrhea, muscle weakness, mental confusion or forgetfulness, irritability, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, weight loss and other symptoms (2). Aplastic anemia carries some of the same symptoms, but also include unexplained or easy bruising, skin rash, dizziness, rapid or irregular heart rate and prolonged or frequent infections (3).

Depending on the type and intensity of the anemia, some patients may experience all, some or none of the symptoms. These symptoms can also be a sign of other illnesses so it is important for patients to discuss any symptoms with a medical professional, undergo testing and discuss treatment options with a doctor.

How is Anemia Treated?

Treatments for anemia vary based on type and severity. Self diagnosing anemia and self medicating could cause other problems, such as hemocrhomatosis, a condition caused by too much iron build up in the blood (1). Too much iron can damage organs, including the liver. Iron overload can also cause heart problems, early menopause, arthritis and even a loss of sex drive (1). While iron supplements may be prescribed for treatment of IDA, one should be sure to follow the physician prescribed dosage, and to go back for any follow up doctor's visits in order to monitor iron levels.

Medical professionals run blood test to determine the type of anemia, along with other physical exams, and evaluate patient medical history and family medical history when diagnosing. Some types of anemia require a moderate change in diet to ensure vitamin intake is sufficient, others require medication or more extreme methods of treatment including surgery.

Each type of anemia carries its own degree of risk, with varying symptoms that present. Those who have anemia, or expect they have anemia, should consult a medical professional for proper testing, and to discuss treatment options. Anemia left untreated could make the heart work faster, which can harm the heart and even lead to heart failure (1).

Since anemia can also be a symptom of other illnesses, including kidney disease, celiac disease and even ulcers and some types of cancers, it is important to seek medical attention. Primary care physicians can perform testing, but may also refer the patient to a hematologist for further assessment, and other specialists depending on the cause of anemia.

Anemia is a serious condition, no matter the type, and should not be overlooked, self diagnosed or self medicated. If one experiences any of the symptoms of anemia one should seek medical attention as anemia may be the result of an underlying illness.
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Alternative Treatments for Alopecia Sufferers

Alopecia is a term used to describe hair loss and may affect both men and women as well as young people. There are several different types of alopecia, which may cause loss of scalp hair, eyebrows and eyelashes.

alopecia

Types and Causes of Alopecia

While the most commonly recognised form of alopecia is alopecia areata, there are three other types of the inflammatory condition. In The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, Brewer (2010), highlights four types of alopecia, to include the following:
  • alopecia areata – hair lost in patches, usually on scalp
  • alopecia totalis – total loss of scalp hair
  • alopecia universalis – loss of hair over entire body
  • alopecia androgenetica – widespread hair loss, moth-eaten appearance
The exact cause of alopecia still remains unknown, although stress is believed to be a significant factor in promoting hair loss, through reducing the supply of blood to the scalp. There are also possible links between the non-scarring condition and anaemia (iron deficiency), enzyme imbalance, under-active thyroid and abnormal immune response. Clearly more research into this condition is required, to make the daily lives of alopecia sufferers less difficult.

Alternative Treatments for Alopecia Sufferers

Typical outcomes associated with alopecia, involves 50% of sufferers having their hair follicles begin to recover, within the space of a year. However, some individuals (approximately 10%) may experience a gradual worsening of alopecia over time.

Coping with alopecia may include wearing a wig, although some sufferers prefer to opt for wearing hats and scarves. Celebrity alopecia sufferer Gail Porter is helping make the condition more well-known through confidently attending functions without covering up.

Brewer (2010) identifies alternative approaches which may be helpful treating suffers affected by alopecia, as follows:
  • iron supplements
  • biotin
  • ginkgo
  • vitamin B5
  • evening primrose oil
Biotin, in particular, is part of the B vitamin group, which has been recognised to play an important role in hair growth and repair. Biotin supplements may be purchased from high street pharmacies such as Boots and most health food shops such as Holland & Barrett. Another alternative treatment which may help alleviate alopecia symptoms includes evening primrose oil. This may be due to the fact that evening primrose oil is identified to have anti-inflammatory properties and also helps promote skin repair.

As highlighted above, while the exact cause of alopecia is unknown, many factors may play a part, such as stress, anaemia and thyroid problems. Alternative treatments for helping alopecia sufferers, include iron supplements, biotin, vitamins and evening primrose oil, with the latter having anti-inflammatory properties.
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