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The dog days of summer are upon us. Heat and humidity can make it difficult to be comfortable, especially for those who don’t have air conditioning.  Extreme heat can even be deadly, causing heat exhaustion or heatstroke if not treated in time.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates approximately 600 people die from heat related complications each year.  This is more deaths than from all other natural disasters combined (flooding, tornadoes, and hurricanes). Those who are most vulnerable include infants, children, the elderly, those who work outdoors, and people with chronic medical conditions.

Heat exhaustion is when the body overheats and can lead to heatstroke if the symptoms are not treated in time. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of heat exhaustion are heavy sweating, rapid pulse, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, headache, and muscle cramps. These symptoms often occur when a person is participating in strenuous physical activity.  If a person is experiencing these symptoms, immediately have them rest, move to a cooler place and drink water or sports drinks.  Seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms don’t improve within an hour.

Heat exhaustion is preventable by taking some simple precautions. By planning ahead of time when a high heat index is predicted, you can stay as cool as a cucumber by following these simple tips:

summer heat

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stay hydrated and drink more water than you usually do. Avoid beverages with caffeine, alcohol, or high amounts of sugar. If you are physically active or sweating more than usual, try drinking a sport drink with electrolytes.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing in natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or hemp. These allow your body to breathe.
  • Cool off with water by soaking your feet in a tub of cold water. Keep a spray bottle of water in the refrigerator and mist yourself throughout the day. Take it with you when you leave the house.
  • If your house isn’t air conditioned, head to your local library, mall or community building. If your house has a basement, create a comfortable area where you can sit when it’s hot outside.
  • Create a cross breeze by positioning a fan across the room from a window. To cool the room down even more, place a pan of ice in front of the fan to generate a cool breeze.
  • Cool off your house or apartment by turning of lights and using heat-generating appliances at night, such as washers, dryers, and irons.
  • Dampen a towel or small blanket with cool water and wrap it around your body.
  • Take a cool shower.

lemons and ice

One extra note – remember your four-legged friends especially during the heat. Dogs and cats don’t have the ability to sweat like humans, so they will be affected differently by heat.  Give your pet a haircut and keep them indoors on hot days, providing them with water.  Limit outdoor activity or exercise and don’t push them too hard.  When they are outside, be sure they have a shady spot to lie in and make sure they have plenty of cool water to drink.  Avoid hot surfaces since your pet is basically barefoot.  If your dog doesn’t have much fur, you can use a special pet sunblock with zinc oxide to prevent burns. Never leave a pet in a parked car, even on cooler days.  The inside temperature heats up very quickly!  If you think your pet is overheated, get them into shade or air conditioning immediately.  Don’t submerge them in cold water; cooling down too quickly can cause problems.  Wet them under a faucet or hose with lukewarm water and let the air flow around them.  Offer small amounts of water to drink and call your veterinarian immediately.

Enjoy summer and all the fun activities it brings – picnics, swimming, gardening, and long lazy days…

References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Related Illness, https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html

WebMD, Green Tips for a Cool Summer, http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/green-tips-for-a-cool-summer.

City of Cincinnati Health Department, http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/health/news/excessive-heat-warning-issued/

Written by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D., Ohio State University Extension, SNAP-Ed.

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Have you heard the buzzing sound or felt the itchy bites? Mosquitoes armosquito-213805__180e around.  We used to think the itchy bite marks were just a pest.  Now, we hear more and more about diseases the mosquitoes are carrying.

Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases.  Some experts consider the mosquito the world’s most deadly animal.  Most mosquito-related illnesses occur in Africa.  In the United States the West Nile Virus is the most serious disease carried by the mosquitoes, but we may soon see Zika Virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya.  Thus, it’s important to take some precautions.

Most people have no symptoms with West Nile virus infections.  However, one in five people develop mild symptoms such as fever, headache, or nausea.  About one in 150 people get very ill.    Your dog also needs protection with monthly heartworm medication to prevent mosquito-borne illness.

How do you keep your family and yourself safe?  Following the three “D’s” are the best recommendation.

Drain:  With about 200 different species of mosquitoes in the U.S., the best way is to eliminate the breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  • Remove any stagnant water you have around your property such as potsbird-bath-179928_960_720, tools, trash cans, or other places where water has collected. Unclog roof gutters.
  • Empty water containers like flower pots, bird baths, wading pools or children’s toys, at least once a week.

Dress:  If you need to be outside sometime between dusk to dawn when mosquitoes may be active watch what you wear.   Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing and may bite through tight-fitting clothing.

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants in light-colors which are loose-fitting.

Defend:  Use a mosquito repellent when you feel it is needed.  Label directions should be followed on repellents containing the three active ingredients below approved by the EPA  to pose minimal risk for human safety.  These should not be used on children under two months.  Check with your health care provider before using on children.   Put sunscreen on first about 20 minutes before applying repellent.   The three approved active ingredients in repellents are:

  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-methane 3,8-diol, or PMD)

Since we do not have vaccines for most mosquito related illnesses, following the three “D’s” will help reduce your risk of getting a mosquito-borne illness.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu.

References:

American Mosquito Control Association. (2015). AMCA Tells Mosquitoes to “Buzz” Off During Mosquito Control Awareness Week, June 21-27.  Available at http://www.mosquito.org/assets/AwarenessWeek/amca%20mosquito%20control%20awareness%20week%202015_press%20release.pdf

American Mosquito Control Association. (2016). Mosquito Prevention and Protection.  Available at http://www.mosquito.org/assets/Resources/mosquito%20prevention%20fact%20sheet.pdf

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Mosquito Bites Prevention.   Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mosquito-bites/basics/prevention/con-20032350

NIH News in Health. (2016). Block the buzzing, bites, and bumps.  Available at   https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/apr2016/feature2

 

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When my daughter was a toddler, she had a talking toy Bullwinkle Moose that said “walking is good for you!”  For years it was a bit of a family joke and every time we went for a walk, someone had to quote Bullwinkle.      walking_focus_destress

Now, science is firmly behind the concept that walking really is good for you!  Among others, the American Heart Association promotes the positive benefits of walking. The simple of activity of walking can:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids profile.
  • Maintain your body weight and lower risk of obesity.
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer.
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes.

What do you need to start walking?  Basically you just need comfortable supportive shoes and a safe place to walk.

The Mayo Clinic gives some suggestions for starting and maintaining a walking habit.

  • Set yourself up for success! Have a simple, attainable goal. Maybe the first week you plan to walk 5 minutes at lunch time.  Once that becomes a habit, gradually add time to your walk.
  • Track your progress. It can be very motivating to see how many miles you have walked in a week, month or year. You can record this in a journal, a spreadsheet or an online app.
  • Make it enjoyable. Some people like to walk alone, listening to music or just enjoying some “me” time. Others prefer to walk with a friend or two. Find out what works for you.
  • Vary your routine. Plan a couple of different routes – walk outside when possible or join others walking at the gym or local mall. If you’re walking alone, let someone know where you will be walking. Keep your cell phone in your pocket for emergency calls! If you have a light or whistle, take it with you.
  • If you miss a day or two, don’t give up! Remind yourself how good you felt when you were walking regularly and ease back into it.

While walking is a relatively low risk activity, you still want to think of preventing injuries to yourself. If you haven’t been active, start slow and gradually add to your time, distance and speed.  To avoid blisters, some studies have shown that synthetic fiber socks can be better than cotton socks which absorb moisture and increase friction. Shin splints (pain on the front of your lower leg) and knee pain can be prevented or minimized by wearing proper, supportive footwear and stretching and strengthening the supportive muscles.

Remember, every step you take helps you lead a healthier life. So, get up, lace on your walking shoes and get going!

walking shoes

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension, Franklin County rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension ,Pickaway County treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic. Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261?pg=1
The American Heart Association.  Walking, Take the first step.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walking_UCM_460870_SubHomePage.jsp

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Want to stay in shape but don’t have a lot of time for your regular work-out routine? Then do a plank exercise!  Planks are one of the most effective exercises offering considerable results.  They take a short amount of time, no equipment, and offer many benefits including:

  • Not many exercises strengthen multiple muscles at the same time. There are movements that strengthen muscles in your arms or legs, but the plank exercise can help strengthen frontal upper and lower-body muscles and inner core strength, all at once.
  • Planks can also help improve mental strength. If you have a sedentary job, tension can build if you tend to slump forward. Doing planks can help stretch muscles that may become stiff during the day, contributing to stress. They may also help calm your brain, reducing stress.
  • Since plank exercises activate core muscles, they can help prevent swayback or flat back and improve your posture as a result.
  • Plank exercises can help increase flexibility in muscle groups, stretching and expanding your posterior muscles including the hamstrings and even the arches of your feet.

Plank Photo

Photo courtesy of Dana Dowling/Demand Media

How to do a Plank

A good plank requires proper alignment. Everything should be in a straight line, including your ears, shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles.  Here’s how to do a standard plank:

  1. Start on all fours, kneeling on your hands and knees. You can use a towel or blanket folded underneath your knees if you need padding. Make sure your hands align directly beneath your shoulders. Feet should be hip-width apart, toes can be curled under.
  2. Bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor. Your body weight should be on your forearms, not on your hands.
  3. Pull in your stomach, engaging your core muscles.
  4. Hold the position for 10 seconds, gradually adding time as you feel comfortable.

Sources: Women’s Health, 4 Secrets to the Perfect Plank, Roberts, A. October 28, 2014.

Huffington Post, Fix Your Form: How to do the Perfect Plank, June 5, 2012.

Livestrong.com, What Are the 4 Main Benefits of the Plank Exercise? March 21, 2016.

Written by: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Spires, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension.

 

 

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I’m already late for work and now I’m in the middle of a traffic jam?  How am I going to get the kids to gymnastics, soccer and tee ball practices at the same time?  Everyone’s coming home at a different time tonight and we’re supposed to have supper together?  Make sure and schedule quality time for myself?  Really?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

Stress Management:  Rules for the Weary    stress taming

  • Stress is part of life.
  • Not all stress is bad.
  • Only you can prevent stress disorders.
  • Stress management is a lifestyle, not a technique.
  • As in life, success requires certain skills.
  • With practice and guidance, skills can be learned.

Coping with Minor Stressors

Research at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research, Ohio State’s internationally recognized center for the study of body-mind interaction, has resulted in key findings related to how stressors in marriage and care-giving impact health; how stress can lessen vaccine effectiveness; how stress can aggravate allergies and asthma; and the development of interventions that can lessen the effects of stress and promote health.

Try some of the following to help cope with stress:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Use meditation, relaxation exercises or breathing techniques.
  • Look at situations from a variety of perceptions.
  • Talk and share with friends.
  • Journal and clarify why things bother you.

Name it, Tame it and Bust that Stress!

  • List Priorities: Write down what is most important for you to do and then number from 1 to? With 1 being the most important for you to accomplish.
  • Plan Rest Periods: Schedule for “taking a break” in your daily activities.
  • Perfection: There is no perfect “anything”. Do the best you can and congratulate and reward yourself for it.
  • Exercise: (I think we talked about this earlier!) Try to exercise in your usual manner.  Or, start to exercise.
  • Childlike: Have FUN! Engage in playful activities.  Watch children play to remind yourself about “how to play”.
  • Spending: Be mindful of your spending.
  • Emotional Health: Talk with supportive people. Listen with empathy.  Use non-judgmental approaches.  Say “No” to avoid overdoing.
  • Gratitude: Be grateful for what you have and don’t dwell on what you don’t have.

One final thought about Taming Stress

In the words of Somerset Maugham, “It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”

Remember to always choose the “Best” for yourself!

stress taming 2

 

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:

Lisa M. Borelli LISW-S, Counselor, Ohio State Employee Assistance Program, The Ohio State University Health Plan, Columbus, Ohio.  Stress Taming.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Improving Your Health Through Stress Reduction.  http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/improving-your-health-through-stress-reduction

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Mindfulness Practices – Mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, insomnia and stress.  http://go.osu.edu/wexnermindful

onCampus.  February 11, 2016, 16th Annual Health and Wellness Guide, Wellness is a journey, Pages 7-18.  http://go.osu.edu/HealthWellnessGuide

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The news that some communities have lead in their drinking water has led to confusion and fear that there may be other sources of potential lead exposure, especially to our children. Pchildarents need to become detectives and use their normal due diligence to prevent lead exposure from becoming a problem.Young children are most at risk because they tend to put everything in their mouth.

Why is lead such a danger to young children? It can cause lowered IQ, speech delays, hearing loss, learning disabilities, slowed or reduced growth, behavioral difficulties, brain damage, kidney damage, seizures, coma, and in some severe cases, even death.
Are your children in danger even if you know for certain you don’t have lead-based paint or water in your house or apartment? The short answer is–maybe. Many children’s products have been found to contain higher-than-safe levels of lead.

My one-year old granddaughter’s blood was tested recently and results showed a slightly elevated lead level. Her parents were sure they did not have lead-based paint in their home or lead in their water, so where was it coming from? Her doctor asked if she had been chewing on any sponge toys; unbeknownst to many of us some of them contain lead.

 
Since lead is invisible and has no smell, how can you tell if it’s in your home? Unfortunately, most home test kits are unreliable. Besides the sponge toy example, check out the following potential contaminants—you may find that you have some of these  in jewellery-1146720__180your home:
• Children’s jewelry
Children’s products made of vinyl or plastic, such as bibs, backpacks, car seats and lunch boxes, children’s caulk, or pool caulk
• Brightly painted toys (wooden, plastic or metal) imported from Pacific Rim countries (China in particular), especially non-name brand toys. Avoid if paint is peeliantique toyng or chipped.
Antique toys and lunch boxes with metal linings
Ceramic or pottery toys, dishes or cookware manufactured outside the U.S., especially if made in China, India, and Mexico
• Folk or home health remedies and certain cosmetics
• Candies from Mexico
• Artificial athletic fields made of nylon or a nylon and polyethylene blend can have unhealthy levels of lead dust

 
Items considered to be safe for children include:
• All toys manufactured in North American and European Union.
• Most plush toys
• Soy-based crayons or crayons made in the U.S.
• Books, DVDs and CDs.

 

What can you do?

• Check with your health care provider on whether your child should be tested for lead. Talk with your doctor about the results.
• Remove any possible lead containing items from your home. If you live in an older home (built before 1978) have the home inspected by a licensed lead inspector or check with the local health department on testing for lead paint.
• Clean up any lead dust if living in an older home.
• Remove items that may contain lead or lead-based paint, especially children’s jewelry and non-name brand toys made outside the U.S. Check the recall list for items that have been found to contain lead.
• Give your child healthy foods. Check out the OSU Chow Line article on “How Good Nutrition Can Combat Effects of Lead in Water”
• Practice good hygwash handsiene and wash your hands before eating and after playing outside or with pets.
• If you child plays on artificial athletic fields, check out this Mayo Clinic article on how to reduce exposure.
• Be cautious about items purchased at discount stores as most items are manufactured in China or other Pacific Rim countries.

 
Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Lead Hazards in Some Holiday Toys and Toy Jewelry. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/features/leadintoys/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Lead Poisoning. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tools/5things.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Toys. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/toys.htm

Mayo Clinic Staff, (2015). Lead Poisoning, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/in-depth/lead-exposure/ART-20044627

Robertson, A. Lead in Toys: Could It Be Lurking in Your Home? Available at http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/lead-in-toys-could-it-be-lurking-in-your-home

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Winter is here bringing high winds and freezing temperatures outdoors and warm, dry air indoors. The weather can take a toll on skin, removing moisture and causing skin to itch, crack, and bleed.  This can make skin vulnerable to infection, especially in older adults whose skin is thinner and more fragile.  Individuals with eczema and seborrheic dermatitis may also experience worse symptoms in the winter.

Maintaining healthy skin in the winter requires a different routine than in warmer, more humid months. To protect your body’s largest organ, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends some simple tips:

winter face 3

  1. Keep baths or showers short.  Limit your bathing time to 5-10 minutes using warm, not hot water.  Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser:  only a small amount is needed; avoid thick lathers.  Gently blot your skin dry with a towel.
  2. Moisturize immediately following your bath or shower. The moisturizer will be absorbed and work better if it’s trapped inside the skin.
  3. Use gentle skin care products that are unscented. Antibacterial or deodorant soaps and skin care products with fragrance, alcohol or retinoid can dry your skin.
  4. Apply cream or ointments:  they work better than lotion. Look for ones that contain olive oil, jojoba oil, or shea butter. Lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid, mineral oil, glycerin and petrolatum are other ingredients that help relieve dry skin.
  5. Carry a hand cream with you. Apply it after you wash your hands.
  6. Use a non-irritating lip balm. Be sure to select one that does not cause your lips to tingle or sting.
  7. Be selective with laundry detergents. Use only those that are labeled “hypoallergenic”.
  8. Moisturize the air. Add a humidifier to add moisture to the dry air. Some home heating systems may have one built it.
  9. Always wear gloves. We lose heat (and moisture) through our hands. Be sure to always wear gloves when you go outdoors in the winter.
  10. Use sunscreen. Even in the winter, you should slather on sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to any exposed skin. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays that are present year-round.

See a dermatologist if your skin does not improve. Reduce your chance of developing an infection that may develop with cracking, bleeding skin.

 

Source(s): American Academy of Dermatology, Dermatologists’ top tips for relieving dry skin, retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/skin-care/dry-skin.

WebMD, Fighting Back Against Dry Skin, Fighting Dry Skin: Beat the Itch of Winter, retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/beauty/dry-skin-13/winter-dry-skin.

Web MD, Allergies Health Center, http://www.webmd.com/allergies/what-does-hypoallergenic-mean.

Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Hamilton County.

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Franklin County.

 

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