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Halloween Health Tips

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Of course, when Halloween comes to mind, thoughts of candy and sweets come to mind. Did you know that the average child accumulates between 3,500 and 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night? And, the dangers are not only sweet related. Did you know that there are more child pedestrian accidents on Halloween than any other day of the year?

Last year, I shared with you some Halloween Safety Tips. This year, here are five Halloween Health Tips that I saw from this Time Magazine article.

  1. Fill Up Before Trick Or Treating: Having a meal and having the child feeling full before going trick-or-treating, hopefully will decrease their chance of munching on their treats before getting home.

  2. Hand out Non-Sugary Foods and Toys: instead of the traditional candy, think about giving out alternative treats like animal crackers, sugar free hot chocolate packets, cereal bars or granola bars. Plus, kids sometimes may choose cool toys like glow sticks, play-doh, or even stickers.

  3. Trick-or-Treat Exercise: Unfortunately, I’m seeing more parents driving their children around for trick-or-treat. Encourage walking from house to house. Not only is it great exercise, but it’s great socialization for the kids and for the neighborhood.

  4. Keep Your Favorite Sweets & Hide The Rest: Don’t keep all of the candy around. Keep only a few pieces around, and freeze the rest or hide the rest. Try to limit to 1-3 pieces of candy a day. Place with their school lunch or a piece of candy when they get home from school.

  5. Or, Give Away The Rest: When trick or treating is over, have the child make two piles: One pile of their favorite candy, and the other pile. Consider giving the other pile of candy to the local children’s hospital, to the food pantry, to the local nursing home, or anyone who you think you can give back to.

Mysterious Paralyzing Illness strikes Columbiana County Boy

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This past week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Ohio Department of Health confirmed that there are four cases in Ohio of a mysterious paralyzing illness that is being characterized as a “Polio-like” illness that attacks the nervous system.

The four cases were confirmed to be in Columbiana County, Cuyahoga County, Mercer County (in Ohio), and Pickaway County. The Ohio Department of Health states all four cases are between ages 1-13, and all four boys were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

The medical name for this condition is called “Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM),” and this is a rare neurological condition that affects the spinal cord. The neurological symptoms usually start about five days following some upper respiratory symptoms. As of this writing, twenty-two states, including Ohio, have been affected. Here are some quick facts you need to know.

Symptoms of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (see graphic below as well)

  • Facial Droop/Weakness

  • Difficulty Moving The Eyes

  • Drooping Eyelids

  • Difficulty with Swallowing or Slurred Speech

Is Acute Flaccid Myelitis Contagious?

  • Short Answer: No, probably

  • Long Answer: The fact is that this is still a mysterious illness, and scientists still don’t know the exact cause, why it’s happening more now, which kids are at higher risk, and how to best treat this disease. (see this article from NBC News)

The good news is that this is considered still a rare disease. The CDC states that less than one in a million people in the United States will get Acute Flaccid Myelitis every year. The best general information right now on this is from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website on Acute Flaccid Myelitis. I also encourage you to check out this interview with our friend Dr. John Cox, from Wee Ones Pediatrics in Youngstown, when he was on WFMJ-TV. Of course, if you have any questions, I encourage you to contact your doctor to discuss further.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: I Touch Myself Project

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Tennis star Serena Williams recorded a version of the 1990 hit song, ‘I Touch Myself,” to help raise awareness for breast cancer. You can see and hear a preview of it below. Ms. Williams is participating with the I Touch Myself Project named after the song sung by Chrissy Amphlett who passed away from breast cancer in 2013.

I encourage you to check out these links from the American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Foundation which will give you a lot more information than I will share below. Here are some brief facts and risk factors about breast cancer to keep in mind.

Breast Cancer Facts

  • 1 in 8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer

  • Breast Cancer is 2nd leading cause of death in women

  • Over 260,000 new cases of breast cancer in women in 2018

  • Approximately 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2018

  • More than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in USA

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

  • About 60-70% have No risk factors

  • Genetic Risk

  • Lack of Physical Activity

  • Poor Diet

  • Overweight/obesity

  • Drinking Alcohol

There are so many other topics to mention, especially about testing, diagnosis and treatment. But, the most important things at this point are to know the facts, and to know your risks. In addition to reviewing the information above, I encourage you to visit your Family Physician and/or our personal medical provider.

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Back To School Health

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As summer is quickly coming to a close in the next few weeks, back to school is getting closer for kids, parents, and their families. As you start to prepare for your child to return to school, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to your child's health. Most of this information is from the American Academy of Pediatrics, but I highlighted some important areas below.

1) Make that Doctor's Appointment: Especially before entering kindergarten, 7th grade, and 12th grade, there are required immunizations that need to be completed. Check with your doctor about this, or review this chart from the Ohio Department of Health. In addition, many children require sports physicals and paperwork to be done before school starts. Finally, some children need paperwork completed for medications to be given at school. Does your child need an Epi-Pen? Did you know there's a shortage? Check out this report from WKBN about the Epi-Pen shortage.

2) Change that Sleep Schedule Now: Studies have shown that sleep is critical for school success. For adults, it takes us about a week to get used to a new sleep/wake schedule. However, especially for young children, it can take longer than that. So, consider starting that new sleep schedule now. As a part of developing that school sleep routine, the first step is to have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime.

3) Kids need Breakfast: Studies show that children who eat a nutritious breakfast function better. I also encourage parents to check into what cafeteria items will be available at school, and most schools have this on their website. In addition, some children also may qualify for free or reduced price food, but parents need to check into this with their school.

4) Backpack Safety: Choose a backpack with wide paded shoulder straps and a padded back. Remind your child to always use both shoulder straps. Pack light, and remove unneeded items. The backpack should never weigh more than 10-20% of your child's body weight.

5) Bullying: Teach your child to be comfortable with when and how to ask a trusted adult for help. Monitor your child's social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.

Addendum: Thanks to WKBN-TV in Youngstown, Ohio for this article entitled, "A Salem Doctor Is Preparing You To Help Your Kid To Get Back In The Classroom"

Heat Stroke Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

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As back-to-school quickly approaches, football practices and other fall sports practices are kicking into high gear. With the heat and humidity of August right around the corner, kids always need reminders to prevent heat related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

Unfortunately, every summer, there are a few news stories from across the country of middle school and high school students passing away from heat stroke. What are these illnesses and how can we prevent them? That's what will be outlined in this article. I encourage you also to check out this article from Johns Hopkins and this article from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

Heat-related illnesses refer to the terms "heat cramps," "heat exhaustion," and "heat stroke." All of them have similar symptoms, but they go from the mild heat cramps, to the moderate heat exhaustion, to the life-threatening heat stroke.

Question: What are symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke?

  • Heat Cramps: Painful cramps (especially in the legs), Flushed, moist skin
  • Heat Exhaustion: All of above symptoms PLUS Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue, Weakness, Faint Feeling
  • Heat Stroke: All of the above PLUS Fever over 104F, Palpitations, Confusion, Agitation, Seizues, Coma, Death

Treatment for heat-related illnesses are similar in that the person should be moved to a cool place and rest. Give cool fluids. Place cool cloths on skin. And, if these treatments are not helping or if more severe symptoms like heat stroke, then take child to the ER immediately, or call 911 immediately.

How can heat stroke be prevented? Drink plenty of fluids, of course. Drink water and sports drinks, and avoid caffeine because this can make dehydration worse. Dress your child in light colored and lightweight clothing, especially on hot days. Teach your child to take frequent drink breaks to avoid becoming overheated.

Thanks also to WKBN-TV for interviewing me on this topic: "Staying Hydrated Throughout Sports Seasons," including the video above.

Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Presentation

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Thanks so much to the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to present to them on June 29, 2018. I gave them a little preview of my upcoming talk at the DoYoLive Marketing Conference in Youngstown, Ohio on August 3, 2018.

The topic was the "Purpose Driven Business," and this will be a talk I will be giving with Fortunato Figliano from the Centers for Hearing Care. What I have included above are the slides (via slideshare) and also the video (via youtube). 

June is Fireworks Safety Month

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Question: What are some safety tips when using fireworks?

  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks
  • Older children should only use under close adult supervision
  • Never light fireworks indoors
  • Never relight a "dud" firework
  • Soak unused fireworks in water before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to extinguish firework

Welcome to Summer! With the official start of summer happening, it's always great talking about sun and fun. However, it's also an important time to talk about summer safety tips. June is Fireworks Safety Month. 

According to the National Safety Council, in 2016, at least four people died and about 11,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after firework related incidents, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Another interesting fact is that on a typical Fourth of July, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Also check out the video below from the NFPA.

Check out some helpful tips above. Better yet, grab a blanket and a patch of lawn, kick back and let the experts handle the show.

May is National Better Hearing and Speech Month

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Question: What are some facts about Hearing Loss?

  • One in Six Adults Have Some Trouble Hearing
  • About 28 Million Adults could benefit from Hearing Aids
  • 50% of Young People Listen to Music/Audio Too Loudly
  • No Warning Signs for Hearing Loss
  • Once Hearing is Gone, You Can't Get It Back

Question: What can you do to prevent Hearing Loss?

  • Lower the Volume
  • Move away from the Noice
  • Wear Hearing Protectors
  • Get Audiology Hearing Test
  • Consider Hearing Aids

With Mother's Day coming up, when was the last time you checked in on mom's hearing? Did you know that at least 20 percent of US adults, at some point of their life, has a significant problem with hearing, balance, speech or language. Communication disorders can compromise physical and emotional health and affect many aspects of life. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) observes the month of May as National Better Hearing and Speech Month. In the USA, one is six adults reports having some trouble hearing, which equals approximately 46 million adults. And, this number has doubled in the past 30 years, as younger people experience hearing loss due to prolonged noise exposure. In addition, about 28.8 million adults have hearing loss severe enough that they could benefit from hearing aids.

I see a lot of children and adolescents in my office as well, and I get a lot of questions from parents about hearing health. Here are some interesting facts about hearing and young people from the NIH Listen Up awareness campaign. Five in ten young people listen to their music or audio too loudly. Four in ten young people are around dangerously loud noises during events like concerts like concerts and sports events. 

What can you do to prevent Hearing Loss? First of all, don't wait until it's too late. Start protecting your hearing now, because once you have hearing loss, you cannot get it back. Especially for young people, lower the volume in your earbuds and headphones. Also, move away from the noice, especially at concerts and sporting events. In addition, wear hearing protection like earplugs or earmuffs.

For adults, I recommend visiting your local audiologist, like our friends at the Centers For Hearing Care, to have a formal consultation and hearing test. Finally, if you need hearing aids, I'd consider at least trying them out to see if you would benefit. And, also interesting is that some chronic medical problems, and some medications can affect hearing as well. So, a good time to check in with your Family Physician as well to explore possible medical problems associated with hearing.

National Infant Immunization Week

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National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is a national observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.

For 2018, NIIW is April 21-28, 2018, and this year it is celebrated as part of World Immunization Week, an initiative of the World Health Organization. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have worked together to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children.

Here are some facts about Vaccines and Immunizations:

  • Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. Just as an example, among children born between 1994-2016, vaccination will prevent an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
  • Giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. Parents are encouraged to talk to their doctor's health care provider to ensure that their child is up-to-date on immunizations.
  • Protecting babies from whooping cough begins before a baby is even born. All pregnant women are recommended to receive the whooping cough vaccine or Tdap during Each Pregnancy. This will help protect babies from whooping cough until they can receive their first whooping cough vaccine at 2 months.

Here are some myths and untrue statements about Vaccines and Immunizations:

  • Myth 1: Vaccines Cause Autism: There was a study in 1997 which made this claim. Since then, this paper has been completely discredited due to procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Follow-up medical research did not find any link between vaccines and autism
  • Myth 2: Vaccines can contain preservatives that are dangerous: I get a lot of questions about thimerosal which is a compound that prevents the vaccine from being contaminated by bacteria. It's true that there were concerns about this in 1999, and thimerosal was removed from nearly all vaccines back at that time. Now, there are thimerosal-free vaccines, and follow-up research has shown that there is no connection between a vaccine containing thimerosal and medical problems.
  • Myth 3: Now that major illnesses have largely disappeared, we really don't need vaccines anymore: I wouldn't bet on this. Remember the 2014 Mumps outbreak at Ohio State University? Remember the 2015 Measles outbreak in an Ohio Amish community or the 2015 Measles outbreak at Disneyland in California? And, there are more examples out there which show why adequate and appropriate immunization is required.

If you have questions or concerns about vaccines or immunizations, I encourage you to talk with your physician or health care provider. I also encourage you to check out this link from the CDC about "Recommended Vaccines By Age," and this link from the Ohio Department of Health about "Immunization Information For School." 

Thanks to WKBN for including by thoughts in this article "Doctors Stress Importance Of Vaccinations in Children." I also encourage you to check out the WKBN Facebook page where there are still negative comments about vaccines. Still a lot of education needs to be done.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

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Do you know what "Pharming Parties" are? This is a dangerous trend where teens come together and bring medicines from their parents and grandparents medicine cabinets, and they take these medications for fun. You can read more about it from WKBN-TV in the article, "Columbiana County survey shows more kids using prescription drugs"

Alarming Facts About Prescription Drug Abuse in Teens

  • 1 in 4 Teens report Misued or Abused A Prescription Drug At Least Once In Their Lifetime
  • 2 in 3 Teens who report Abuse of Prescription Pain killers are getting from Friends, Family, and Acquaintances.
  • Nearly 80% of people who Inject Heroin start by Abusing Prescription Drugs

What can the community to do to turn back this trend? First of all, all of us have to learn more about the problem, especially with kids and adolescents. I encourage people to visit the website of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids at this link, which has great resources. On that website, they outline three steps to help combat the problem: talk with your kids, take action to address medicine abuse (like locking up your prescription medication and participating in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day), and get help for a loved one.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

  • Saturday, April 28, 2018
  • 10 am - 2pm
  • Dispose of Unwanted Capsules or Tablets
  • Various Drop Off Points In The Area

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of the disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. It is coming up on April 28, 2018 from 10AM to 2PM. Check out their website at this link for more information, including finding a collection site close to you.

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