A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific immune response to certain foods. Sometimes, the body’s response can be severe or life-threatening. Food allergies are a growing food safety and public health concern, according to the CDC. It is also estimated that between 4 and 6 percent of U.S. children are affected by some type of food allergy.
Among other things, Food Allergy Action Month was created to spread awareness about what food allergies are, how to recognize them and how to help someone who is having an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to food include the following:
• A tingling sensation in the mouth
• Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat
• Itching, hives and a rash throughout the body
• Cramping, diarrhea or vomiting
• Wheezing and difficulty breathing
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• Loss of consciousness
Shingles is an extremely common—and painful—viral infection, affecting 1 out of every 3 Americans at some point in their life. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, so anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body. While scientists are unsure what causes the virus to awaken at a later date, they do know that the only way to reduce the risk of getting shingles is to get vaccinated.
Recommended Shingles Vaccine
The CDC recommends that adults use a new vaccine called Shingrix instead of Zostavax, which had been the recommended vaccine from 2006-2017. Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most common shingles complication. In studies, two doses of Shingrix were found to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles and PHN.
Who Should Get Vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix, two to six months apart. People who have had shingles in the past, have received the Zostavax vaccine or are unsure if they have had chickenpox should also receive the Shingrix vaccine, according to CDC recommendations.
The National Sleep Foundation sponsors Sleep Awareness Week every March to educate Americans on the importance of sleep to their overall health and well-being. The CDC has linked insufficient sleep to the development of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. In honor of Sleep Awareness Week occurring this March 11-17, try adopting the following five healthy sleep habits:
Keep a regular schedule—try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends.
Create a good sleep environment, including comfortable room temperature, minimal noise and sufficient darkness.
Keep track of habits that help you fall asleep, like relaxing music or reading before bed. Repeat those activities each night.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine three to four hours before going to bed.
Limit alcohol before bed, as it can reduce sleep quality.
This August 18 to September 4, law enforcement will be stepping up their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This means police officers will be focused on spotting impaired drivers and pulling them over.
There were nearly 10,000 people killed in alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes in 2014, according to the CDC. This accounts for nearly 33 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Keep this sobering statistic in mind when attending gatherings with alcohol, like barbecues, beach parties or work events.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a smartphone app to help drivers who cannot safely drive home. The app can help tell you where you are, help you call a taxi or help you call a friend. Other useful apps include Uber and Lyft, as both can get you home if it’s not safe for you to drive.
For more information on the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign, visit the NHTSA website.
There were 7,415 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These preventable deaths illustrate how important preparation is during extreme temperatures. Whether you are swimming at the beach or lounging in the park, you should be prepared for extreme heat conditions.
The CDC provides three easy steps to prevent heat-related illnesses: stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. This summer, make sure you have shade wherever you are going and have attire, like a sun hat or a thin, long-sleeved shirt, to avoid direct contact with the sun. Be sure to drink lots of water—more than you usually do. Your body quickly loses fluids in the summer more quickly, which can lead to illness. Finally, stay informed by monitoring the local weather forecast and prepare accordingly for outdoor activities.
Know the Signs
The two most dangerous heat-related illnesses, besides dehydration, are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is exhibited through cold, clammy skin, heavy sweating and nausea. If you or someone shows these symptoms, move to a cooler location and sip water. If you or someone has a rapid pulse, hot and red skin, and loses consciousness, this could mean heat stroke, and you should call 911 immediately. In this latter scenario, do not give fluids to the person showing the symptoms. Do, however, move them to a cooler location and lower their temperature with cool cloths.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 10 people may have a seizure in their lifetime. A seizure is a change in the brain’s electrical activity that can cause a variety of symptoms, including violent shaking, falling and losing bodily control. However, because there are different types of seizures, symptoms can vary.
Knowing proper seizure first aid is important so that you can help keep a person who is having a seizure safe and prevent further injury. General seizure first aid includes the following:
Clear the area immediately to prevent possible injury.
If the person is standing, gently guide them to the floor. Roll them on their side and cushion their head.
Time the seizure. If the person has epilepsy and the seizure lasts longer than three minutes, call 911.
Call 911 if any of the following apply:
The person is pregnant.
The person has never had a seizure before.
The person does not regain consciousness after the seizure.
The seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
Do not attempt to hold the person down or put anything in their mouth while they are seizing. Doing so could cause injury.
For other seizure first-aid tips, please visit the CDC’s webpage.
As the 2016-2017 flu season approaches, now is a great time to get vaccinated against the flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine.
Unlike their recommendations during past flu seasons, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are not recommending the nasal spray vaccine, FluMist, for the 2016-2017 season due to concerns over its effectiveness, especially in children. The CDC and AAP are now only recommending the injectable flu vaccine.
Some flu shots protect against three flu viruses while others protect against four viruses. Consult your physician to determine which shot is best for you. If you don’t have a regular doctor, you can get a flu vaccine at a local health department, pharmacy or urgent care clinic.
Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and, arguably, the best way to protect your family during the flu season. For more information on the 2016-2017 vaccine, click here.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women in the United States. Top risk factors include getting older, race and family history of breast cancer, which are things you cannot change.
Regardless of your personal risk factors, you can use these prevention strategies to reduce your risk of breast cancer:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid exposure to carcinogens and radiation.
Abstain from drinking alcohol or limit intake to one drink per day.
In general, living a healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing cancer and increase your chances of surviving cancer. If you are concerned about your personal risk of developing breast cancer, call or visit your doctor.
A relatively new virus is prompting worldwide concern because of how quickly it is spreading across the globe. Also alarming is its connection to microcephaly, a neurological birth disorder. Transmitted by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Zika virus is rare because it can infect the fetuses of pregnant women who have the virus.
Symptoms of Zika are generally mild and include headaches, fever, rash and sometimes conjunctivitis (pink eye). Most people don’t even realize that they have been infected by the virus, which is why it is such a concern for pregnant women.
The Zika virus has spread to more than 20 countries since May of 2015. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning pregnant women against travel to any affected areas. Furthermore, health officials in several of those countries are telling female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases, for up to two years. Several states have confirmed the virus in individuals who traveled to areas where the virus is circulating.
Researchers are working to create a Zika vaccine. Until then, the best method of prevention is to avoid travel to areas with active infestations. If you do travel to one of these areas, be sure to wear mosquito repellent and thick clothing that covers as much of your body as possible. Unlike most mosquitos, the type that carries Zika is most active during the daytime hours until dusk, and it also prefers to be indoors. This makes it very important to use screen doors and windows and to stay in air-conditioned hotels when possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the findings from its latest study about binge drinking, which it defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on a single occasion. Commonly seen as risky behavior that is limited to young adults, the survey showed that the oldest respondents were actually binge drinking the most often.