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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people are killed and over 1,000 others are injured every day in accidents that involve a distracted driver in the United States. The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic.
Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road, and can greatly increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash. While there is little you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions.
There are three main types of distractions:
Visual: taking your eyes off the road
Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
By practicing safe driving techniques, you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident. In addition to avoiding distractions, it’s important to be aware of other drivers around you and make adjustments to your driving accordingly.
The arrival of the fall and winter months signals many things, including the beginning of flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity peaks between December and February.
Seasonal influenza can cause serious complications for people of any age, but children and the elderly are more vulnerable. To help keep your household healthy this flu season, consider the following suggestions:
Get the flu vaccine. Becoming vaccinated against the flu is the best chance of preventing the illness.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay away from others when you feel under the weather.
Wash your hands often using soap and warm water to protect against germs.
Get plenty of sleep, stay physically active and drink plenty of water to keep your immune system strong.
Manage your stress and eat a nutritious diet rich in healthy grains, fruits, vegetables and fiber.
Opioid addiction is a growing epidemic in the United States, with opioid overdoses killing 91 Americans every day. In 2015 alone, more than 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose. Read on to learn more about opioids and to learn how to recognize the signs of opioid addiction.
What is an opioid?
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids are a class of drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. Common opioids include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and prescription painkillers like oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and morphine. Continued use (and abuse) of opioids can lead to physical dependence on and addiction to these types of drugs.
What are the signs of opioid addiction?
Being familiar with the most common signs of opioid addiction can help you or someone you love get proper treatment before it is too late. Physical signs of opioid addiction include the following:
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.
For many people, a nice vacation means sandy beaches and exotic cultures. But not every trip can be a “dream vacation.” Fortunately, it’s possible to get away from it all without having to spring for hotels and airfare.
Camping is a great way to take in some much-needed rest and relaxation on a shoestring budget. A camping trip can provide the same sense of freedom a few hours from your home that you would get from visiting another country.
In addition to being low-cost, camping does not require much in the way of advance planning, and can easily be coordinated and undertaken with family or friends. Most campgrounds will even allow you to bring a pet along, freeing you from another vacation-related hassle.
Despite the benefits, camping also has some risks. Observe the following safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Forest Service to ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch.
Get vaccinated. Check with your medical provider to make sure you’ve had all of the recommended vaccines.
Be mindful of food storage and preparation. Pack food in tight, waterproof bags or containers, and keep it in an insulated cooler. Do not mix cooked and raw foods. Wash hands and surfaces often. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.
Build fires in a safe area. Fires and fuel-burning appliances must be far enough away from the tent to prevent ignition from sparks, flames and heat. Make sure your fires are always attended.
Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and season.
Think before you drink! No matter how clean or pure water looks, it’s likely to contain parasites and microorganisms that can cause discomfort and sometimes serious illness. Purify it with chemical treatment, or bring bottled water.
Watch out for bugs. Insects can be an issue at many campsites. Avoid attracting stinging insects by wearing light-colored clothing and avoiding perfumes or colognes. Keep a good supply of bug spray with you to repel mosquitoes, which can carry diseases.
Beware of poisonous plants. Familiarize yourself with any dangerous plants that are common to the area. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing anti-itch lotion such as calamine.
Immunizations can protect you and your family against serious illnesses, including the flu, measles and tuberculosis. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and this is the time to remind your loved ones about the importance of getting the recommended vaccines to keep everyone healthy. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to get the immunization schedules for children and adults for 2014.
Although getting vaccinated is a vital part of preventing illness, children typically see the experience as a stranger in a white jacket poking them with a needle. Here are some tips to help make the trip to the doctor a little less painful:
Bring a favorite toy or book for younger children.
Hold an infant or small child in your lap, if possible, and bring along a favorite blanket to make him or her feel safe.
Sing or talk to your child to soothe him or her while the vaccine is administered.
This time of year, with Valentine’s Day just passing, you might associate hearts with romance and red roses. But there are two kinds of hearts—in addition to hosting Valentine’s Day, February also serves as Heart Health Month. Take some time this month to think about the blood-pumping kind of heart and what you can do to keep yours healthy.
Risk factors for heart disease include related health conditions, unhealthy behaviors and hereditary factors. Health conditions that can increase your chances of heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Cigarette smoking and tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol consumption are some behaviors that can adversely affect your heart health. Also, for some people, family health history can predict your risk of heart disease.
While you can’t change bad genes or eliminate all risks, there are a few choices you can make to lessen your susceptibility to heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can engage in a few simple preventive measures to help ward off heart problems.
Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Whole grains and low-fat dairy are also good for you.
Reduce your consumption of foods high in fat, cholesterol and salt.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Even if you’re busy, try to include at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise, such as biking or shoveling snow, into your daily routine.
Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and, if you have diabetes, manage it as recommended by your doctor.
Don’t start smoking, or, if you already smoke, consider quitting.
Recognize the signs of a heart attack, and call 911 immediately if you think that you or someone else is suffering a heart attack. The symptoms of a heart attack typically include the following:
Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back
Feeling weak, lightheaded or faint
Chest pain or discomfort
Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
Shortness of breath
When you know the risks of heart disease and the symptoms of a heart attack, you can help protect your heart for you and your loved ones.