Weekly health rail, with items on back-to-school health, news about baby boomers and drug use, tips for protecting yourself against rabies, and more.
As children head back to school, parents face another season of fighting cold and flu germs. In an average year, children catch six to 10 colds. In families with children who are in school, the number of colds per child can be as high as 12 a year, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the common cold is the No. 1 reason why children miss school. The CDC estimates that nearly 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold alone.
Here are some must-know tips to combat illness as kids head back to school:
1. Humidity and hydration are a must
Dry nasal passages are more vulnerable to cold and flu viruses. When humidity levels are low, consider using a humidifier to add moisture to kids' bedrooms when sleeping and in other areas of the home. Drinking lots of fluids like water and juice is also a great way to stay healthy and hydrated.
2. Killing germs is easy
Some viruses and bacteria can live from 20 minutes up to two hours or more on surfaces like cafeteria tables, playground equipment and desks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is that cold and flu viruses can easily be killed with hand washing. Insist kids wash their hands with plain soap and water around the house and while at school.
3. Catch symptoms at the onset
To better chances of nipping symptoms in the bud, be prepared by updating your medicine cabinet with choices that address early symptoms. Be aware of the federal guidelines for giving cold medicine to children. Keep updated at www.fda.gov.
4. Pack some personals
It's polite to share; it's not polite to share germs. Smart parents will pack a few items like a small personal crayon pack, an individual mini pencil sharpener or mechanical pencils to reduce kids sharing germs. Packing a travel size hand sanitizer and pocket packet of tissue in their backpack is also a good way to combat illness while they are at school.
In the News: Baby boomers continue illicit drug use
Many baby boomers (Americans in the generation born between 1946 and 1964) are continuing to use illicit drugs as they grow older, causing the rate of illicit drug use to go up within the 50 to 59 year old age segment of the population.
According to a new analytical publication produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, those aged 50 to 59 reporting use of illicit drugs within the past year has nearly doubled from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 9.4 percent in 2007 while rates among all other age groups are statistically staying the same or decreasing.
The data used in the analysis comes from a wide range of sources including 16,656 respondents aged 50 to 59 participating in the 2002 through 2007 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.
Did You Know?
Nearly half of people studied while undergoing foreclosure reported depressive symptoms, and 37 percent met screening criteria for major depression, according to University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine research.
Health Tip: Protect yourself against rabies
The rabies virus is usually transferred to humans through an animal bit. Here are ways to protect yourself and your family:
- Avoid wild animals: Do not feed or handle wild animals, even if they seem friendly. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to animal control.
- Vaccinate pets: Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
- Prevention is key: Keep cats and ferrets indoors, and keep dogs under direct supervision when outdoors. Do not feed or water your pets outside and keep your garbage securely covered.
- If you’re bitten: Immediately wash the wound well with soap and water and see a health care provider.
-- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Number to Know: 78
The U.S. life expectancy is now 78 years old -- a new high. The increase is due mainly to falling death rates in almost all the leading causes of death. – CDC
Children’s Health: Kids and car safety
Children overheat four times faster than adults, which means that leaving them in a car for even a short period of time can be life-threatening.
Here are some tips for protecting your children:
- Never leave your child in a car. Even in 70-degree weather, temperatures in a car can reach deadly levels in minutes. And cracking a window will not help.
- Set up reminders. When you’re driving with your child, whether it’s running errands or dropping him or her off on the way to work, find ways to remind yourself that the child is in the car. Put something you need in the backseat, or put a stuffed animal in the front seat as a visual reminder. Arrange for day-care centers to call when your child hasn’t been dropped off.
- Keep car doors locked at all times. Children like to play in vehicles, and could accidentally lock themselves in.
-- National Safety Council
Senior Health: Ease insomnia in arthritic seniors
A new study shows that the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is an effective treatment for older patients with osteoarthritis and insomnia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea that how you think (cognition) and act (behavior) affects the way you feel, according to the Mayo Clinic. For example, patients learn to recognize and change false beliefs that affect the ability to sleep, and target behaviors that negatively affect sleep.
Results of the study showed that treatment improves both immediate and long-term self-reported sleep and pain in older patients with osteoarthritis and comorbid insomnia without directly addressing pain control.
-- American Academy of Sleep Medicine
GateHouse News Service