Sunday, November 28, 2010

With whooping cough on the rise, help keep your child healthy and in school

(ARA) - Recently, several states including California, South Carolina, Texas, Ohio and Michigan have reported a rise in whooping cough cases. California health officials have declared whooping cough an epidemic in the state, and several infants have died.

Families with school-aged children should make sure their kids are up to date on recommended shots. Children who are not up to date are at risk of catching and spreading serious diseases, including whooping cough.

Whooping cough is highly contagious and spreads easily in places like schools where people are in close contact. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a respiratory infection that usually starts like a cold and then turns into a bad cough over time. Whooping cough may lead to pneumonia or rib fracture and other complications in adolescents and adults. The cough can last three months and lead to hospitalization and missed work or school days.

School nurse Deb Robarge, from the National Association of School Nurses, has seen whooping cough first-hand. Her own son developed the disease as a college student, even though he had been vaccinated as a child.

"It's terrible to see your child suffer from a disease that could have been prevented," says Robarge. "It's so important to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines to help keep them healthy for school."

The best way to help prevent whooping cough is to get vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Protection from the childhood whooping cough vaccine starts to wear off after approximately five to 10 years, leaving preteens, adolescents and adults at risk of catching and spreading the disease. As long as certain criteria are met, the CDC recommends that adolescents aged 11 to 18 years old receive one dose of the Tdap vaccine-a booster vaccine which helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

Many states have adopted Tdap vaccination requirements for school entry. Starting this year, states including Indiana, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee require that students of a certain age receive the Tdap vaccine.

Others states with Tdap vaccination requirements include: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas and New York.

Robarge and the National Association of School Nurses offer some tips for parents to help keep children healthy and in school:

* Talk to your health care provider to ensure your preteen or teen is up to date on recommended vaccines for their age group and caught up on any missed vaccinations

* Get vaccinated, too. Not being up to date on vaccinations can put adults and their families at risk of catching and spreading serious diseases such as whooping cough

* Remember that your school nurse is a great resource for information on vaccination and other health care topics

* Encourage your child to wash his or her hands often and cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing

* Avoid close contact with people who are sick

GlaxoSmithKline has provided funding, editorial and other assistance to the National Association of School Nurses for this campaign.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Concussion is a serious injury in contact sports

(ARA) - When your son ends up on the bottom of the pile chasing down a fumbled football, or your daughter and her teammate jointly perform sideways dives to keep the volleyball from hitting the floor, you probably catch your breath, hoping no one gets hurt.

And usually, the players involved pick themselves up off the ground, brush the dust off their hands, and the game continues.

But concussions, when sudden trauma causes damages to the brain, are a common injury to the head in contact sports, and an estimated 3 million sports-related concussions happen every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, when it comes to the leading causes of traumatic brain injury for young people, ages 15 to 24 years, contact sports come in second only to motor vehicle accidents.

"While the majority of concussions are self-limited, meaning the body will heal itself, catastrophic events can occur and we do not yet know the long-term effects of multiple concussions," says Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, chair of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Sports Neurology Section. The AAN recently drafted a new position statement targeting policymakers with authority over determining policy procedures for when an athlete suffers from concussion while participating in sports.

The AAN's position statement offers help for parents, coaches, administrators and sports team health officials at all levels - from elementary school through professional leagues:

* If the athlete is suspected of suffering a concussion, the athlete should not be allowed to return to play until he or she is seen by a physician with training in the evaluation and management of sports concussions.

* An athlete should not play if he or she is still experiencing symptoms from a concussion.

* A certified athletic trainer should be present at all sporting events, including practices, where athletes are at risk for concussion.

"We need to make sure coaches, trainers and especially parents, are properly educated about how serious concussions can be, and that the right steps have been taken before an athlete returns to the field," Kutcher says.

If your athlete suffers a concussion, make sure he or she receives medical attention as soon as possible. Treatment should be taken to ensure there is proper oxygen supply, blood flow is moderated and blood pressure controlled. Other precautions can include X-rays of the skull and neck areas, or even a CT scan.

If the concussion is very severe, rehabilitation involving physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy is an option, as well as psychiatric help and social support.

To learn more about dealing with concussions, visit

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CDC Spotlights Global Efforts to Address Antibiotic Resistance

/PRNewswire/ -- Antibiotic resistance is one of the world's most pressing public health threats. To bring attention to this increasing problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government partners will observe its third annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week on Nov. 15-21, 2010. The national campaign will highlight the coordinated efforts of CDC, state and local health departments, and non-profit and for-profit partners to educate the public about antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use in both community and healthcare settings.

"Antibiotics are essential to combat life-threatening bacterial infections," says Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of CDC. "Unfortunately, misuse of antibiotics is widespread and contributes to resistance. We have to better promote appropriate use of antibiotics to preserve these life-saving tools."

Taking or prescribing antibiotics when they are not needed creates additional health risks. And, antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic resistance – when bacteria change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of antibiotics. As resistance increases, a patient's risk of complications or death from an infection also increases. Additionally, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have the potential to spread between people and cause severe infections. Reducing unnecessary antibiotic use can reduce avoidable adverse events including Clostridium difficile infections (a potentially deadly diarrheal infection) and allergic reactions.

"Antibiotics are a shared resource – and, for some infections, are becoming a scarce resource," says Dr. Lauri Hicks, medical director for CDC's Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program. "The problem is we expect antibiotics to work for every illness, but they don't. If you have a cold, antibiotics will not work for you."

In conjunction with Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2010, CDC unveiled its new Get Smart for Healthcare program to complement the existing Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work program. Get Smart for Healthcare will focus on improving antibiotic use in hospitals and nursing homes. The goal of the Get Smart for Healthcare program is to ensure that these facilities are using antibiotics wisely by implementing proven strategies.

Data from published studies show that:

* Approximately 50 percent of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed or inappropriate.
* More than $1.1 billion is spent annually on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections in adults.
* Antibiotic-resistant infections lead to worse outcomes for patients, including higher mortality.

The 2010 observance of Get Smart About Antibiotics Week is an international collaboration, which will coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day and a Canadian observance day, both scheduled for Nov. 18, 2010.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Clearing The Air on Exercise and The Common Cold

/PRNewswire/ -- As the weather turns colder, the U.S. launches itself full-force into cold and flu season. While recent research has correctly reported that exercise can help prevent the common cold, experts with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend caution for people who are considering an intense workout while they're sick. In fact, there are some cases in which exercise could do more harm than good.

ACSM Fellow David C. Nieman, Dr.P.H., says that moderate exercise (30 minutes a day, on most, if not all, days of the week) actually lowers the risk for respiratory infections. Prolonged, intense exercise, on the other hand, can weaken the immune system and allow viruses to gain a foothold and spread.

"The good news, for the majority of fitness enthusiasts who put in 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week, is that the number of sick days they'll take during the common cold season is reduced by at least 40 percent," said Dr. Nieman.

People who are already sick should approach exercise cautiously during their illness. To help people decide whether to hit the gym or stay in bed, Dr. Nieman offers the following recommendations:

* DO exercise moderately if your cold symptoms are confined to your head. If you're dealing with a runny nose or sore throat, moderate exercise is permissible. Intense exercise can be resumed a few days after symptoms subside (in cases of the common cold).
* DON'T "sweat out" your illness. This is a potentially dangerous myth, and there is no data to support that exercise during an illness helps cure it.
* DO stay in bed if your illness is "systemic" – that is, spread beyond your head. Respiratory infections, fever, swollen glands and extreme aches and pains all indicate that you should rest up, not work out.
* DON'T jump back in too soon. If you're recovering from a more serious bout of cold or flu, gradually ease back into exercise after at least two weeks of rest.

"In general, if your symptoms are from the neck up, go ahead and take a walk," said Dr. Nieman. "But if you have a fever or general aches and pains, rest up and let your body get over the illness."

Dr. Nieman also encourages people to engage in moderate-intensity exercise before getting a flu shot. After exercise, he said, the body responds better to the vaccine and gets a boost in immunity.

For more information, check out "Exercise and the Common Cold," ACSM's fact sheet dedicated to the relationship between safe exercise and illnesses. This fact sheet, written by Dr. Nieman, is part of a Current Comment fact sheet series available online at

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

HHS announces new tobacco strategy and proposed new warnings and graphics for cigarette packs and advertisements

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled a new comprehensive tobacco control strategy that includes proposed new bolder health warnings on cigarette packages and advertisements. Once final, these health warnings on cigarettes and in cigarette advertisements will be the most significant change in more than 25 years. These actions are part of a broader strategy that will help tobacco users quit and prevent children from starting.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year. Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are due to tobacco. Each day 1,200 lives of current and former smokers are lost prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases.

“Every day, almost 4,000 youth try a cigarette for the first time and 1,000 youth become regular, daily smokers,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public.”

The strategy includes a proposal issued by the Food and Drug Administration titled Required Warnings for Cigarette Packages and Advertisements. Specifically, the proposed rule details a requirement of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act that nine new larger and more noticeable textual warning statements and color graphic images depicting the negative health consequences of smoking appear on cigarette packages and in cigarette advertisements. The public has an opportunity to comment on 36 proposed images through January 9, 2011.

By June 22, 2011, FDA will select the final nine graphic and textual warning statements after a comprehensive review of the relevant scientific literature, the public comments, and results from an 18,000 person study. Implementation of the final rule (September 22, 2012) will ultimately prohibit companies from manufacturing cigarettes without new graphic health warnings on their packages for sale or distribution in the United States. In addition, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers will no longer be allowed to advertise cigarettes without the new graphic health warnings in the United States. By October 22, 2012, manufacturers can no longer distribute cigarettes for sale in the United States that do not display the new graphic health warnings.

“Today, FDA takes a crucial step toward reducing the tremendous toll of illness and death caused by tobacco use by proposing to dramatically change how cigarette packages and advertising look in this country. When the rule takes effect, the health consequences of smoking will be obvious every time someone picks up a pack of cigarettes,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. ” This is a concrete example of how FDA’s new responsibilities for tobacco product regulation can benefit the public’s health.”

The FDA action is part of a broad department-wide strategy that was announced by Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., MPH. While progress has been made, smoking remains particularly high with low-income and within certain racial/ethnic groups and in certain populations, including people with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control strategic Action Plan outlines specific, evidence-based actions that will help create a society free of tobacco-related death and disease.

“We are at an unprecedented time in our nation’s history to protect the public’s health from tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable, premature death in the United States,” said Dr. Koh. “It will take renewed commitment from every sector of society to end the tobacco epidemic.”

In addition to the announcements made today, other recent tobacco control and prevention efforts include:

The Affordable Care Act is giving Americans in private and public health plans access to recommended preventive care, like tobacco use cessation, at no additional cost.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) invested $225 million to support local, state and national efforts to promote comprehensive tobacco control and expand tobacco quitlines.

The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT) aims to stop the illegal sale of tobacco products over the Internet and through mail order, including the illegal sale to youth.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) gives FDA the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. Significant progress has already been made by restricting the use of the terms “light,” “low,” and “mild,” banning characterizing fruit, candy, and spice, flavors from cigarettes, and putting in place restrictions on the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to youth.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) raised the federal cigarette tax by 62 cents per pack. Raising the price of tobacco products is a proven way to reduce tobacco use, especially among price-sensitive populations such as youth.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Less Stress, But Atlantans Still Worry

/PRNewswire/ -- Money, work and the economy are significant causes of stress for residents of the Atlanta metropolitan area, although fewer Atlanta residents report having high levels of stress this year, according to a survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA) and conducted online by Harris Interactive in August 2010. Accompanying the lower stress levels is an increase in the number of residents concerned about housing costs, with 48 percent reporting housing costs a stressor in 2010 compared to 36 percent in 2009.

While news reports indicate that the nation's economy is improving, the survey showed more residents this year in Atlanta say that money is a significant cause of stress (80 percent in 2010 vs. 70 percent in 2009). Yet, even with the increase in stress regarding money, fewer Atlanta residents say they are doing enough to manage their stress this year than they did previously (55 percent in 2010 vs. 62 percent in 2009). Furthermore, while 70 percent of Atlanta residents feel that managing stress is important, less than half (40 percent) admit they do an excellent or very good job of it.

Although Atlantans are reporting lower levels of high stress (27 percent in 2010 vs. 37 percent in 2009), their stress is still higher than what they consider healthy (5.8 on a 10-point scale in 2010 compared to 3.8 reported as a healthy level of stress). The stress levels of Atlanta residents may be affecting their health-- survey numbers show that more people reported that they were told by their healthcare provider they were depressed (20 percent in 2010 vs. 10 percent in 2009) or had anxiety (10 percent in 2010 vs. 7 percent in 2009). And, the percentage of Atlanta residents who report their health as excellent or very good dropped from 42 percent in 2009 to 34 percent in 2010.

Lack of will power remains the number one barrier to change for Atlantans -- three out of ten adults (31 percent) continue to cite this as the reason they have not made the lifestyle adjustments recommended by their healthcare providers. Money appears to play a larger role in making behavior change this year, with almost a quarter (21 percent) of Atlanta residents reporting that it is too expensive for them to make the lifestyle and behavior changes recommended by their healthcare provider, compared to 13 percent in 2009.

In terms of job satisfaction, Atlanta residents report feeling as satisfied with their job as last year (67 percent in 2010 vs. 66 percent in 2009). However, more Atlanta residents reported job stability as a stressor (51 percent in 2010 vs. 45 percent in 2009). At their jobs, only a third (33 percent) of Atlantans say they are satisfied with how their employer helps employees handles work-life balance compared to nearly half (48 percent) in 2009.

"It's great news that people in the Atlanta area are reporting lower stress levels than in previous years, especially since we know there is a strong connection between chronic stress and serious health problems, " said Atlanta-area psychologist Dr. Angela Londono-McConnell, the public education coordinator for the Georgia Psychological Association. "But it is important to remember that even if stress is lower, it is still being reported as higher than what Atlanta residents consider healthy. Atlantans can manage their stress levels better by adopting healthy lifestyle changes."

At a national level, the annual Stress in America survey shows that Americans appear to be caught in a vicious cycle where they manage stress in unhealthy ways, and lack of willpower and time constraints impede their ability to make lifestyle or behavioral changes. In general, Americans recognize that their stress levels remain high and exceed what they consider to be healthy.

The national survey also found that while reported stress levels across the nation remain similar to last year, fewer adults report being satisfied with the ways that their employer helps employees balance work and personal life demands, and in general, concern about job stability is on the rise.

To read the full report on Atlanta and the United States, visit

Stress in America is part of APA's Mind/Body Health public education campaign. For additional information on stress and lifestyle and behavior, visit and read the campaign blog . Join the conversation about stress on Twitter by following @apahelpcenter and #stressAPA. Get your questions answered on November 10 at 2:00 p.m. EST for a live chat with psychologists at


The Stress in America Survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between August 3 and 27, 2010, of 1,134 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. In addition, an oversample of 213 adults living in the Atlanta MSA was collected. MSAs are a formal definition of metropolitan areas produced by OMB (Office of Management and Budget). These geographic areas are delineated on the basis of central urbanized areas —contiguous counties of relatively high population density. Counties containing the core urbanized area are known as the central counties of the MSA. Additional surrounding counties (known as outlying counties) can be included in the MSA if these counties have strong social and economic ties to the central counties as measured by commuting and employment. Note that some areas within these outlying counties may actually be rural in nature. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. To read the full methodology, visit .

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit . 

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Friday, November 05, 2010

Substance Found in Red Wine May Help Treat Malaria

/PRNewswire/ -- A compound found in the skin of grapes and used to make red wine may help fight severe malaria, raising hopes of finding a new adjunctive therapy against an illness that kills an estimated 1 million people a year, according to a study presented today at The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 59th Annual Meeting.

Resveratrol, which in earlier studies has been found to have beneficial anti-cancer effects and may protect the heart, had not previously been associated with fighting malaria or other infectious diseases.

A new National Institutes of Health study suggests that treatment of parasite-infected red blood cells with resveratrol significantly reduces their ability to adhere to the body's cells lining small blood vessels. That reduction in binding to blood vessels is predicted to greatly lessen the probability of developing severe clinical manifestations of malaria, according to the study.

The study suggests that resveratrol, which is commercially available, can be used in combination with antimalarial chemotherapy to improve the survival chances of people with severe malaria.

"Our results demonstrate the possibility of a new therapy to treat severe malaria," said Jordan A. Zuspann of the National Institutes of Health, who presented the work at the ASTMH session. "We hope that we have identified a way to ameliorate the severity of malaria in young African children."

Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. In humans, the parasites travel to the liver, where they eventually enter the bloodstream and infect red blood cells. The parasites multiply inside the red blood cells, which then rupture within 48 to 72 hours, infecting more red blood cells.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 300-500 million cases of malaria each year around the world – more than there are people in the United States. The parasites have developed resistance to some antibiotics, placing a premium on the discovery of new drug therapies in order to save lives.

Zuspann said that further investigation is needed to confirm these early but promising results.

"Our goals include pinpointing the mechanism that causes the effect within parasite-infected red blood cells that we have already documented, as well as possibly collecting similar data in endemic regions to further strengthen our study," said Zuspann.

"As we work toward eliminating malaria, it's essential that we control and treat the disease as much as possible," said ASTMH President Edward T. Ryan. "Any potential breakthrough in malaria treatment needs to be ardently pursued and studied. That's why funding for research in this area remains so critical. "

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Experts in Arthritis - For Patients Living in the Atlanta Region Update on Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Pediatric Arthritis

/PRNewswire/ -- This is a one-time offering in Atlanta, held in conjunction with the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, the world's foremost gathering of rheumatology health professionals. A free public seminar for people with arthritis who live in the Atlanta area, and people who care about them, this is a unique opportunity to learn from world-class experts.

The world-class experts will inform patients about current scientific evidence and management strategies in the treatment and care of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and pediatric arthritis. They will discuss the role of the patient in disease management, as well as the role of nutrition and exercise. They will then engage in a direct exchange with the experts on advances in clinical practice and research in question and answer sessions.

Arthritis affects more than 46 million Americans, including more than 300,000 children. With our aging baby boomer population, and increasing obesity, the incidence of bone and joint diseases, especially osteoarthritis, are expected to escalate over the coming 10-20 years. The purpose of the Bone and Joint Decade is to raise awareness of this situation, and to bring about an increase in prevention education, and in research which is the means to improve diagnosis and treatment.

The United States Bone and Joint Decade and American College of Rheumatology, event organizers, are collaborating with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, Arthritis Foundation, Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, the Arthritis Program - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University, Grady Health System, Morehouse School of Medicine, as well as the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to organize this gathering for patients and their families. Around 100 patients are expected to attend.

The U.S. Bone and Joint Decade (USBJD) which is part of the global Bone and Joint Decade, is an initiative to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people's quality of life. For more information on the USBJD, please visit

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Change Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Batteries When Changing Clocks This Weekend

/PRNewswire/ -- When you change your clocks this weekend, remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms too. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges consumers to make a habit of replacing smoke and CO alarm batteries when the time changes. Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 7 this year.

"Properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save lives by alerting you to a fire or to poisonous carbon monoxide in your home," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "In order to work properly, alarms need fresh batteries at least once every year."

In addition to changing batteries every year, CPSC recommends consumers test their alarms monthly. Place smoke alarms on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas and inside each bedroom. CO alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas. CO alarms should not be installed in attics or basements unless they include a sleeping area. Combination smoke and CO alarms are available to consumers.

Fire departments responded to an estimated 385,100 residential fires nationwide that resulted in an estimated 2,470 civilian deaths, 12,600 injuries and $6.43 billion in property losses annually, on average, from 2005 through 2007.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that consumers cannot see or smell. An average of 181 unintentional non-fire CO poisoning deaths occurred annually associated with consumer products, including portable generators, from 2004 through 2006.

CPSC is sponsoring a nationwide carbon monoxide poster contest to increase awareness about the dangers of CO in the home. The poster contest is open to all middle school students in grades 6, 7 and 8 through December 31. Each of nine finalists will receive $250 in prize money. The grand prize winner will be awarded an additional $500. More information about the contest is available at Encourage your middle school student to participate.

CPSC also urges consumers to test electrical outlets in their homes that are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, also called GFCIs or GFIs. A GFCI is an inexpensive electrical device that can be installed in a home's electrical system to protect against severe or fatal electric shocks. If you don't have GFCIs, have them installed by a qualified electrician.

Test the GFCI after installation, at least once every month, after a power failure and according to the manufacturer's instructions. See our GFCI Fact Sheet for more information about GFCIs, where to install them and how to test them. []

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Home remedies: Expert guidance on what works, and what doesn't

(ARA) - When it comes to taking care of your family and yourself, your health is no place to cut corners. Many home remedies, however, can help save you money - and preserve your health - when used wisely to supplement regular care or emergency care from your doctor.

"While patients should always see their doctors for regular checkups and treatment for significant medical issues, it is possible to supplement that care with cost-effective home remedies," says Dr. Philip Hagen, a preventive medicine expert at Mayo Clinic and editor-in-chief of the new "Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies." "Common ailments often have simple treatments that could save families hundreds of dollars in medical costs each year."

Whether motivated by the need to cut costs in an uncertain economy or the desire to simplify their lives, many Americans are looking for information about home remedies and self-care. From ear pain and minor eye ailments to varicose veins, a host of ailments can be addressed with home remedies.

Mayo Clinic experts offer guidance, both in the new book and online, for anyone interested in trying some home remedies:

* Chili pepper seed, when used as a rub applied directly to the skin, may ease aching joints.

* Ginger is thought to relieve nausea, and many Asian cultures incorporate it into their diets as a digestive aid.

* A neti pot, a small pot with a long spout, may help reduce sinus inflammation caused by allergies.

* Insomniacs may find relief by inhaling the fragrance of lavender.

* Plant-derived compounds like soy have estrogen-like effects that may help ease hot flashes for women going through menopause.

* A humidifier may help ward off colds by increasing the moisture in the air of your home. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions.

* Vinegar is thought to reduce nail fungus. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in a mixture of one part vinegar, two parts warm water. Rinse your feet well and pat dry when done.

Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies also recommends you keep certain items on hand for general care and minor first-aid issues, including:

* Bandages of various sizes, gauze, paper or cloth tape, antibacterial ointment and antiseptic solution to deal with cuts.

* Cold packs, gauze, burn spray and an antiseptic cream to treat burns.

* Aids such as a thermometer, aspirin (for adults only) and acetaminophen for children to treat aches, pain and fever.

* Cold packs, elastic wraps and finger splints for sprains, strains and fractures. Remember, however, that serious injuries require treatment from a medical professional.

"Home remedies may not be appropriate for treating every situation all the time; when in doubt, it is always best to consult a medical professional," Hagen says. "But it may be possible to care for minor health issues at home, or to use home remedies to enhance the care you're already receiving from your doctor."

"Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies" is available at bookstores nationwide. You can find more health guidance on home remedies and many other health issues at

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