Thursday, December 09, 2010

Flu Tips for People with Asthma

/PRNewswire/ -- Allergy &Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), leading patient advocacy group for people with asthma and allergies, urges everyone with asthma and their family members (over 6 months of age) to get a flu shot.

"People with asthma are at high risk of developing complications from the flu, so it's important to do everything possible to avoid getting sick," explains Carol Jones, RN, AE-C, Director of AANMA's Patient Support Center. "That means getting everyone in the household (except babies under 6 months of age) vaccinated against flu every year. It takes up to 2 weeks for the vaccination to take full effect, so to protect your holidays, get your vaccinations today."

"The flu shot is Step 1 in flu prevention," agrees David Callahan, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "This year's flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: the 2009 H1N1 virus and two others expected to circulate. Everyone with asthma who is 6 months and older should get a flu vaccination, whether or not they got the H1N1 vaccine last year."

CDC also says some children younger than 9 may need two doses of flu vaccine to be protected; and no one with asthma should receive the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist®).

Other tips for people with asthma:

* Ask your healthcare provider to update your written, customized Asthma Action Plan with specific flu and cold precautions. (Don't have one? e-mail editor@aanma.org for a sample.)
* Treat cold or flu symptoms early and aggressively. Activate your Asthma Action Plan at the first sign of symptoms to reduce airway inflammation and keep breathing tubes clear.
* Make sure all of your medications are up-to-date, including inhalers and nebulizer solutions.
* Check your nebulizer equipment: Is it clean? Do you need new tubing or medicine cups? Does your child need a new, larger mask? Replace them now if necessary.

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Are Energy Beverages Safe to Drink When Exercising?

The resurgence of exercise has been accompanied by multiple supplements, sports drinks, and energy beverages that promise to enhance performance, muscle growth, and recovery. But the question remains: Are energy beverages safe?

"One can of an energy beverage during one session of exercise is safe for most healthy individuals," says John Higgins, M.D., lead author from The University of Texas Medical School in Houston. However, he states, "excess consumption and consumption with other caffeine-containing beverages or alcohol may lead to adverse effects and possibly death."

The United States is the world's largest consumer of energy beverages by volume, and consumption is primarily among people ages 11 to 35 years. The most common ingredient is caffeine, which ranges from 50 milligrams (mg) to 505 mg per 16-ounce serving.

A peer-reviewed journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is published monthly by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to the medical education of physicians. The journal has been published for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally. Articles are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org Launches First-of-Its-Kind Resource To Help Parents in Crisis Understand and Navigate Adolescent Drug and Alcohol Treatment

/PRNewswire/ -- Nine million of America's teens and young adults are struggling with drugs and alcohol(1), yet unlike most other adolescent health issues or diseases, parents have not found a concise path to resources and support for teen drug and alcohol addiction. In response, The Partnership at Drugfree.org has launched Time To Get Help (http://timetogethelp.drugfree.org), a first-of-its-kind website and online community to provide parents of teens and young adults with lifesaving information when families are in crisis and facing their child's addiction. It offers comprehensive insight into adolescent alcohol and drug abuse, dependence and addiction; support from top experts and other parents who have been there; and treatment options for their child and family.

The Need: Trial and Error Dominate Struggle to Find a Solution

Of the nine million teens and young adults needing treatment, two million are between the ages of 12-17, and ninety percent of those are not getting the help they need.(2) Research from the 2009 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, also shows that parents of teens in trouble are more likely to go to the Internet for help, yet they often struggle with confusing and convoluted intervention and treatment information. This results in frustration and misssteps in their ongoing search for the 'perfect' treatment options for their child.

"If you search the web for 'teen drug problem,' you find more than 300,000 results. If you do a search for 'drug treatment,' the number climbs to more than 31 million. With millions of pages of information, it's no wonder parents are uncertain of where and who to turn to when dealing with teen addiction," said Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Time To Get Help bridges the gap between the questions parents have when it comes to their child's drug and alcohol addiction and the answers and resources they desperately need for treatment. It was created with parents – and for parents – as one destination to find easy-to-use, non-judgmental and science-based information and support."

"Time To Get Help comes right at the time when you know your child has a problem and you don't know where to go. You don't know who to talk to," said Melissa Gilbert, spokesperson for The Partnership at Drugfree.org. "Dedicated to treatment, it gives you the precise knowledge and resources you need to help a child in crisis. And the site's online community provides parents a place to breathe, a place to feel safe and to know that they are not alone."

Addressing the need for clear, available information for parents, the new peer-to-peer resource offers two practical e-Books, both free of charge, that educate them on what they need to know about youth intervention and treatment. The downloadable e-Books and new site provide the most current information and cutting-edge advice from experts including the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), one of the field's leading research groups specializing in addiction and substance use issues. TRI's senior researchers and the organization's own Science Advisory Board helped to translate research into the most effective and practical tools for parents at Time To Get Help.

Housed under the "Get Treatment" and the "Learn" sections of The Partnership at Drugfree.org's newly relaunched website, the Intervention e-Book helps parents respond when they think or know their child is using alcohol or other drugs. The organization's Treatment e-Book provides advice and guidance when it appears their child may need treatment for a serious drug problem, including the right questions to ask a prospective treatment program and tips on how to pay for treatment.

"Too many treatment providers, as well as society at large, blame parents for the youth's addiction or ignore them in the recognition, treatment and recovery process," said Gayle A. Dakof, PhD, member of The Partnership at Drugfree.org Science Advisory Board and Research Associate Professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "This is why Time To Get Help is so important. The site not only gives parents access to the highest quality information and treatment for their children, but also underscores the important fact that they are not part of the problem, but a critical part of the solution."

Along with its "Community" section where parents can share their stories, Time To Get Help also features "Helping Hand," where difficult questions can be asked and peer-to-peer and expert advice on intervention, treatment and recovery are offered. Under "Make a Plan," worksheets and guides help direct a parent's conversation with treatment program staff in deciding which one is the best fit for their child and checklists help them take care of their own emotional needs while going through these times.

Time To Get Help was guided by the input and real-world experiences of the organization's Parent Advisory Board, including mom Patricia Genereux. "I struggled to understand my daughter's behavior. I asked myself if it was common young adult behavior or something more. We didn't understand how best to get an intervention or if one was even appropriate." She continues, "I wish we had been able to click on Time To Get Help to help navigate through the maze of information. The tools, conversation examples and guidance on the site help families understand the disease itself, prevention measures, intervention, treatment and recovery. It's the best start any parent could hope for to learn, find support and take action."

Opening up about these difficult issues isn't always easy. In response, the site's online community allows parents to connect and ask questions – openly or anonymously. The forum helps them wherever they are on their path, from those who recently discovered their child is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction to those who need support with treatment and recovery.

"Receiving support from others who have been through what you are going through can be very powerful and helpful, and often one of the most effective ways to stay hopeful, inspired and sane," said Lorraine McNeill-Popper, a mom and a member of The Partnership at Drugfree.org Parent Advisory Board. "You will find out that you are not alone in this fight against addiction and learn from other parents."

Time To Get Help was sponsored by Purdue Pharma and by a leadership grant from an anonymous donor. For more information, visit http://timetogethelp.drugfree.org/.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

The Flu is Still Here: Get Vaccinated!

It's that time of year again!  While many Georgians will be sharing gifts and warm wishes this holiday season, the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) is reminding you to get vaccinated so you are not sharing the flu.


"Georgians should continue to do their part to prevent the spread of the flu by getting vaccinated," said Dr. Anil Mangla, DCH's Director of Infectious Diseases and Immunizations program and State Epidemiologist.  "Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect you, your loved ones and your community from the flu."

The flu season typically begins in October and can last until May.  Georgia is currently experiencing moderate flu activity with no deaths.  People can decrease their chances of getting the flu by practicing basic flu safety tips such as washing your hands often with soap and water or using hand sanitizer, staying at home when you are sick, coughing into the bend of your elbow and receiving a seasonal flu vaccination.

This year's seasonal flu vaccination protects against three influenza viruses, including the 2009 H1N1 strain, and is available at local county health departments, pharmacies and clinics.  This is the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a universal recommendation for everyone 6 months and older to receive a seasonal flu vaccination.  It is especially recommended for those at high-risk of flu complications to seek vaccination.  High-risk groups include:

  • Children 6 months through 18 years of age
  • People 50 years and older
  • People with chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma
  • People living in nursing homes or long-term care homes
  • Women who are pregnant
  • Health care providers
In addition to the flu shot, DCH recommends that Georgians keep their immune system strong by eating a healthy diet, getting an adequate amount of sleep daily, managing their stress and engaging in regular physical activity.

While this is the season for sharing and caring, let's not share the flu.  Get vaccinated and happy holidays!

For additional information on immunizations, log onto www.georgiahealthinfo.gov.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

National Influenza Vaccination Week to be held December 5-11, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set aside the week of December 5-11, 2010 to observe this season's National Influenza Vaccination Week. The week-long emphasis on flu vaccination was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond. National Influenza Vaccination Week provides an opportunity for public health professionals, health care professionals, health advocates, communities, and families from across the country to work together to promote flu vaccination before the traditional winter peak in flu activity.

With three strains of flu expected to circulate in the 2010-2011 season, it is important that everyone 6 months of age and older get vaccinated if they haven't already done so, to protect themselves and their loved ones from flu. The three flu strains identified by the CDCs' Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices are an A/H3N2 strain, a B strain and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain. This year's flu vaccine provides protection against all three strains and approximately 160 million doses of the vaccine have already been distributed nationwide.

The universal flu vaccine recommendation, which encourages everyone 6 months of age and older to be vaccinated, took effect this flu season, "The new vaccination recommendation shows the importance of preventing the flu in everyone," says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC's Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "People who do not get vaccinated are taking two risks: first, they are placing themselves at risk for the flu, including a potentially long and serious illness, and second, if they get sick, they are also placing their close contacts at risk for influenza."

"The bottom line is, anyone—even healthy people—can get sick from the flu," said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. "Lead the way to better health for all by getting your flu shot."

One of the many goals for NIVW is to engage at-risk audiences who are not yet vaccinated, hesitant about vaccination, or unsure about where to get vaccinated. Each day of National Influenza Vaccination Week is designated to highlight the importance for certain groups such as families, older adults, and people with high risk conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart problems, to get vaccinated. The kickoff day, Sunday, December 5th, will emphasize the importance of the universal vaccination recommendation, because everyone needs to be protected from flu.

State and local public health departments and other partners are encouraged to participate in planning their own NIVW events. For more information about National Influenza Vaccination Week, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/nivw/ or http://www.flu.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' dedicated flu website.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

HHS announces the nation’s new health promotion and disease prevention agenda

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today unveiled Healthy People 2020, the nation’s new 10-year goals and objectives for health promotion and disease prevention, and “myHealthyPeople,” a new challenge for technology application developers.

For the past 30 years, Healthy People has been committed to improving the quality of our Nation’s health by producing a framework for public health prevention priorities and actions.

“The launch of Healthy People 2020 comes at a critical time,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Our challenge and opportunity is to avoid preventable diseases from occurring in the first place.”

Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are responsible for seven out of every 10 deaths among Americans each year and account for 75 percent of the nation’s health spending. Many of the risk factors that contribute to the development of these diseases are preventable.

“Too many people are not reaching their full potential for health because of preventable conditions,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., M.P.H. “Healthy People is the nation’s roadmap and compass for better health, providing our society a vision for improving both the quantity and quality of life for all Americans.”

The Healthy People initiative is grounded in the principle that setting national objectives and monitoring progress can motivate action, and indeed, in just the last decade, preliminary analyses indicate that the country has either progressed toward or met 71 percent of its Healthy People targets.

Healthy People 2020 is the product of an extensive stakeholder feedback process that is unparalleled in government and health. It integrates input from public health and prevention experts, a wide range of federal, state and local government officials, a consortium of more than 2,000 organizations, and perhaps most importantly, the public. More than 8,000 comments were considered in drafting a comprehensive set of Healthy People 2020 objectives. Based on this input, a number of new topic areas are included in the new initiative, including:

• Adolescent Health
• Blood Disorders and Blood Safety
• Dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease
• Early and Middle Childhood
• Genomics
• Global Health
• Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being
• Healthcare-Associated Infections
• Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health
• Older Adults
• Preparedness
• Sleep Health
• Social Determinants of Health


Healthy People is also issuing a special challenge to encourage developers to create easy-to-use applications for professionals who are working with the new national health objectives and state- and community-level health data.

“This milestone in disease prevention and health promotion creates an opportunity to leverage information technology to make Healthy People come alive for all Americans in their communities and workplaces,” said Chief Technology Officer Todd Park. “The ‘myHealthyPeople’ apps challenge will help spur innovative approaches to helping communities track their progress using Healthy People objectives and targets as well as develop an agenda for health improvement.”

HHS is also launching a newly redesigned Healthy People Web site that allows users to tailor information to their needs and explore evidence-based resources for implementation. The Web site is located at: www.healthypeople.gov. For more information about myHealthyPeople, go to www.challenge.gov/

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