Wednesday, April 30

Health Care and Fasting

When you purposely go for a period of time and not eat or drink, the experience is commonly known as a fast. Fasting can be going without food or liquids or both for a specific time frame, and is done for a variety of reasons. Going on a fast may have spiritual implications, or for the purpose of losing weight, preparing for a medical procedure, or for some other reason to the one who is going into the fasting period. However, there can be certain physical and mental risks to fasting. No one should enter into a fast unless they have consulted their doctor to make sure they are capable of withstanding a loss of food or liquids for a specific time.

According to MyDailyMoment.com, there are those dieters who believe that skipping meals will actually kick start the weight loss process. But experts know better -- bypassing breakfast, lunch or dinner is actually the quickest way to derail your diet efforts. While it may help you lose weight in the short term, it's actually water weight. In addition, fasting can cause dizziness and fatigue.

When your body goes into starvation mode and you can no longer tolerate the hunger, you're likely to binge and pack the weight back on...and then some. Even worse than that, it may increase your risk of diabetes. Researchers at the National Institute on Aging recorded elevated fasting glucose level and delayed insulin response -risk factors of diabetes -- in people who skipped meals and overate in the evenings.

In most cases, a spiritual fast involves abstaining from food while focusing on prayer. This can mean refraining from snacks between meals, skipping one or two meals a day, abstaining only from certain foods, or a total fast from all food for an entire day or longer.

For medical reasons, some people may not be able to fast from food altogether. They may choose to abstain only from certain foods, like sugar or chocolate, or from something other than food. In truth, believers can fast from anything. Doing without something temporarily, such as television or soda, as a way of redirecting your focus from earthly things toward God can also be considered a spiritual fast. Much more information about spiritual fasting can be found at this website: http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/spiritualfasting.htm.

According to Men’s Journal online, it seems counterintuitive, but skipping meals helps you feel more energized, recover better from exercise, blast fat, and retain lean muscle mass, and even protects your body from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and cognitive decline – which is why NASA is interested in looking at fasting to improve the cognitive functioning of pilots and unmanned-aerial-vehicle operators.

How does skipping meals provide these types of benefits? Because people sometimes went days between meals, bodies were designed to survive in times of feast and famine. Most Americans now live off a constant drip of processed food, which keeps blood sugars elevated and immune systems depressed. More material on this subject can be found at this site: http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/the-benefits-of-occasional-fasting-20121116.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet, but rather a dieting pattern. In simpler terms: it’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals. Intermittent fasting can potentially have some very positive benefits for somebody trying to lose weight or gain lean body mass, according to NerdFitness.com. Men and women will tend to have different results, just like each individual person has a different result. The only way to find out is with self-experimentation.There are multiple ways to “do” intermittent fasting:
  • Fast and feast regularly: Fast for a certain number of hours, then consume all calories within a certain number of hours.
  • Eat normally, then fast 1-2x a week: Consume your normal meals every day, then pick one or two days a week where you fast for 24 hours. Eat your last meal Sunday night, and then don’t eat again until dinner the following day.
  • Fast occasionally: probably the easiest method for the person who wants to do the least amount of work. Simply skip a meal whenever it’s convenient. On the road? Skip breakfast. Busy day at work? Skip lunch. Eat poorly all day Saturday? Make your first meal of the day dinner on Sunday.
By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting means eating your calories during a specific window of the day, and choosing not to eat food during the rest. Much more info on this topic is available at this website: http://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/2013/08/06/a-beginners-guide-to-intermittent-fasting/.

Fasting requires discipline but also involves getting to know yourself. One of the reasons it is part of numerous religious traditions is that fasting is a great way to discover things about yourself and what you believe. Fasting is a journey of discovery. Some elements of your experience will be similar to other peoples' experiences but the combination of reactions, insights, challenges, and success you have will be unique to your fasting practice, according to John Demlin who manages the “How to Fast” website.

If you have become motivated to fast and have never done so before you will need to begin to learn how your respond mentally and physically to not eating. As you gain experience you will discover your own set of internal challenges. These will be physical and mental. There will also be external challenges. As you move through your day you go from place to place you will inevitably come across food. This is true whether you stay at home, go to work or are on vacation. You will also find yourself in different social situations.

These may be interactions with your family, co-workers, and people that are part of the social communities that you have in your life. Interactions that you have with others can be a challenge because many social interactions involve food. There are also many social norms that influence how people think and feel about eating. All of these internal and external forces come into play when you carry out a fast. Once your fast is completed you can potentially realize more benefits and avoid some discomfort by being aware of a few things.

You have just put your body through a period of heightened detoxification. If you have been on an extended fast, you should have sought medical guidance that includes plans for how you will deal with some potentially serious issues once your fast ends. Your body has adjusted to a different state and you should not severely shock it by eating and drinking things that will cause discomfort and physical problems.

Even if you are not coming off a long restrictive fast (and are following the medically provided plan you have in place to break it!), you should carefully consider your first meal. The health effects of shorter fasts, for instance, can be extended by eating a simple but nutritious meal. If your fast has gone longer than a day, there is also a chance that you may experience discomfort that can include diarrhea or other sickness if you eat too heavy or too dense a meal when you break your fast. Much more detail on fasting can be found at this website: http://www.howtofast.net/http://www.howtofast.net/.

Fasting is done for many reasons. Many organizations of all types offer suggestions or tips on various ways to fast. When you decide to fast, always make sure you are prepared and have the right reasons in mind. Then, follow the instructions that have been provided, and check in with your doctor before and after to make certain you are healthy. Whether you are fasting for spiritual, physical, mental, or other purposes, it makes sense to always be careful.

Until next time.
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Thursday, April 24

Health Care and Long Term Care

Are you one of those individuals charged with the responsibility of preparing for moving into or helping to manage someone in long term care (LTC)? Then you know the challenges involved. If not, then you definitely need to research all the ins and outs of LTC, especially if you have loved ones who may be getting older or are incapacitated to the point of needing professional help to live in a situation they requires additional supervision.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Long-term careis a range of services and supports you may need to meet your personal care needs. Most long-term careis not medical care, but rather assistance with the basic personal tasks of everyday life, sometimes called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as:

·         Bathing
·         Dressing
·         Using the toilet
·         Transferring (to or from bed or chair)
·         Caring for incontinence
·         Eating

Other common long-term care services and supports are assistance with everyday tasks, sometimes called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) including:

·         Housework
·         Managing money
·         Taking medication
·         Preparing and cleaning up after meals
·         Shopping for groceries or clothes
·         Using the telephone or other communication devices
·         Caring for pets
·         Responding to emergency alerts such as fire alarms

Consider where you live and whether some of these tasks could be made easier by modifying your home. More info on this subject can be found at this site: http://longtermcare.gov/the-basics/what-is-long-term-care/.

About 70% of people turning age 65 will need long term care services at some point in their lives, according to HHS.  Long term care isn't intended to cure individuals. It is chronic care that someone might need for the rest of your life. This care can span years and can be expensive depending on the type of care you need and location where that care is received. Long term care insurance is one way of helping to pay for these expenses. Long term care is a complicated issue. The best way to weed out the misinformation about long term care is to learn the facts.

According to the Federal LTC Insurance Program, the cost of long term care varies greatly, depending on the type of care, the place provided, and the region where you receive your care. For instance, the average hourly cost of home care ranges from $15 per hour in Montgomery, Alabama, to $24 per hour in Hartford, Connecticut. Nursing home care costs vary from $148 per day in Shreveport, Louisiana, to $462 in New York City for a semi-private room.

Home care — which most people prefer — is generally more affordable than nursing home care, but still can be expensive. When averaged nationally, the cost of a six-hour visit by a home health aide is $114. That's $29,640 per year for a home health aide visiting six hours per day, five days a week. These costs rise significantly if around-the-clock care is needed. More detailed material on LTC can be found at their site: https://www.ltcfeds.com/index.html.

According to Forbes Magazine, too many people think that long-term care planning is just a decision about whether to purchase long-term care insurance. However, long-term care planning is so much more. It is a discussion about how you will fund this expense, where you will receive long-term care, and who will provide the care.

Unfortunately, very few people are prepared to deal with this risk as less than 8% of people have long term care insurance and only 10% of people in the US have an LTC plan in place. This lack of planning is extremely troubling because long-term care is a very real and expensive risk as nearly 70% of people are going to need some form of long term care at some point. And, the cost of one year in a semi-private nursing home can exceed $150,000.

While self-funding, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, and family provided care will continue to be the primary sources of long-term care funding for the foreseeable future, the market is changing and more people are becoming aware of these new and alternative ways in which to pay for long-term care. Whatever avenue you decide to take, having a plan in place is crucial.
 
Furthermore, as new financing opportunities develop and your circumstances change, your long-term care plan will likely need continued monitoring and adjusting. Much more information about various options can be found at this site: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2014/04/21/new-and-unexpected-ways-to-fund-long-term-care-expenses/.

Caregivers provide assistance to other people who because of physical disability, chronic illness or cognitive impairment are unable to perform certain activities on their own. So-called informal care can be offered by family members or friends, often in a home setting. Or paid or volunteer professional care, so-called formal care, can be obtained at home, in the community or from institutions such as nursing facilities or government institutions, according to the National Care Planning Council.

Roughly, 11.1 million Americans of all ages are receiving formal or informal care at any given time. This represents about 4% of the population and is comprised of about 9.5 million receiving care at home or in the community and another 1.6 million residing in nursing or intermediate care facilities. About 25.8 million family caregivers provide personal assistance to individuals 18 years or older who have a disability or chronic illness.

And nearly one out of every four households (22.4 million households) is involved in giving care to persons aged 50 or older. About 43% of those receiving care are under the age of 65 and are evenly spread between ages 18 to 64. Children under 18 and receiving assistance because of disability are often characterized under different criteria of caregiving. More information about LTC can be found at this site: http://www.longtermcarelink.net/eldercare/caregiving.htm.

Long term care requires careful planning and the use of professionals to help guide you through your options, especially if you plan on purchasing LTC insurance or consider other financing options. Don’t procrastinate thinking you have lots of years ahead of you. The reality is that LTC is drastically underfunded and unanticipated until it may be too late.

Until next time.
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Thursday, April 17

Health Care and the Passion of Christ

This week marks the high point of celebration of Christian believers worldwide with recognition of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ--otherwise known as Passion Week, the final days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection from death of the Holy One. Although the event took place, with historical and Biblical references validating what happened then, Easter Sunday is still looked upon by Christians as the highest, most significant day of the year.

Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the time from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). Also included within Passion Week are Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Passion Week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of His people. Passion Week is described in Matthew chapters 21-27; Mark chapters 11-15; Luke chapters 19-23; and John chapters 12-19. Passion Week begins with the triumphal entry on Palm Sunday on the back of a colt as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Passion Week contained several memorable events. Jesus cleansed the Temple for the second time (Luke 19: 45-46), then disputed with the Pharisees regarding His authority. Then He gave His Olivet Discourse on the end times and taught many things, including the signs of His second coming. Jesus ate His Last Supper with His disciples in the upper room (Luke 22: 7-38), then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His hour to come. It was here that Jesus, having been betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to several sham trials before the chief priests, Pontius Pilate, and Herod (Luke 22:54-23:25).

Following the trials, Jesus was scourged at the hands of the Roman soldiers, then was forced to carry His own instrument of execution (the Cross) through the streets of Jerusalem along what is known as the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). Jesus was then crucified at Golgotha (also known as Calvary) on the day before the Sabbath, was buried and remained in the tomb until Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, and then gloriously resurrected by God the Father.

It is referred to as Passion Week because in that time, Jesus Christ truly revealed His passion for us in the suffering He willingly went through on behalf of all who believe. What should your attitude be during Passion Week? Be passionate in your worship of Jesus and in your proclamation of His Gospel! As He suffered for you, so should you be willing to suffer for the cause of following Him and proclaiming the message of His death and resurrection, which is the Gospel, or Good News.

From the scriptures, read the account from John 19:16-20 in the New Testament:

16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews.
20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

Then, in verses 30-35:

30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.
33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.
35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.

Following, in verses 40-42:

40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

 Then, in John 20:1:

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

 And following in verses 11-18:

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

And finally, in verses 29-30:

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Christian faith, according to the Apostle Paul, who even says that if Jesus Christ has not been resurrected then the Christian faith is worthless and futile (1 Cor. 15:14-17). Therefore, without Easter there is no Christianity.

Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.

All those who believe inherit the opportunity to celebrate life after death. As the holiest week of the year is celebrated with Easter as the zenith, find your way to the Passion of the Christ.

Until next time.
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Tuesday, April 15

Health Care and Fire Ants

Although summer is not quite here yet, one of the scourges of American yards across the land soon to emerge on the landscape is a pesky little varmint known as the Fire Ant. These terrible marauders inflict a poisonous bite that can hurt when you are stung, and then linger on as a sore for some time until the spot on your skin eventually heals. If you’ve ever been bitten by one, you’ll know. And some people are very allergic to the venom.

According to the Orkin Company, though not a native species in North America, the red imported fire ant has become a common nuisance throughout the southern United States, ranging from Florida to California and as far north as Oklahoma and Virginia. The red imported fire ant (Solenopsisinvicta) was accidentally brought into the United States in the 1930s via a shipment of cargo. Initially transplanted into Alabama, they have spread and thrived throughout the southern states with the warm climate and lack of predators.

Fire ants favor warm, sunny conditions. They prefer dry fields and avoid shady areas such as woods. Typical mounds can grow up to 61 cm in diameter and 18 cm high. These colonies can contain several hundred thousand ants, including at least one queen.

When attacking, fire ants first use their mandibles to grip their prey, and then inject venom through a stinger. Fire ant stings are painful for most humans and fatal to some: if a victim experiences a severe reaction such as sweating, nausea or excessive itching, emergency medical services should be contacted immediately. Their sting, which includes alkaloid venom, is highly irritating to humans and results in red bumps and white pustules, which can ultimately lead to scarring.

The sensation of a fire ant burn has been described as “stinging” and “intense burning,” and fire ants are known to attack potential threats or prey in large numbers. A fire ant colony may contain 100,000 to 500,000 insects, thus increasing the likelihood that multiple stings will be inflicted. A pest control agency should be contacted in the event of fire ant activity. Professionals can manage lawn infestations while securing homes against indoor invasions. More information can be found at this website: http://www.orkin.com/ants/fire-ant/ .

This year especially, persistent cold snaps in many traditionally mild areas of the U.S. have prompted questions concerning Imported Fire Ant endurance in the frigid winter weather, according to this website: http://www.extension.org/pages/70330/extreme-temperatures-affect-fire-ants. It’s difficult to expose fire ants to lethal temperatures because they move within the mound to avoid temperature extremes. When temperatures drop, fire ants move deeper into the warmer soil below the surface to avoid the cold. However, if the temperatures drop rapidly they may not be able to avoid the cold, especially if wet soil prevents them from moving deeper in the mound. Persistent cold temperatures are required to impact fire ant populations.

Fire ants die quickly when exposed to temperatures in the teens or lower. Cold impacts on fire ant populations are localized. Fire ant mounds located near homes and other heat sinks will be protected from the colder temperatures to some extent. Even if some colonies die, others will survive. Over time, under optimal conditions, population densities will rebound to pre-existing levels or larger.

A drop in visible activity does not always mean a decreased population. On warmer days after the recent cold snap, dead fire ants workers were found on the top of mound indicating some ants had survived to move the dead ants out of the colony. When the weather warms again in the spring, it will be important to continue to scout for mounds. Problems arise when the perceived drop in population causes population management to cease.

For more information about the effects of temperatures on Fire Ants, check out the FAQ questions on eXtension.org at http://www.extension.org/pages/34823/will-a-hard-winter-kill-fire-ants#.UvkDURbinNA.

For most people a single fire ant sting is a ‘mildly painful’ experience that would quickly be forgotten were it not for the ‘mildly irritating’ pustule, according to Mississippi State University Extension Service. Unfortunately, a stinging encounter with fire ants usually involves more than one ant, and each year many people have the experience of being stung by dozens, or even hundreds, of fire ants.

The pain and irritation associated with a single sting is multiplied many fold in such incidents. Most people recover from such encounters with no lasting ill effects, and it is only when such stinging incidents involve many hundreds or thousands of stings that they become truly threatening. But incidents of this magnitude do occasionally occur, usually involving people who are less mobile due to age, accident or infirmity.

Although a few fire ant stings do not constitute a medical emergency for most people, a very small percent of people develop allergic reactions to fire ant venom. These vary in intensity, but in the most extreme cases even a few stings can result in the life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. Each year there are cases of human fatalities resulting from fire ant stings, either due to anaphylaxis or to massive numbers of stings occurring on people who are incapacitated.

Given the pain and discomfort that can result from even a few fire ant stings, it is fortunate that fire ants do not normally aggressively seek out and attack human beings. The vast majority of stinging events occur when people inadvertently ‘attack’ the fire ants, usually by unknowingly stepping in, lying in, or otherwise disturbing the mound. The ants perceive this disturbance as a direct attack and the workers quickly react en masse to defend their colony. More info can be found at this site: http://msucares.com/insects/fireants/sting.html.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH), home treatment depends on the location of, and reaction to, the sting. Wash the exposed area with plenty of soap and water. Do not use alcohol to wash the area. Wash eyes with plenty of water if any toxin gets in them. For mild stings, place ice (wrapped in a washcloth or other suitable covering) on the bite area for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process. If the patient has circulatory problems, decrease the time to prevent possible damage to the skin.

Some people are very allergic to fire ant venom. If the reaction is severe, seek immediate medical help and call your local emergency number (such as 911) or poison control. Those who have an allergy to insect bites or stings should carry a bee sting kit (which requires a prescription) and become familiar with how to use it in the event of an emergency.

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions. This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The health care provider dealing with fire ant bites measures and monitors the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The wound will be treated as appropriate. The sooner appropriate treatment is started, the better the outcome. Patients not allergic to fire ants should be completely fine in a few hours to a few days. More details can be found at this website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002843.htm.

Fire ant bites can be painful, and most people don’t have many after affects other than some localized bumps and brief reactions to them. More than anything, the affected area is a nuisance that goes away after a short time. However, for those individuals who suffer from allergies to fire ant bites, seek medical attention as quickly as possible to avoid any serious health emergencies. And, stock up on fire ant bait from your local home improvement store. Plus, just in case, keep the poison control hotline on speed dial.

Until next time.

 
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Tuesday, April 8

Health Care and Texting while Driving

There are actually around 11 million accidents on US roads every year, due to all causes. Please drive carefully -- and make sure you're properly protected with good auto insurance.

In the time it takes you to read this brief note, between 5 and 10 autos will crash because the driver was using a cell phone, according to Tri-Star Insurance in Plano, Texas. It's not just the physical act of using your hands to take a call or, even worse, texting, that's to blame. It's also the fact that drivers become distracted when they focus on the phone.

That's why, increasingly, research shows that even using a hands-free device doesn't significantly reduce the chances of an accident. Just because it's legal to use a hands-free device doesn’t mean it's safe. And you don’t need more evidence than statistics showing that cell-related accidents are going up, not down.

A common distraction problem is to miss traffic signals or fail to spot other road hazards, like a cyclist or an overtaking vehicle. One report suggests a cell phone can impair a driver's ability as much as being drunk. Sorry to have to tell you, there's only one sure way to avoid this problem and that is to put your cell phone out of reach -- either switching it off or putting it in the glove compartment (or even the trunk if you're otherwise likely to be tempted).

You might find this tough to do at first. You need to develop the habit. As it happens, April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, a campaign organized by the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org), so this would be a great time to take the pledge and drive cell-free and encourage others to do the same.

If you have teenagers in your orbit -- through family, work or other connections -- it's even more important to get them to understand the risks they're taking. If they won't listen, get them to visit the non-profit www.cellphonesafety.org. Or tell them that 1 million crashes were caused by cell phone distraction in 2013. It's a shocking statistic you can do something about.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the popularity of mobile devices has had some unintended and even dangerous consequences--mobile communications are linked to a significant increase in distracted driving, resulting in injury and loss of life.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010 driver distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes – with 3,092 people killed – and crashes resulting in an injury – with 416,000 people wounded.

Forty percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger, according to a Pew survey.  The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.

Eleven percent of drivers aged 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted they were sending or receiving texts when they crashed.

Distracted driving endangers life and property and the current levels of injury and loss are unacceptable. To stem this problem, the FCC is working with industry, safety organizations, and other government agencies, to inform and educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving and is seeking to identify and facilitate the development of innovative technologies that could reduce the incidence of distracted driving. More info is available at this site: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/texting-while-driving.

Here are some more frightening stats. Texting while driving is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country’s top killers. Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving and remain safe, but the numbers don’t lie.

Texting While Driving Causes:

1. 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council.
2. 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study.
3. 11 teen deaths EVERY DAY – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts.
4. Nearly 25% of ALL car accidents.

Texting While Driving Is:

1. About 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated.
2. The same as driving after 4 beers – National Hwy Transportation Safety Administration.
3. The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers.

Texting While Driving:

1. Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time – Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
3. Takes place by 800,000 drivers at any given time across the country.
4. Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – Human Factors & Ergonomics Society.
5. Leads to a 400% increase with eyes off the road.

More material on this subject can also be found at this website: http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats/.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), states have distracted driving laws. Some localities have additional regulations.

Hand-held Cell Phone Use: 12 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Beginning in October 2013, all laws will be primary enforcement—an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

All Cell Phone Use:No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit it for school bus drivers.

Text Messaging:Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 43 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 5 have primary enforcement. Of the 7 states without an all driver texting ban:

--4 prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
--3 restrict school bus drivers from texting.

See this site for extreme details by state: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/cellphone_laws.html.

No matter what your excuse, texting while driving is dangerous. Plus, it’s illegal in many areas. Don’t do it. Looking at a text for two seconds is not worth dying for.

Until next time.
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Friday, April 4

Health Care and Flouride

Over the past several decades, a huge push in public health has been the fluoridation of water in the water of most municipalities in the United States. Fluoride-containing compounds are used in topical and systemic fluoride therapy for preventing tooth decay. They are used for water fluoridation and in many products associated with oral hygiene.

Originally, sodium fluoride was used to fluoridate water; hexafluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) and its salt sodium hexafluorosilicate (Na2SiF6) are more commonly used additives, especially in the United States. The fluoridation of water is known to prevent tooth decay and is considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century", according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the American Dental Association, there are two ways that you can benefit from fluoride: topically and systemically. Topical fluoride is the type of fluoride you receive at the dental office or when you use dental products—such as toothpastes or mouth rinses. Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply, which in the United States applies to nearly 74 percent of the population.

While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride taken in largely from drinking water and other beverages strengthens tooth enamel making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit. After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverse early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, you are providing a “topical” benefit because the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. More info can be found at this site: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/fluoride.

Also according to the American Dental Association (ADA), on January 25,1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the world's first city to adjust the level of fluoride in its water supply. Since that time, fluoridation has dramatically improved the oral health of tens of millions of Americans. Community water fluoridation is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. Approximately 72.4% of the U.S. population served by public water systems receive the benefit of optimally fluoridated water.

Fluoridation of community water supplies is simply the adjustment of the existing, naturally occurring fluoride levels in drinking water to an optimal fluoride level recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service (0.7 – 1.2 parts per million) for the prevention of tooth decay. Water that has been fortified with fluoride is similar to fortifying milk with Vitamin D, table salt with iodine, and bread and cereals with folic acid.

Studies conducted throughout the past 65 years have consistently shown that fluoridation of community water supplies is safe and effective in preventing dental decay in both children and adults. Simply by drinking water, children and adults can benefit from fluoridation's cavity protection whether they are at home, work or school.

Today, studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 20 – 40%, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste. Fluoridation is one public health program that actually saves money. An individual can have a lifetime of fluoridated water for less than the cost of one dental filling. More info can be located at this site: http://www.ada.org/fluoride.aspx.

However, there has been a growing pushback against using flouride in the public water systems. Fluoridation of water has an overwhelmingly large body of evidence that states it is not only unnecessary, but downright unethical, ineffective and unhealthy. The purported benefits of fluoridated water are more in the general imagination than in reality because fluoride's action on the body is purely topical, not systemic. However, the negative impact of fluoride is purely systemic, and could well be topical as well. Fluoridation belongs to an era when hazardous chemicals were used under the erroneous belief that they somehow helped humanity - DDT, leaded petroleum, asbestos and PCBs, effluents being passed off as vanilla essence and BPA-laced plastics that were considered food grade among plastics.

Fluoride has toxic effects and can do more harm than good, especially if one is already vulnerable due to a certain illness or health condition. Far from being the panacea to a lack of dental health, water fluoridation is causing a condition amongst children that discolors their teeth. This condition is called dental fluorosis. Diseases of the bones, such as brittle bones in the elderly or in patients with advanced forms of kidney disease are also one of the dangers of ingesting fluoridated water.

Fluoride, consumed excessively, as can be the case with fluoridated water, leads to its accumulation in the pineal gland, severely slowing down the production of melatonin, an essential hormone for optimal functioning of the body, including sleep regulation. It is also known to accumulate in other parts of the body, thereby rendering them unhealthy. Fluoride can also cause bone cancer in young men, thyroid malfunction, and arthritis in otherwise healthy humans, to name only a few.

More information on this debate can be found at this website: http://www.naturalnews.com/040986_fluoride_water_supply_chemical_waste.html.

Additionally, as reported in the Huffington Post, a recently-published Harvard University meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has concluded that children who live in areas with highly fluoridated water have "significantly lower" IQ scores than those who live in low fluoride areas. Fluoride can also increase manganese absorption, compounding problems, since manganese in drinking water has also been linked to lower IQ in children. Studies have shown that fluoride toxicity can lead to a wide variety of health problems, including:

• Increased lead absorption
• Disrupts synthesis of collagen
• Hyperactivity and/or lethargy
• Muscle disorders
• Thyroid disease
• Arthritis
• Dementia
• Bone fractures
• Lowered thyroid function
• Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
• Inactivates 62 enzymes and inhibits more than 100
• Inhibited formation of antibodies
• Genetic damage and cell death
• Increased tumor and cancer rate


More indepth material about this report on water flouridation and its affects can be found at this site: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/fluoride_b_2479833.html.

Meanwhile, as the argument rages over whether or not to flouridate water systems, dentists recommend using toothpaste with flouride. Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt, instead of waiting until children are older, according to new guidelines by the American Dental Association.

To fight the rising number of cavities in the very young, the dental group now advises getting a jump-start on prevention. However, they emphasize only the tiniest amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used to minimize the risk of mild discoloration, white spots or streaking of the teeth, a condition called fluorosis that is caused by ingesting fluoride toothpaste at a young age.

The Journal of the American Dental Association this month concluded that scientific evidence, though limited in children under age 6 and more robust in older children, demonstrated that fluoride toothpaste is effective in controlling tooth decay, and that “the appropriate amount” should be used “by all children regardless of age.” More details can be found at this site: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/12/dental-group-advises-fluoride-toothpaste-before-age-2/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0.

Regardless of your position on flouride, there is a body of evidence on each side of the debate about its effectiveness for dental care. As a concerned and educated person, you should research the material and talk with professionals to determine your feelings about how to proceed. For some, you may consider using flouride as too risky. And for others, there may be no concerns. Talk with your dentist about their opinion and if they can point you to information that can help you learn more about it. The bottom line is, however, don’t ignore your dental hygiene.

Until next time.
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