Posts made in December, 2013

Summer Heat

Posted by on Dec 21, 2013 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Summer Heat

Beat the summer heat Summer in South Africa is no laughing matter. Everyone knows that sinking feeling when temperatures in the 30+ region are forecast. So what can you do, besides waiting for winter with bated breath? Quite a lot actually. Take action: Organise your trips to meetings and shops for the early morning, before the real heat sets in; keep a bottle with partly frozen water in your bag or in the car – and drink as much as possible; wear natural fabrics – cotton allows your skin to breathe, unlike synthetic materials such as nylon; invest in a mosquito net and bars for your bedroom window or outside door, so that you can sleep with the doors or windows open; put a large plastic container of cold water in front of your fan – this will bring down the temperature; in an emergency, wrap wet towels round your feet or put on a damp garment. Deep heat Sun rays can burn even through thick glass, and under water. Up to 35 percent of UVB rays and 85 percent of UVA rays penetrate thick glass, while 50 percent of UVB rays and 77 percent of UVA rays penetrate a metre of water and wet cotton clothing. Take action: Apply sunscreen while driving your car on holiday, and water resistant block if you’re swimming. Stay indoors or in the shade between 10 am and 3 pm. Put on sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for more that 20 minutes. Get the rub on sunscreen Apart from only settling for a factor-30+ sunscreen this summer, what else should you know about this powerful weapon against the sun’s rays? Take action: Always shake your bottle of sunscreen before using it; rub it in well to ensure even coverage; when applying sunscreen to your face, first rub it into your hands before applying it; wait ten minutes before having a swim, or the sunscreen will just wash off; and reapply it after swimming, drying off with a towel or sweating. First aid for sunburn Sunburn easily results in first-degree burns, especially in young children. In severe cases, secondary burns could result. While children should be kept out of the sun between 10 am and 3 pm, parents can’t always keep an eye. So what should you do if your child has had too much sun? Take action: If needed, treat the child for dehydration; soothe the burns with cool water or compresses and let the child rest in a cool room; 1% hydrocortisone cream relieves pain, and tea tree oil may soothe the burn; use paracetamol for pain; apply lotion to relieve itch from peeling; and watch for signs of heat exhaustion. Hit that heat rash Prickly heat, a common heat-related skin rash, often occurs in children during summer. It’s a pimply, red skin eruption, which is most noticeable in the folds of the skin and on parts of the body where clothing or nappies fit snugly. Take action: Keep your child comfortably cool and avoid dressing her in tight fitting clothing in hot weather; choose natural fabrics as these allow easier movement of air across the skin than artificial fibres; if it’s very hot, make sure your child plays inside, or in the shade; give her plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration; and use talcum powder or corn starch in her skin creases. Be sun-savvy this summer The bronzed, sun-baked tan that used to be the essential summer fashion accessory is fading in favour of a spray-on tan or a natural look. But skin care in summer goes beyond sunblock. Take...

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Holiday Safety – Kids Around Water

Posted by on Dec 14, 2013 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Holiday Safety – Kids Around Water

Pools, lakes, ponds, and beaches mean summer fun and cool relief from hot weather. But water also can be dangerous for kids if you don’t take the proper precautions. Nearly 1,000 kids die each year by drowning. And most drownings occur in home swimming pools. Keeping Kids Safe Kids need constant supervision around water — whether the water is in a bathtub, a wading pool, an ornamental fish pond, a swimming pool, a spa, the beach, or a lake. Young children are especially vulnerable — they can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimeters) of water. That means drowning can happen where you’d least expect it — the sink, the toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, or small bodies of standing water around your home, such as ditches filled with rainwater. Always watch children closely when they’re in or near any water. Don’t assume that a child who knows how to swim isn’t at risk for drowning. All kids need to be supervised in the water, no matter what their swimming skill levels. Don’t forget the sunscreen and reapply frequently, especially if the kids are getting wet. UV sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing can also help provide sun protection. Kids should drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to prevent dehydration. It’s easy to get dehydrated in the sun, especially when kids are active and sweating. Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea are just some of the signs of dehydration and overheating. Body temperature drops more quickly in water than on land, and it does not take long for hypothermia to set in. If a child is shivering or experiencing muscle cramps, get him or her out of the water immediately. Making Kids Water Wise It’s important to teach your kids proper pool and spa behavior, and to make sure that you take the right precautions, too. Let kids know that they should contact the lifeguard or an adult if there’s an emergency. Kids shouldn’t run or push around the pool and should never dive in areas that are not marked for diving. If the weather turns bad (especially if there’s lightning), they should get out of the pool immediately. Above all, supervise your kids at all times. Don’t assume that just because your child took swimming lessons or is using a flotation device such as an inner tube or inflatable raft that there’s no drowning risk. If you’re at a party, it’s especially easy to become distracted, so designate an adult who will be responsible for watching the children. If you leave your child with a babysitter, make sure he or she knows your rules for the pool. At the Beach Teach kids to always swim when and where a lifeguard is on duty. They shouldn’t swim close to piers or pilings because sudden water movements may cause swimmers to collide with them. Unlike the calm waters of a swimming pool, the beach has special dangers like currents and tides. Check with the lifeguard when you arrive to find out about the water conditions. Don’t allow kids to swim in large waves or undertows, and tell them never to stand with their back to the water because a sudden wave can easily knock them over. Teach kids that if they’re caught in a rip current or undertow, they should swim parallel to the shore or should tread water and call for a lifeguard’s help. The stings of jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars can be painful, so tell kids to avoid them in the water and to tell an adult right away if they’re stung. Whether at the lake or at the...

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Keeping Kids Safe Over the Holidays

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Keeping Kids Safe Over the Holidays

Along with the wonder and excitement of the upcoming holidays, comes some increased stress and worry.To alleviate some of the stress caused by traveling with the kids and/or having family and friends in from out of town – think about implementing a few simple safety guidelines within your family to avoid some vacation pitfalls. Sit down as a family before your trip or before relatives and friends come into town and have a conversation involving the following: Use the Buddy System: Children are more vulnerable when they are alone.  We want to stress the importance of children using the Buddy System when out and about. Even though you may think you already do this, take the time to have a direct conversation about what the Buddy System means. Kids often need concrete examples to understand our expectations. 1. Communication Communication between the adults should be very clear about who is watching the child.  We cannot tell you how many times a child goes missing at a theme park or public place, and one spouse turns to the other and says in a panic, “I thought you had your eye on her.” 2.  Public Restrooms Set guidelines before any trip that children of all ages will use the public restrooms only when accompanied by an adult. Please take this precaution especially at highway rest stops and large venues. This of course applies to young children but it also can apply to your 10-year-old son entering the woman’s room with you and vice-versa with a dad traveling alone with his daughter. Have these conversations before the trip so your children understand the expectations and will not be resistant once you are at the crowded bathrooms. 3.  Getting Lost Introduce the concept of “Check First.” Say to your children, “We are going to be visiting with family, going sightseeing, etc and I don’t want to lose any of you.” (Humor works great when talking about personal safety). “With that said, kids you might see something that catches your eye while we are walking in the city, for example. Do not stop to look, and do not go in a different direction without Checking First. That means you walk right up to me (or other designated trusted adult) and tell us what you want to do. We will then say yes or no. This will help us avoid getting separated. Also, when we are at the hotel and you want to go visit your cousins in their room, etc – you don’t go anywhere without Checking First with us.” Tell your child that if by chance they do get lost, the safest person to seek help from is another mom with children. Then, explain to kids step by step what they should do. “If you can’t find us, walk up to a mom with kids and say ‘I am lost, can you please help me?'” Make sure your children know all of the appropriate cell phone numbers. For young children and children with special needs, place a laminated ID card (make it yourself) with their information on it as well as two cell phone numbers where you can be reached and stick it in the bottom of their shoe. Tell your children that if they get separated from you, they should never ever leave the place they’re at, no matter what anyone says. 4. Creepy Relatives Be aware of relatives that make you or your child uncomfortable: Often parents have expressed to us that they are heading to visit family for the holidays and they have a concern about their child’s safety around a...

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Holiday Health and Safety

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Health Topics | 0 comments

Holiday Health and Safety

The holidays offer a perfect opportunity for enjoying loved ones, celebrating life, being grateful, and reflecting on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate the gift of health. Support health and safety for yourself and others by following these timeless holiday tips. Clean hands saves lives… Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the world, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands. When should you wash your hands? Before, during, and after preparing food Before eating food Before and after caring for someone who is sick Before and after treating a cut or wound After using the toilet After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing After touching an animal or animal waste After handling pet food or pet treats After touching garbage     Travel Safety Whether you’re traveling across town or around the world, help ensure your trip is safe. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt appropriate for his/her height, weight, and age. All children aged 12 and under should ride in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag. Prevent Injuries Injuries can happen anywhere, and some often occur around the holidays. Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboarding to help prevent head injuries. Keep vaccinations up to date. Handle and prepare food safely As you prepare holiday meals, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours. Eat healthy, and be active With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods. Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day. Alcohol poisoning This is a common risk for children during the holiday season. Many parents host holiday parties where alcohol is served. Parents must take care to remove all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible. Because kids imitate adults, many may drink the beverages they see adults drinking. Children become “drunk” much more quickly than adults, so even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous. Source: www.cdc.gov kidshealth.org...

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World Aids Day | 1 December 2013

Posted by on Dec 1, 2013 in Health Topics | 0 comments

World Aids Day  |  1 December 2013

World AIDS Day is celebrated on 1 December every year to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to disseminate information about the status of the pandemic and to encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care around the world, particularly in high prevalence countries. The 2013 theme for World AIDS Day is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.” Key facts HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 36 million lives so far. There were approximately 35.3 [32.2–38.8] million people living with HIV in 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV. Sixty nine per cent of all people living with HIV are living in this region. HIV infection is usually diagnosed through blood tests detecting the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective treatment with antiretroviral drugs can control the virus so that people with HIV can enjoy healthy and productive lives. In 2012, more than 9.7 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low- and middle-income countries.   The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people’s surveillance and defense systems against infections and some types of cancer. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 2 to 15 years to develop depending on the individual. AIDS is defined by the development of certain cancers, infections, or other severe clinical manifestations. Signs and symptoms The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat. As the infection progressively weakens the person’s immune system, the individual can develop other signs and symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and cough. Without treatment, they could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma, among others. Transmission HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from infected individuals, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. Individuals cannot become infected through ordinary day-to-day contact such as kissing, hugging, shaking hands, or sharing personal objects, food or water. Risk factors Behaviours and conditions that put individuals at greater risk of contracting HIV include: having unprotected anal or vaginal sex; having another sexually transmitted infection such as syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and bacterial vaginosis; sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment and drug solutions when injecting drugs; receiving unsafe injections, blood transfusions, medical procedures that involve unsterile cutting or piercing; and experiencing accidental needle stick injuries, including among health workers. Diagnosis An HIV test reveals infection status by detecting the presence or absence of antibodies to HIV in the blood. Antibodies are produced by an individual’s immune system to fight off foreign pathogens. Most people have a “window period” of usually 3 to 6 weeks during which antibodies to HIV are still being produced and are not yet detectable. This early period of infection represents the time of greatest infectivity, but transmission can occur during all stages of the infection. If someone...

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