Saturday, December 20, 2008

Contest at Help My Hurt - 1 year anniversary!

Help My Hurt was the second blog I took on; this is my first one. It's also the first one that I started within a network. I'd say it's doing pretty well and now we're celebrating the first year anniversary. . To celebrate, a reader is going to win a 25 dollar gift certificate to If you'd like to check out the contest and enter, head on over to Happy Anniversary Help My Hurt!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Cough medicine warning extended to under 6 year olds

I know, I remember what it's like to have a young child sick with a nasty cold. They feel miserable, you feel miserable, everyone feels miserable. For many parents, letting your child get a bit of rest means giving him or her a bit of cough or cold medicine.

I admit, I was one of them. I wanted them to cough during the day so they could get the crap out of their chest (what? "crap" isn't a medical term? ;-) but at night, I thought it important that they get a good sleep - or as good a sleep as they could - so I did give some cough and cold medicine. Seems that was a big no-no.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of news about how pediatricians didn't want children under two years old to get these medicines. There was no proof that they did any good and there were serious complications with some children. The age of "no cough syrup" has been raised to six years old in Canada after several cases of complications were reported. Health Canada has ordered that the medications be labeled to reflect the new warning.

What can you do instead? Pediatricians are saying to use saline nose drops or sprays, have humidifier to put moisture in the air, and provide lots of fluids. Thankfully, the colds do go away after a while.

Tip from me to preventing the spread of colds and viruses in your house:

Like most families, one child would come home with a cold and then it would spread throughout the house quite quickly. One day, I decided that if we all had our own toothbrushes, we should have our own toothpaste. I gave everyone (three kids, my husband and myself) their own toothpaste with strict instructions not to share. The amount of colds in our house plummeted. Sometimes, someone will come home with a cold, but it is very, very rare that anyone else in the house gets it.

News for Today:

Jeremy Piven's High Mercury Count: FAQ

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slip sliding away...

For those of you who live in areas where temperatures dip below freezing (I just can't imagine living in a place like that - it's so foreign to me!), we've come to that annual season of "walk carefully or you'll break a bone." Yup, it's winter.

Some areas in New England were hit with a massive ice storm recently, snow storms have been blowing in from the west and really smacking southern Ontario, and southern Quebec isn't getting off too lightly. But, the danger isn't so much the snow, it's the ice. Or, later on, when the snow gets packed so hard that it's just like ice.

We just had one of those weather patterns where we had a lot of snow, then the temperature went up well above freezing, followed by a sudden dip to below freezing again. The result? Solid, sheer ice everywhere. Thick, slippery ice.

The news reports were talking about the emergency room visits and fractures, but a few emergency room physicians said that it's not the first day of sheer ice that's so busy for them; it's the day after when people get braver or find that they have to go outside.

Having fallen many times on the ice myself, sometimes seriously, I've tried to learn the tricks of the trade in not falling and if I do fall, how to fall.

The worst thing to do when you fall: put out your hand to stop it. If you put out your hand to break your fall, all the weight of your body and the velocity of the fall can cause your arm to snap as high up as the shoulder or as low as the wrist. I know it's an automatic reflex, but the last time I slipped I somehow had the presence of mind to pull my hand in and let my upper arm (heavily covered with my winter coat) take the brunt of the fall. The risk though, is that I could have banged my head.

Watch your back. Sometimes, when we slip, we jerk our body back upright to stop the fall and this can put a big strain on your back. There are times when it would be better to let yourself into a controlled fall to save your back.

Wear BOOTS. And by that I mean PROPER winter boots. High heels and fashion boots don't have a place on winter ice. Neither do running shoes or any other type of shoe. Like we need good tires for our car, we need good treads on our boots.

Consider buying those crampons they sell for city walking. I bought a pair at Tilley's and used them last year. They really do help you stay upright, but I found you can't walk long distances with them. But, they were a definite improvement when I was out walking the dog.

If you do fall and think you've broken or sprained a limb, or you've smacked your head hard, get it checked at an urgent care or emergency room. They're busy, but it's best to be safe than sorry, right?

By the way, if you're interested in how Santa can stay healthy and safe, you can go over to read my letter to Santa: Santa is a Senior too!

News for Today:

The Truth About 6 Holiday Health Myths

First U.S. face-transplant performed in Ohio

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Scotland may have it right

When I first began studying nursing, back when the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth, most nurses had stopped wearing caps but there were still rules about not wearing your uniform to or from work (in a few hospitals), not having long, painted nails, long hair, and so on.

It wasn't long before those rules eroded away completed and nurses could come and go in their uniforms, some not only had long painted nails, but they had artificial ones, hair was hanging down, and sometimes the uniforms didn't quite look like uniforms.

I remember on my very first nursing student orientation to the floor. We were on a tour of the unit and anxiously looking around, trying to get our bearings. We had been drilled into knowing what we could and couldn't do - it was almost always what we could NOT do, now that I think about it. We'd been told about the hair, the nails, the make up. We were told never to touch the medications in our hand but to tap them from the container into a pill cup, things like that.

Our teacher brought us to the medication room so we could check it out. In it was this very heavily made up nurse, hair swinging below her shoulders, tapping out medications into her hand, which - by the way - had long blood red nails. My poor teacher!

I's not just the nurses, I remember thinking, if nurses' caps were such an infection issue, why do male doctors wear ties that flop over patients' beds when the doctors bend over to examine patients? But, then it seemed to go to the extreme too - doctors began wearing much more casual clothes, to the point that it became difficult for patients to identify who were doctors and who were visitors.

Now, lest you think I'm pining for the old days, far from it! I don't want to go back to starched uniforms, inspections and so on, but I do think that we need return to a few common sense rules. And, it seems the National Health Authority in Scotland thinks so too.

First off, men's ties (and women if they wear them) are history. They're not allowed when staff are working with patients. Second, nurses are provided uniforms that are not to be worn out of the institution. Third, and the one that surprised me, to tell you the truth, is the banishment of the lab coat, the long flapping in the wind, white lab coat that has pockets deeper than a woman's purse.

The rules go even farther. Staff will not be allowed to carry pens, etc, in outside breast pockets and we're going back to the "tie your hair back" rule.

Let's hope that these measures do start cutting down on infections among hospitalized patients.

News for Today:

Teens may benefit from delayed school start times

Home, hospital rehab work equally well for COPD: study

3.6 million Americans living with active, undiagnosed psoriasis, unaware of associated risks

Today in my other blogs:

Can magnets relieve your pain?

Young men with cancer may not have to worry about fertility

Are you worried about post-baby sexuality?

Ouch, my aching feet

Alternative treatments - are they for you?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Third best Canadian Health blog

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for this blog in the best Canadian Blog contest. We came in 3rd, after Weighty Matters and Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes.

I was seven votes shy of being number 2. But thanks to many of you, I did come in third so I'm not complaining!