ATVs, Children and ERs

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With summer temperatures hitting much of the US this week, this is a timely topic.

In the most recent year for which data is available (2013), there were 99,600 ATV accidents in the US that required treatment at an Emergency Room. One-quarter of these involved riders younger than 16. That’s approximately 25,000 kids.

Five states account for 80% of child deaths on ATVs: Texas, California, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission actually warns against having kids drive or ride as a passenger on an adult ATV. That and the lack of safety gear are what make this a public health nuisance and a contributor to health insurance rates.

ATVInfographicStates


Sources:

 

  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “ATV-related injuries in children remain large public health problem.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170415182157.htm>.
  • US Government Accountability Office, “All Terrain Vehicles,” April 2010.
    US Consumer Products Safety Comission, “ATV Safety Center.” https://www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education/Safety-Education-Centers/ATV-Safety-Information-Center/
  • US Consumer Products Safety Comission, “Five States Account for 25 Percent of All Reported ATV-Related Deaths in the United States,” 17 Feb. 2017.

British Columbia bans mandatory high heels at work

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I’m sure there will be mixed comments on this, but it makes sense for several reasons:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Productivity
  • Gender equity

As noted in a previous blog, US emergency rooms treated an average of more than 12,000 injuries each year between 2002 and 2012, and the trend is increasing. (1)

Health insurance costs being what they are, how does requiring employees to wear heels make any sense?

So, one Canadian province has taken action. (2) The government of British Columbia has stipulated that employers can no longer require high heels as part of a work dress code.

Very intelligent.  No wonder people live longer in Canada.

This discussion calls to mind a classic issue that has arisen in relation to motor cycle helmets, seat belts, physical fitness, impaired driving, and vaccines — an individual’s actions affect others.

What do you do when one person’s choice can raise health insurance costs for everyone else? Each person who pursues a risky behavior adds a small increment to the costs borne by health insurers, and the little pieces add up. Of course, the health insurer response is to raise rates to cover these costs. Everyone who has insurance pays more. 

US public policy in this area is at best erratic. Some rules support individual liberty; some what is best for the majority. Very inconsistent.


Sources:

  1. Mary Elizabeth Dallas, “Injuries from high heels on the rise,” Spectrum Health Healthbeat, 13 JUne, 2015. http://healthbeat.spectrumhealth.org/injuries-from-high-heels-on-the-rise/
  2. Jamie Feldman, “New Canadian Law Bans Mandatory High Heels At Work,” Huffington Post, 10 April 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/high-heels-at-work_us_58eba4b9e4b0c89f9120220c?arq&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Lifestyle%20041017&utm_content=Lifestyle%20041017+Version+A+CID_8acfd2db7513e868287551b794356c32&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Read%20more&%20041017

Environmental Causes of Illness

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The battle about whether environmental pollution causes cancer seems to mirror the long fight to establish acceptance of the link between cigarettes and lung cancer.   It wasn’t accepted  until we had documentation of the specific mechanics of cell transformation into cancer. Even with that documentation, there remain a few skeptics.

A new study from Lehigh university links birth defects and low birth weight babies to emissions from coal-powered power plants. The plant in question is now partially closed and has been converted to run on other fuels. However, the emissions from that plant appear to have injured newborns in four NJ counties. That is another demonstration of the broad reach of pollution from a single plant.

This raises an interesting quandary. Can one be pro-life and pro-coal?


Sources:

  1. Muzhe Yang et. al. “The Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Power Plant Emissions on Birth Weight: Evidence from a Pennsylvania Power Plant Located Upwind of New Jersey,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 4 April 2017, DOI: 10.1002/pam.21989. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pam.21989/full

More on Strep Throat

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This isn’t Halloween, and this story isn’t funny.  Here’s the short version:strepthroat_456px

  • Father contracts step throat in early March.
  • Family is tested for strep.
  • Six-year old daughter has bacteria even though she has shown no symptoms, and is given a ten-day course of antibiotics.
  • Daughter starts exhibiting flu-like symptoms on March 25th, and is misdiagnosed has having Influenza A.
  • On March 27th, she has pain and swelling on left leg, and is rushed to Arkon Children’s Hospital. She is now diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis, commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Her leg is amputated below the knee.

Strep throat normally affects the tonsils and throat. The cause is Streptococcus bacteria. If the bacteria enters the bloodstream, it can then cause necrotizing fasciitis, which is life threatening.

What the CDC says about how you get strep:

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcusbacteria (called “group A strep”). Group A strep bacteria can also live in a person’s nose and throat without causing illness. The bacteria are spread through contact with droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill. If you drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as a sick person, you could also become ill. It is also possible to get strep throat from touching sores on the skin caused by group A strep. (2)

This is the third published report in recent weeks about amputations related to strep.

What you need to consider:

  • Strep bacteria can live in the nose for weeks without symptoms. It’s possible that a saline nasal spray may help reduce the risk of infection or ease symptoms once infection starts.
  • If someone in your family gets it, everyone needs to be tested. Same for the workplace.
  • Don’t expose others to strep unnecessarily. Stay home from work or school.

Sources:

  1. Brian Zimmerman, “6-year-old loses leg after complication from strep throat,” Becker’s Infection Control and Clinical Quality, 5 April 2017. http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/6-year-old-loses-leg-after-complication-from-strep-throat.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Worried your sore throat may be strep?” https://www.cdc.gov/features/strepthroat/
  3. eMedicine Health, “Strep Throat: Home Treatment.” http://www.emedicinehealth.com/strep_throat_home_treatment-health/article_em.htm

Photo courtesy CDC website.

Lung Cancer and Women

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Media attention doesn’t necessarily reflect what’s most important to you.  Consider this comparison, based on 2016 statistics from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute:

Cancer type               Estimated number of new cases         Estimated number of deaths

Breast cancer                               252,710                                                 40,610

Lung cancer                                 222,500                                                155,870  (1)

Lung cancer accounts for just over 9% of deaths from all types of cancers.

Which should worry you more?

Understand that you don’t have to be female to contract breast cancer, and you don’t have to be a smoker to contract lung cancer.  Pollution is sufficient.

Early detection is best for both types of cancers. For breast cancer, you look for a lump. The test is easy. If you have a cat or dog, the animal may even paw at the area of the lump. You just need to look.

For lung cancer, the only early sign is a persistent dry cough — something that just doesn’t go away in a week or two, the way the cough associated with a cold should.  If the cough brings up blood, that’s a red flag, but the persistent cough by itself should prompt a visit to the doctor — sometimes visits to multiple doctors to get the diagnosis right.

Unfortunately, the dry cough is easy to ignore, and that’s when people get into trouble. By the time other symptoms appear, the cancer may have spread and be much more difficult to treat successfully. The five-year survival rate for Stage IV lung cancer is less than 10%. When one friend of mine finally was diagnosed, he lasted only a few months.

Listen to your body.


Sources:

  1. National Cancer Institute, “Common Cancer Types.” https://www.cancer.gov/types/common-cancers
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Statistics for Different Kinds of Cancers.” https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/data/types.htm
  3. Amy Marturana, “The one very subtle symptom of lung cancer you need to know,” Self, 20 May 2017. https://www.aol.com/article/lifestyle/2017/03/20/subtle-symptom-lung-cancer/21903320/
  4. LungCancer.org, “Symptoms of Lung Cancer.” http://www.lungcancer.org/find_information/publications/163-lung_cancer_101/266-symptoms

Salt, Food, Sleep, Health and Taxes

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largeThere have been a number of articles relating salt and urination. The more salt you ingest, the more urine you produce.  Simple.

Now a Japanese study relates salt consumption to waking in the middle of the night to use the toilet. More salt means more trips to the bathroom at night.(1)

Salt affects blood pressure, and that in turn contributes to heart disease and stroke..  According to the American Heart Association, on average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day.(3)

  • The recommended consumption amount is 1,500 mgs. per day for most adults, so this is more than double the recommended amount. Either too much or too little can be a problem. 
  • The maximum “safe” consumption is 2,400 mgs. per day.  The average American is way over the limit.
  • Most salt comes from processed foods such deli meats and canned soups. It’s important to read the labels and know what you are eating.

The British National Health Service estimates that salt reduction would result in 14,000 fewer deaths per year, at a savings of more than £3 billion.  The savings to Americans would be proportionally greater.

  • Converted to US dollars, the British cost savings is greater than the annual deficit reduction the recently deceased healthcare reform bill was supposed to produce.

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NOTE: There are contrarians who argue that concerns with salt consumption are a “myth.” I read one by Kris Gunnars, who claims to use an “evidence-based” approach. However, there is a complete lack of data in his argument; it reads like wishful thinking. My strong preference is for experimental designs using test and control groups rather than theory.

If you want to ignore facts, that’s your choice. However, you should know what you are doing and accept responsibility for the consequences of your actions. Making up “alternative facts” to justify your choice isn’t acceptable.

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What you need to consider:

  • What you eat can affect your quality of life, your health care and health insurance costs, and even your taxes.
  • However, this is one of those issues that requires large numbers of people to change behavior to make a difference. You need to mobilize your family and friends.

 


Sources:

  1. Sarah Knapton, “Cutting salt intake could stop excessive toilet trips in the wee small hours,” The Telegraph, 26 March 2017. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/03/26/cutting-salt-intake-could-stop-excessive-toilet-trips-wee-small/
  2. American Heart Association, “What should my daily sodium intake be?” https://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/how_much_sodium_should_i_eat?utm_source=SRI&utm_medium=HeartOrg&utm_term=Website&utm_content=SodiumAndSalt&utm_campaign=SodiumBreakup
  3. American Heart Association, “Sodium and Salt.” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Sodium-Salt-or-Sodium-Chloride_UCM_303290_Article.jsp?gclid=CIbzu9fO9NICFYOKswodxbgPdw#.WNf0OKKVtPZ
  4. Kris Gunnars, “The Salt Myth – How Much Sodium Should You Eat Per Day?” https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-sodium-per-day/
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium.”  https://www.cdc.gov/salt/

The Cost of Diabetes

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17456_1269532813224_1076952025_30803996_7657050_nDiabetes is a problem globally, but particularly in industrialized regions or countries with westernized diets heavy in eggs and dairy.

As of 2012, there were 21 million diagnosed diabetics in the US.  There are 1.7 million new cases diagnosed each year.(1) More than half of the newly diagnosed cases are between the ages of 45 and 64.  While the disease impacts every age group, the sweet spot in terms of vulnerability is middle age.

Prediabetes involves people with glucose levels that are near the borderline for diagnoses and treatment.  There are an estimated 86 million Americans in this category.

The cost of treatment of known cases of diabetes is $176 million (2012).  That’s about 6% of total US spending on healthcare in that year, and doesn’t include medical costs for undiagnosed diabetes, and may not include all the costs for treatment of complications of diabetes.

Between diabetes and prediabetes, that’s almost 1/3 of the US population.

Basically diabetes is a big deal.

Definition:

Diabetes is a group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from problems in how insulin is produced, how insulin works, or both. People with diabetes may develop serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and premature death.(1)

Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have high blood glucose or hemoglobin A1C levels but nothigh enough to be classified as diabetes.(1)

A 2016 study suggests that hearing impairment should be added to the list of complications, and hearing testing should be a regular part of diabetes management.(2)

In a previous post, I discussed the behavior impact of diabetes, which can include verbal and physical abuse of loved ones.

The problem is that an estimated 27.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed.  That, and the failure of some who are diagnosed to follow dietary and treatment guidelines, means that millions are impacted by the disease, and may be receiving incorrect treatment.

Key  factors in diabetes are diet, exercise and weight.

You owe it to yourself, your family, your friends, and to everyone else who pays for health insurance to do what you can to manage your body.  What you do affects others.

And, no, I’m no poster child for being slim.  It’s something at which I have to work. Every day.

I also suggest reading Jessica Apple’s blog post,

https://asweetlife.org/the-mysterious-symptoms-of-undiagnosed-diabetes-diabetes-blog-week-day-1/


Sources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
  2. American Medical Association, “Trends in Healthcare Spending.” https://www.ama-assn.org/about-us/trends-health-care-spending