Health & Fitness
Follow These Tips to Ensure Fun in the Sun | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 27 August 2015 14:09

By Ron Rabena • Special to the Times

The summer season and warm weather triggers an urge to be outdoors, but fun in the sun can be dangerous when the heat and humidity rise.

In addition to sunburn, heat-related illnesses including heat stroke or sunstroke can send unsuspecting victims to the hospital.

The human body keeps itself cool by allowing heat to escape through the skin and by evaporating the resulting perspiration. If the body cannot cool itself enough, the person could suffer from heat-related illness.

Heat stroke can progress from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and fainting. Illnesses caused by overheating can become serious, and even deadly, if not treated. Exposure to heat kills approximately 400 Americans annually.

Everyone is susceptible to heat-related illnesses, with even young healthy athletes succumbing to it. However, those most at risk include senior citizens, especially those living alone in non-air-conditioned environments; infants and children and people with medical conditions, especially those with heart disease and high blood pressure.

The classic warning symptom of a heat stroke is a body temperature that is above 104 degrees, but other symptoms include fainting, dizziness and light-headedness, rapid pulse, painful muscle cramps and spasms, headache, lack of sweating despite the heat, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, dry, hot and red skin and behavioral changes including disorientation.

If you or anyone around you has any of these symptoms, 911 should be called immediately. As you wait for emergency services, put damp, cool cloths or towels on the affected person and have them lie down until medical assistance arrives.

Being alert to the symptoms of heat stroke is vital to ensuring your own health and safety as well as your friends and family. Take these preventative steps to prevent heatstroke this summer:

• Avoid strenuous outdoor activities. Whenever possible, reserve outdoor activities for the cooler morning and evening hours.

• Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Wearing too much clothing or tight clothing won’t allow your body to cool down efficiently.

• Stay well-hydrated and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Staying hydrated helps you maintain a normal body temperature and drinking excessive caffeinated or alcoholic drinks can dehydrate, rather than hydrate, you.

• Eat smaller meals more frequently. Eating small, protein-rich meals throughout the day keeps your energy level stabilized.

• Never leave children, adults or pets in a closed, parked vehicle. In the sun, closed car temperatures can rise from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes.

For more information on heat-related illness prevention and treatment, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at, The American Red Cross, and the Mayo Clinic.

Ron Rabena is President of the National Security Operations of Allied Barton Security Services.

Avoid Brain Pain | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 27 August 2015 14:07

082715hPain in your brain can be a real headache. To avoid getting hit with a doozy, consider these easy tips.

Drink water. Dehydration causes headaches, and most Americans are not drinking enough water. Drink your eight 8-ounce cups of water every day to drastically lower your risk of getting a headache.

Cut back on the coffee. Coffee is one of the largest headache triggers, but most people like to begin their days by drinking at least one cup. Instead, try some peppermint or ginger tea — both of which you can also drink to cure a headache if it sneaks past your defenses.

Relax. Stress is on the rise, according to the American Psychological Association. So it’s no wonder we get headaches so often. Put aside time every day to do something you enjoy. Some low-stress, rewarding options are taking a yoga class, volunteering at a charity or playing with a pet.

Headaches aren’t pleasant, but these prevention techniques will make your days better — not only by improving your health but by increasing your happiness.


Food Safety: When in Doubt, Throw It Out | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 27 August 2015 14:05

Food poisoning causes an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually in the U.S., according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.

With these four food safety practices you can lower your risk substantially.

1. Wash: Harmful bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen and be easily spread around without precautions.

Wash hands for at least 20 seconds in warm, soapy water. Scrub the backs of your hands, between fingers and under your nails. Proper hand washing may eliminate nearly half of all cases of food poisoning.

Use hot, soapy water to wash surfaces and utensils after each use, including appliances, countertops and cutting boards. Don’t forget dishcloths and towels. Wash them frequently on the hot cycle of your washing machine. Disinfect sponges in a chlorine bleach solution and replace worn sponges frequently.

2. Separate: Cross-contamination occurs when juices or bacteria from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs touch cooked or ready-to-eat foods. Keep these items separate from other foods at all times. Place them in plastic bags to prevent juices from leaking, and on the refrigerator’s bottom shelf, so their juices don’t drip on other foods.

Keep raw meats, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods by using different cutting boards, plates and utensils that come in contact with them.

3. Cook: A food thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure food has been cooked to a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Temperatures vary from food to food.

4. Refrigerate: Cooling foods promptly and properly slows the growth of harmful bacteria and helps prevent food poisoning.

Tasting just a tiny bit of contaminated food can cause serious illness, so toss all expired foods. If you’re unsure, remember: When in doubt, throw it out.

— StatePoint

Prevent Fall-Related Injuries | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 13 August 2015 07:54

081315h1By Chris Graham • Special to the Times

We try to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from accidental injury. However, many of us are unaware of the risks and costs of a fall, especially for older adults.

At least once a year, one out of three people age 65 and older falls. Consequently, fall-related injuries are one of the most serious health threats facing older adults, who are five times more likely to be hospitalized after a fall than any other accident. With injuries on the rise, what can you do to prevent a fall?

Who’s at risk and why?

As we age, the possibility of a fall-related injury increases due to declining muscle strength, hearing, vision and coordination.

Your chance of falling is higher if you have had a stroke or if you have a disease that affects your balance and coordination, such as multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis or Parkinson’s disease.

Taking multiple medications simultaneously or drugs that affect balance, such as sleeping pills and blood pressure prescriptions, can also increase your chances. Other risk factors include a history of falls, a fear of falling, a lack of exercise and the presence of household hazards, including clutter, poor lighting and slippery floors.

Fall-related injuries

At least 20 to 30 percent of falls in older adults lead to serious injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries.

At Eden Medical Center, falls recently surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the most common cause of injury in trauma patients. In 2010, one-third of all patients at Eden’s Trauma Center were treated for fall-related injuries, and this doesn’t include patients who were treated in the Emergency Department after falling.


Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent falls. Have your vision and hearing checked regularly by your doctor. Review your medications with a pharmacist and always consult with your physician before taking over-the-counter medicine.

Exercise consistently to improve your strength, balance and flexibility, but talk with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. The credentialed staff at Eden Medical Center’s EdenFit program can help design and supervise a customized exercise plan for you.

To reduce mishaps in your home, consider installing sturdy handrails and nightlights, fastening area rugs to the floor, moving electrical cords and furniture out of walking paths and putting a bell on your pet’s collar.

In your shower or tub, installing a chair or bench as well as grab bars and nonskid mats can help prevent accidents. While 85 percent of falls occur in the home, the outdoors pose dangers too, so consider using walking sticks, or a cane or walker for extra stability as well as rubber-soled shoes for traction.

Falls happen too frequently and are often preventable. Safeguard your independence by learning how to reduce your risks at home and in your daily activities.

Chris Graham is the trauma prevention coordinator for the Trauma Service Leadership at Eden Medical Center and member of the Senior Injury Prevention Partnership (S.I.P.P.).

Fall Prevention Day

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Eden Medical Center will host Fall Prevention Day at the San Leandro Senior Community Center. Visit or call 510-727-3176 to register or for more information. To learn more about the EdenFit program, call 510-317-8334.

Viral Hepatitis Screening May Save Your Life | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 13 August 2015 07:50

By Chana A. Rabiner, Ph.D • Special to the Times

For the millions of Americans at risk for a potentially fatal medical condition called viral hepatitis, the good news is that a simple step of medical screening can lead to lifesaving treatment.

A Collection of Diseases

By definition, hepatitis means “liver inflammation,” and viral hepatitis is a general name for five unrelated viruses infecting the liver. These viruses can either be acute or chronic, with the most common being hepatitis A, B and C.

When the condition is chronic and left untreated, it can lead to scarring or damage to the liver or, in some cases, liver cancer. Viral hepatitis is not only the leading cause of liver cancer but it is also the prime reason a person may need a liver transplant.

Nearly 4.5 million people are infected with viral hepatitis in the U.S., with just over 3 million infected with hepatitis C. In addition, just over 1 million are infected with hepatitis B.

Unfortunately, most people with the condition don’t know that they are infected; people can be infected for decades without ever having symptoms or feeling sick.

While viral hepatitis can be acquired in a number of different ways, and can impact or infect anyone, the most common way to be infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) is through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected person.

Those Most at Risk

Research shows that hepatitis C disproportionately impacts two groups of people: those who were born between 1945 and 1965 and those who use drugs through injection (IDU).

People who were born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than other age groups. This is why the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a one-time testing for hepatitis C for people born during that period.

In addition, 40 to 70 percent of injection-drug users are chronically infected with HCV and up to 11 percent chronically infected with HBV. And those who inject drugs currently account for 60 to 70 percent of new hepatitis infections in the country.

One reason for this is that hepatitis C infects at a much greater rate than the other diseases that are transmitted through injection drug use, such as HIV. This happens because the virus can live longer outside the body than those other diseases can. In fact, it can live for days on the paraphernalia used to inject drugs, including syringes, cotton and cookers.

Several other behavioral health disorders lead to increased risk for getting hepatitis. For instance, approximately 20 percent and 23 percent of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) are infected with HCV and HBV, respectively, while between 14 percent and 36 percent of those who misuse/abuse alcohol are infected with HCV. Addressing these behavioral health disorders can also help stop the spread of viral hepatitis.

Screening Can Save Lives

Numerous resources exist to help you assess your risk for hepatitis. The first step is to find a place to get tested. The next step is to learn more about hepatitis and how to prevent infection. Doing so can be lifesaving, as there are effective treatments for hepatitis that can mitigate the effects of the disease. There are new treatments for hepatitis C that can, in some cases, even cure it.

Another resource is a publication called “Take Action Against Hepatitis C: For People in Recovery From Mental Illness or Addiction.” This booklet presents basic information about hepatitis C for people with mental illness or substance use disorders.

Knowing your status can help to save your life. To learn more, visit

Dr. Rabiner is a Senior Public Health Advisor for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

— North American Precis Synd., Inc.

Take Quick Action on Ticks | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 28 July 2015 08:41

072315h1If you think ticks are a concern only in the deep woods, it’s time to think again. Partially due to migrating deer populations, ticks are now abundant in suburban and city backyards — and they’re spreading disease.

An estimated 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme and other diseases each year, according to estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Tick-borne illness is the fastest-growing infectious disease concern in the U.S.,” says Dan Wolff, wildlife conservation specialist. “To protect both the people and the pets you love, it’s important to take preventive steps and know what to do if a tick bite occurs.”

Tuck pant cuffs

For hikes or romps in the woods, tuck pant legs into your socks to prevent ticks from reaching your skin. Remember that ticks do not fly or jump from trees; they are on the ground and crawl upward.

Make clothing tick-repellent

During high tick season, which occurs from May to November in the U.S., it’s best to treat your clothes with tick repellant. Look for clothing-only sprays with permethrin to kill ticks on contact.

Check daily

Because it’s best to remove ticks before they attach, it’s important to check for them daily. Keep in mind that ticks like constricted places, so be sure to check all over and focus specifically on locations like the underarms, under the knees and around waistbands.

Be proactive for pets

Protect your furry family members by asking your vet about proper vaccination and treatment for pets. For example, there are immunizations and topical treatments for dogs.

“If you find a tick has attached to you, a family member or your pet, remember that prompt and proper removal is the key to reducing the risk of being infected with Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses,” says Wolff.

Quick action can make a big difference. For the majority of tick-borne diseases, you have 24 hours to find and remove an attached tick before it transmits an infection.

If you find an attached tick, you can easily remove it with a specially designed dual-sided stainless steel tick tweezers.

After removing the tick from a person or pet, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. If fever or rash develop within several weeks of removing the tick, visit a doctor.

“Avoid folk remedies for removing a tick,” stresses Wolff. “For example, smothering the tick in petroleum jelly won’t likely work and it wastes time. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible to prevent disease and discomfort.”


Preventing and Treating Urinary Tract Infections | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 28 July 2015 08:39

By Jonathan Lynne, M.D. • Special to the Times

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common infections doctors treat: More than half of women living in the United States will get a UTI.

Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms — usually bacteria — that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. They are more common in women because women have a shorter urethra than men do. That means bacteria travel a shorter distance to a woman’s bladder.

Several types of antibiotics treat UTIs and, because of overuse, some have lost effectiveness in parts of the United States.

In those regions, doctors see increased antibiotic resistance in fighting off these infections. The good news is that our general population in the East Bay doesn’t show a lot of antibiotic resistance in treating UTIs.

A urine culture reveals the type of bacteria causing the infection, which helps determine the best treatment and antibiotics to use. Once treated, most patients feel relief of symptoms — painful urination, burning sensation, sense of urgency to urinate — in three to seven days.

Older adults who have a blockage in the urinary tract — caused by kidney stones or an enlarged prostate — are at higher risk of developing UTIs.

Women completing menopause also are at risk for UTI if they had anatomical changes after child birth. People with diabetes and those who are pregnant need to be especially vigilant, since UTI complications can lead to serious health consequences, including premature delivery.

Take these steps to reduce your risk of developing a UTI:

• Drink plenty of fluids.

• Don’t hold it! Urinating frequently helps flush out the bladder.

• Consult your primary care provider, urologist or gynecologist if you have suffered two or more UTIs in a six month period.


Learn to Swim, Save Your Life | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:27

070915h1You can help to reduce the number of adult drownings in your community this summer by learning to swim and encouraging others to join you.

That’s the word from the experts at the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation. It has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce the number of adult drownings.

Alarmingly, 37 percent of American adults cannot swim the length of a 25-yard pool, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This puts them at risk for becoming one of the 10 people who drown every day in the U.S.

“If we can convince water-shy adults to learn to swim, we hope to save lives when people gather at pools and beaches for summer recreation,” says Rob Butcher, executive director of U.S. Masters Swimming.

He adds that once adults learn the lifesaving skill of swimming, 1,500 programs are available nationwide to encourage adults to keep swimming and enjoy the lifetime health, fitness and social benefits of swimming.

To learn more or find an adult learn-to-swim program, go to

Make Safety a Priority at Amusement Parks | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:24

By DelMar Laury • Special to the Times

In recent years, some 280 million guests have made annual visits to amusement facilities in the United States, safely enjoying an average 1.7 billion rides.

Before you get to the park:

Wear sunscreen and apply it often. More amusement park visitors suffer from sunburn and heat-related illnesses than all other injuries.

Pay close attention to what the weather is going to be like when you will be at the park. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and socks and dress accordingly for the weather and rides.

Before you get into the park, hydrate yourself and your family with plenty of water to prevent heat-related illnesses. Stop at water fountains in the park frequently.

Safety while at the park:

• When you arrive, make a plan with your group for where you will meet if you get separated and set meeting times to re-connect with your group.

• Take a photo of any children in your group with your phone when you arrive. If a child gets separated from the group, a photo will help authorities find them because they’ll know exactly how the child looked that day.

• Don’t leave children alone, especially while taking restroom breaks, standing in line for a ride or buying food. When your child gets on a ride, be sure they are secured in the seat. Wait at the ride’s exit for your child to unload.

• Be alert to exits and emergency stations. Give everyone a map so they will be able to find such ares as the First Aid Centers, restrooms and the main gates.

• Follow all park rules. If you have small children with you, stay in age-appropriate areas. If you have certain medical conditions, some rides might not be safe.

• Carry minimal cash. leaving at home any valuable personal items that could be easily lost or stolen. If you lose an item when on a ride, ask for an employee to help you retrieve it. Never enter a restricted area.

Ride safety:

Hold on tight. Use handles and safety bars to keep your body positioned correctly and to stay in your seat. Always fasten your seatbelt or harness tightly. If you don’t feel comfortable, ask the ride attendant for assistance. Read warning signs and follow instructions given by the ride operators.

If you have any safety questions or concerns about the theme park you are visiting, including what the weather will be like or information about a certain ride, be sure to visit the park’s website, call their customer service hotline, or ask an attendant for assistance.

DelMar Laury is a Vice President at AlliedBarton Security Services.

Dealing with Allergies Throughout Summer | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:23

070915h2Summer is upon us, and if you have seasonal allergies, you may be less excited about that than most.

“The key to surviving warm weather allergies is knowing what triggers your symptoms,” said allergist James Sublett, MD. “Because there can be millions of pollen particles in the air, finding allergy relief can seem nearly impossible for some. But by knowing what triggers your allergy symptoms, and how to avoid these allergens, you can be on your way to a sneeze-free season.

Here are tips from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology to help you find relief and enjoy your summer.

• Adjust your workout routine. After months indoors, you can’t wait to exercise outside. However, exercising causes you to breathe more deeply and inhale the pollen that affects your allergy symptoms.

If you’re planning a vigorous workout, try to stay indoors and if you’re planning on taking a casual walk, take a nondrowsy antihistamine before you go. Exercise outdoors when pollen counts are at their lowest — before dawn and in the late afternoon or early evening.

• Garden smart. Think your allergies are going to force you to quit gardening? Think again. Taking an antihistamine about half an hour before you head outside will help. You should also wear gloves and a filter mask if your tasks include digging in the dirt, which can stir up pollen. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair and clothing once you go back indoors.

• Take something a little stronger. Over the counter intranasal steroids (nasal sprays) as well as non-drowsy antihistamines and decongestants can be beneficial for those suffering from mild allergies. However, people suffering from more severe allergies will benefit from seeing an allergist.

“An allergist will help you develop an action plan with ways to avoid allergy triggers and determine what treatment is best for your individual needs,” says Dr. Sublett. Many severe allergy sufferers find relief in immunotherapy — allergy shots that help the body build resistance to the effects of the allergen.

While there is no cure for the more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies, immunotherapy is known to modify and prevent disease progression.

• Eliminate uninvited guests. You can make your summer allergies more bearable by limiting your exposure to indoor allergens. Vacuum your furniture, leave your shoes by the door, cover your floors with washable throw rugs and use a dehumidifier to limit your mold exposure. All of these steps will help, and look for a good air purifier with a HEPA filter.

Summer allergies are a fact of life but you don’t have to let them dictate yours. Employ the tips above, and you’ll be able to enjoy the warmer weather without constantly reaching for a tissue.

To learn more about how to relieve your seasonal allergy symptoms, visit

Be Head Smart: Concussions and Youth Sports | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:21

By Lawrence Dickinson, M.D. • Special to the Times

Teens in organized sports, such as soccer, football and lacrosse, are particularly vulnerable to concussions. Approximately 9 percent of all high school athletic injuries are concussions.

Before enrolling your child in a contact sport, make sure he or she has the skills to stay safe while playing the game. Also, make sure that you and your child’s coach can identify the signs of a concussion.

A bump, blow or jolt to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI) by disrupting normal brain functioning.

Concussion, the most common TBI in children and teens, can vary in severity, from feeling dazed to completely losing consciousness with no memory of the event.

Here are a few common symptoms:

• Headache

• Nausea or vomiting

• Dizziness and imbalance

• Loss of consciousness

• Fuzzy or blurry vision

• Feeling “dazed”

• Memory troubles

• Difficulty concentrating

Go to the Emergency Department immediately if your child has a loss of consciousness. If your child has not lost consciousness, but is experiencing any of the above symptoms, an evaluation by a health care professional is recommended.

No one should return to athletic endeavors until all symptoms have been resolved.

Your child needs to recover completely before returning to activities. Treatment usually includes:

• Rest

• Good hydration and nutrition

• No activity that provokes headache, such as exercise or activities involving concentration

• Medications for headache and nausea

Eden Medical Center works with local high schools to protect student athletes through its Impact Program, which helps sports-medicine clinicians evaluate each athlete’s recovery after a concussion to make sure they don’t return to play until they are fully healed.

Dr. Lawrence Dickinson is a neurosurgeon affiliated with Eden Medical Center.

Watch Out for Rattlesnakes | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2015 08:14

062515h1With the return of warm weather, humans are not the only species coming out to enjoy the sun. Snakes, too, can be found basking in the sun’s rays.

Although most snakes in the state are harmless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds you to steer clear of the venomous rattlesnake and know what to do if one strikes.

Rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive and usually strike only when threatened or deliberately provoked. Given room, they will retreat.

Most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone while walking or climbing. The majority of snakebites occur on the hands, feet and ankles.

The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year in the U.S., causing one or two deaths.

The potential of running into a rattlesnake should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors, as there are precautions that can be taken to lessen the chance of being bitten.

Dos and Don’ts

• Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

• When hiking, stick to well-used trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

• Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.

• Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

• Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

• Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.

• Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.

• Teach children early to respet snakes and to leave them alone.

The best protection against rattlesnakes in the yard is a “rattlesnake proof” fence which should either be solid or with mesh no larger than one-quarter inch. It should be at least three feet high with the bottom buried a few inches in the ground. Slanting your snake fence outward about a 30-degree angle will help. Remove piles of boards or rocks around the home and use caution when removing those piles - there may already be a snake there.

Encourage and protect natural competitors like kingsnakes and racers. Kingsnakes actually kill and eat rattlesnakes.

If You’re Bitten

Though uncommon, rattlesnake bites do occur, so have a plan in place for responding to any situation. Carry a cell phone, hike with a companion who can assist in an emergency and make sure that someone knows where you are going and when you will be checking in.

Stay as calm as possible. Wash the bite area gently with soap and water. Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling.

Immobilize the affected area and transport safely to the nearest medical facility.

What you should not do after a rattlesnake bite:

• Don’t apply a tourniquet.

• Don’t pack the area in ice.

•Don’t cut the wound with a knife or razor.

• Don’t use your mouth to suck out the venom.

• Don’t allow the victim to drink alcohol.

— Source: California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Rattlesnakes are more common in the warmer months.



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