Health & Fitness
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.

Bad Breath, Good Biz | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2015 08:12

062515h2Listerine was first developed as a surgical antiseptic in 1879 by Joseph Lawrence, a chemist in St. Louis, Missouri.

It was promoted to dentists for oral care in 1895 and was the first over-the-counter mouthwash sold in the United States in 1914.

But it wasn’t a runaway success until the 1920s, when it was pitched as a solution for “chronic halitosis” — a then obscure medical term for bad breath.

In just seven years, the company’s revenues rose from $115,000 to more than $8 million.

By last year, sales of all the various mouthwashes in the U.S. totalled about $1.4 billion.

While dentists say mouthwash and other rinses can benefit overall oral health, the American Dental Association has found that just two products eliminate bad breath and they are both toothpastes.

CAPTION: Listerine in the 1920s.

Donate Blood This Summer | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 29 June 2015 08:10

There are 100 days of summer and the American Red Cross urges eligible donors to choose their day to give blood and help ensure a sufficient blood supply.

Summer is a difficult time to collect enough blood to meet patient needs. Nearly 90 percent of donors surveyed this past spring said they planned to take a vacation this summer, potentially making them less available to give.

In addition, many schools that host blood drives are out of session during the summer. But the need for blood donations is constant. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.

Donors of all blood types – especially those with types O negative, A negative and B negative – are needed. The Red Cross must collect 15,000 blood donations every day to meet the needs of patients nationwide.

The Oakland Blood Donation Center is located at 6230 Claremont Avenue and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, and from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

To make an appointment, visit or call 1-800-733-2767.


Keep Bones Healthy for Life | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:54

061115hWhen it comes to good health, you can certainly feel it in your bones. That’s because your bones are alive. Every day, the body breaks down old bone and puts new bone in its place.

While it is normal to lose some bone with age, too much bone loss can lead to osteoporosis.

What Is Osteoporosis?

With osteoporosis, the bones become weak and are more likely to break, especially those in the wrist, spine and hip.

Because bone loss often happens over time and doesn’t hurt, many people have weak bones and don’t even know it. A broken bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis. It’s a good idea, therefore, to know risk factors. These include:

• Poor Diet. Too little calcium can increase your chances of getting osteoporosis. Not enough vitamin D can also increase your risk. Vitamin D helps the body use the calcium in your diet.

• Not Enough Physical Activity. Not exercising and not being active for a long time can increase your chances of getting osteoporosis. Like muscles, bones become stronger — and stay stronger-with regular exercise.

• Body Weight. Being too thin makes you more likely to get osteoporosis.

• Smoking. Cigarettes can keep your body from using the calcium in your diet.

• Alcohol. People who drink a lot are more likely to get osteoporosis.

• Medicines. Certain medications can cause bone loss.

• Age. Your chances of getting osteoporosis increase as you get older.

• Gender. Women have a greater chance of getting osteoporosis because they have smaller bones than men and lose bone faster than men do. However, men can still develop osteoporosis as they age.

• Ethnicity. White and Asian women are most likely to get osteoporosis. However, people of all backgrounds are at risk.

• Family History. Having a close relative with osteoporosis may increase your risk.

What To Do About It

Since osteoporosis has no symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your bone health. If your doctor feels you’re at risk, they may order a bone density test. It’s quick, safe and painless.

If your bone density test shows that your bones are weak, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and prescribe medication that can help.

Learn More

For further information on osteoporosis and bone health, visit, the website of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), or call toll free (877) 226-4267 and order a free publication on bone health, available in English or in Spanish.

— North American Precis Synd., Inc.

Is ‘Stage Zero’ Breast Cancer Really Cancer? | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:53

Thanks to breast cancer awareness campaigns and early detection, more women than ever are getting mammograms, and more cancers are being spotted early — very early.

Many women are told they have something called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), or “Stage Zero” cancer, in which abnormal cells are found in the center of the milk-producing ducts.

Before universal screening, DCIS was rarely identified. Now, DCIS and the less common lobular carcinoma in situ account for almost a quarter of new breast cancer cases — some 60,000 a year.

A diagnosis of DCIS raises all sorts of questions. Is it cancer? Is it life threatening? What is the recommended treatment?

DCIS is non-invasive. It is, technically, a pre-cancer and is not life threatening. DCIS is an indication of abnormal cells in the milk duct. While most invasive cancer begins as DCIS, not all will go on to become an invasive cancer.

Diagnosing DCIS

Like other cancers, DCIS is usually diagnosed by a team of medical professionals, including radiologists, surgeons and pathologists, using these techniques:

• Mammography. DCIS is likely to be identified during a mammogram that reveals tiny calcium deposits — microcalcifications — which appear as lines or clusters on an X-ray and are sometimes associated with cancer.

A finding of DCIS may indicate a diagnosis before the lesion becomes an invasive cancer. Confined to the ducts, DCIS tumors are often too small to cause symptoms or to be felt on a breast exam.

• Magnetic resonance imaging. MRI is increasingly used in breast imaging, but it hasn’t yet been found significantly better than mammography in screening for DCIS.

• Biopsy. Once DCIS is suspected, a biopsy is done to determine whether cancer is present and, if so, the extent of the disease.

Right now, the treatment for DCIS consists of surgery, either a lumpectomy or mastectomy, depending on how widely the cells appear in the ducts.

If the cells are concentrated in one place, the usual treatment is a breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) followed by radiation. Some women may have a mastectomy if the abnormal cells are found in many places.

Because the risk of metastasis is so low with DCIS, it’s not necessary to remove the lymph nodes or treat it with chemotherapy. An important statistic to remember is that the survival rate for women with DCIS is very good, nearly 100 percent.


Bug Bites & Stings: When To Get Help | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 28 May 2015 16:26

052815hAlthough most bug bites and stings are harmless, some can be dangerous. This is especially true if you are allergic to the bug’s venom, or if the bug is carrying a disease.

In the U.S., it’s common to experience a bite or sting from mosquitoes; fleas; spiders; bees, wasps and hornets; biting flies; mites; ticks; fire ants; and bedbugs.

“Most bug bites and stings can be safely treated at home with topical medication, such as hydrocortisone cream or ointment, or an oral antihistamine to reduce the itch,” says Dr. Margaret Parsons, associate professor of dermatology at U.C. Davis. “Sometimes, however, a bug bite or sting could turn into something serious, particularly if you have been bitten or stung by many insects at the same time.”

Dr. Parsons advises going to the emergency room immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after a bug bite or sting:

• Difficulty breathing or the sensation that your throat is closing

• Swollen lips, tongue or face

• Chest pain or racing heartbeat lasting more than a few minutes

• Dizziness, vomiting or a headache

• A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite: This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.

• A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads: This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.

“Although most bug bites and stings do not turn into a severe or even fatal illness like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms,” says Dr. Parsons. “If you feel tired all the time, you have a headache, fever or body aches, or you develop a rash after a bug bite, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately.”




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