sick teddy bear

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The rare respiratory virus that has sickened hundreds of kids across the Midwest has made its way to the East Coast, its arrival in Maryland was confirmed this past Wednesday (Sept. 24). Reports of severe illness have fueled anxiety among parents and caregivers, but infectious disease specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center expect that most children who get the bug should recover swiftly without lingering after-effects.

What is Enterovirus D68?
Enterovirus D68 belongs to a family of nearly 100 viruses that cause a wide range of symptoms, infecting millions of people around the world each year. First identified in the 1960s, Enterovirus D68 is not a new virus. It affects predominantly children and teens and causes mild to moderate upper respiratory infections. Some people may also develop more serious infections of the lungs. The virus is contained in airway and mouth secretions, such as saliva, spit and nasal mucus, and is spread in much the same way as the common cold and the flu viruses — by touching contaminated surfaces, coughing and sneezing.

How dangerous is it?
In most healthy children, the virus will cause brief and self-limiting illness that resembles a bad case of the common cold, but it could lead to more severe disease and respiratory distress, particularly in those with underlying chronic conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, heart disease or compromised immune function.

How is it treated?
There is no specific treatment for this virus. Children should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and rest until fully recovered. Antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections will NOT work against this or any other virus. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce fever, pains and aches. Aspirin should not be given to children.

What can I do to reduce the risk of infection?
Follow common sense hygiene etiquette. The single most effective way to reduce the risk of infection is to wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face. Sneeze and cough into your sleeve rather than in the palm of your hand. Keep home children with cough and fever to avoid spreading the virus to others. Make sure that infected family members use separate hand and facial towels and do not share cups, glasses or utensils.

When should I take my child to the ER?
Most children who get the virus will do fine and do not require emergency care or hospitalization. A small number of children may go on to develop more serious disease and require urgent medical attention or emergency treatment.

One or more of the following warrants a trip to your pediatrician’s office or to the ER:
• Struggling to breathe, apparent respiratory distress
• Severe, prolonged vomiting
• Fever over 103 degrees that does not break in 48 hours
• Lethargy

Dr. Julia McMillan is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The center offers one of the most comprehensive pediatric medical programs in the country, with more than 92,000 patient visits and nearly 9,000 admissions each year. Johns Hopkins Children Center is consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

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jess bookEver since I started using Pinterest regularly, Facebook has kind of lost its shine for me. There are so many neat things about the former that the latter just cannot offer. Though over ten million people use Pinterest these days, there’s always still a chance you may be new to it.

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that lets users to create and keep track of theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Obviously, Pinterest isn’t going to dramatically change your life. What it can do, though, is help it inspire it, whether it’s with your diet, the make-up you want to use, or ways to keep your mood going strong and stress-free.

It’s easy to sign up for a Pinterest account, but if you don’t want to or simply feel you can’t be bothered with an account, you can use the search box on Pinterest to find what you want. Bypassing account login (which normally is how you first are able to use the “search” box) you can use Pinterest by doing a Pinterest search through Google. Once you’re in that way, you can search Pinterest as long as your heart desires.

“[Pinterest] is fascinating,” said Brendan Gallagher of Digitas Health. “It’s social commerce cleverly disguised as an aspirational visual scrapbook.” Aspirational sounds about right. There are so many great things to be discovered on this often surprisingly productive social networking site.

jess pcLet’s say you’re interested in dental health and want to motivate yourself or your family to get better at brushing. You can go here: Good Food Vs. Bad Food (for your teeth) | How to Improve Dental Health | Dental Health Info Graphics

If you’re determined to eat better than you do, check out great superfoods ideas and other healthy lifestyle tips here: Better Health Info Graphics | Antioxidants

If you love coffee, but wonder whether it’s doing you more harm than good, Pinterest has something for that, too: Medical Benefits of Being Addicted to Coffee

Are you a woman worried about heart disease? Are you a man who’s fallen behind on pertinent health news? What’s up with migraines? By the way, when was your last physical exam?

Okay. I got excited there! I think it’s clear that you can search for healthy inspiration or explore your other curiosities, like proper dining etiquette, job interviewing skills, removing permanent marker stains from anything, or creating easy outfit access in the morning (especially if you have children who always seem to be rushing around right before the school bus arrives). However, a note of caution: while Pinterest is for everyone, what’s pinned isn’t always trustworthy intel. Just like anything else you might find online, be sure to consult medical professionals before trying any kind of diet or exercise plan.

So, if you want to become a Pinterest person, here are some good rules to follow to make it more worthwhile. Happy (and healthy) pinning!

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.


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Properly dispose of unwanted or unneeded medications at Drug Take Back Day on Sept. 27 in Howard County

Have you ever opened your medicine cabinet and wondered, “What are all of these medications?” Some you may not have used for years and can’t remember why you had them in the first place, but you keep them because you just don’t know what to do with them.

What is the best way to handle unneeded and expired drugs? Your Howard County General Hospital pharmacists recommend participating in the Drug Take Back Day on Sept. 27, 2014 in nine locations throughout Howard County.

Our pharmacists give tips on why it is vital to safely dispose of unneeded medications and other ways you can delete them from your cabinet in the below slideshow.

 

  • girl with pills
    Leaving unneeded drugs around the house can pose a grave danger to children, teens and even family. Did you know that two-thirds of teens who abuse prescription drugs are getting them from their own homes, friends or a family member?
  • Having too many drugs in your home increases the risk of accidentally taking the wrong medication or a medicine that is too old to be effective.
  • pills in trash can
    Improper disposal of drugs is not only bad for us, it is bad for the earth and our sources of drinking water. In homes with septic tanks, prescription and over-the-counter drugs flushed down the toilet can leach out and seep into ground water.
  • drainage water
    Even in places where residences are connected to wastewater treatment plants, some drugs can pass through the system and end up in our rivers and lakes and eventually flow into our sources of drinking water. Many treatment plants are not equipped to remove medicines.
  • pills underwater
    From the Office of National Drug Control Policy for household drug disposal: take Rx drugs out of original containers and mix with cat litter, used coffee grounds or other undesirable substance. Put into a disposable container with a lid (ex., empty margarine tub) or a sealable bag and throw away. (Conceal or remove personal information, including Rx number on empty containers before tossing.)
  • pills in the mail
    Mail-in programs, offered by some local pharmacies, sell prepaid envelopes that can be filled with unwanted medications and mailed to a disposal facility. Click the image for prescription donation sites.
  • howard county map
    The best disposal choice is your local Drug Take Back Day. So use this opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet and bring your over-the-counter or prescription meds to one of nine convenient locations in Howard County by clicking the map.

 

Drug Take Back Day is sponsored by the Howard County Police and HC Drug-Free. The program offers a way for everyone to properly dispose of expired or unwanted medications.
 
Masoomeh Khamesian, Pharm. D., is the director of pharmacy for Howard County General Hospital.
Susan Shermock is the medication safety manager of the Pharmacy at Howard County General Hospital.
  
 

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How strong is the biological element in gender? Is it psychologically possible, in infancy, to engineer one’s sexuality? At what point in utero are we wired to be male or female?

In 1966 rural Winnipeg, none of these facts mattered to a teenaged couple whose baby boy had recently suffered a botched circumcision and now faced a life they could not imagine. They would journey all the way to Baltimore to the Johns Hopkins Psychohormonal Research Unit under the auspices of psychologist, John Money. Their son, they were promised, would be successfully reassigned as a girl. What Janet and Ron Reimer may not have been told was that “sexual reassignment had never been done on a normal child with normal genitals and nervous system.”

Journalist John Colapinto delivers a precise and compelling examination of a world-famous case that proved “pre-birth factors set limits on how far culture, learning, and environment can direct gender identity in humans” in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.

Only more compelling is getting to know David Reimer himself. A girl from the age of two until eighteen, his battle with depression and self-loathing is heartbreaking—shocking at times—but you will come away believing he is one of the bravest people you have ever met.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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appsIncreasingly technology can be used for supporting health, even at the personal health management level. I’m not a technology early adapter, but even I am using it to help track and manage aspects of my health.

Here’s a simple example. When I came home from knee replacement surgery and orthopedic rehab last year I had a complex regimen of medications, physical therapy, and other appointments. To keep it all straight, I drafted a daily schedule using a spreadsheet to track my medications and appointments. I’d update it every week as my schedule shifted and I was taken off medications during my recovery.

Sounds kind of basic—but this tool was so helpful for making sure I kept up with my therapy and didn’t miss any of my medications. After I returned back to work and ‘normal’ life, I didn’t need such a detailed tool anymore, but I did install some reminders in my calendar for certain health tasks (like taking weekly or month medications) so that I’d have a backup system in place.

I’ve barely delved into the tech world for health management and already I’m impressed by the usefulness of the tools. For a number of months I’ve been tracking my nutrition and exercise with “My Fitness Pal,” an app on my phone (or accessible through the web). This has helped me to look at another aspect of my health and reach some goals.

There are apps for monitoring health conditions, checking symptoms, and more. The only downside of having so many options is that we need to choose carefully what tools we can trust and use beneficially. My decisions have been influenced by word of mouth and researching reviews about apps. It’s also a good idea to consider with whom you want to share your personal information.

Another handy trend is the increasing frequency of health providers creating online portals for patient access to records, messaging with doctors, and other health tools. This can make it easier for sending a question or note to your doctor on a non-urgent matter. I like being able to see my test results and looking at them over time for any changes.

Patients can use technology to track and manage health conditions, interact with providers, and even basic research for background on questions or concerns. Now is a time ripe with opportunities to harness technology for the benefit of health.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.


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Please tell me you’ve seen the videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves (or others) on TV or all over social media. If you haven’t, I’m talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. These viral videos saturated the web and local and national television for most of August 2014. The videos encouraged participants to dump buckets of ice water on themselves and challenge others do to the same in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

In fact, Well & Wise participated too!
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine challenged Howard County Library System just this week! Here’s the proof!

So, what is ALS again? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” “is a terminal neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain…it is one of the most devastating of the disorders that affects the function of nerves and muscles. ALS does not affect mental functioning or the senses (such as seeing or hearing), and it is not contagious. Currently, there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There are three variations of ALS: sporadic, familial, and Guamanian.” (hopkinsmedicine.org)

While the excitement over the challenge may have waned as the campaign ended and the ALS Association’s (ALSA) bid to trademark the challenge (recently rescinded), the videos are still coming in from around the world. People are still taking and making challenges today.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was an ingenious idea that came out at just the right time and with the right approach. Fun, accessible, and packed with great storytelling. A personal story and a direct call to action makes all the difference when it comes to bringing about change. I’m sure other organizations and causes will be hoping for some of that ice bucket luck as they craft their newest fundraising campaigns. ALSA’s brilliant August campaign raised over $111,000,000.

But where is all this change (money) going? Well, toward the ALSA mission. Research, trials, operating budgets, outreach, and patient navigation are important aspects of their mission that require funding. According to their site, ALSA is the only national non-profit fighting ASL on every front. That’s a pretty big claim and I’m certain $111 million can do a lot of good.

If you’re curious about ALS research and the importance of collaboration check out what the CDC has compiled concerning the National ALS Registry. And if you’d like to get involved with ALSA (ice bucket or not) visit ALSA.org.

Also, if you are so inclined, you can see my personal #ALSIceBucketChallenge video here (taken on Aug. 21, 2014). Remember, if you participate use #ALSIceBucketChallenge!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

 


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