Eliminating Gluten, Nuts and Dairy Photo

Brad Calkins | Dreamstime.com |Eliminating Foods Diet

With school starting soon, you’re probably busy with back-to-school activities, like buying clothes and school supplies, but is preparing your child’s school for his/her food allergies on the to-do list?

With a little organization, preparation and education, you can help keep your child safe from experiencing a food allergy reaction at school. We’ve created this list of tips to get you started.

Make an appointment with the allergist.
Discuss and update your child’s food allergy emergency plan for school, making sure the plan includes a photo of your child and your and the doctor’s contact information. Also, ask for any prescriptions that may need to be filled for the school.

Order a medical alert bracelet.
Along with your child’s name and allergy types, consider including that epinephrine should be given for a severe reaction.

Gather your child’s medical supplies.
Make sure all of your child’s medications are packed and ready to go to school. If it’s possible, provide the school with medications that will not expire; otherwise, make a note of the expiration date(s) on a calendar, so you’ll be ready to replace them before the expiration date.

If your child won’t have an epinephrine auto-injector on him/her at all times, provide one to the school nurse, your child’s teacher and any other school staff who will spend time with your child. The epinephrine container should be labeled with your child’s name, photo and emergency contact information.

Develop emergency plans with the school.
Speak with the school’s staff and make emergency plans for different scenarios, like snack time, lunchtime, classroom parties and field trips. Remind school staff they should give epinephrine immediately, then call 911 in the event of a severe allergic reaction.

Attend the school meeting.
Ask questions related to your child’s food allergy, including:

  • Where is the food kept, and where will your child eat?
  • Are tables cleaned with disposable disinfecting wipes? Sponges can spread allergens.
  • Which staff oversees snack and lunchtime, and do they discourage food sharing?
  • Can teachers give you several days’ notice of food-related events, including birthday parties?
  • Is food used as a reward in the classroom, and if so, can alternative rewards be given?
  • Are kids urged to wash their hands, instead of using hand sanitizer, before and after eating? Hand sanitizer gels do not remove allergens.
  • Is training provided to teachers on how kids describe allergic reactions (e.g. kids may say their food tastes spicy, tongue feels hot, mouth feels itchy or funny, or lips feel tight)?

Write a letter to other parents.
Your letter should include the allergies your child has, what can cause a reaction and the serious effects of a reaction. Explain cross contamination and how preventative measures can keep your child safe.

For year-long tips, read “Going to School With Food Allergies” at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital website.


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Prácticas de Piscina By Asdrubal Velasquez (Visionado on FLICKR)


I rejoice when the weather is warm enough to swim! Swimming is one of the most healthful ways to exercise, and is broadly enjoyed by people of all ages, from babies to the aged. People can get into the pool and enjoy themselves so much that they don’t even know how much beneficial aerobic (heart-pumping) exercise they’re getting.

Aerobic exercise itself has important health benefits: it reduces harmful inflammation linked to many diseases; lowers stress; lowers blood pressure; strengthens muscles (including the heart), and can even help smokers to quit. In fact, swimming is one of the most highly-recommended types of aerobic exercises, according to Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed. D. In addition, it’s one of the best exercises for older adults, as it’s easy on the joints.

Most swimmers in Howard County don’t have access to natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, so we swim in the neighborhood pool, kindly supplied by Columbia Association, one of the neighborhoods in other towns, or by a private owner. The water in these pools needs to be carefully maintained for cleanliness, because the people splashing around bring bacteria into the standing water of the pool. The operators of these pools add chemicals to the water. Without chlorination, health risks would prevent our swimming in a pool.

Most pool operators maintain water cleanliness with chlorine-based chemicals, then test the water for the correct balance of pH (acid-alkaline balance) and chemicals several times throughout the day. Although several alternatives to chlorine exist, each has a disadvantage, including a substantial differential in price. So additions of chlorine seem to be the default choice for water cleanliness.

But chlorine use has its side affects: it’s drying to skin and hair, and may make swimmers’ eyes redden and burn. Some some people are undeniably allergic to chlorine; some people suspect chlorine of causing serious diseases of the respiratory tract or even cancer; but research on these serious side effects is not conclusive.

But (sniff) what’s that sharp smell? Smells like too much chlorine!

Actually, that smell is the result of inadequate amounts of chlorine. Here’s the science: molecules of chlorine combines with molecules of nitrogen or ammonia being thrown off our bodies (organic matter). This is what smells bad. Whenthere is more chlorine in the water, the chlorine can do its job and the odor should be minimal. It’s inadequately-chlorinated water that is most irritating to the skin and eyes, and may be implicated in swimmer’s ear, a common ear infection due to constantly-wet ear canals and bacteria in the water.

And why is the water so cloudy? It’s due to any combination of these events: particles forced out of the water by imbalanced water, poor filtration or sanitation, or heat. Hot days can contribute to cloudy water.

Unless there are other health-related risks, the health benefits, fun, and social value of swimming far outweighs the disadvantages posed by chlorine. One of the rites of summer is swimming, especially out of doors on a hot Maryland day.

The Center for Disease Control’s Triple A’s of Healthy Swimming go into depth on ways to keep everyone healthy when in the water. The most important and easiest of these include:

  • Staying out of the water if you are ill, especially illness of your digestive tract. Also stay out of the water if you have a cut or other break in your skin. Being aware of potential water-borne problems.
  • Showering before you swim to rinse off the organic materials on your skin. This way, you won’t be contributing to what the chlorine as to break down.
  • Regular bathroom breaks for children and adults are crucial. Urine, after all, in another organic material.
  • Protecting yourself with eye goggles, an after-swim shower, shampoo, and body moisturizer.
  • Questions to ask the pool operator: “Are chemical levels checked at least twice per day, or more often when the pool is heavily used?”, “What is the latest pool inspection score?”, and “Has the pool operator completed specialized training in pool operation?”Have a great swim!
Jean has recently retired from Howard County Library System. She also swims at four different Columbia Association pools each summer.

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Like ham and eggs or sunshine and summer, with winter comes snow and shoveling the white stuff. Snow shoveling can be a good source of aerobic exercise, but it doesn’t come without risks. Improper shoveling can cause injuries to your back and shoulders. And the American Heart Association says the risk of heart attack can increase while shoveling since cold temperatures and physical labor make the heart work harder. This may be partially due to the sudden demands that snow shoveling puts on the heart, especially for those who live a fairly sedentary lifestyle.

Take note: if you are at risk for heart attack, you need to take special precautions. The National Safety Council and the National Institutes of Health recommend the following tips for safe snow shoveling:

 

  • snow shoveling tips
    [Credit: pavelgr/Thinkstock] Protect your heart if at risk for a heart attack: you recently had one and/or coronary stents, heart disease history, high blood pressure or cholesterol, smoker, sedentary lifestyle. Get your doctor’s permission beforehand. Take frequent breaks and pace yourself.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Robeo | Dreamstime.com] Call 911 if you have: chest tightness or pain, pain in your jaw or pain radiating down your arm. Experts recommend calling an ambulance versus driving to the hospital. Specially-trained emergency teams can assess your condition, stabilize you and activate a treatment team.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Dolgachov | Dreamstime.com] Avoid injury while shoveling. Don’t lift too much snow, use a smaller shovel or partially fill a larger one. Bend from the knees with a straight back and sit into the motion; avoid twisting movements. Listen to your body and stop if you feel pain.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Eurobanks | Dreamstime.com] Shovel snow when it’s fresh. It’s easier to move than when it’s wet and packed. Push the snow rather than always lifting.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Maszas| Dreamstime.com] Ears, nose, hands and feet need extra protection and are at risk for frostbite after as little as 10 minutes in sub-freezing temperatures. Dress in layers that can be removed as needed. Protect your face, since cold air makes working and breathing harder and adds strain on your body.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Ocusfocus| Dreamstime.com] Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is as serious in the winter as in the summer. Also, avoid eating before you shovel.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Scukrov | Dreamstime.com] Avoid caffeine and nicotine as they are stimulants that can increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict, putting extra stress on the heart. Too much caffeine, alcohol or sugary drinks can all cause dehydration.
  • snow shoveling tips
    [© Pojoslaw| Dreamstime.com] Warm up before you start by marching in place or walking for a few minutes. Stretch your arm and leg muscles after you’ve warmed up. Warm muscles are less likely to be injured.

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leaflets three let it beWhen I was ten years old, I got two unforgettable cases of poison ivy. A nature girl, I spent spare time out of doors, digging in the dirt, and climbing trees and fences. In the spring of that year, I was digging a hole (purpose, unknown) and found some pesky roots in the way. In pulling up the poison ivy roots, I released urushiol oil all over my hands and next day, my hands were covered with huge weeping blisters. I missed a week of school, as the medication of choice at that time was calamine lotion, which was totally ineffective. That winter, I left a Christmas party to hike and climbed a vine-covered fence. In climbing the fence, I again exposed my hands to urushiol, and missed another week of school with the misery and pain of poison ivy. Because at least 75% of people react to poison ivy, you might know what I’m talking about.

I took these experiences as a personal affront, and swore a vendetta on this innocent plant. Its urushiol oil covering conserves moisture in hot Maryland summers, and is not a defensive measure. Its green leaves are commonly enjoyed by wildlife such as deer and bears, and birds relish the seeds in the fall. In fact, birds which consume the seeds are responsible for the sudden appearance of the plant in your back yard.

Because the plant flourishes where light is prolific in the forest edges, not in the shade, more poison ivy grows in Maryland in 2015 than before the European colonists cleared the trees. And we may be seeing more of it in the future. A Marine Biological Laboratory study found that the plant is highly sensitive to greater carbon dioxide levels. With climate change bringing rising CO2 levels, poison ivy will enjoy an ideal growing environment.

poison oak poison ivyDepending on the severity of the rash and the location on your body, a case of poison ivy rash can make people a little itchy or endanger their health. Calamine cream may help minor rashes. Medical help should be sought for heavy rashes, swelling (especially on the face and genitals), or breathing problems. Strong medications and even hospitalization may be necessary.

Prevention always beats treatment. Learn (and teach your kids) what how to avoid skin contact with urushiol-covered plants. The American Academy of Dermatology’s website includes excellent photographs of poison ivy, oak, and sumac, all of which produce urushiol.

Wear clothes with long sleeves & long pants when you spend time in the woods or in the garden, removing and washing the clothes after use. After suspected exposure (gardening, walks in the woods), immediately wash a soap or cream such as Tecnu or Zanfel to remove the urushiol. If your pet has run through poison ivy, she won’t get a rash- but she can bring the rash to you, so wash her, too.

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years. She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.

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pool safety tipsFor many, summer means pool time! Though splashing around with family and friends is a highlight of the summer, it is important to keep pool safety and caution in mind. With drownings and pool injuries a valid concern, make water safety your first priority.

Follow these simple guidelines to keep pool time safe and fun for everyone:

  1. Never allow children near or in the water unattended, even if lifeguards are present
  2. Make it a rule for your kids to never go in or near the water without an adult nearby
  3. Teach your child to swim or sign them up for swimming lessons
  4. Designate a water watcher. Choose a responsible person to keep an eye on the water every time children are in or near the water
  5. Make sure your child knows basic water safety skills
  6. Stay in arm’s reach of young children
  7. Have young children who are inexperienced in swimming wear a life jacket near the pool
  8. Learn CPR!
  9. Make your child wait at least 30 minutes after eating to swim
  10. Establish safe pool rules and enforce them such as: no running near the pool, always swim with a buddy and no diving
  11. Make sure children know that drains and suction fittings in the pool or hot tub are always off limits
  12. If you have a pool in your back yard, make sure there is proper fencing and/or barriers around it
  13. Always wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30

By following these simple safety guidelines, you are sure to have a summer full of fun at the pool and create great memories!

 


Resources: Poolsafety.gov and the American Red Cross


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Poisons act fast!

National Poison Prevention Week is March 15-21

poison_control_number

Call 1 (800) 222-1222 for accidental poisonings.

At some point, almost everyone will experience the horrible realization that a child, family member or friend may have accidentally ingested some kind of poison: the two-year-old smiling and licking his lips with a half-empty bottle of sweet, red, baby acetaminophen in his hand; the toddler who thought the amber chemical in an unmarked bottle was apple juice; the elderly relative with limited vision and memory taking the wrong number of pills at the wrong time; the husband who decided to sand a table not knowing it was covered with lead-based paint; or the friend who inhaled toxic vapors by mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia to clean the floor. A poison is any substance that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person or in the wrong amount, and there are endless ways for accidental poisonings to happen. According to a 2008 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, poisoning exceeded the number of traffic accident deaths for the first time since 1980. More than two million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country and more than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home.

March 15 to 21 is National Poison Prevention Week, and this year’s themes are: “Children Act Fast…So Do Poisons” and “Poisoning Spans a Lifetime.”

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What can you do to help prevent accidental poisonings?

  • Become familiar with the 50 poison prevention tips offered by the National Poison Prevention Week Council, including:
    • General Safety—Install safety latches on cabinets used for medicines and household products and buy products in child-resistant packaging.
    • household_poisonsMedicine Safety—Keep medicines out of reach of children, tell your doctor about all of your medications to avoid interactions, and use only the measuring device (dosing cup, dosing syringe, or dropper) that is included with your medicine.
    • Household Product Safety—Keep cleaning products in their original container with original label, never use food containers to store household or chemical products, have your children tested for lead poisoning and remove poisonous plants from your house and yard.
  • Learn the signal warning words for household and chemical products:
    • Caution—slightly toxic if eaten, absorbed through skin, inhaled or in contact with eyes or skin
    • Warning—moderately toxic
    • Danger—highly toxic or deadly. The word “poison” must be included in red letters on front panel of the product label.

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What should you do if you suspect a possible poisoning?

  • Keep the Poison Control Center emergency phone number, 1-800-222-1222 in a handy and accessible place and make sure caretakers also know where it is.
  • Do NOT administer syrup of ipecac.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics says you should get rid of this syrup that for years was thought to be a good way to treat children who had swallowed something toxic by making them vomit.
    • Recent studies show it can irritate the stomach and esophagus and that it can leave up to 50 percent of the toxin behind. The best bet is to call the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222). If it is a true emergency, you should call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

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