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Fight the Bite this summer

Use insect repellant to keep away mosquitoes and ticks this summer.

Use insect repellant to keep away mosquitoes and ticks this summer.

As the weather warms and people begin to spend more time outdoors, it is important to take precautions against mosquito and tick bites. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) would like to remind people, especially those spending time outdoors and children at camps, to protect themselves from mosquito or tickborne diseases.

Last year, West Nile Virus was responsible for 36 illnesses and 2 fatalities reported in Michigan. Seasonal activity varies from year to year, but mosquitoes in Michigan can carry illnesses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and ticks can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Mosquito and tick-borne diseases can cause mild symptoms, severe infections requiring hospitalization, and even death.

Adults who are 50 and older have the highest risk of illness caused by West Nile Virus. In addition to presenting a greater risk for older people, EEE is more likely to cause illness in children 15 years of age or younger. People in outdoor occupations such as construction and landscaping are at increased risk of getting bitten, but the mosquito that carries WNV likes to get indoors as well. You can protect against mosquito bites by remembering to:

The West Nile virus maintains itself in nature by cycling between mosquitoes and certain species of birds. A mosquito (the vector) bites an uninfected bird (the host), the virus amplifies within the bird, an uninfected mosquito bites the bird and is in turn infected. Other species such as humans and horses are incidental infections, as they are not the mosquitoes’ preferred blood meal source. The virus does not amplify within these species and they are known as dead-end hosts.

The West Nile virus maintains itself in nature by cycling between mosquitoes and certain species of birds. A mosquito (the vector) bites an uninfected bird (the host), the virus amplifies within the bird, an uninfected mosquito bites the bird and is in turn infected. Other species such as humans and horses are incidental infections, as they are not the mosquitoes’ preferred blood meal source. The virus does not amplify within these species and they are known as dead-end hosts.

Avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellent when outdoors especially from dusk to dawn. Look for EPA-labeled products containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Reapply as needed according to label directions. Use nets or fans around outdoor eating areas to keep mosquitoes away.

Mosquito-proof homes: Fix or install window and door screens and cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.

Help your community: Report dead birds to Michigan’s Emerging Diseases website (www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases) to help track WNV and support community-based mosquito control programs.

Vaccinate horses against West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

Michigan is also home to a number of tick species that will bite people. Ticks are typically found in wooded or brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. The ticks most commonly encountered by people in Michigan include the American dog tick which can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and the blacklegged tick which can spread a number of illnesses, including Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is considered to be an emerging disease due to the expansion of tick populations in Michigan’s western Upper and Lower Peninsulas and is the most common tick-borne disease reported in the state with 165 human cases reported in 2013,  an increase of almost 60 percent from the previous year. The period from June to September is of concern because of the poppy-seed sized nymphal-stage tick, which is responsible for much of the Lyme disease in the U.S. While rare, human cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever have also been documented in Michigan.

Many tickborne diseases have similar symptoms. See your healthcare provider if you develop signs of illness such as a fever, body aches and/or rash in the days after receiving a tick bite or recreating in tick habitat. Early recognition and treatment can decrease the chance of serious complications. You can prevent tick bites by remembering these easy steps:

Both nymphal and adult deer ticks can be carriers of Lyme disease. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

Both nymphal and adult deer ticks can be carriers of Lyme disease. Nymphs are about the size of a poppy seed.

Avoid tick-infested areas. This is especially important in May, June, and July. If you are in tick infested areas, walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter at trail edges.

Use insect repellent. Spray repellent containing DEET or Picaridin on clothes and on exposed skin. You can also treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact or buy clothes that are pre-treated. Permethrin can also be used on tents and some camping gear. Do not use permethrin directly on skin. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellents.

Bathe or shower. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. Ticks can get a ride indoors on your clothes. After being outdoors, wash and dry clothing at a high temperature to kill any ticks that may remain on clothing.

Perform daily tick checks. Always check for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Ticks must usually be attached for at least a day before they can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, so early removal can reduce the risk of infection. To remove an attached tick, grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.

For more information about WNV, visit www.michigan.gov/westnilevirus. For more information about diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks, visit www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.

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Find the right tools to invest in a healthy smile

HEA-Healthy-smile-web(BPT) – If you’re concerned about your oral health and looking to protect your physical and financial well-being, one of the easiest ways to do so is to practice preventive care. Attending bi-annual dental checkups and making smart oral health decisions can help you spot a concern well before it becomes an expensive problem.

Despite the obvious benefits of adhering to preventive care, many people forget this simple routine and risk bigger expenses down the road. Here are some easy tips you can follow to invest in a healthy smile and protect your oral health.

* Get serious about flossing. Daily flossing is one of the most important things you can do to improve your oral health. Floss helps to get down into the crevices between the teeth. This is where plaque resides. Daily flossing helps you remove this plaque before it turns into tartar.

* Find the toothbrush that’s right for you. As the main tool for scrubbing and brushing away unwanted plaque, the toothbrush tends to do the heavy lifting. Most dentists today recommend using an electric toothbrush. This allows you to give your teeth a better cleaning in less time, and it ensures you are brushing with the appropriate pressure.

* What’s your toothpaste of choice? With so many kinds of toothpaste, personal preference plays a big factor. Toothpastes vary by flavor, whitening power and other additional features, so it really comes down to your brushing goals. Whichever brand you select, make sure the box has the American Dental Association (ADA) stamp. This way you’ll know your toothpaste has been regulated and tested.

* Don’t forget the mouthwash. People tend to forget about this important last step in a mouth cleansing routine, but a recent Good Housekeeping study found that “More than 9 out of 10 respondents who are not currently mouth rinse users (93 percent) said they would use it if it could help improve their dental visits.” Look for a mouthwash like the new Crest Pro-Health Tartar Protection rinse. This rinse does more than just provide anti-tartar and anti-cavity benefits, it also helps to freshen breath, fights unwanted surface stains and strengthens weakened enamel.

* Your smile is affected by what you eat. There are many products on the market that that can help you whiten your smile, but you can also improve your pearly whites by making the right food choices. Eating strawberries, broccoli, apples and cauliflower, or drinking water and dairy products help to whiten your smile. Meanwhile, you should avoid drinking red wine, tea, coffee and cola, as these drinks can stain your teeth.

Maintaining good oral health doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tools and an established daily routine, you can ensure your minor oral health concerns don’t lead to major dentist bills in the future. To learn more ways you can improve your oral health, visit CrestProHealth.com.

 

 

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Walking: the old way to get fit is new again

HEA-Walking-web(BPT) – With so many fitness trends, you might not think of walking as good exercise. If you’re not thrusting a kettlebell over your head, pushing a tractor trailer tire or shaking your hips to a Top 40 dance beat in a scheduled group class, you’re not cutting it, right? Well, not so fast. Walking is actually a great way to get in shape. In fact, if you walk often enough and fast enough, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can satisfy your body’s daily requirement for aerobic activity.

Walking may just seem like an old method of exercise; it certainly is tried and true. But quite the opposite of outdated, it seems to be making a resurgence in the health, fitness and medical worlds as a low-cost solution to the nation’s ongoing health care crisis.

Renowned medical expert Dr. Andrew Weil is an advocate of walking as a crucial method of preventative care. He advocates walking as a low-risk means to optimum health.

“With a consistent, brisk walking routine, you can boost your immune system, help manage weight, improve your mood and help ease depression, as well as improve cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and prevent osteoporosis,” says Weil. “The additional benefits may be endless.”

The walking movement is growing: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2005 and 2010, the number of adults who walked for 10 minutes or more at least once a week rose from 56 to 62 percent – an increase of almost 20 million people.

Need more convincing reasons to walk onto the bandwagon? Here’s why walking for exercise is so ideal:

* Walking is what your body is designed to do.

*Among all forms of aerobic exercise, walking carries the least risk of injury.

* You can walk almost anywhere, any time.

* Nearly everyone can walk, and it’s something you can do throughout your life.

* It’s free.

* There’s no special skill, training, or equipment needed – all you need is the right footwear.

The buzz about walking has even reached the stars. Fitness trainer to celebrities such as Kate Walsh, Pink and Stacey Kiebler, Juliet Kaska has been known to start many of her high-profile clientele with a consistent walking routine. Kaska recommends walking as a great baseline for any fitness program, but reminds her followers to “invest in a good pair of walking shoes. They will do wonders for your posture and joints. Minimizing the impact of each step. Look for lightweight flexible shoes and be sure to replace them often, especially if you’re walking every day.”

As you develop your walking program, set your own pace. As a general rule, taking 10,000 steps a day is a great goal for improving your overall physical, emotional and mental fitness. But the journey, as they say, begins with a single step. There’s no better time than now to begin.

 

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Camp Good Grief

Hospice of Michigan Offers Day Camp for Children Coping with Loss

One in 20 children under the age of 18 will have experienced the death of a parent and many others will grieve the death of a sibling or another important person in their lives.

Because children can grieve differently than adults, the extent of their grief can often go undetected. To help prevent this, Hospice of Michigan introduced Camp Good Grief in 2012, a day camp designed to help children cope with the loss of a loved one. This year, camp is scheduled for Friday, June 20.

The free one-day camp is held at Camp Newaygo and invites children ages 8-17 to partake in a combination of fun and adventurous camp activities with grief education and emotional support. Hospice of Michigan grief professionals and trained volunteers facilitate the camp, which is open to all children in the community who have experienced the death of a loved one.

“Children are often the forgotten grievers,” said Tangela Zielinski, grief support manager at HOM. When someone dies, people tend to focus on the adult closest to the deceased, but children can suffer from a unique grief that’s important to address.

A child’s grief is far different than an adults; it often comes in spurts and small doses. Camp Good Grief provides a safe, nurturing and fun place where children can process what they’re going through in a healthy way.

By around age 9, children begin to understand that death is a permanent and real biological process. This is also when they develop a strong desire to belong to a group and fit in. It’s when moods and feelings of stress and anxiety appear and when children become more susceptible to peer influence and pressure.

Studies have shown that unresolved loss and grief issues can manifest themselves in poor school performance, acting out, truancy, drug abuse, depression and suicidal tendencies—behaviors that trail into adulthood with disastrous consequences.

HOM recognizes that children can be the age group most affected by death and can have a more difficult time processing and understanding their grief. Camp Good Grief gives these children a safe place to grieve and helps them make sense of the emotions they’re feeling.

“At a time when they’re trying to fit in, the death of a loved one can make kids feel isolated and alone,” Zielinski says.  “Camp Good Grief allows children to connect with others in a similar situation and leaves them feeling they’re not all that different.”

The camp is designed to provide children with a welcoming environment where they can express their grief, be comforted by peers that are going through something similar, enjoy camp activities and find peace in nature, which in itself is healing.

Camp activities include arts and crafts, kayaking, rock wall climbing, a zip line, swimming, gaga ball, a kite memorial and other team building exercises – all activities that can be tied into discussions on grief.  For example, when children climb the rock wall, it can be scary, which provides an opportunity to discuss fear.

“It’s our hope that kids leave the camp feeling that they’re not alone,” Zielinski adds. “We want them to understand that their grief is normal and while it’s okay to be sad, better days are ahead.”

Hospice of Michigan’s 2014 Camp Good Grief will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 20 at Camp Newaygo, 5333 Centerline Road, Newaygo.  Space is limited and those interested are encouraged to register as soon as possible.  For applications and more information, parents or guardians should call Zielinski at 231.527.0913.

Grief is a personal and individual experience that takes place over time.  While it’s okay to give the child time to be sad and work through their grief, if you see a pattern of worrisome behaviors, you may want to contact a grief professional.

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Mental health tips for parents of teens and young adults

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(StatePoint) If you are the parent of an older child or teen, you may not think about his or her day-to-day medical needs as often as you did during early childhood. But older kids also are dependent on you, especially when it comes to emotional health and wellness.

“Life transitions, romantic situations, stress and exposure to drugs and alcohol are just a few of the challenges facing teens and young adults,” says James Perrin, MD, FAAP, 2014 President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “As a parent, you can help ease these transitions and encourage positive choices.”

May, which is Mental Health Month, is a good time to take stock of your child’s emotional well-being. The AAP offers these tips for parents to foster good mental health:

• At each new stage in your child`s life, be extra vigilant for signals that he needs extra support. Be ready to provide it.

• Check in often and keep the lines of communication open. If your child is away at college or has moved out, speak regularly by phone. Children should know that they can talk to you about anything. Be committed to broaching tough topics. Talk about your own experiences and fears when you were an adolescent.

• If your teen has a mental health diagnosis, he or she will need extra support. Pediatricians, school counselors and mental health professionals are important resources.

• Watch for mental health red flags, such as excessive sleeping, personality shifts, excessive moodiness, noticeable weight loss or gain, excessive secrecy or signs of self-harm.

• Don’t skip the annual physical. Not only are teens still on a vaccination schedule, but check-ups are a crucial opportunity to talk to your pediatrician about any concerns, as well as diagnose any potential physical and mental health issues. It’s also a great time for teens to seek confidential advice.

• Safeguard your home against prescription drug abuse by keeping your own medications locked. According to the AAP, prescription drug misuse by adolescents is second only to marijuana and alcohol misuse. The most commonly abused prescription drugs include Vicodin and Xanax.

• Provide logistical support for young adults like completing health forms and physicals for college; setting up accommodations at school if they have a mental health diagnosis; finding physicians to care for their adult needs; and signing up for health insurance. Your pediatrician’s office can help.

• Help limit teens’ stress. Don’t encourage them to take on excessive time-consuming extra-curricular activities. Avoid comparing your children. Every child has his own strengths.

• Encourage habits that reduce stress and promote physical and mental health, such as a well-balanced diet, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, and regular exercise.

• At this age, it’s important for parents to arm their older children with coping skills that will serve them throughout life, rather than handling everything for them.

More health tips for parents of older children, teens and young adults can be found at www.HealthyChildren.org.

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Public awareness needed to prevent bed bugs

HEA-Bed-bugs(BPT) – One of the most feared household pests of the past decade has been the bed bug. What may be the most unnerving part about these tiny pests is how they hide in mattresses, couches and even dressers waiting for their next blood meal.

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of bed bug infestations across the country. About 99 percent of pest professionals have treated for bed bugs in the past year, according to a survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

“Bed bugs have several qualities that specifically help them survive and spread,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “The best ways to stop the spread of bed bugs are through education and taking precautions. Consumers should be aware of their surroundings when traveling and be vigilant about searching for signs of an infestation.”

Understanding bed bugs

Bed bugs are often mistaken for being nocturnal. The truth is they are attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted by their hosts. For this reason, they tend to feed at night while a person is sleeping and emitting a steady stream of carbon dioxide. However, they will also consume a blood meal during the day – especially in heavily infested areas. Although bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, they will feed on other warm-blooded hosts, too.

Bed bugs hide very easily thanks to their small size and flat, seed-like shape, allowing them to squeeze into tiny cracks and crevices. They can also spread very quickly. One female bed bug can lay one-to-five eggs per day, several hundred in a lifetime. If left untreated, bed bugs can quickly become a much bigger problem for homeowners.

Keeping your home bed bug free

Bed bugs are very good hitchhikers. They can latch onto luggage, clothing or linens and easily move from place to place or room to room. The best defense against bed bugs is awareness and prevention, especially when traveling or on vacation.

If staying in hotels, even five-star accommodations, pull back the sheets on any beds and check for bed bugs themselves or the telltale signs they’ve been there. Look for shed body casings, and dark red or brown spots on the mattress or along its seams. Consider packing a flashlight to use in these visual inspections. When checking an area for bed bugs, be sure any bags are placed off the floor on a hard surface. This reduces the likelihood of a bed bug latching onto it for a ride home. And once home, throw clothes in the dryer on high heat, vacuum the suitcase interior and exterior, and dispose of the vacuum receptacle contents immediately.

Treating an infestation

Bed bugs are very elusive and hard to control, so infestations should only be treated with the help of qualified and licensed pest professionals. If you think you have a bed bug infestation, visit PestWorld.org to find a pest professional in your area.

 

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Free Medic Alert/Safe Return jewelry

 

 

Over 60%  of those with dementia will wander at some point during the course of the disease. Wandering can be dangerous and even life-threatening and the stress can weigh heavily on caregivers and families. The Medic Alert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® program  is a 24-hour nationwide emergency response service for individuals with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia who wander or have a medical emergency.

For a limited time, a generous gift from the Prein Family allows the West Michigan Office to provide our Medic Alert/Safe Return jewelry free of charge to those with dementia and their caregivers. Call for enrollment information: 616-459-4558 or 800-272-3900.

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Diets: the Good, the Fad, & the Ugly

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Stepping out for spring?

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People with diabetes should check their feet first

(BPT) – Spring is finally here and it’s an ideal time to get outside and be more physically active. For those with diabetes, regular exercise helps increase circulation and is a critical part of staying healthy. But, before lacing up your sneakers, remember these important steps to ensure your feet are in shape:

* Get the green light from your health care provider. Discuss the type of physical activity that’s best for you and ask your provider to examine your feet. In general, your feet should be professionally examined four times each year.

* Be mindful of everyday foot care. Sometimes, people with diabetes have serious foot problems yet feel no pain. This may be due to nerve damage, a long-term complication of diabetes. Everyday self care includes inspecting your feet for scratches, cracks, cuts or blisters and washing and drying them carefully, especially between the toes.

* Wear socks and well-fitting shoes. Because of the higher risk of foot problems among those with diabetes, avoid going barefoot, even indoors. Wear socks and shoes that fit properly.

* If you do notice a problem, it may be a foot ulcer. Ulcers occur most often on the ball of the foot or on the bottom of the big toe. Ulcers may also appear on the sides of the foot. Keep in mind, while some ulcers may not hurt, every ulcer should be seen by your health care provider right away.

* Get foot ulcers treated. If you have a foot ulcer, innovative treatments can help, such as EpiFix, a wound care product from MiMedx, used extensively to rapidly and effectively heal diabetic foot ulcers. EpiFix is a dehydrated human amnion/chorion membrane allograft that delivers essential wound healing growth factors, enhances healing and reduces inflammation and scar tissue formation.

* Let it heal. If you have an ulcer, help it to heal by staying off your feet. Walking on an ulcer may worsen the problem by making the wound larger or migrating it deeper into your foot.

“Foot problems, including ulcers, are common among people with diabetes, but they don’t have to hold you back if you take the proper precautions and seek early treatment,” says Dr. Matt Garoufalis, president at Physicians Surgery Care Center, Chicago, Ill., and immediate past president of the American Podiatric Medical Association. “Before you step out to enjoy the spring weather, have your feet checked by a health care provider to make sure you’re good to go.”

 

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Health alert: Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes and don’t know it?

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(BPT) – Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S., and 7 million do not even know they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

For 26 years, the American Diabetes Association has set aside one special day for people to learn their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Held on the fourth Tuesday of every March, American Diabetes Association Alert Day (R) is a one-day “wake-up call” asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test. This year’s Alert Day will be March 25. The Association will also be encouraging the public to start living a healthy and active lifestyle by asking them to join a Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes (R)event in their area.-

The Diabetes Risk-Test-asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history, and other potential risk factors for-prediabetes-or-type 2 diabetes. Preventive tips are provided for everyone who takes the test. For every Diabetes Risk Test taken, Boar’s Head Brand(R)—a leading provider of premium delicatessen products—will donate $5 to the American Diabetes Association starting March 25 through April 25, 2014, up to $50,000.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include people who are overweight, are under active, over the age of 45 or who have a family history of diabetes. African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are also at higher risk. Understanding your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, or getting an early diagnosis, is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.

Carmen Micciche was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 31. By then, at 400 pounds, he’d been feeling the symptoms for about six years, yet he ignored them.

“I didn’t even know what diabetes was when I was diagnosed,” says Micciche, now 56.

Micciche, a Subway (R) restaurant franchise owner, was so focused on building a successful business he ignored his health and suffered through numerous gall bladder attacks before finally seeing a doctor. After checking his blood pressure and testing for diabetes, he was sent to the hospital.

Twenty year later, Micciche now weighs about 185 pounds and has brought his A1C (average blood glucose levels) down from a staggering 12 percent to just over 6 percent, which is close to the normal range. He finally learned, with daily exercise and healthy eating, what it takes to be healthy.

“Eat right, exercise, listen to your doctors,” he says. “You have to do everything you can to maintain a healthy weight. The consequences are too high if you don’t.”

Micciche has helped raise more than $1 million for the American Diabetes Association to help Stop Diabetes (R), placing donation boxes and selling pin-ups in each of his 30 Subway restaurants. He wants everyone to know that a type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to end your life.

Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Be part of the movement to Stop Diabetes and take the Diabetes Risk Test by going to diabetes.org/risktest, the Association’s Facebook page where you can share the test with friends and loved ones, or by calling 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383).

 

 

 

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