Health and Happiness

Drowning Prevention Tips

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Keeping our children safe is a priority both inside and outside. Whether children are swimming at a home pool or in natural bodies of water, with friends or with famliy, water safety is always key. Two children 14 years and under die every day from drowning and it is the third leading cause of all deaths for children ages 1 to 4.

Use these parent prevention tips to ensure your child’s safety in and around the water.

Learn to swim. Swimming lessons, even among toddlers and young children, can help protect themfrom drowning.

Learn CPR. CPR can help you save a child’s life. Learn CPR and get recertified every two years.

Use the buddy system. Always swim with a buddy. Look for swimming sites that have lifeguards on duty whenever possible.

Do not use air-filled or foam toys as safety devices
. Do not use toys, such as “water wings,” “noodles,” or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets (or personal flotation devices). While these toys are fun, they are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

Supervise your children. Supervise young children at all times around bathtubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water. When supervising kids near water, avoid distracting activities such as playing cards, reading books, or talking on the phone and always stay close enough to reach out and touch young children at all times.

Don’t drink alcohol. Avoid alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

If you have a pool at home:

Install four-sided fencing. Install a four-sided pool fence, at least 4 feet high, that separates the house and play area from the pool area. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of the reach of children.

Clear the pool deck of toys
. Immediately remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area after use. These toys may encourage children to enter the pool area unsupervised and potentially fall into the pool.

Around natural bodies of water:

Wear life jackets
. Even if they know how to swim, make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water. Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets when boating, regardless of travel distance, boat size, or boater’s swimming ability.

Before swimming or boating, know the local weather conditions and forecast. Avoid swimming and or boating whenever there are strong winds and thunder or lightning.

Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents (for example, water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving away from shore). If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore; once free, swim diagonally away from the current toward the shore.

For more information on CDC’s work in water-related injury prevention, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/ or 1-800-CDC-INFO.

To learn more about CDC’s Protect the Ones You Love initiative to prevent child injuries, including drowning, please visit www.cdc.gov/safechild.


Germ-killing Sanitizers Could Have Effect On Alcohol Tests

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Slathering on alcohol-based hand sanitizer every few minutes may have one unintended consequence - a positive screen for alcohol use in certain types of tests, a University of Florida study confirmed.

But UF researchers also uncovered a potential biomarker that could allow tests to differentiate between drinking alcohol and exposure to hand sanitizers and other household products, said Gary Reisfield, M.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry with the UF College of Medicine.

The findings, published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology in March, are particularly significant for people who use hand sanitizers frequently, such as doctors, nurses and other health professionals. For folks in these fields who are in substance abuse programs or required to be tested frequently for alcohol use, chronic use of alcohol-based sanitizers could lead to false positives.

"Many of the hand sanitizers contain ethyl alcohol, which is the same type of alcohol in alcoholic beverages," said Reisfield, the chief of pain management services in the division of addiction medicine. "The body does not distinguish between drinking alcohol and handwash alcohol.

"Anyone out there who is required to abstain from alcohol needs to be very cognizant about alcohol that may be hidden in products such as handwashing gels, mouthwashes, hairsprays and cosmetics," he said. "You need to be careful not just what you put in your body but what you put on your body."

Although blood and breath tests are more commonly used to detect the presence of alcohol in the bloodstream, they only detect what a person drank recently, Reisfield says. Another type of test, called an EtG, measures the level of substances left behind after alcohol is metabolized and can detect use over a longer period of time. The UF study looked at these types of tests, which measure the levels of ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate in urine as indicators of alcohol use.

The investigators examined 11 subjects with no history of alcohol use, looking to see how frequent use of hand sanitizer affected the levels of these substances in their urine.

Study participants used hand sanitizer every five minutes for a 10-hour period for three days in a row, which Reisfield says is similar to what nurses are exposed to while on duty. Their urine was tested at the end of each day and before the start of a new day.

"What we found was nearly all the individuals produced alcohol metabolites consistent with drinking alcohol," Reisfield said.

When comparing the levels of ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate in the urine of people who used a lot of sanitizer with people who drank alcohol, the researchers also noticed that the level of ethyl sulfate was much lower in the sanitizer group, not coming close to the cutoffs used to indicate alcohol use.

Reisfield says looking at ethyl sulfate could help laboratories more accurately pinpoint alcohol use.

"We will be looking at this further in subsequent studies," he said. "Ethyl sulfate may be a critical biomarker that has not been looked at in great detail. It may help distinguish between the exposures.

"We really cannot tolerate false positives," he said. "Falsely accusing someone of alcohol abuse can have potentially devastating effects personally and occupationally."

University of Florida Health Science Center


Trust Your Gut...But Only Sometimes

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When faced with decisions, we often follow our intuition-our self-described "gut feelings"-without understanding why. Our ability to make hunch decisions varies considerably: Intuition can either be a useful ally or it can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes. A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that the trustworthiness of our intuition is really influenced by what is happening physically in our bodies.

"We often talk about intuition coming from the body-following our gut instincts and trusting our hearts", says Barnaby D. Dunn, of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, U.K., first author of the new paper. What isn't certain is whether we should follow, or be suspicious of, what our bodies are telling us. And do we differ in the influence that our gut feelings have on how we make decisions?

To investigate how different bodily reactions can influence decision making, Dunn and his co-authors asked study participants to try to learn how to win at a card game they had never played before. The game was designed so that there was no obvious strategy to follow and instead players had to follow their hunches. While playing the game, each participant wore a heart rate monitor and a sensor that measured the amount of sweat on their fingertips.

Most players gradually found a way to win at the card game and they reported having relied on intuition rather than reason. Subtle changes in the players' heart rates and sweat responses affected how quickly they learned to make the best choices during the game.

Interestingly, the quality of the advice that people's bodies gave them varied. Some people's gut feelings were spot on, meaning they mastered the card game quickly. Other people's bodies told them exactly the wrong moves to make, so they learned slowly or never found a way to win.

Dunn and his co-authors found this link between gut feelings and intuitive decision making to be stronger in people who were more aware of their own heartbeat. So for some individuals being able to 'listen to their heart' helped them make wise choices, whereas for others it led to costly mistakes.

"What happens in our bodies really does appear to influence what goes in our minds. We should be careful about following these gut instincts, however, as sometimes they help and sometimes they hinder our decision making," says Dunn.

Association for Psychological Science


Is Your Convertible Damaging Your Hearing?

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Driving convertible cars with the top open at speeds exceeding 55 miles per hour may put drivers at increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss, according to new research published in The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, by Cambridge University Press on behalf of JLO (1984) Ltd from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Missouri and The Ear Institute of Texas, San Antonio.

The research was carried out using five different makes and models of car. Sound level measurements in 80 percent of the cars at 55 mph with the top down had maximum sound recordings greater than 85 decibels. Exposure of noise above 85 dB for prolonged periods is not recommended according to the US-based National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The higher the noise level, the shorter the recommended exposure time.

At 75 mph the mean noise exposure inflicted on the driver of a convertible car driven with the top open was 89.9 decibels. Not only was the mean noise exposure excessive with the top open, but the driver was also exposed to extreme noise 'spikes' while driving on the highway; for example, when driving next to a motorcycle or lorry. The study was undertaken using a sound level meter operated by a passenger in each car tested. The passenger took a series of between eight to ten sound level measurements at various points in the journey from the position of the driver's left ear, at various speeds. During all data collection, the car radio was turned off, there was no conversation between occupants, air conditioning was turned off, the car horn was not used and there was no rain or other inclement weather.

Drivers of convertible cars may also be exposed to additional noise when listening to the car radio. Even for comfortable listening, the radio volume levels required while driving under the conditions assessed in this study are likely to add significantly to the noise exposure level.

During the study, no excessive noise levels were recorded from any tested car driven with the top closed, meaning there is no more than minimal risk of excessive noise exposure when driving with the convertible top closed.

Dr A A Mikulec from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, who oversaw the study, said: "When the convertible automobiles were driven with the top open, high levels of noise were consistently recorded. Although driving for short distances under such levels of noise exposure is unlikely to cause a significant degree of noise-induced hearing loss, our study demonstrates that long duration driving at high speeds with the convertible top open will increase the driver's risk of hearing damage."

"In light of the results of this study, we are recommending that drivers be advised to drive with the top closed when travelling for extended periods of time at speeds exceeding 85.3 kmph."

Sources: Cambridge University Press, AlphaGalileo Foundation.


Tomatoes, the New Superfood

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Eating more tomatoes and tomato products can make people healthier and decrease the risk of conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, according to a review article the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, (published by SAGE).

Of all the non-starchy vegetables, Americans eat more tomatoes and tomato products than any others. Researchers Britt Burton-Freeman, PhD, MS, and Kristin Reimers, PhD, RD of the National Center for Food Safety & Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology and ConAgra Foods, Inc., looked at the current research to discover the role tomato products play in health and disease risk reduction.

The researchers found that tomatoes are the biggest source of dietary lycopene; a powerful antioxidant that, unlike nutrients in most fresh fruits and vegetables, has even greater bioavailability after cooking and processing. Tomatoes also contain other protective mechanisms, such as antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory functions. Research has additionally found a relationship between eating tomatoes and a lower risk of certain cancers as well as other conditions, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, ultraviolet light-induced skin damage, and cognitive dysfunction.

Tomatoes are widely available, people of all ages and cultures like them, they are cost-effective, and are available in many forms. "Leveraging emerging science about tomatoes and tomato products may be one simple and effective strategy to help individuals increase vegetable intake, leading to improved overall eating patterns, and ultimately, better health." write the authors.

"Tomatoes are the most important non-starchy vegetable in the American diet. Research underscores the relationship between consuming tomatoes and reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions," the authors conclude. "The evidence also suggests that consumption of tomatoes should be recommended because of the nutritional benefits and because it may be a simple and effective strategy for increasing overall vegetable intake."

The article is particularly timely since the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 moved tomatoes to a newly established category of "orange/red" fruits and vegetables to encourage higher consumption of these healthy foods.

The article "Tomato Consumption and Health: Emerging Benefits" in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine is available free for a limited time.

Ashley Wrye
SAGE Publications

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