Enterovirus Outbreak: What signs to watch for with your children

There have been quite a few news stories out there about the “mysterious” respiratory virus that has been found in 10 different states and has spread quickly to infect hundreds of children. The virus has caused these children to get very sick very quickly and many have required hospitalization for treatment. This virus has come out of nowhere and is spreading rapidly, considering the time of year (during the winter this kind of outbreak would be more expected due to staying indoors, sharing items in school, etc.) What is the scoop on this virus and how concerned should you be for your children? Let’s not listen to the hype and break it down!

enterovirus- SMChealth.orgThe virus causing this outbreak:

The virus causing these children in 10 different states to have cold like symptoms leading to respiratory distress is known as the enterovirus D68.  Enteroviruses are very common viruses that either have very mild symptoms (runny nose, stuffy nose, foggy head, etc.) or no symptoms at all. This strain of the virus is rare, historically, either because people don’t seek treatment and get diagnosed, or because the symptoms aren’t as severe (so we never hear about it.)

Symptoms to look for:

As I said earlier, an infection can have very mild cold symptoms, but the major difference between the other strains of enterovirus and D68 is that D68 causes respiratory issues. Most often children (as opposed to adults) are infected with D68 and they have may or may not have a fever, but they will have heavy wheezing, cough, and commonly complain of having trouble breathing. Essentially, children who do not have asthma show signs of asthma, and it happens quickly: blue lips, rapid breathing, anxiety, and respiratory distress (when they really aren’t passing air.) Respiratory distress is a medical emergency and is really scary to see happen; call 911 immediately because your child may need assistance breathing quickly, and the faster they are in expert hands, the better.

Prevention and Treatment

The bummer about viruses is there is no treatment, so antibiotics won’t do a thing, only time (and it usually lasts a week.) Teach common cold prevention to your kids. Washing hands after using the bathroom and before eating is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of viruses, as well as limiting touching their mouths/face without washing first (or using hand sanitizer.) Also, teaching them to cough into their elbow, to cover their mouth, and to speak up if other children are coughing to ask them to cover their mouths (I ask adults to cover their mouths in public all the time…or I run away with a horrified look on my face, which you probably shouldn’t tell your kids to do.) At home, you can clean surfaces with a bleach (or alternative) when the kids are sick to prevent the spread of the virus, and keep your kids home when they aren’t feeling well, even if it seems like a light call (no fever or anything you can put your finger on but they seem run down) because a day of rest can help the immune system to recharge and kill of some nasty bacteria.

One other thing that you can do, and I know this is controversial to many people, is get your kids vaccinated for the flu. If you can help ward off that big virus, you can help to keep their immune system strong all fall, winter, spring, and most healthcare practitioners will have the vaccine available in the end of September.

Most at risk:

Children with asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases and autoimmune disorders really need to be watched closely, and any signs of respiratory decline should be seen ASAP.

How worried should I be?

I don’t like to be an alarmist, and you know your child better than anyone else. If this virus is found at your school or in your town, be a little more wary of looking for symptoms and keeping an ear peeled for someone who may be infected on your kid’s team, in their class, or in their group of friends. If you know it is around, you will pay more attention to the symptoms…because not every cold or runny nose will lead to a hospital visit. Knowledge, and being protective momma bear, can go a long way!

Yours in Good Health

B

Infertility Survival Guide

You decide to take the plunge and make a baby….it goes from excitement to a chore, and still no baby?!? Once you see an infertility specialist, the real fun begins (insert sarcastic face here!) Going through infertility treatment can be a long and emotionally charged journey, so there are a few things to be prepared for: – See more at:  ScaryMommy.com

infertility blog SM

Yours in Good Health

B

 

Ebola: Is the threat real? What you need to know

Talks of Ebola are all over the news, especially since a couple of U.S. health workers in Africa have been transferred back to the U.S. for treatment, and these are the first known cases of Ebola on U.S. soil ever, it’s understandable that people are concerned. Here’s the straight scoop, on what Ebola is, how it is transferred, and what you should be concerned about: no hype added!

Ebola viron credit: npr.org

What is Ebola?

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) is a virus that is very severe and many times is fatal in humans and primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimps), and it is caused by the Ebola virus, which not too much is known about. There are many presumptions, that the virus was somehow transferred from a primate to human, but the true source of the virus is unknown; it started showing up in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and has shown up on and off ever since in Sudan, Gabon, The Ivory Coast, Uganda, and the Republic of the Congo.

What are the symptoms?

The EHF virus can incubate from anywhere from 2 to 21 days, which means that an infected person might not know that they are infecting others because they have mild symptoms at first, and then very acute (sudden) symptoms:

Sore muscles

Fever

Headache 

Sore throat

Weakness

Which can then be followed by:

Diarrhea

Vomiting

Stomach pains

And some patients will have acute onset hiccups, skin rash, red eyes, and bleeding (both internal seen through your poop, and external like nose bleeds or bruising.) It is difficult, based on current case studies, to understand why some patients die from EHF quickly, and others are able to recover, but it may be related to when they are seen for their symptoms. And while there is no cure, patients with EHF that get supportive treatment (treatments for their symptoms, like fluids for fever and loss during vomiting and diarrhea) early, may be better off in their fight against the virus.

How is it transmitted and prevented?

Since it is truly unknown how the first cases appeared, it is only assumed how it occurred, some routes of transmission have been studied and shown in labs, and clinically, but others we are still learning about. It is thought to be transmitted by exposure to blood, mucus, vomitus, stool, or saliva from an infected person. Many times in African settings, these patients are cared for my family members when they first become ill, and without knowing the virus, the family members then become infected and when they get to a healthcare setting, there is often no option for gloves, gowns, etc. that are used in most modern-day healthcare settings to prevent the spread of disease.

I have seen articles that are saying EHF is spread through breathing the same air as an infected person; in one research setting, one type of EHF was presumed to have been spread this way through primates, but it has never been seen in clinical setting in humans to spread this way. I am not saying this will never be the case, but at this time, it has not been shown as a source of transmission, so there is no need to walk around with a mask on and HEPA filter!

Am I at risk?

In every day life, you are at minimal risk for exposure to EHF, and you should just wash your hands frequently, especially when around people with colds or other illness, just as you normally would. If you go to a hospital, healthcare practitioners have been well versed in looking for signs and symptoms, early diagnosis of patients, and ensuring that the patients will not infect other patients, or healthcare workers, by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Also, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is tracking all patients being screened and sending updates to all hospitals within the U.S. frequently; if there are other infections, the CDC will quickly trace the trends and increase protective measures.

Should I be worried?

The short and long of it? No. You should not be worried about the movie ‘Outbreak’ or ‘Contagion’ essentially happening on U.S. soil. There are two cases of people who have been brought to Atlanta, where CDC staff are assisting in treatment and studying reactions, which will only benefit all of us, and they are overly protective to prevent any spread of the virus. Also, they have used an experimental drug on the two patients that were flown to the U.S. (prior to their departure from Liberia) that appears to have killed off the virus already, which is amazing in the fight against EHF!

People travel all over the world for business, to visit family, etc. and we cannot prevent world travel, but making people aware of the signs and symptoms, and how it is transmitted can help the spread. There may be a moratorium of travel for people who live in areas with increased rates of EHF in the future, but for now, knowledge is power, and if you are worried or concerned, go see your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) so they can also put your mind at ease. If you have travelled to the areas with current outbreaks (updated by the CDC) be aware of the symptoms noted above, and see your HCP for screening, if you have any of the symptoms.

Short of that, don’t put your life on hold because of an Ebola outbreak, but pay attention to any updates by the CDC for outbreaks and new prevention tips!

Yours in Good Health

B

Garlic Scapes: A powerful little veggie

The garlic scape is a vegetable that not a lot of people seem to know about…but those of us who do, we buy them up as soon as we see them, and gobble them up just as fast! They are very unique little veggies, not only because of their shape and flavor, but because of the amazing nutritional value and their versatility too!

Garlic ScapesWhat are Garlic Scapes?

Garlic scapes are the curly, green, and quite odd-shaped stems that grow out of garlic bulbs to start flowering. Most farmers tend to cut them off to allow the bulbs to grow larger, and those stems are quite tasty! What do they taste like? Think a milder garlic flavor mixed with the consistency (not flavor) of asparagus. You can eat them raw (add a chopped scape to a salad for a different flavor), sautéed, grilled, or make them into a pesto. (We made a pesto the other night that really knocked the families socks off…so you can always blanch the scapes before making into a pesto to make it a little less intense!)

Garlic Scape Pesto:
1/2c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2lb garlic scapes (chopped to break them up)
drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Combine all in a food processor, drizzle in EVOO to get the perfect consistency (like a regular pesto). And you’re done!  Enjoy what you want, and freeze the rest for up to a month.

Garlic Pesto

Garlic Pesto

Why are they so great?

Garlic scapes have many of the same benefits of regular garlic, and are full of antioxidants that help to decrease inflammation, which can help to prevent high blood pressure (which leads to heart disease), and high cholesterol.  Antioxidants are also claimed to help prevent cancer cells from forming, so they have that going for them too. They also have pretty high levels of vitamin C, calcium, fiber, and at only 30 calories per serving, that’s one powerful punch of nutrition!

Where can I find them?

if you belong to a CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture) and get boxes of local veggies, you might see these guys pop up every now and again for about a month (right now is high season, or you can find them at farmer’s markets, and basically anywhere that sells local farm fresh foods. On occasion, a larger store, like Whole Foods will have them, but not likely for long because they are bought up quickly.  They can stay in your fridge for about a few weeks and still stay fresh, but if you love them, and just want a break for a bit during the one month they are usually available, you can freeze them and thaw them out when you are ready to get your scape on!

Go find some, give them a try, and let me know what you think!

Yours in Good Health

B

 

Preventative Care For Moms….on ScaryMommy.com

Moms (and Dads) are overworked, stressed, and care so much for others that they forget to do what they need for themselves.  Find out what you need to get checked out, and what you can hold off on at scarymommy.com

Yours In Good Health

B

Tick Repellents for Humans and Dogs: Made at Home!

After writing about Lyme Disease and the transmission, I thought that I should also share some alternative tick repellents that you can make at home that are chemical free, as opposed to those that are costly, based off of chemicals, and can be ruin your clothes….and get all over the house (especially with pets!!) Here are a few tick repellents that you can make at home, and these primarily are for ticks and may/may not prevent against fleas and mosquitos, but so worth the few minutes it will take you to make them to ward off nasty ticks! These can be used on their own (a few drops between your dogs shoulder blades and at the base of the tail can ward off ticks for the days adventure, and a few drops around your ankles, inside your wrists, and behind your ears, will not only smell good but can prevent those nasty ticks from hopping onto you and biting your skin) OR mixed and placed in a spray bottle with 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water and add about 20 drops of these oils:

1. Rose Geranium Oil: a natural tick repellent, do not use on cats, but dogs and humans can have at it!

2. Eucalyptus Oil: relaxing and refreshing, eucalyptus oil can also naturally ward off ticks and fleas.

3. Peppermint and Citrus Oils: When mixed together, it gives off a very clean but intense scent that can ward off ticks. TickRepellent

These oils mixed with the vinegar/water solution can be sprayed on hair, clothes, and skin, of humans (adults and children alike) to repel ticks and can be reapplied liberally.  You can also spray on your dogs, I would check with a vet before using any of these on pregnant animals (I am obviously an animal lover but it’s not my area of expertise!) The oil and essential oils cut the vinegar smell for us, but the ticks can still smell it and they will be repelled. You can also add the essential oils just to an oil base (almond or olive oil) but there is a risk that you can ruin clothes, so stick to just spraying your hair and skin (and beware of nut allergies with children- so if you use on your animals, make sure to warn people before letting their children pet your animals!)

Give it a try, it is way better than putting chemicals all over your family, and furry family members too!

Yours in Good Health

B

Lyme Disease: What you need to know

Lyme disease is a bacteria infection, Borrelia burgdorferi, which commonly spread through bites from tiny ticks, most commonly the deer tick in North America and Europe, as the deer ticks.  Living in areas with lots of tall grasses and woods puts you at high risk, even if those areas are by the ocean; many times people feel like ticks cannot live near the ocean…but they can, so you need to be careful even in tall marsh grasses. If caught early enough, lyme disease symptoms can be reversible, but it’s all about knowing the signs and symptoms, prevention, and early treatment that are key.

What are the signs of Lyme Disease?

Just like any other disease, unfortunately, sometimes the initial symptoms are completely silent, meaning many people don’t know they have been infected with the bacteria for a while. Immediately after a tick bite, you can see a red bump where you were bitten, and sometimes, over the next few days, redness spreads to look like a bull’s eye, but the deer tick usually needs to be attacked for 36-48 hours to spread Lyme Disease. When I was 21, I had a tick bite that was the classic bulls eye…and that was the only reason I went in for treatment! A few days after the bite and the infection starts to spread, you may feel some flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches) that can go away.

a tick embedded with classic bulls eye rash

a tick embedded with classic bulls eye rash

Later on in the disease, you can get joint pain and swelling, without any other symptoms. Or, you can start to have some neurological symptoms such as numbness or weakness in  your arms and/or legs, a temporary paralysis of one side of your face (known as Bell’s palsy- which can be mistaken for a stroke.) You might also notice that you have extreme fatigue, a fast and/or irregular heart rate, redness/inflammation of your eyes, and you may be told that you liver enzymes are elevated from a hepatitis syndrome.

If you live in a heavily wooded area or around high grasses, and have any of these symptoms, even if they come and go, you should be seen by a Healthcare Practitioner (HCP.)

What is the treatment?

The good news is that Lyme disease is very easily treated, IF caught early, and usually a 14-21 day course of antibiotics can kill off the lyme bacteria and reverse all symptoms. Usually doxycycline or amoxicillin are used as the first line antibiotics; they are cheap and tolerated by most people when taken on a full stomach, however the doxycycline can cause pretty severe reactions in the sun, so stay out of the sun as much as possible during treatment! If you do not respond to oral drugs, you may have to go on a course of intravenous (IV) infusion drugs to get higher levels of antibiotics available to kill off the bacteria. IV antibiotics can be much more difficult to tolerate, as the side effects are stronger, and you have to be under the supervision of an HCP during treatment to ensure that your blood levels are stable.

There is alternative IV treatment with a drug called bismacine, however it is not supported by the FDA and can cause bismuth poisoning, as it has high levels of metals present which can cause liver and kidney dysfunction.

How do I prevent tick bites?

1. Wear long sleeves and long pants when in heavily wooded areas: I know, just what you want to do in the summer, but it prevents those ticks from latching onto your skin and biting you!

2. Insect repellent: yes, some people have issues with using chemicals (check out some alternative to chemical repellents!!)  however, they can be effective! Repellents with at least 20% DEET should be applied, according to directions, to adults and children alike (avoiding hands, face, and mouth!)

3. Check yourself and your children/animals regularly: When outside a lot, children and animals can play anywhere…and so can ticks, so make sure to check them and remove ticks with tweezers, right behind the head, and firmly pull off the skin, making sure that you have removed the entire tick, and then destroy it. (Sorry, I don’t mean to be harsh, but if it’s a ticks life over mine or my dogs, sorry tick!)

If you are worried you or a family member have been exposed, it is best to go get checked out and while the blood tests for Lyme are not always reliable, it is better to be treated early than to wait until you may have more exaggerated symptoms. Prevention is key when it comes to Lyme so be proactive for you and your family and stop Lyme Disease before to even starts!

Yours in Good Health

B

Beware: Heroin now has a Higher Risk of Death

Heroin, for a long time, has been one of the most addictive street drugs available. With large numbers of users, a high rate of addiction, and a low rate of recovery, it is feared by many, but there is now a new reason to be fearful of the drug: it’s being laced and now has a higher rate of overdose.

What’s the scoop?

Lots of heroin that’s on the streets now is laced with Fentanyl, a drug that is commonly used in hospitals for acute pain control for procedures and post-operatively, but it is making heroin 50 to 100 times stronger, and even the most experienced drug users are overdosing due to the addition of this pain killer. In some areas, the heroin is labelled as having additives, and in other places, it is just being sold as heroin and the people purchasing the drug are not aware of the potentially deadly addition. Granted, one could make the argument that any time you are purchasing heroin to inject directly into your bloodstream you are taking potentially dangerous drug, which is a completely accurate description, but long-term users tend to know how much they can shoot and don’t commonly overdose. Adding in Fentanyl to that dose that long-term users take regularly, can lead to an immediate overdose.Heroin

Over a three month period, there were more than 50 deaths spreading over 3 states…and the numbers are rising. In the state of Rhode Island alone, there have been just shy of 100 deaths since the start of 2014 and more than 500 overdoses of this fatal heroin/Fentanyl mix treated by emergency personnel, to the point that now police are carrying Narcan (a quick acting antidote to opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, which can buy time to get a victim to an Emergency Department for further treatment.)

Why is this such a Public Health Crisis?

There are more and more people with prescription pill addictions, who are able to talk HCPs into prescriptions due to pain, or they are purchased over the internet, or off the street, and heroin is essentially a cheaper version of these pain pills. They are all opiates, and work very similarly on the body, but sadly, heroin tends to be cheaper and easier to get than prescription pills. So, the average heroin addict might be the middle class man in a suit next to you at the grocery store….not the homeless person you might assume to be a drug addict. With more and more people turning their prescription pill addiction into a heroin addiction, we have  a problem on our hands, and when they start dying before they can even seek help due to a lethal mixture of heroin and Fentanyl that they are taking by accident, we have a huge problem on our hands. The deaths from heroin and other opiates has doubled over homicides in most cities and now that it is being more openly reported, we are all realizing it is a national problem that is hitting small towns as much as it is affecting cities.

If you, or someone you know has a drug addiction, be aware of the risk every time you (or your loved one) buys heroin, know there are places to get help: SAMHSA (substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), Recovery.org, and Narcotics Anonymous are some to start with, but you can also go to your HCP for help with addiction or a local emergency department, and for an immediate overdose, you should call your local emergency services (911 in the US).

Keep your eyes open, if you are a parent or if you suspect a friend or a loved one has an addiction. Talk about the risks, get help yourself on how to work with addiction (Nar Anon Group sessions can be a good start), and get on the road to recovery and prevent an untimely death from this toxic mixture of drugs.

Yours in Good Health

B

Distracted Driving: Is it Really Worth the Risks?

Distracted Driving is something that occurs with more and more frequency these days, maybe due to our addiction to smart phones (which ironically seem to make us dumber, I cannot remember anyone’s phone numbers and I google things all the time to double-check myself instead of just knowing the answer), or it could be that we lead busier lives so we are trying to multitask at all times, and when’s a better time to get out those emails and catch up on phone calls than when you’re on the road? As it turns out, there are MUCH better times to catch up on those calls (unless you are using a voice operated and hands free device) and to send out those final work emails.

20140604-131711-47831262.jpgWhy should I Decide to Drive and Ditch the Distractions?

I think there are a million reasons why we should all ditch the distractions and decide to drive, but I think some of the statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration speak for themselves: in 2012 there were 3,328 fatalities and 421,000 injuries all related to distracted driving. That’s almost a half of a MILLION injuries in ONE year that were totally preventable by simply putting down your cell phone and paying attention to the road when you drive. I understand the urge to grab your phone when it alerts as I have stopped myself many times going to reach out and grab my phone to check a text while I’m driving; It’s not worth the risk of my own life or the others on the road near me, and that’s what I remind myself before I reach for my phone. And seriously, would you want to be in a fatal car crash because you couldn’t resist the urge to text “LOL”?

store frontI am sure that you have heard stories, or have seen videos of people doing silly things while driving, and it sometimes is funny, but on the other side, think of the innocent people driving besides them that could be affected by their distracted driving? It could be you, your family member, friends, other loved ones, and that is just not OK.  It’s also not OK according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and Auto Alliance: Orthopaedic surgeons are the people who put your broken bones back together after car accidents and other trauma, and along with the Automakers, they have created a “Decide to Drive” campaign to encourage people to actually pay attention while driving.

Also, there is a “Decide to Drive” Campaign Catch Phrase Contest from May 28-June 13, and you can win big $ and have the featured catch phrase for the entire campaign how cool is that?! Join me in promoting health and wellness!

Remember, cars have tons of really cool safety features to prevent accidents and to prevent injuries if accidents occur, but the most advanced safety feature of any vehicle is the driver: eyes on the road and hands on the wheel will help to save lives.

Yours in Good Health,

B

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Oil Pulling: Does it stand up to the hype?

Oil pulling has been at the forefront of health and wellness news lately, it seems like everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and everyone is claiming all sorts of health benefits from preventing heart disease, to correcting hormone imbalances, to preventing migraines, to curing a hangover. If that’s all true, great, sign me up! But are these claims all true and it is healthy for everyone?

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a practice that is around 3,000-5,000 years old, started in India (an Ayurveda traditional medicine practice), that has most recently gained the attention of some celebrities, so to some it seems like a rather new phenomenon. It is based on the idea of a daily health routine that aids in cleansing the body. Oil pulling should be performed after brushing and flossing your teeth, to remove the larger debris and loose plaques, so the oil can be used in a clean oral environment. Most often using sesame oil, as it has antimicrobial properties (meaning: it can kill off some harmful bacteria), you can use one of two two techniques to oil pull:

1. Fill your mouth with oil and just keep it in your mouth for up to 5 minutes then spit it out.

2. Put roughly 30ml of oil in your mouth and swish and gargle (as you would a mouth wash) and spit out.Oil Pulling

What does it do?

Since the oil has an antimicrobial properties, by letting it (either actively- swishing- or passively) get between your teeth and into your gums, it helps to decrease the bacteria content in your mouth and saliva (which has been shown in a couple of very small studies), which would lead to less plaque formation and your teeth and gums and prevent bad breath (bacteria is most often the culprit for bad breath). Decreasing bacteria leads to less inflammation in your mouth, and theoretically, this would lead to less cavities, and improve gum health (think less bleeding gums and possibly decrease risk of gingivitis). It can also help with prevention of canker sores, or any other small oral ulceration due to bacteria. Mostly, this occurs because oil is lipid (fat) based, and will leave a slight coating on your teeth and gums which helps prevent bacteria from sticking there, along with the antimicrobial properties.

Does it work?

This obviously has been a part of Eastern Medicine for a long time, and there are some benefits of decreasing bacteria in your mouth such as decreased inflammation and bacteria counts, along with improved breath,which has been shown in small studies of oil pulling. That being said, using a chlorhexidine based mouthwash can also give the same benefits (think GlyOxide).

There have been numerous other claims that it is a full body cleanse and draws all toxins out of your entire body, which various people have claim leads to migraine prevention, hormone imbalance correction, improve kidney function and vision, prevent insomnia…and the list goes on.  These things, have not been shown to be due to oil pulling, and the claims are pretty far fetched.  However, I am sure that some people really believe this, and the mind is a very powerful thing, so if you oil pull and feel better from whatever ailments you have, great.

There are no negative side effects from oil pulling, besides having to swish with oil (which doesn’t taste great) daily, so if you are interested in giving it a try, go for it! You will most likely improve your oral health, but as for everything else…there is nothing to prove those benefits will occur, so don’t be disappointed if your life doesn’t change completely!

Yours in Good Health

B