Category Archives: Health Tips

The Great American Smokeout

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. It takes time, and a plan. You don’t have to stop smoking in one day. Let the Great American Smokeout event on November 15 be your day to start your journey toward a smoke-free life. You’ll be joining thousands of smokers across the country in taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing your cancer risk. Plus, the American Cancer Society can help you access the resources and support you need to quit.

Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term – at any age. You can increase your chances of success with help. See your healthcare provider at the Mount Ayr Medical Clinic, or call Quitline Iowa, a FREE service for Iowans to connect with a coach. 1-800- QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669). Or visit quitlineiowa.org.

 

Antibiotics: What You Need To Know

If you have an infection, it is important to know whether it is caused by bacteria or a virus. Most upper respiratory tract infections such as colds, flu, most coughs, and sore throats are caused by viruses and cannot be treated with antibiotics. If a bacterial infection is to blame, bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, and the body’s immune system can usually kill them. Our white blood cells attack harmful bacteria and, even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much, and some help is needed; this is where antibiotics are useful. Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. If antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly, there is a risk that the bacteria will become resistant – the antibiotic becomes less effective against that type of bacterium. 

How do antibiotics work?
The first antibiotic was penicillin. Such penicillin related antibiotics as ampicillin, amoxicillin, and benzylpenicillin are widely used today to treat a variety of infections. Although there are a number of different types of antibiotics, they all work in one of two ways:
• A bactericidal antibiotic (penicillin, for instance) kills the bacteria; these drugs usually interfere with either the formation of the bacterium’s cell wall or its cell contents.
• A bacteriostatic stops bacteria from multiplying.

Reactions to antibiotics can be very serious, and sometimes fatal.
Antibiotics should be used with extreme caution for the following individuals:
• Anyone with reduced liver or kidney function
• Anyone who is pregnant
• Anyone who is breastfeeding

Common Side Effects
• Diarrhea
• Feeling sick
• Fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina

Rare side effects of antibiotics:
• Formation of kidney stones (when taking sulphonamides)
• Abnormal blood clotting (when taking some cephalosporins)
• Sensitivity to sunlight (when taking tetracyclines)
• Blood disorders (when taking trimethoprim)

Allergy
Some patients may develop an allergic reaction to antibiotics – especially penicillins. Anyone who has an allergic reaction to an antibiotic must tell their doctor and/or pharmacist. Side effects might include:

  • a rash
  • swelling of the tongue and face
  • difficulty breathing 

Interactions
Individuals taking an antibiotic, should not take other medicines or herbal remedies without speaking with a doctor first. OTC (over the counter, non-prescription) medicines might also interact with antibiotics. Penicillins, cephalosporins, and some other antibiotics can undermine the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. If the antibiotic has caused diarrhea/vomiting, the absorption of contraceptives may also be disrupted. Anyone taking these drugs should consider taking additional contraceptive precautions.

How to use
Antibiotics are usually taken by mouth (orally); however, they can also be administered by injection or applied directly to the affected part of the body. Most antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours. It is important to complete the whole course of medication to prevent the infection from coming back. Stopping the medication before the end of the course means that there is a higher chance the bacteria will become resistant to future treatments.

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Ready, Set, Back to School!

As we approach the end of August, many parents are preparing for another school year for their children. The beginning of school is a perfect time to set the stage for the upcoming year and to create new healthy habits for the entire family. Below are simple tips to get you going on the right foot.

Start the day off right.
Eating breakfast as a family is a perfect time to bond and spend quality time together while also preparing a healthy breakfast. Eggs with whole grain toast, fruit and yogurt, or whole grain unsweetened cereal with milk and berries are several great choices. Beginning the day with a meal consisting of protein and fiber, a winning combination of nutrients, will help the entire family feel satisfied until lunch.

Nix the added sugar.
The American Heart Association suggests that children and teens ages 2-18 limit added sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons (or approximately 25 grams) per day. Kids who eat foods high in added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods. Added sugar provides no nutritional benefits and is found in a wide range of food from cookies, ketchup, salad dressings, sugar sweetened cereals, smoothies, to sweetened yogurts. The major culprit of added sugar, however, is soda and sugary drinks including iced tea and fruit punch. Sugary drinks, often called “liquid calories,” provide no health benefits.

Swap juice for whole fruit.
Feed children whole fruit instead of juice. The fruit is rich in fiber and its high-water content helps keep the calories low. It’s easy to guzzle down too many calories from juice without even realizing it. A pint of orange juice, for example, contains around 225 calories. This is the equivalent to 2-3 cups of mixed berries. Most people wouldn’t think twice about drinking the pint of juice but few would eat three cups of berries in one sitting.

Pack a healthy snack.
If you are packing snacks, it’s a perfect opportunity to include at least one fruit and veggie. Smart snacks include fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, baby carrots with hummus, roasted edamame, and of course a bottle of water. Nuts or nut butter squeeze packs are also great choices if a school allows nuts; if not, they are a great go-to snack when kids get home.

Skip the white food (unless it’s cauliflower or white beans).
White bread including bagels, white rice, and white pasta are refined grains and are easy to overeat. Because they contain virtually no fiber, we don’t feel satisfied after eating them. Introducing kids to healthier alternatives including quinoa, whole grain pasta, and brown rice helps them get into the habit of enjoying these grains. No need to cut out starch entirely. Choosing the healthier ones is a far better alternative.

Traveling to and From School Safely

Before school starts, review the basic rules with your children and practice any new routes or modes of transportation.

School Bus
• Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
• Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
• Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
• Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street.

Bike
• Practice the bike route to school before the first day of school to make sure your child can manage it.
• Children should always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
• Teach them to ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
• Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
• Know the “rules of the road.”

Fireworks Safety Tips

With the recent legalization of fireworks sales in the state of Iowa, it’s important to remember to handle them carefully. For your safety, obey all local laws regarding the use of fireworks.

• Know your fireworks; read the cautionary labels and performance descriptions before igniting.
• A responsible adult should supervise all firework activities. Never give fireworks to children.
• Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Save your alcohol for after the show.
• Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
• Light one firework at a time and then quickly move away.
• Use fireworks outdoors in a clear area; away from buildings and vehicles.
• Never relight a “dud” firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
• Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket or shoot them into metal or glass containers.
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.
• FAA regulations prohibit the possession and transportation of fireworks in your checked baggage or carry-on luggage.
• Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.
• Don’t bring your pets to a fireworks display, even a small one.
• If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.
• Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.
• Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

For more information, visit Safe Kids Worldwide and the National Safety Council.