Anatomy of a Hangover (how a body typically reacts to large doses of alcohol)

December 31, 2014

Most of us have probably been there … puking or “praying to the porcelain god”, massive pounding headache, queasy stomach, extreme thirst and more … after partying too hard the night before.

So before you imbibe at holiday celebrations and social functions, consider reading the below graphic to learn how a body typically reacts to large doses of alcohol. (And keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily have to be large amounts since a few sips might set off one’s chemistry into motion too.)

We also included some tips from GMA’s Dr. Savard on how to make the morning after a bit more tolerable.

MCT: Hangover anatomy

If you want to avoid a hangover, obviously the easy answer is … don’t drink. But according to GMA contributor Dr. Marie Savard, there are some things drinkers can do to help make the morning after more tolerable…

  • Sip slowly (so your stomach can absorb the drink slowly rather than getting pounded).
  • Eat chips or foods with fat in it to help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Drink water throughout the day / evening (or a glass between each drink) and avoid carbonated drinks since they can increase alcohol absorption.
  • Consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or Alka Seltzer before drinking to decrease inflammation. Also … Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Head-Pain and Neurological Institute, says “never take acetaminophen for a hangover. The combination of Tylenol plus alcohol equals death in some people.” That’s because acetaminophen stimulates an enzyme that can damage the liver. The combination can overwhelm the liver’s capacity to remove toxins from the body.1

Happy and safe holidays to all … and to our military, first responders and volunteers who work day in and day out to help keep us safe — thank you for your continued service and sacrifices. Take care, j & B


Ticks suck (things to watch for and do + what to avoid)

May 31, 2014

Photo: André Karwath aka Aka via Wikimedia CommonsYou may think ticks are insects but they’re actually bloodsucking arachnids. Adult ticks have eight legs and two body segments just like spiders, mites and chiggers.

According to the CDC, most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive.

Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. And ticks aren’t choosy about their host – they can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

tick_sizes

Did you know…

  • tick watchers – from foresters to disease ecologists – are reporting a population explosion among black-legged ticks, formerly known as deer ticks, this year?! The cause isn’t clear but it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns that caused an increase of vermin (mice, squirrels, etc.) combined with the mild winter, but ticks are out there … and they’re hungry.
  • white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease?! Birds are major carriers too.
  • University of Virginia researchers claim a bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, may trigger an allergic reaction … to meat?!

Nasty suckers

Ticks grab onto a host (animals or people walking through brush) and sink their harpoon-like barbed mouth and head into the host’s skin to dine until they’re full of blood. Then they drop off and wait for the next meal to pass by. Since ticks feast on one spot for days, they can spread bacteria and diseases from host to host (like from animals to humans) – even by touching them.

The main threat of ticks is the risk of illness or disease (like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tick paralysis) so the best defense is reducing exposure to ticks or finding and removing them as quickly as possible.

Things to watch for…

  • Bite or sting mark or ticks
  • Pain or burning feeling
  • Redness or Swelling or Rash
  • Stomach pain or puking
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, dizziness, weakness, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
  • Change in skin color or bruising or rash (may look kind of like a bulls-eye)

What to do for ticks…

Key things are to find a tick before it feasts for days and to remove a tick slowly with head intact so it doesn’t spew bacteria into the blood stream.

  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly, liquid soap, nail polish or heat – they don’t work!
  • Use tweezers or commercial tick remover (or at least cover fingers with a tissue).
  • Grasp tick close to skin where head is buried – don’t squeeze it!
  • Slowly pull tick straight up until skin puckers — it may take several seconds but tick will loosen its barbs and let go.

                                        tick-removal         tick-removal2

  • DO NOT throw tick away since it may need to be tested! Put it in zippered baggie with moist paper towel, date it, and put in refrigerator.
  • Wash bite wound and tweezers with soap and water.
  • Call local health department or vet to ask if tick needs to be identified or tested. If not, throw away baggie.
  • Watch for rash, infection or symptoms for a week or so.

Things to do to avoid ticks…

  • Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirt (to see ticks), a hat (to keep out of hair) and tuck in (pants in socks and shirt in pants).
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use tick repellent with DEET and make sure you spray shoes and socks too.
  • Do full body checks at least a few times a day during tick season and don’t forget to check your pets!
  • 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.
  • Inspect and rinse off gear and shoes.
  • The CDC suggests tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

TickApp

A handy tick tool is by Dr. Pete Teel, Texas AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station and hero tick stalker extraordinaire. Dr. Teel has created a one-place-for-all info-tool called the TickApp, a central cyber point that can be accessed any time/any day for all the tick information you need whether you are a dog owner, hunter, farmer or rancher, hiker, soldier, or medical professional.

Teel says the mobile smartphone app is available at no charge and is easy to use with little searching required. “Whether you are a healthcare professional needing fast tick identification information, an urban pet owner slogging through the bewildering arsenal of control alternatives or a South Texas cattleman facing financial hardship due to ticks, the app is meant for you,” Teel said in a recent AgriLife update. “It’s all very user-friendly and opens with just six easy-to-follow tabs that are quick to navigate. There’s a brief introduction, then a tick ID tab followed by tabs on tick biology, prevention and protection, removal and finally control and management practices.”

The TickApp can be downloaded at http://tickapp.tamu.edu.

 

Helpful Resources & Sources:

CDC’s Ticks site www.cdc.gov/ticks/

CDC’s Lyme Disease page www.cdc.gov/lyme/

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases site at www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook (71-page PDF)

Outwitting the tick boom of 2012 – Philly.com

Allergic to Meat: Lone Star Tick May Make Vegetarians of Some – ABCnews.com

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease – NYTimes.com 

Novel Animal Reservoir for Group of Tick-Borne Diseases Discovered — And It Lives in Your Backyard – ScienceDaily.com

Smartphone app battles tick problem – Southwest Farm Press

Above appeared in our July 2012 enews – and find more first aid and preparedness tips in our IT’S A DISASTER! book


Cold Weather Health Emergencies (frostbite versus hypothermia)

January 6, 2014

cold weather health emergencies frostbite versus hypothermiaStaying warm and safe may become a challenge when the mercury drops significantly below normal, especially if you have to deal with power outages.

Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause other serious or life-threatening health emergencies. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected by the most common cold-related problems: frostbite and hypothermia.

FROSTBITE

Frostbite (or frostnip which is the early stages of frostbite) is when certain parts of your body are exposed to severe or extreme cold – mainly your fingers, toes, ears, cheeks and nose. Freezing temperatures can form ice crystals in the fluids in and around cells in your body. This damages and dries out cell tissues and membranes, and extreme cases can impact deep nerves, muscles or even bones… or even lead to the loss of a limb.

frostbite, blister, handThings to watch for…

  • Skin appears white and waxy
  • Numbness or no feeling in that area
  • Possible blisters

What to do…

  • Handle area gently; DO NOT rub it!
  • Remove tight or constrictive clothing (gloves, boots, socks, etc.) and any jewelry.
  • Warm gently using body heat or soaking area in warm water (between 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit / 38-41 degrees Celsius) until area is red and feels warm. (Victim may feel a burning sensation or pain as the area warms back up.)
  • Loosely bandage area with dry, sterile dressing or cloth.
  • If fingers or toes are frostbitten, separate them with sterile gauze or clean cloth.
  • Try not to break any blisters.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the area since this may cause damage to cells!
  • DO NOT rub snow on the area!
  • DO NOT try to warm with dry radiant heat (meaning don’t warm with a blow-dryer or hold in front of fire or hot stove). Using warm water is best.
  • DO NOT try to thaw a frostbitten body part if it has a chance of re-freezing (if you are stuck in the wilderness) since this could cause more damage.

 

HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia starts setting in when your body core (the vital organs – heart, lungs, and kidneys) drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). When exposed to extreme cold for a long time, your brain begins to shut down certain bodily functions to save internal heat for the core.

Things to watch for…

  • Shivering and numbness
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Stumbling and weakness
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Shock (pale, cold or clammy, weak or rapid pulse, etc.)

What to do…

  • Gently move victim to a warm place.
  • Check breathing and pulse (ABCs… Airway, Breathing, & Circulation).
  • Handle victim gently and DO NOT rub body or limbs.
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing and/or blankets.
  • If possible, place victim in a sleeping bag or wrap in a blanket, especially if in the wilderness. (Note: Your body heat can help heat victim… so cuddle up – if victim says it’s okay!)
  • Cover the head and neck with a hat or part of a blanket (75% of the body’s heat is lost through top of the head).
  • DO NOT WARM VICTIM TOO QUICKLY, such as putting them in warm water! (If the body warms too fast, it can dump cold blood into the heart and body core causing a possible heart attack or drop in body temperature.)
  • If hot water bottles or hot packs are used, wrap them in a towel or blanket first then place on side of the chest and/or on groin area. (If heat is put on arms or legs then blood could be drawn away from body core – keep heat on the core!) Also the below graphic from Princeton.edu demonstrates placement of heat packs and how to do a wrap on a victim.

hypothermia wrap

  • Let victim sip a warm, sweet, nonalcoholic drink.
  • Keep watching victim’s ABCs.
  • Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck, even after their temperature has increased.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the victims’ limbs!
  • DO NOT put victim in a hot bath! It will warm him/her TOO quickly.
  • DO NOT put hot packs on arms or legs… put them against the body (chest or groin area).

Disclaimer: These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider and hypothermia is a medical emergency. Above data extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch also appeared in PREPARE Magazine.

See also:

Preparing for winter storms (tips to winterize home, prevent ice dams and more)

Winter Safety tips for Pets and Livestock

Winter driving tips

And visit our Look inside the book page for more preparedness topics.

Stay safe (and warm) out there. j & B


Things you can do to reduce foodborne illnesses

October 13, 2013

Did you know the CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick from contaminated food each year?

Most people will recover without a problem, however 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases annually. And for some the effects of food poisoning can have long-term health consequences.

For the past few weeks there has been an ongoing Salmonella outbreak associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California. According to Wired.com there are seven strains of Salmonella circulating within this outbreak and four of the seven strains are drug-resistant.

The CDC reports 1,000 or more reported outbreaks that happen each year in the U.S. reveal familiar culprits—Salmonella, E. coli and other common germs. And health experts know (and people need to learn) that reducing contamination works.

foodborne illness-chicken-smDuring the past 15 years, a dangerous type of E. coli infection, responsible for the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef, has been cut almost in half. Yet during that same time, Salmonella infection, which causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other type of germ found in food and $365 million in direct medical costs annually, has not declined.

Each year, 1 million people get sick from eating food contaminated with Salmonella. Applying lessons learned from reducing E. coli O157 infections could help reduce illness caused by Salmonella.

But realize more than 250 different foodborne diseases have been identified and described on record. Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be foodborne.

These different diseases have many different symptoms, so there is no one “syndrome” that is foodborne illness. However, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often causes the first symptoms there, so nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms in many foodborne diseases.

Common myths about food safety at home

Myth: It’s OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem.

Fact: Actually, bacteria grow surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods the right way.

Myth: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I’m going to peel them.

Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash/scrub all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.

Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature. 

Myth: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria—so it’s OK to marinate foods on the counter.

Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator

Myth: Once food has been cooked, all the bacteria have been killed, so I don’t need to worry once it’s “done.”

Fact: Actually, the possibility of bacterial growth actually increases after cooking, because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. This is why keeping cooked food warmed to the right temperature is critical for food safety.

Things you can do to reduce food borne illnesses 

  • Clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops. To clean everything effectively use a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart/liter (or gallon/4 liters) of water. Also wash cooking utensils used to handle raw meats before you use them to remove cooked food stuffs. And always wash your hands [and under fingernails] after cracking open eggs and handling raw meats of any kind.
  • Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods. If possible, use different cutting boards for meats and veggies (or at least always use 1 side for meats and the other for produce) … and wash it with a mixture of water and bleach (see above) to remove germs before turning it over since meat juices can spread. Also use separate plates or dishes for raw versus cooked meats.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F (63°C) for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F (71°C) for ground meats, and 165°F (74°C) for all poultry.
  • Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F (4°C) and refrigerate food that will spoil.
  • Report suspected illness from food to your local health department.
  • Don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Be especially careful preparing food for children, pregnant women, those in poor health, and older adults.

Visit FDA’s Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill pages to see the most effective ways to help keep your family safe from food poisoning or learn more on www.foodsafety.gov or www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/. Take care, j & B

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Study finds choking on food still common among kids (plus tips on how to help a choking child or adult)

July 29, 2013

Here’s an interesting Monday musing…

Did you know about 34 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every day for choking on food, according to a new report?!

According to U.S. News, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at a national database, comparing the numbers of choking injuries year by year.

In 2001, about 10,400 U.S. children were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal choking on food. From 2001 through 2009, the annual estimate of non-fatal injuries was about 12,400 children, aged 14 and under, Smith found.

The average age of the children treated was 4.5 years old, and the age group of children from newborns to 4 years old accounted for about 62 percent of the episodes.

The top 5 foods involved in choking incidents were candy, meat, bone, fruits and vegetables. Hot dogs made the list but they were #11 according to MD Mama. Read more about the new study online and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

So … would YOU know what to do if you see a child or adult choking..?

Things to watch for…

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing or choking for several minutes
  • Gripping the throat with one or both hands
  • High-pitched wheezing
  • Bluish color of skin, lips, fingertips/nails, and earlobes

NOTE: There are TWO separate “What to do…” parts here… one for ADULTS & CHILDREN and one for INFANTS!

choking adult heimlich maneuverWhat to do… for ADULTS & CHILDREN (Children over age 1)

  • Tell victim to try and cough it out. Ask “are you choking?” If victim nods yes, tell him/her you are going to help. (Be prepared to do the Heimlich maneuver.)
  •  Stand behind victim, wrap your arms around him/her and place your fist (thumb side in) just above victim’s belly button well below the breastbone.
  • Grab the fist with your other hand and give quick, upward thrusts into their abdomen.
  •  Continue giving thrusts until the object is coughed out and victim can breathe, cough or talk or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If ADULT or CHILD stops responding or passes out:

Yell for help, check breathing, and position victim on a flat surface so you can begin CPR (30 compressions and 2 breaths) – or do Hands-only CPR – to help force object out.

choking-infant-backslapsWhat to do… for INFANTS (Newborn to age 1)

  • If infant stops breathing, have someone call an ambulance.
  • Turn infant face down on your forearm and support its head with that hand — hold at angle so it’s head is lower than chest. (May want to brace arm holding infant against your thigh.)
  • Give 5 back blows between infants’ shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  • If no object comes out, turn infant over so it is facing up on your forearm (still at an angle so head lower than chest) — use your first two fingers to find the center of the breastbone on infant’s chest.
  • Give 5 thrusts to infant’s chest using only 2 fingers! (Each thrust should be 1½ inches [3.81 cm] deep!)
  • Repeat steps until infant can breath, cough, or cry or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If INFANT stops responding or passes out: 

Place infant on a firm, flat surface above ground (like on a table or counter) so you can begin Infant CPR.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about CPR from the American Heart Association or find a CPR class near you … or contact your local Red Cross about their First Aid and CPR courses.

And visit the Child Injury Prevention Alliance for some choking prevention tips.

Stay safe out there, j & B


FDA steps in it: Classifies poop as a drug and restricts fecal transplants

June 17, 2013

fda classifies poop as a drug photo by Health Impact NewsBack in March we did a Monday Musing post called “Would you take this crap if your life depended on it?”  about how “poop transplants” are an effective way to treat people with a type of intestinal bacteria infection.

Basically researchers transplant fecal matter from healthy people into the colons of people infected with the notoriously hard-to-treat Clostridium difficile (klos-TRID-e-uhm dif-uh-SEEL) bacteria (a.k.a. C. diff), which causes severe, watery diarrhea. They found that 46 out of 49 patients got better within a week of the enema treatment (a.k.a. Fecal Microbiata Transplant or FMT.)

Well … according to Health Impact News, the FDA has literally stepped in and has now declared fecal matter as a “drug.” And, since it is a drug they have not approved, it’s now officially in Phase 1 of the drug research and approval process, a process that can take many years.

In a letter from the FDA to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), FDA stated that FMT is not to be used by physicians, other than in life saving situations subject to a formal IND (Investigational New Drug) application.

Health Impact News writes…

“So why would the FDA make the ridiculous claim that someone’s healthy poop is a drug, and start regulating a safe therapy that has saved so many lives, cured so many with bowel diseases, and has virtually no recorded adverse effects? It is far more effective and far more safe than drugs used for the same conditions!  … While doctors, published research, and home users have already successfully used FMT therapy with miraculous results, our government agencies are spending our tax dollars to restrict this simple and inexpensive therapy so that drug companies can develop patented and profitable drugs instead.

Yes … the thought of taking someone else’s poop has an “ick” factor and many people have probably never even considered (or are aware of) FMT. But now many sufferers will have to live with the uncomfortable and excruciating pain of bowel diseases or take prescription drugs with potential side effects since the FDA is restricting FMT therapy.

Read the full article on Health Impact News  and learn more about about poop transplants at MyHealthNewsDaily.com and LiveScience.com


May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month

May 22, 2013

May is celiac awareness monthAs some of you may know, Bill has been battling many serious health issues over the past 17+ years, and one of the core underlying problems is he has Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) Disease.

And since May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, we wanted to pass along some information about this hereditary disease in case it can help others.

For those of you not familiar with Celiac Disease (a.k.a. CD or celiac sprue), it’s a genetic issue and it’s not contagious.

villi damage in small intestine due to celiac disease image by Mayo FdnBasically if Bill ingests any type of gluten, his immune system creates antibodies that attack and damage or destroy the villi lining the small intestine so his body cannot properly absorb basic nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and, in some cases, water and bile salts.

Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, Kamut®, einkorn and faro) and related grains rye, barley and triticale and MUST be eliminated.

Even tiny traces of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. And, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.

Did you know…

  • Celiac Disease is NOT a food allergy – it is an autoimmune disease. Food allergies, including wheat allergy, are conditions that people can sometimes grow out of. This is not the case with Celiac Disease.
  • according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, 1 out of 133 people in the U.S. are affected with celiac disease?
  • the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness says about 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed?
  • CD is a hereditary disease and occurs in 5% to 22% of the offspring and siblings of a person with the disease.

Symptoms and complications

Celiac disease can appear at any time in a person’s life according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. In adults, the disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth. CD is a multi-system, multi-symptom disorder. Symptoms vary and are not always gastrointestinal (GI). GI symptoms can often mimic other bowel disorders.

celiac disease symptoms chart by glutendudeMost people with the disease have similar symptoms or issues although some people with CD have no symtoms at all. Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain, gas, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation (or both). It may also cause irritability or depression, anemia, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash (or small red bumps), mouth sores, dental and bone disorders, tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy), general weakness and fatigue, weight loss and stunted growth (in children).

Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.

And the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness explains undiagnosed celiac disease left untreated can increase your risk of other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, thyroid disease and T-cell lymphoma or other cancers.

No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease by changing your diet.

Celiac disease versus gluten-intolerance

There is a big difference between people suffering with celiac disease and those who are gluten-intolerant. If someone with CD ingests a tiny amount of gluten it will trigger their immune system causing damage in their small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients. Basically it could set them back weeks or months since it takes time for the villi to repair itself and the inflammation to tamp down.

On the other hand, if someone who is gluten-intolerant (a.k.a. non-celiac gluten sensitivity or NCGS) ingests gluten they may experience discomfort like bloating, diarrhea or abdominal pain, but it does not damage their small intestine.

Read ALL labels and not just food stuffs

When a loved one is diagnosed with celiac disease you diligently begin reading ingredient lists on everything. We were shocked how many canned, bottled, processed, packaged, frozen, dried and ready-made foods or sauces have gluten in them.

Not only do you need to watch for things with wheat, barley, malt or rye … but things like flavorings, dextrin, caramel coloring, HVP, etc. may be questionable depending on what countries they were made in or what ingredients are used. And oats are an issue since they may have been cross-contaminated with wheat during growing, harvesting and processing.

Also realize just because somethings says it’s “Gluten Free” doesn’t mean it is. The product could have been processed or packaged on shared equipment or in a facility that also processes wheat or other gluten products. Even though manufacturers clean machines, gluten can get down into little crevices and it is airborne.

GFCO logoBut there are products that are packaged and processed in dedicated, gluten-free facilities or adhere to the Celiac Sprue Association (or GFCO or QAI and NFCA) standards to obtain a certified GF seal or label. But even those products can have minute traces of 5 to 10 parts per million when tested for wheat.

The best alternative is to avoid processed foods altogether and make your own meals at home so you’ll know exactly what’s in them! We currently do that although there are some GF products we use in our preparedness kits, stores and snacks.

Also, be aware there are non-food products that may contain gluten like…

  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Lipstick, lip gloss or balm
  • Soaps, bath salts
  • Lotions and creams
  • Vitamins and prescription drugs
  • Hair products (some shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, etc.)
  • Sunscreen
  • Cleaning products
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Stamps, envelopes, stickers
  • Chewing gum and many types of candy
  • Communion wafers
  • Pet food
  • Art supplies (e.g. paints, glue, clay) or play-dough

And of course beer, grain alcohols and the list goes on. Many companies and restaurants are offering gluten-free products but again, always check labels and/or ask the manufacturers’ websites or chefs if products are made or packaged on shared equipment, cooking surfaces, etc.

Learn more

Below are just a few examples of reputable sites to learn about Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerance symptoms, risk factors, tests and diagnosis techniques, support groups and more. And remember, if you or someone you know has or possibly has CD, please encourage family members to talk to their physician or learn more about the disease and risks.

Celiac Disease Foundation
Celiac Support Association
Celiac.com (has a forum, GF mall, etc.)
Mayo Clinic’s Celiac disease section
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)
NIH’s National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

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Bed bugs totally suck…

May 6, 2013

bedbugDid you know U.S. nursing homes, hospitals and even ambulances are increasingly plagued by … bedbugs..?!?

Marketwatch.com reports more than a third of pest management companies treated bedbug infestations in hospitals in 2012, 6% more than the year before and more than twice as many as in 2010, according to a survey released today by the National Pest Management Association.

The percentage of exterminators dealing with bedbugs in nursing homes has also almost doubled since 2010, to 46%. Bedbug experts also report seeing them in ambulances.

The Center for Disease Control explains bed bugs are not known to spread disease, but they can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

This is especially problematic in hospitals, where there is a greater likelihood of catching the highly potent and contagious staph infection known as MRSA, says Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program of Loyola University Health System in Chicago. “You don’t need one more ingredient to increase your risk of infections in the hospital,” he says.

Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.

They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

bedbug bites

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area.

These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.
bed bug colony

Bed bug colony

Treating bed bugs

If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs.

dog searching for bedbugsThere are even companies with highly specialized Bed Bug detection Canines, who can detect Bed Bugs when humans cannot, and more efficiently so affected areas can be treated before infestations spread.

Methods currently used to combat bedbug infestations include freezing, extreme heating, vacuuming and pesticides.

The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspections to watch for the signs of an infestation.

Non-toxic remedy

HealthDay News reports a centuries-old bedbug remedy of using kidney bean leaves to trap bedbugs may offer a model for a non-toxic, modern-day treatment.

Microscopic hairs on kidney bean leaves stab the insects, effectively trapping them, the researchers discovered. They are using their findings to develop non-toxic synthetic materials that will mimic the effects of the bean leaves and help prevent bedbug infestations, according to the report, published online April 9 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The age-old Balkan treatment involved scattering kidney bean leaves on the floor next to beds to ensnare the blood-thirsty critters. Within seconds of stepping on a leaf, the bugs were trapped. Microscopic hooked hairs on the leaves, known as trichomes, stab the bugs’ legs and immobilize them, the researchers explained.

kidney bean leaves trap bedbugs

Basically … learning the bean leaf’s secrets could help researchers create a bio-inspired reusable bug trap that would avoid chemical solutions — and it won’t dry out after just a few days like a leaf.

Learn more about bedbugs at CDC.gov and Bed Bug Central.

Stay safe, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite..! 🙂 j & B


What are YOU gonna do about a household chemical emergency?

April 29, 2013

Today’s musing involves chemicals since they are all around us. Just take a moment to think about all the cleaners, chemicals and hazardous materials scattered throughout your home, garage and workshop.

Check for toxic products

When you have some time, snoop around your home and garage and read the labels on all products to ensure you are using, storing and disposing of the material according to the manufacturer’s directions. Many products like oil based paints (including stains, strippers and varnishes); household cleaners, automotive products, lighter fluid and other fuels, pesticides, fertilizers and other yard products contain hazardous components. They will be identified by such words as “warning, ” “danger,” “toxic,” “corrosive,” “irritant,” “flammable” or “caution” found on their labels.

It is critical to store household chemicals in places where children and pets cannot access them. Pay special to containers with the skull and crossbones which is used to indicate the presence of a poisonous chemical. If you see this symbol on a household product, pay attention to the warning. And remember products such as aerosol cans of hair spray and deodorant, nail polish and nail polish remover, toilet bowl cleaners and furniture polishes all fall into the category of hazardous materials too.

Did you know…

  • as many as 500,000 products pose physical or health hazards and can be defined as “hazardous materials” and over 1,000 new synthetic chemicals are introduced each year?!
  • the average U.S. household generates more than 20 pounds of household hazardous waste per year. As much as 100 pounds can accumulate in the home, often remaining there until the residents move out or do an extensive cleanout?! – EPA
  • more than 7 million accidental poisonings occur each year, with more than 75% involving children under age 6?! —The Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • according to the U.S. Poison Control Centers, “A child is accidentally poisoned every 30 seconds at home…” —”Prosperity Without Pollution,” by Joel S. Hirschorn and Kirsten V. Oldenburg, 1991
  • of chemicals commonly found in homes, 150 have been linked to allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities. — Consumer Product Safety Commission

BEFORE A HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCY:

Learn risks – Call your local public health department or the Environmental Protection Agency for information about hazardous household materials. And check out the Consumer Product Information Database which provides information on over 22,000 common household products and their potential health effects at www.whatsinproducts.com

The database helps consumers…

  • Identify the chemicals in products they currently use or plan to purchase.
  • Determine the health effects of product formulations.
  • Avoid brands with ingredients that they are sensitive to.
  • View Safety Data Sheets
  • Obtain contact information for manufacturers

Read labels – Always read product labels for proper use, safe storage and disposal of chemicals.

Don’t dump it – Many used or unwanted products dumped down the sink, poured down a storm drain, tossed in the trash or poured on the ground often wind up in nearby rivers, streams or ground water where they can be toxic to humans and aquatic life, even at low concentrations. And those products could disrupt your septic system or contaminate treatment plant sludge. Learn how to dispose of used liquids and containers in advance.

Recycle it? – Call your local recycling center or collection site to ask what chemicals can be recycled or dropped off for disposal — many centers take things like car batteries, oil, tires, paint or thinners, etc. And many communities setup household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs throughout the year.

Store it – Keep all chemicals and household cleaners in safe, secure locations out of reach of small children.

Put it out – Don’t smoke while using household chemicals.

Consider using non-toxic solutions – Look for “green” and non-toxic products that say petroleum-free, biodegradable, septic safe, phosphate-free, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)-free, and solvent-free. And find more resources below.

DURING A HOUSEHOLD CHEMICAL EMERGENCY:

Call for help – Call your local Poison Control Center (or 1-800-222-1222), 9-1-1, fire department, hospital or emergency medical services. If possible, have container handy since medical professionals may need specific data from label.

First aid tips – Follow instructions on label and be prepared to perform first aid on the victim (e.g. eye or body rinsing, rescue breathing (but have a mouth guard handy), open windows and move away from the scene if there’s a strong odor or vapors, etc.)

Things to watch for if a chemical is swallowed…

Burns on the mouth, tongue and lips
Stomach pains
Open cabinets; spilled or open containers
Difficulty breathing
Convulsions or seizures
Weakness or dizziness
Passed out

What to do…

  • Stay calm and find out exactly what, how much, and how long ago it was swallowed.
  • Call Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222 in the U.S.) or an ambulance and have bottle or container handy (if possible).
  • NEVER give victim anything to eat or drink unless told to do so by Poison Control Center or a Medical professional!!
  • If victim pukes, lay them on their side to keep airway open. Save a sample of the vomit IF the poison is unknown so the hospital can try to identify it.
  • If victim isn’t breathing consider doing Rescue Breathing – but ONLY if sure poison cannot be spread person to person or if you have a mouth shield or mask to avoid cross contamination.

CPR mouth shield                 CPR mouth shield

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents no longer use syrup of ipecac (pronounced ip’- î – kak) as a poison treatment intervention in the home. Immediately contact local Poison Control Center for help.

If you decide to keep a few 1 ounce bottles in your First Aid Kit … use ONLY on the advice of a Medical professional or the Poison Control Center! Syrup of ipecac is sold by most pharmacies without a prescription and used to induce vomiting (makes you puke) — again, use only if instructed to do so.

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch

Clean naturally

There are tons of blogs and sites with tips on making non-toxic cleaners for your home so consider doing some research about using simple household products like baking soda, vinegar, liquid detergent, lemon juice, essential oils and other items to clean naturally … and save money!

For example, check out…

About.com Frugal Living 
Care2 Make a Difference
Non-Toxic.info 
OrganizedHome.com
SimpleHomemade.net 

Stay safe and have a great week! 🙂 j & B


Some reasons to leave your shoes at the door

April 8, 2013

remove your shoes at the doorThink about all the places you walk every day then ask yourself … do you really want to bring those shoes with all that crap (or whatever) into your home..?!

First things first … I hate wearing shoes. The instant I walk in the door my shoes are off and they stay off until I have to go out in public again. I’m not like Cody Lundin but I’ve gone barefoot most of my life.

On the other hand, Bill has different shoes he wears indoors versus the ones he wears out in public.

In hindsight, these are both good practices when you consider all the stuff you track in from the great outdoors.

Removing shoes at the door is very common in many countries and cultures, but Americans rarely practice shoe removal.

But if you have kids (both 2 legged ones and 4 legged furry ones), remember all that gunk you bring in — including pollens, pesticides, poop and more — gets into the fibers of your carpets.

leave your shoes at the door

Of course if you have linoleum, tile or hardwood floors, those are much easier to clean … but how often do you clean them?

Some studies show that we are tracking all types of dangerous pollutants into our homes. For example:

  • A 2010 study by the University of Arizona found about 60% of household dust comes from outside and is primarily brought into the home from the bottom of shoes. The findings published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology show contaminants include arsenic, lead and DDT!
  • Typically when people hear lead, they think of lead-based paint used in older homes which can cause problems for young children and the unborn. However, lead is commonly tracked into homes on shoes due to auto exhaust, smelting and soil deposits.
  • Another 2010 study by the California state Department of Public Health and CHAMACOS revealed 22 pesticides were commonly found in the dust of homes in Salinas. Dr. Frank Lipman explains the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Environmental Health found that low level chronic pesticide exposure as found in these homes can cause numerous health problems, especially for fetuses and young children.
  • Rodale reports a study published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology, found a connection between toxic coal tar and cancer. Coal tar, a known carcinogen used in sealants, is tracked into homes from driveways, playgrounds and parking lots.

Think about this next time you’re stretched out on the floor playing with your kids or critters. And also remember little ones routinely transfer things from the floor to their hands to their mouths. Eating some dirt is good … but sometimes it can be bad.

So … going forward, consider taking off your shoes before entering your home to reduce the amount of toxins and other crud you bring in. And ask family members and visitors to remove their shoes at the door too. Realize some visitors may be uncomfortable with it, but hopefully most will comply. There are some cool signs and doormats that can help drive home the point… 🙂

take off your shoes doormat

Stay safe and have a great week!  j & B


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