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General Health Information

10 Most Common STDs
The 10 most common STDs are syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, AIDS, hepatitis, genital warts, chancroid, pubic lice & scabies and trichomoniasis.

A Better Night's Sleep
Scientists predict that pinpointing a new chemical known as orexin, which acts as a kind of master sleep/wake switch, will lead to a new understanding of sleep disorders and treatments.

A Bionic Eye May End Blindness
Artificial vision for the blind was once the stuff of science fiction. But now, a limited form of artificial vision is a reality.
The Dobelle Institute is among several institutions trying in essence to create a new cornea through technology. The cornea allows light into the interior of the eye.
Dobelle is using a digital video camera mounted on glasses to capture an image and send it to a small computer on the patient's belt: The images are processed and sent to electrodes implanted in the patient's visual cortex. The electrodes stimulate the brain, producing a pattern of bright spots that form an image.

Adults Urged to Take Daily Multivitamin
Because low vitamin intake has been linked to a host of illnesses, it is recommended that everybody--regardless of age or health status--take a daily multivitamin.

Alcohol Consumption - Liver and Pancreas
Heavy alcohol consumption is the single most important cause of illness and death from liver disease (alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis) and contributes to approximately 65% of all cases of pancreatitis.

Alcohol Consumption and the Testes
Heavy and chronic drinking can lead to inadequate functioning of the testes, resulting in hormonal deficiencies, sexual dysfunction, and infertility.

Alfalfa Sprouts and Lupus
An amino acid, L-canavanine, is found in alfalfa sprouts and can activate the immune system and increase inflammation in lupus patients. Other foods in the legume family have only a fraction of the L-canavanine that sprouts do and are safe to eat.

Anthrax Diagnosis
Anthrax is diagnosed by isolating B. anthracis from the blood, skin lesions, or respiratory secretions or by measuring specific antibodies in the blood of persons with suspected cases.

Anthrax Symptoms
Symptoms of disease vary depending on how the disease was contracted, but symptoms usually occur within 7 days.

Cutaneous: Most (about 95%) anthrax infections occur when the bacterium enters a cut or abrasion on the skin, such as when handling contaminated wool, hides, leather or hair products (especially goat hair) of infected animals. Skin infection begins as a raised itchy bump that resembles an insect bite but within 1-2 days develops into a vesicle and then a painless ulcer, usually 1-3 cm in diameter, with a characteristic black necrotic (dying) area in the center. Lymph glands in the adjacent area may swell. About 20% of untreated cases of cutaneous anthrax will result in death. Deaths are rare with appropriate antimicrobial therapy.

Inhalation: Initial symptoms may resemble a common cold. After several days, the symptoms may progress to severe breathing problems and shock. Inhalation anthrax is usually fatal.

Intestinal: The intestinal disease form of anthrax may follow the consumption of contaminated meat and is characterized by an acute inflammation of the intestinal tract. Initial signs of nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever are followed by abdominal pain, vomiting of blood, and severe diarrhea. Intestinal anthrax results in death in 25% to 60% of cases.

Anthrax Threat Letters

If it is a letter that you have opened, set it down gently at the location where you first read it. Then move to an area that will minimize your exposure to others. Avoid contact with others when possible, and remain in the area. Public Safety and Health responders will come to you.

If it is a note that you happen to find, LEAVE IT ALONE.

Advise a coworker in the immediate area what has happened and ask them to call 911.

If possible, have the buildings ventilation system shut down and turn off any fans in the area.

Do not allow others into the area. If anyone enters, they should stay until instructed to leave by Public Safety or Health responder.

Anthrax Transmission
Anthrax infection can occur in three forms: cutaneous (skin), inhalation, and gastrointestinal. B. anthracis spores can live in the soil for many years, and humans can become infected with anthrax by handling products from infected animals or by inhaling anthrax spores from contaminated animal products. Anthrax can also be spread by eating undercooked meat from infected animals. It is rare to find infected animals in the United States.

Anthrax Treatment
Antibiotics such as penicillin, ciprofloxacin and doxycycline are the drugs of choice for treatment of anthrax. To be effective, treatment should be initiated early. If left untreated, the disease can be fatal.

Antibiotics Should Be Used Appropriately
Do not take antibiotics unless they are prescribed by a physician. If you take antibiotics and you are not fighting an infection, your body will build a resistance to the antibiotic and it will not be as effective in fighting a future infection if you have to take it again.

Be a Responsible Host
Be aware that if you serve alcohol, you are responsible for how much your guests drink. Use a key bowl to collect car keys, provide transportation such as taxis for guests who may need help getting home safely, or provide sleeping arrangements for guests to stay overnight at your home.

Boating Safety
Always have a metal coat hanger in your tool kit. It can be used to:
Free hose blockages
Hook something in an inaccessible area
Replace a cotter pin
Temporarily tie something down
Free blocked limber holes

Brand Name Vitamins vs. Generic
People should opt for the low-cost, and often generic brands of multivitamins offered at pharmacies, as opposed to "special-purpose" vitamins found at health-food stores, which usually cost much more, and can actually contain doses of certain vitamins that are too high. Excessive vitamin doses can have adverse effects.

Campfire Safety
Be sure you have an area for a campfire that cannot spread laterally or vertically. When ever a fire is lit at the campsite be sure that someone is assigned to watch it at all times. Keep water nearby for emergencies. Be sure that when you put the fire out you use water and soil and be certain that the fire is completely out, cool to the touch. Embers buried within the pile of ashes have a tendency to reignite later.

Cataract Prevention
Cataract Risk Factors:
Long-term exposure to sunlight
Cigarette smoking
High cholesterol/triglycerides
Cortisone medication taken orally for a long time
Eye injury

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Characterized by debilitating fatigue that doesn't improve with bed rest, chronic fatigue syndrome usually is accompanied by a number of other symptoms, including muscle pain, weakness, memory impairment, joint pain and insomnia.

Eating Snow
Eating ice or snow can reduce your body temperature and it is not pure. Don't eat it. Snow and ice can be used for drinking water but only after boiling.

Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids (a.k.a. Omega-3 and Omega-6) can help keep blood pressure low, boost brainpower and combat the blues. Find them in:
Vegetable oils (canola, flaxseed, walnut, corn and soybean.)
Safflower oils (made from Safflower seeds.)
Fish and fish oil supplements.

Eye Protection
Wear appropriate safety goggles to protect against flying particles and to guard against exposure to fertilizers, pesticides and hazardous solvents and detergents. Know that regular eyeglasses don't always provide enough protection.

FDA Approves First New Lupus Test in 40 Years
The first significant new screening test for lupus in four decades was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The test devised by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle is expected to spot up to 20 percent of cases that, using today's testing methods, would have gone undetected.

Fever Reducer
A fast fever reducer is a simple increase in the consumption of cool water. Adults should drink a minimum of 2 quarts of water a day during illness and more if it's possible. Keep track of your intake by filling a 2 quart pitcher with water and refrigerating it.

Fireworks Injuries
Eleven thousand people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2001. Many accidents involved homemade fireworks items and large, illegal explosive devices.

Friendly Bacteria in Yogurt
Yogurt is crawling with bacteria -- and the more of it you eat, the better. Be sure to buy yogurt with a seal that guarantees it has live, active cultures. These cultures -- especially acidophilus and bifida -- colonize the lower intestines with beneficial bacteria while muscling out disease-causing bacteria.

Global Warming Will Spawn Diseases
A warming climate will allow disease-causing pathogens to thrive in places where they once could not live, posing a new risk for species as diverse as butterflies and humans, oysters and lions. Bacteria, bugs, parasites, viruses and fungi that have been restricted by seasonal temperatures may be able to invade new territories and find new victims as the climate warms and winters grow milder.

Greens and Calcium
Kale is the one dark-green leafy vegetable you can count on as a source of calcium. Spinach, beet greens and chard all contain oxalates, which bind calcium and make it unavailable for absorption.

Kidney Disease - 6 Warning Signs
Six Warning Signs of Kidney and Urinary Tract Disease

1. Burning or difficulty during urination
2. More frequent urination, particularly at night
3. Passage of bloody-appearing urine
4. Puffiness around eyes, swelling of hand and feet, especially in children
5. Pain in small of back just below the ribs (not aggravated by movement)
6. High blood pressure

Kidney Fact
Every time the heart beats, twenty percent of the blood flow goes directly to the kidney, so it receives more blood flow than any other organ in the body.

Latent TB
Latent TB is a difficult disease to diagnose, and by the time the disease is diagnosed, a patient may have infected 10 to 15 others.

Mail Screening for Anthrax
Common features of anthrax threat letters:

No return address
Excessive postage
Hand written or poorly typed addresses
Misspelling of common words
Restrictive markings such as "Confidential", "Personal", etc.
Excessive weight and/or a feel of a powdery substance

Nature's Antibiotic
Raw garlic kills bacteria and fungi, making it a natural antibiotic.

New Hope for Cataract Patients
A photosensitive silicone lens that would be implanted in the eyes of patients who have cataract surgery could one day offer them customized vision and eliminate the need for prescription glasses. It's called the Light Adjustable Lens (LALT).

New Hope for Stopping AIDS
It's not quite a cure, but if the results of test-tube experiments can be repeated in the human body, scientists may have developed a powerful therapy for AIDS. Researchers have developed a genetically engineered protein, called 5-Helix, that keeps the AIDS virus from replicating in cells. While drugs made of synthetic (as opposed to genetic) materials are already being tested for the same purpose, genetically created proteins are cheaper to make and are less likely to break down once they're injected into the body. Although the protein has yet to be tested on animals, scientists are hopeful -- and so are AIDS patients worldwide.

Outdoor Cooking Safety
You may want to bring a small table or some wooden blocks to put your stove on. Many stoves have their own stands, but others will need to be keep off the ground and away from potentially flammable materials.

People at Risk for Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Although AMD can occur during middle age, the risk increases as a person gets older. Results of a large study show that people in their 50s have about a two percent chance of getting AMD. This risk rises to nearly 30 percent in those over age 75. Besides age, other AMD risk factors include:

Gender--Women may be at greater risk than men, according to some studies.
Smoking--Smoking may increase the risk of AMD.
Family History--People with a family history of AMD may be at higher risk of getting the disease.
Cholesterol--People with elevated levels of blood cholesterol may be at higher risk for wet AMD.

People at Risk for Glaucoma
People at risk for glaucoma include:

Blacks over age 40.
Everyone over age 60.
People with a family history of glaucoma.

Plastic Bags and Cold Weather
Carry extra plastic bags in cold weather. They can be used as personal wind shields and ponchos by slitting a hole in the top for your head to go through.

Possible Causes of Restless Legs Syndrome
Research into the cause of RLS is ongoing and answers are limited, but we do think that RLS may have different but perhaps overlapping causes—genetics or a secondary disorder—or RLS can be idiopathic (without a known cause).

The transmission of the genetic form of RLS has not been determined but appears to occur in an autosomal-dominant pattern. In other words, children born to a parent with RLS have a significantly increased risk of acquiring this disorder. The disorder is not sex linked, which means that the genetic form of RLS occurs with equal frequency in males and females.

You may have a secondary cause of RLS, which includes associated factors and medical conditions that, when present, aggravate the underlying RLS. Several of these conditions appear to create transient, or temporary, symptoms of RLS. If you drink caffeine-containing beverages, such as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and soft drinks, you may experience an increase in symptoms of an underlying RLS. These symptoms usually decrease in frequency or may even disappear when you eliminate caffeine from your diet.

During pregnancy, particularly during the last few months of pregnancy, up to 15% of women develop RLS. After delivery, their symptoms often, but not always, vanish.

We’ve known for over 30 years that anemia and low levels of iron in the blood are associated with symptoms of RLS. Chronic conditions—such as diabetes, peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves in the hands and feet), alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, and rheumatoid arthritis—may induce a longer-lasting RLS. Recent literature also points toward an association between RLS and symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

If you have a secondary condition (such as an iron or vitamin deficiency) that is causing or contributing to your symptoms of RLS, these symptoms will tend to decrease in intensity or frequency once your anemia or iron deficiency is treated or improves. With any of the chronic conditions, you will often experience symptoms of RLS as long as your chronic condition persists.

If you have no family history of RLS and no underlying or associated conditions causing the disorder, your RLS is said to be idiopathic, meaning without a known cause.

Preventing Nosebleeds
Put K-Y Jelly or other water-based lubricant on a cotton-tip or on your little finger to rim your nostrils. This reduces the dry air coming through and reduces the likelihood of a bloody nose.

Proper Handwashing Technique
Handwashing is a vigorous and brief rubbing of hand surfaces together with lathered hands, followed by rinsing with flowing water.

Proper handwashing technique avoids touching the sink or faucet controls with the hands. Use clean paper towels to touch faucet controls. Proper handwashing may be followed by drying with paper towels, but contact with outside of towel dispenser must be avoided.

Turn on faucet with clean paper towel

Operate soap dispenser with a clean paper towel

Wash interdigitally for 30 seconds

Rinse thoroughly under flowing water, but do not make contact with faucet or sink

If contact is made, handwashing must be re-started

Allow water to run toward elbows; do not allow water from arm to run down to hands

Dry with clean paper towels and then turn off water with paper towels

Disposable soap containers are preferred. Bar soap should not be used.

Protecting Sore Fingers Around the House
For those with finger problems, slipping the sponge-rubber part of a ladies' hair curler over the handle of utensils, pens, pencils, etc. makes them much easier and more comfortable to handle. The curlers come in various sizes, are inexpensive, and in addition to building up handles, etc. so they are easier to grip, the softness of the sponge rubber protects the fingers and joints from too much pressure.

Real Deal on Subway Diet
The once sumo-wrestler-size 425-pounder Jarred Fogle (aka the Subway diet guy) plummeted to a mere 180 pounds in less than a year by doing a little extra walking and eating nothing but Subway sandwiches, baked chips and diet soda. A year later, Jarred still looks great and he has garnered quite the slim-seeking following. (His disciples have been dubbed "Friends of Jarred," or FOJs, by Subway.) But while tons of people are chowing down on Subway's veggie-laden heros -- sans mayo and cheese -- in hopes of achieving similar results, nutritionist Pamela Peeke, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, points out that the Subway diet lacks any source of fruit and relies on only one real source of protein (lean meat). Another downside: The hero-heavy diet amounts to less than a thousand calories a day, suitable only for the very obese. Wisely, even Subway suggests that you talk to your doctor before starting Jarred's (or any other) weight-loss program.

Restless Legs Syndrome
Restless legs syndrome is a neurologic disorder with four primary features. An adult with RLS will typically have all of these primary features.

The bothersome, but usually not painful, sensations in the legs produce an irresistible urge to move. Some words used to describe these sensations include creeping, burning, itching, pulling, or tugging. (These sensations also occasionally occur in the arms.) Sharp, pins and needles, or numb are not usual descriptive terms.

Symptoms are worse or exclusively present when the afflicted individual is at rest, and the sensations are typically lessened by voluntary movement of the affected extremity.

Symptoms are worse in the evening and at night, especially when the individual lies down.

Movements of the toes, feet, or legs (known as restlessness) are typically seen when the afflicted individual is sitting or lying down in the evening. This restlessness may be seen as "fidgetiness" or "nervousness."

Robots in the OR
What can robots' hands do that human hands can't? Make smaller incisions, for one thing, which means quicker recovery time and a reduced chance of post-op infection.

Smallpox - Prevention of Spread of Disease
Symptomatic patients with suspected or confirmed smallpox are capable of spreading the virus. Patients should be placed in medical isolation so that they will not continue to spread the virus. In addition, people who have come into close contact with smallpox patients should be vaccinated immediately and closely watched for symptoms of smallpox. Vaccine and isolation are the strategies for stopping the spread of smallpox.

Smallpox - Spread of the Disease
In the majority of cases, smallpox is spread from one person to another by infected saliva droplets that expose a susceptible person having face-to-face contact with the ill person. People with smallpox are most infectious during the first week of illness, because that is when the largest amount of virus is present in saliva. However, some risk of transmission lasts until all scabs have fallen off.

Contaminated clothing or bed linen could also spread the virus. Special precautions need to be taken to ensure that all bedding and clothing of patients are cleaned appropriately with bleach and hot water. Disinfectants such as bleach and quaternary ammonia can be used for cleaning contaminated surfaces.

Smallpox - Symptoms
Initial symptoms include high fever, fatigue, and head and back aches. A characteristic rash, most prominent on the face, arms, and legs, follows in 2-3 days. The rash starts with flat red lesions that evolve at the same rate. Lesions become pus-filled after a few days and then begin to crust early in the second week. Scabs develop and then separate and fall off after about 3-4 weeks.

Smallpox Incubation Period
The incubation period is about 12 days (range: 7 to 17 days) following exposure.

Smallpox Treatment
There is no proven treatment for smallpox, but research to evaluate new antiviral agents is ongoing. Patients with smallpox can benefit from supportive therapy (e.g., intravenous fluids, medicine to control fever or pain) and antibiotics for any secondary bacterial infections that may occur.

Smallpox Vaccination
If the vaccine is given within 4 days after exposure to smallpox, it can lessen the severity of illness or even prevent it.
Routine vaccination against smallpox ended in 1972. The level of immunity, if any, among persons who were vaccinated before 1972 is uncertain; therefore, these persons are assumed to be susceptible. For those who were vaccinated, it is not known how long immunity lasts. Most estimates suggest immunity from the vaccination lasts 3 to 5 years. This means that nearly the entire U.S. population has partial immunity at best. Immunity can be boosted effectively with a single revaccination. Prior infection with the disease grants lifelong immunity. The US has an emergency supply of smallpox vaccine.

Spread of Anthrax
Direct person-to-person spread of anthrax is extremely unlikely to occur. Communicability is not a concern in managing or visiting with patients with inhalational anthrax.

Starting a Fire
Carry matches in a metal match safe as plastic can freeze and break if dropped. Also, carry extra matches because the more you need a fire to warm up the less likely you will be able to start one easily.

Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome
1. Eliminate caffeine from your diet.
2. Treat any underlying medical disorders that may be causing the syndrome.
3. Discuss treatment options with your MD.

Tuberculosis Still a Problem
Tuberculosis is the No. 1 killer of women of childbearing age worldwide, and the epidemic is growing with the spread of bacteria that is resistant to drugs that have worked in the past.

Types of Kidney Stones
The most common type of stone contains calcium. Calcium is a normal part of a healthy diet.

Calcium that is not used by the bones and muscles goes to the kidneys. In most people, the kidneys flush out the extra calcium with the rest of the urine. People who have calcium stones keep the calcium in their kidneys. The calcium that stays behind joins with other waste products to form a stone.

A struvite stone may form after an infection in the urinary system. These stones contain the mineral magnesium and the waste product ammonia.

A uric acid stone may form when there is too much acid in the urine. If you tend to form uric acid stones, you may need to cut back on the amount of meat you eat.

Cystine stones are rare. Cystine is one of the building blocks that make up muscles, nerves, and other parts of the body. Cystine can build up in the urine to form a stone. The disease that causes cystine stones runs in families.

Vitamins Can Be Dangerous
If you take vitamin supplements, pay attention. The Institute of Medicine has recently revised many of the recommended daily allowances (RDAs); in many cases, the amount of vitamins the average person needs to take is now lower. Here, some changes you should know about:

--Vitamin A: Experts note that most Americans already get plenty of this vitamin in foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dark-colored fruits and vegetables (such as sweet potatoes and carrots). Eating more than 3,000 micrograms can cause liver damage and, in pregnant women, birth defects. The new RDA: 900 micrograms for men, 700 for women.

--Iron: More than 45 milligrams of this mineral can cause stomach upset. Men and postmenopausal women need just eight milligrams; premenopausal women require 18 milligrams daily. Pregnant women need an extra 27 milligrams, which often can be found in prenatal vitamins.

--Zinc: The RDA for men is 11 milligrams; for women it's eight milligrams -- lower than before, because studies have shown that the body stores the mineral better than once thought. The upper limit: 40 milligrams daily. Taking more can block the body's absorption of copper.

--Copper: Taking 10 milligrams or more can cause liver damage. The new RDA for men and women is 900 micrograms.

Warning Signs of Alcoholism
The following list is not all inclusive and a "diagnosis" or "label" of alcoholism should not be based upon these warning signs. Only physicians and clinical psychologists can make that call.

Trying to cut down or to quit drinking but failing at it.

Blackouts (a blackout is not being so drunk that the person can't remember anything, or passing out; a blackout is simply an amnesia for an event that occurred the previous day or evening, as though it had been erased from the memory completely) or lapses of memory, after use.

Drinking alcohol while alone, or hiding the evidence of use.

Using alcohol to forget about problems or worries or to relieve stress, fear, shyness or insecurity.

Doing things while "under the influence" that cause regret afterwards.

Becoming more moody, jealous or irritable after drinking.

Being irritated when family or friends discuss drinking.

Feeling guilty about drinking.

Not being able to enjoy an event without alcohol.

Using much more than other people in a social gathering.

Neglecting responsibilities in order to use alcohol.

Losing time from duty due to drinking.

Family, friends or supervisor expressing concern about alcohol use.

Being willing to do almost anything to get alcohol.

Financial or legal problems from using alcohol.

Warning Signs of Autism
Although there are many signs, any child who: does not point, does not engage with others, has little or no eye contact, does not babble or begin to use words by one year of age should be referred to a developmental specialist.

What Is Anthrax?
Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Anthrax most commonly occurs in wild and domestic lower vertebrates (cattle, sheep, goats, camels, antelopes, and other herbivores), but it can also occur in humans when they are exposed to infected animals or tissue from infected animals.

What Is Endophthalmitis?
Endophthalmitis is inflammation inside the eyeball and is usually caused by an infectious agent such as a bacteria or fungus. It is a serious condition that can result in loss of sight and even loss of the eye. It's normally treated with antibiotics and steroids.

Yogurt and Calcium
Low-fat or fat-free yogurt may have more calcium than full-fat versions. Check labels.

Yogurt for Health
Yogurt is easy to digest, especially for those who are lactose-intolerant, and is an excellent source of calcium, protein, riboflavin (a B vitamin), vitamin B-12 (which may be low in vegetarian diets) and vitamin A. To avoid unwanted saturated fat, choose nonfat or low-fat yogurt.

Your Feet and You
Your feet mirror your general health. Such conditions as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet, so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.

Walking is the best exercise for your feet. It also contributes to your general health by improving circulation, contributing to weight control and promoting all-around well being.

Shopping for shoes is best done in the afternoon, says the American Podiatric Medical Association. Your feet tend to swell a little during the day and it's best to buy shoes to fit them then.

Have your feet measured every time you purchase shoes, and do it while you're standing.

When you try on shoes, try them on both feet; many people have one foot larger than the other, and it's best to fit the larger one.


Acetaminophen Overdose Leading Liver Failure Cause
Overdoses of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain and fever relievers, are now the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US.

This does not mean that acetaminophen is unsafe. Eighty-three percent of patients who went into liver failure after taking acetaminophen had exceeded the maximum daily dose. Taking more than 4,000 milligrams per day (4 g/d) of acetaminophen is not recommended.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, common causes of acetaminophen overdose include inadvertent use of multiple acetaminophen-containing products at the same time and the misinformed belief that larger doses will lead to faster relief.

An Rx for Traveling With Medicines
When you travel, you need to remember not to take a holiday from the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

The American Pharmaceutical Association offers some medication advice for people going on business or pleasure trips:

Bring your medication schedule with you. It should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs that you're taking at the time. If you take different medications at different times of the day, a schedule can help you adjust to time zone changes and changes in your daily routine.

Have a list of the reasons for taking each medication. That way, if you have to see a doctor or go to a hospital while you're traveling, the list can help medical staff better understand your condition.

Keep all your medications in your carry-on bag when you travel by air, whether it's a short or long flight. That way, you'll always have your medication with you, even if your luggage is lost or stolen.

Store your medication in their original labeled containers and bring more medication than you expect to use while you travel. That will protect you in case of unexpected delays and extended stays.

Before you leave on your trip, ask your pharmacist about any conflicts between your medications and foods or beverages you might consume while traveling. If you're taking medications, don't drink any alcohol when you travel.

Antidepressants and Narcotics
Wellbutrin is an antidepressant and Lortab is an analgesic composed of Tylenol and Hydrocodone, a codeine derivative. I wouldn't recommend taking them together. Antidepressants don't normally mix well with narcotics.

Brand Name Drugs vs.Generic Drugs
There's no need to pay for brand name drugs. Generic drugs are much cheaper and just as effective.

Breakthrough Drug for Psoriasis Sufferers
Amevive, a revolutionary drug that has just won federal approval, offers new hope to nearly 2 million Americans who suffer from severe psoriasis -- an autoimmune disease that attacks the skin.

Amevive falls into a relatively new category of drugs known as "biologics." Biologics are primarily derived from living cells. Unlike traditional medications -- which are usually a compilation of chemicals -- biologics are, by and large, comprised of human or animal proteins. They work to help the body help itself, reinforcing healthy inter-cell communication and intervening when that communication goes awry, as it does in all autoimmune diseases.

But Amevive has its drawbacks.

One is the cost, which could run as high as $20,000 a year. As it stands now, weekly injections are likely to cost about $1,000 each, with up to 24 weekly treatments needed for the best results.

In addition, because Amevive temporarily dampens the immune system, it can increase the risk of infection or even malignancy during the course of treatment. So patients are required to undergo regular blood tests, driving treatment costs up even higher. It also means that, depending on individual risk factors for disease, the drug might not be right for every person.

Claritin Goes Over-the-Counter
Claritin, the popular allergy medication, has been approved for over-the-counter sales, which is a money-saving boon for the uninsured but will likely leave consumers with prescription drug plans paying more out of pocket.

Schering-Plough, the antihistamine's manufacturer, initially fought against the over-the-counter switch. The company argued that the insurance industry was pushing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the change as a way of saving insurers billions of dollars since they don't cover nonprescription medicines.

But Claritin's patent expires in December and cheaper generic versions of the drug will then compete for sales, so earlier this year, Schering-Plough reluctantly changed its course.

Advocates for over-the-counter sales say that because Claritin is a non-drowsy medication, it's safer than the other nonprescription antihistamines that cause sleepiness, which can be particularly dangerous if people drive after taking them.

Completion of Courses of Antibiotics
If your physician prescribes an antibiotic for treatment of an infection, you must take all the medication to complete the cure. Do not stop the medication when you start to feel better. All the bacteria may not be eradicated and the infection may return in a nastier form.

Drug Will Speed Recovery from Colds
In a medical first, researchers have developed a drug, Picovir (pleconaril), that speeds recovery from the common cold -- a significant breakthrough for scientists who have been in pursuit of a cure for decades.

FDA Approves Bone-Building Osteoporosis Drug
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug that stimulates new bone formation in people suffering from osteoporosis.

Unlike current treatments aimed at stopping additional bone deterioration in people with osteoporosis, the new drug, called Teriparatide, actually builds bone.

In a study involving 1,637 postmenopausal women and 437 men all with some degree of osteoporosis, patients who received 20 mcg's of teriparatide a day, along with calcium and vitamin D supplements, showed significant increases in bone mineral density at the spine and hip -- compared with participants taking only the supplements.

Because animal studies with teriparatide resulted in a higher incidence of bone cancer among the experimental rats, the FDA says the possibility cannot be ruled out that people treated with the teriparatide may face an increased risk of osteosarcoma, although there were no reports of the cancer in the human studies. A black box warning in the drug's label outlines this safety concern.

About 10 million Americans -- 80 percent of them women -- suffer from osteoporosis, which is a progressive thinning of bones.

FDA Approves Lexapro as Newest Antidepressant
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug Lexapro as a treatment for major depression on August 15, 2002. Interestingly, this latest entry into the antidepressant market resulted from a molecular re-engineering of the popular antidepressant Celexa.

Both Lexapro (escitalopram) and Celexa are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like their cousins Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.

Lexapro is a more potent version of Celexa. This means patients will only need 10 milligrams to 20 milligrams a day of Lexapro, half of what is generally used with Celexa.

FDA Gives OK to New Class of AIDS Drugs
Patients running out of medicines to fight the AIDS virus now have another option: a new class of drugs that has proved to work when others fail.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Fuzeon on March 13, 2003 for adults and for children age 6 and older.

Fuzeon is the first in a new class of medications, called fusion inhibitors, that work by preventing the AIDS virus from invading the white blood cells that are the primary targets of HIV.

Manufacturers said the drug, which is expected to cost at least $20,000 a year, should be available by month's end, although initially only to a limited number of people.

One reason for the high cost is that Fuzeon, known chemically as enfuvirtide, is hard to make. Also, it must be taken by injection twice a day, rotating among the abdomen, thigh and upper arm. Other anti-HIV drugs come in pill form.

FDA OKs Generic Versions of Tylenol with Codeine
Generic drugmaker Able Laboratories Inc. said it has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market generic versions of Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol (acetaminophen) with codeine #3 and codeine #4.

FDA Panel Seeks Stronger Warning on Acetaminophen
A Food and Drug Administration panel of experts is urging the agency to adopt stronger warnings on labels for the popular painkiller acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol.

Citing evidence of toxic and potentially fatal overdoses, the panel voted 21 to 1 yesterday to adopt the stronger warnings. The experts presented evidence that 100 people die each year and thousands are hospitalized from unintentional overdoses of acetaminophen.

The panel says consumers often mistakenly mix more than one product containing the painkiller because they don't realize, for example, that a prescription painkiller and a cold medicine might both contain acetaminophen.

The advisors recommend that every product containing the painkiller include a label with bold type that states the product contains acetaminophen, and warns of possible liver damage that could result from an overdose.

First Non-Stimulant ADHD Drug OK'd
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first non-stimulant drug to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Eli Lilly's Strattera (atomoxetine) does not appear to have the potential for abuse, so the prescription drug will not be classified as a controlled substance, the FDA says.

Up to seven percent of children and four percent of adults have ADHD, the American Psychiatric Association says. Symptoms include inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, excessive talking, daydreaming, and interrupting others.

The drug works by blocking reabsorption of the brain chemical norepinephrine. Side effects of Strattera could include loss of appetite, stomach upset, fatigue, insomnia, dry mouth and dizziness, the agency says, citing clinical trials that involved more than 4,000 patients for as long as two and a half years.

Grapefruit Juice and Medications
Consuming grapefruit juice with many medications can cause serious problems. If you are on a prescription medication, it would be best to switch to six ounces of purple grape juice daily. This would give you more antioxidants and more protective effects without the danger.

Keep Benadryl On Hand
Keep diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl) on hand for treatment of allergies/sinus conditions and for treatment of allergic reactions to medications, food and other substances.

Medications - The Three R's
Risk: Know your medicine's risks and benefits.

Respect: Respect the power of your medicine and the value of medicines – properly used.

Responsibility: Take responsibility for using your medicine(s) appropriately; for asking questions if you need more information; and for keeping your health care professionals informed about all prescription and non-prescription medicines you are taking.

Space Your Medications
It is best to space medications unless directed otherwise by your doctor. For example, medications ordered 2 times a day should be taken 12 hours apart, 3 times a day - 8 hours apart and 4 times a day - 6 hours apart.

Take Your Meds with Water
Medications should always be taken with water. Carbonated beverages, milk and juices can all interfere with the proper absorption of the medication.

Tylenol PM Too Costly
Why spend all that money for Tylenol PM to help you get a good night's rest? Purchase generic Tylenol (acetaminophen) and generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine).
One Tylenol PM is equal to one acetaminophen and one diphenhydramine.

Natural Health Care

All-Natural Mouthwash
Mouthwash Recipe

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 quart water
Optional drops of flavoring (mint, etc.)

Mix together and store in clean glass jar.

All-Natural Toothpaste
Toothpaste Recipe

3 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon popcorn salt (It’s ground finer.)
1 1/2 tablespoons glycerin (from the pharmacy)
10 to 12 drops flavoring (peppermint, cinnamon, vanilla, etc.)
1 to 2 drops water

Mix all together and brush your teeth. You can also add enough fluoride mouthwash to make a paste and store in a small covered jar.

Baking Soda and Contacts
For daily wear contacts that have protein buildup that enzyme cleaners don't take care of, make a wet paste of baking soda and saline solution. Clean lenses in your hand with this paste, then follow your regular lens care routine. The mild abrasive will remove the deposits without harming the lenses, and they will feel like new.

Baking Soda and Health
Baking soda, also known as bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate, is a mild alkali, a mild abrasive, and a deodorizer. It acts as a degreaser, and in some cases, as a stain remover. It is a safe, inexpensive, and effective alternative to many overpriced skin care products. Use baking soda as part of your general skin care regime and for the natural treatment of skin problems via its application.

One of the first things you should know is how to tell if your baking soda is still good. Pour a tiny amount of vinegar or lemon juice into a half teaspoon of baking soda. If it bubbles it is still good. If it doesn't bubble, rinse the baking soda down the drain. (The drain will be fresher and less likely to clog.)

Baking Soda and Urine Odor
Tip from a visitor to NurseTips: My daughter is incontinent. I found that if I mixed half and half baking soda and talcum powder and put it in the special bin in the bathroom we have for her used incontinence pads, it takes all the smell of urine out of my bathroom.

Tooth Care
Add baking soda to your toothpaste so the baking soda won't taste so bad. Put the toothpaste on brush then simply sprinkle on top.

When to Seek a Physician

Chest Pain
If you experience chest pain or tightness with or without arm or back pain, take a 325 mg aspirin and be evaluated by a physician. You could be having a heart attack.

Diabetic Foot Infection
Signs and symptoms of diabetic foot infection:

Inflammation that proves incapacitating
Swelling of the foot
Pus appearing in cracked skin or blisters
Seek medical attention immediately for any of the above symptoms.

Diarrhea and Dehydration
Seek medical attention if you have bloody diarrhea or diarrhea lasting longer than 2 to 3 days. You could be dehydrated and/or have a serious intestinal problem.

Insect Bites and Stings
If you sustain an insect bite or sting and you develop hives or difficulty breathing, take two Benadryl and seek medical attention immediately.

Pneumonia Symptoms

Chest pain that doesn't go away
Quick breathing or trouble breathing
Feeling weak or with no energy
Delirium - restlessness, confusion, hallucinations
Bright red sore throat, or sore throat with white spots
Coughing for 10 or more days
Coughing up something that is thick, yellow-green, gray or rust colored
Fever of 104 F in a child under 12 years old
Fever of over 103 F in an adult, under 50 years old
Fever of 102 F or greater in a person 50-60 years old
Fever of 101 F or greater in a person over 60 years old
A bad smell from the throat, nose or ears
Pain or swelling over your sinuses that gets worse when you bend over or move your head, especially with a fever of 101 F or higher.

Unconsciousness, even if only lasting a few seconds, should be evaluated by a physician immediately.

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DISCLAIMER: NurseTips is designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for personal medical attention, diagnosis or hands-on treatment. If you are concerned about your health or that of a child, please consult your family's health provider immediately and do not wait for a response from our professional. For the full Disclaimer, click here.

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