9 Winter Safety Tips From the Red Cross

This winter is set to be one of the coldest on record, with massive cold air fronts predicted for most of the United States. Fortunately, the American Red Cross offers steps anyone can take to ensure their safety during this inclement season.

While we settle into the winter season, get acquainted with appropriate seasonal safety habits. A little bit of preparation can go a long way toward ensuring everyone has a great time in the snow. Follow these 9 safety tips from the Red Cross to avoid possible dangerous situations this winter:

  • Know the symptoms of frostbite, which can include: numbness, flushed gray, white, or blue skin, or numb or waxy skin.
  • Always shut down space heaters and ensure fireplace embers are fully extinguished prior to leaving a room or going to bed.
  • The signs of hypothermia include shivering, dizziness, confusion, and exhaustion. If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Layers of lightweight clothing trap heat and regulate body temperature. Also, don’t overlook necessities like gloves and a hat.
  • Continuously run water, even at a trickle, to prevent frozen pipes. Maintain a consistent thermostat night and day.
  • Set space heaters on a firm, level surface, and keep flammable objects a minimum of three feet away.
  • Stoves and ovens are not designed to heat homes; they are a fire hazard if left on.
  • When using a fireplace, make sure you have a metal or glass fire screen large enough to prevent rolling logs or sparks from escaping.
  • Protect your pets. If they must reside outdoors, ensure they have adequate shelter for warmth and a secure source of drinkable water.

The coldest, darkest poses quite a few safety challenges. Adhere to the tips above and stay safe, no matter what Old Man Winter throws your way.

6 Dangers of Pharmacy Compounding: What Patients Need to Know

For millions of Americans, prescription drugs provide the help they need to live healthy, independent, pain-free lives. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully examines each new drug before allowing pharmaceutical companies to release them onto the market.

However, patients sometimes have special needs that standard prescription medications cannot meet. Compounding pharmacies present solutions to these anomalies, creating customized formulations or delivery methods for patients with allergies or other special considerations. Since a licensed pharmacist must change the ingredients of a medication to meet individual needs, the practice comes with heavy inspections and heightened accountability. Unfortunately, many compounding pharmacies fail to protect public health adequately.

Compound drugs can and do save lives. However, when pharmaceutical companies engage in unapproved compounding practices, the ramifications for patients can include:

  • Contamination. Individual or small batches of medication are more vulnerable to harmful fungi or other particles.
  • Incorrect potency. While FDA-approved formulations have been shown to produce consistent results, custom mixtures may be too weak or strong for patients.
  • Diminished quality. Drugs mixed at independent compounding facilities often lack the quality control of major pharmaceutical manufacturers.
  • Impurities. Outside agents in compound drugs often reduce their efficacy.
  • Exacerbated illness. Patients with serious health issues often receive compound formulations. These can fail to adequately treat conditions, and their side effects can in turn severely impact an individual’s wellbeing.
  • Higher costs. An unfortunate number of compounding pharmacies take advantage of insurance billing policies by loading compound drugs with expensive ingredients. Prescription plans often pass these costs to customers or refuse to cover medications.

Can Reducing Sugar and Starch Improve Health Outcomes for Diabetics?

Diabetes is a growing problem in America; a well-documented type 2 diabetes epidemic has stressed our health care system’s infrastructure and sparked existential debates over the quality of our food supply and nutrition advice. Type 2 diabetes has been linked to high consumption of sugar and starches and has been associated with a variety of serious metabolic diseases, including heart disease, insulin resistance and cancer.

Many respected scientists and doctors have been arguing that the health outcomes for diabetics might improve through the careful monitoring of insulin levels and blood glucose as well as through dietary changes. New science suggests that eating foods high in sucrose can be dangerous to diabetics, but are the implications of this science even broader? For instance, do foods that generally have high levels of carbohydrates pose a threat to diabetics? If so, how might the dietary advice currently given to diabetics be changed to improve their quality of life?

One problem that many diabetics are faced with is obesity – diabetes and obesity are so closely linked that many medical professionals now call them “diabesity.” In an effort to control obesity, food makers now create and sell low-fat or non-fat varieties of various foods. This low fat paradigm, enshrined in the USDA Food Guide Pyramid, has not appeared to have slowed the growth of obesity. Similarly, in clinical trials, somewhat surprisingly, low fat diets have not shown a substantial ability to protect against cardiovascular problems or general metabolic health issues. Thanks in part to these lackluster clinical results, scientists have been looking at other nutritional approaches.

A recent study in Nutrition Journal reveals that lower-carbohydrate diets may be more likely to treat the symptoms of diabetes and other metabolic conditions, according to many biomarker results. In 24 trials comparing lower carb diets to lower fat diets, lower carb diets have come out ahead significantly in terms of being able to lower blood glucose and insulin levels, raise levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and lower triglycerides. Much research needs to be done to determine what diets should be used with which patients under different conditions. But the “everyone should be on a low fat diet” paradigm is beginning to lose popularity among the leaders in the field of nutrition.

Many Victims of Domestic Violence Have Undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury

The New Yorker reports that medical professionals often fail to diagnose traumatic brain injury (TBI) in victims of domestic abuse. Per this news analysis, when emergency room personnel examine women following an attack, they usually don’t order CT scans or MRIs. A diagnosis of TBI frequently indicates that the victims of abuse are likely to become victims of homicide later. Without the TBI diagnosis, in other words, abuse victims go home from the hospital unprotected, unaware, and perhaps in imminent danger.

Strangulation Attempts Cause TBI

Approximately half of women victims of domestic abuse have suffered strangulation attempts. Such incidents can cause mild to moderate brain injuries from the cutting off of the oxygen supply. The lack of diagnoses revolves around the fact that most injuries from strangulation are internal rather than external. Only a small percentage show wounds visible enough to photograph, and law enforcement often characterizes the injuries in reports as minor abrasions to the neck. In addition, since victims tend to have poor recall of strangulation, authorities often downplay the harm, which results in prosecution of the abusers on less serious charges.

People Who Work With Abuse Victims Need Training Regarding Strangulation Signs

Since strangulations dramatically increase the risk of homicide, anyone working with domestic abuse victims, including police officers, attorneys and shelter workers, should receive training in how to recognize it and the TBI it causes. In addition to acquiring evidence from brain scans, personnel should watch for symptoms such as memory problems, hearing loss, dizziness, headaches and anxiety. The training should also involve how to conduct an investigation and how to keep a victim safe. Increased prosecution of perpetrators of strangulation will lead to a decreased number of homicides among domestic abuse victims. The National Center for Violence Against Women provides information in how to deal with strangulation cases.

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