(BPT) - Despite recent news that Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can carry Zika, chikungunya and other viruses has spread to 30 states, the majority of Americans have yet to embrace basic recommendations to help reduce the mosquito population at their own homes.
That's the result of a new survey fielded by TNS Global detailing homeowners' knowledge of steps to reduce mosquitoes in their yards. According to The Mosquito Squad Fight the Bite Report, nearly three quarters of Americans (74 percent) do not plan to modify their time outside this year, yet less than half (49 percent) follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to use mosquito repellent and just a third (36 percent) remove standing water, a simple task also recommended by the CDC, to reduce mosquito breeding.
"Unlike chikungunya and West Nile virus, Zika has been identified as a world health crisis and we must work together on personal, local and global levels to fight mosquitoes," says Scott Zide, a founder and president of Mosquito Squad, the largest and most experienced home and commercial mosquito control firm in the country. "Removal of standing water is the most essential tactic in mosquito elimination, yet homeowners aren't actively removing it, which is surprising given that mosquito concerns are so high."
According to Zide, just as surprising was the finding that 46 percent of homeowners surveyed said they did not plan to do anything different in their yards, despite recent news of Zika virus. Findings from the survey show:
* Only 36 percent of Americans turn over toys or items in their yards that contain water.
* Less than half (44 percent) throw out lawn debris, under which mosquitoes can breed.
* Just a quarter of Americans (25 percent) shake out tarps, including barbecue and fire pit covers, to remove water that accumulates.
* Less than 27 percent make sure their gutters are clean.
* More than a quarter (27 percent) walk their yard regularly to remove items that can harbor mosquitoes.
To help homeowners take control of their yard, Mosquito Squad experts urge customers to take an active role in mosquito control with the following tips:
Tip over anything that holds or collects water. A bottle cap filled with water holds enough water for mosquitoes to breed. Since mosquitoes breed in standing water, the elimination of standing water decreases a mosquito's breeding ground. Mosquito Squad technicians report that yards with bird baths, play sets with tire swings, tree houses, portable fireplaces and pits and catch basins are the biggest offenders.
Toss any yard trash including clippings, leaves and twigs. Even the smallest items can provide a haven for mosquitoes and increase the population.
Turn over items that could hold water and trash. Look for children's portable sandboxes, slides or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts; in plant saucers, empty pots, light fixtures and dog water bowls. Eliminate these items or keep them turned over until used.
Remove tarps that can catch water. Many homeowners have tarps or covers on items residing in their outdoor spaces. If not stretched taut, they are holding water. Check tarps over firewood piles, portable fire places, recycling cans, boats, sports equipment and grills. Mosquito Squad suggests using bungee cords to secure tarps in the yard.
Take care of your home. Proper maintenance can be a deciding factor in property values and mosquito bites. Regularly clean out gutters and make sure the downspout is attached properly. Mosquito Squad recommends re-grading areas where water stands more than a few hours, and to regularly check irrigation systems to ensure that they aren't leaking and causing a breeding haven. Keep lawn height low and areas weed-free.
Team up with neighbors. Despite taking all precautions in your own home, talking with neighbors is a key component to mosquito control. Townhomes and homes with little space between lots mean that mosquitoes can breed at a neighbor's home, and affect your property.
Treat your yard and yourself. Utilize a professional mosquito elimination barrier treatment around the home and yard. Using a barrier treatment at home reduces the need for using DEET-containing bug spray on the body.
Individuals who want a more comprehensive mosquito control treatment can utilize Mosquito Squad, which uses the latest EPA-registered mosquito control barrier treatments, larvicide and all-natural substances to eliminate mosquitoes from yards and outdoor spaces. For more information, visit www.MosquitoSquad.com.
Enjoying the summer is about balance and planning. These tips will help your family stay happy, healthy and ready to tackle anything the summer months throw your way.
(BPT) - The sunny days of summer are here and school may be out, but your family is still as active and busy as ever. It's easy to get caught up in a hectic schedule of activities, but don't let the summer hustle keep you from a healthy lifestyle. Enjoying the summer is about balance and planning. These tips will help your family stay happy, healthy and ready to tackle anything the summer months throw your way.
1. Fuel up with breakfast
Set the tone for the rest of your day with a good-for-you breakfast. A complete breakfast gives you and your family the energy needed to take on the busy summer schedule. There are plenty of easy breakfast recipes that let you eat while you're running out the door. Try peanut butter or avocado on toast, hard boiled eggs or a fruit smoothie for a quick, satisfying meal.
2. Set a summer schedule
Create a master calendar to hang up in your kitchen. This should include everyone's daily activities for the summer so nothing is forgotten. Take a look at the calendar at the beginning of each week to get a sense of what's to come.
3. Remain active
Encourage your kids to get outside by planning a weekly outdoor activity as a family. From hiking, biking, a game of tag, skating and swimming, find something your family loves doing together. You can also get some extra steps in by taking an after-dinner walk around the block each night.
4. Snack healthy
Kids love to snack, especially when they're home for the summer. Stock up on easy go-to snacks like Snack Factory(R) Pretzel Crisps(R), fresh fruit, and granola bars so you'll be ready when their stomachs start to growl. Pretzel Crisps dipped in peanut butter or hummus create a filling, wholesome snack. They're packed in resealable bags, making Pretzel Crisps the perfect portable snack for the car rides between swim practice, summer camp and everything in between.
5. Stay hydrated
Instead of that third cup of coffee, you might want to be more conscious of your water intake. You and your family will need to stay hydrated in the summer heat, so always be sure everyone has a bottle of water with them. If there's a bottle within arm's reach, you're more likely to sip using little conscious effort.
6. Make a point to unplug
While it's important to let your kids stay connected to friends and peers during the summer, you should also be aware of your family's technology use. For example, you could make a pact to put away devices at dinner time and two hours before bedtime. Find an approach to regulating technology that works for you.
7. Stick with stellar sleeping habits
Your kids will likely want to stay up later in the summer, but make sure they're still getting adequate sleep. Work as a team to make sleep a family priority.
With sales of prescription opioids nearly doubling since 1999, America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Rather than opting for pain medication – which can cause side effects such as depression, overdose and addiction – physical therapists can provide a safer alternative. With physical therapy, patients get to play an active role in their recovery.
Fixing the Pain Problem
Safe, effective options for long-term treatment
(Family Features) America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Sales of prescription opioids have nearly quadrupled since 1999. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012 alone enough opioid prescriptions were written for “every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.”
Prescription opioids – medications that reduce pain by interrupting pain signals to the brain – only mask the sensation of pain, and they come with side effects including depression, overdose and addiction, plus withdrawal symptoms when stopping opioid use. Pain relief doesn’t have to come in a bottle, however. Physical therapists can provide a safe, drug-free alternative for treating pain.
When to Choose Physical Therapy
The American Physical Therapy Association, through its national #ChoosePT campaign, is reminding patients that they have the right to choose their method of pain treatment. Physical therapists treat pain through movement and patients get to play an active role in their recovery.
Based on the CDC guidelines, patients should choose non-opioid alternatives, such as physical therapy, when:
The risks of opioid use outweigh the rewards. “Experts agreed that opioids should not be considered first-line or routine therapy for chronic pain,” according to the CDC. “Given the substantial evidence gaps on opioids, uncertain benefits of long-term use and potential for serious harm, patient education and discussion before starting opioid therapy are critical so that patient preferences and values can be understood and used to inform clinical decisions.”
Physical therapists can play a valuable role in the patient education process, including setting realistic expectations for recovery with or without opioids. As the guidelines note, even in cases when evidence on the long-term benefits of non-opioid therapies is limited, “risks are much lower” with non-opioid treatment plans.
Pain or function problems are related to low-back pain, hip or knee osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia. The CDC cited “high-quality evidence” supporting exercise as part of a physical therapy treatment plan for those familiar conditions.
Opioids are prescribed for pain. Even in situations when opioids are prescribed, the CDC recommends that patients should receive “the lowest effective dosage” and opioids “should be combined” with non-opioid therapies, such as physical therapy. Clinicians should continue opioid therapy only if there is “meaningful improvement in pain and function that outweighs risks to patient safety.”
Pain lasts 90 days. At this point, the pain is considered “chronic” and the risks for continued opioid use increase. An estimated 116 million Americans are living with chronic pain, but the danger of masking pain with prescription opioids is clear. More than 165,000 people in the United States have died from opioid pain medication-related overdoses since 1999, and every day more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
1. Pain is output from the brain. While researchers used to believe that pain originated within the tissues of the body, newer evidence indicates that pain does not exist until the brain determines it does. The brain uses a virtual “road map” to direct an output of pain to tissues that it suspects may be in danger. This process acts as a means of communication between the brain and the tissues of the body to serve as a defense against possible injury or disease.
2. The degree of injury does not always equal the degree of pain. Research has demonstrated that people experience pain in individual ways. While some people experience major injuries with little pain, others experience minor injuries with a lot of pain.
3. Diagnostic imaging (MRIs, X-rays, CT scans) results may not show the cause of pain. A 2015 study in Spine, which analyzed MRI results of more than 1,200 individuals ages 20-70 who had no symptoms of lower-back pain, found that 87.6 percent suffered from bulging discs. Even most subjects in their 20s had bulging discs – 73.3 percent of males and 78 percent of females, respectively.
4. Psychological factors, such as depression and anxiety, can make pain worse. Pain can be influenced by many different factors, such as psychological conditions. A recent study in the Journal of Pain showed that psychological variables that existed prior to a total knee replacement were related to a patient’s experience of long-term pain following the operation.
5. Your social environment may influence your perception of pain. Many patients state their pain increases when they are at work or in a stressful situation. Pain messages can be generated when an individual is in an environment or situation that the brain interprets as unsafe. It is a fundamental form of self-protection.
6. Understanding pain through education may reduce your need for care. A large study conducted on military personnel demonstrated that those who were given a 45-minute educational session about pain sought care for lower-back pain less than their counterparts.
7. The brain can be tricked into developing pain in prosthetic limbs. Studies have shown that the brain can be tricked into developing a “referred” sensation in a limb that has been amputated, causing a feeling of pain that seems to come from the prosthetic limb – or from the “phantom” limb. The sensation is generated by the association of the brain’s perception of what the body is from birth (whole and complete) and what it currently is (post-amputation).
8. The ability to determine left from right may be altered when you experience pain. Networks within the brain that assist you in determining left from right can be affected when you experience severe pain. If you have been experiencing pain and have noticed your sense of direction is a bit off, it may be because the part of the brain that details a path to each part of the body may be impaired.
9. There is no way of knowing whether you have a high pain tolerance or not. While some people claim to have a “high tolerance” for pain, there is no accurate way to measure or compare pain tolerance among individuals. While some tools exist to measure how much force you can resist before experiencing pain, it can’t be determined what your pain “feels like.”
If you or a loved one needs help managing pain, talk with your health care provider about safe alternatives to opioids. Additional information on the #ChoosePT campaign, including a pain self-assessment that patients can use to facilitate conversations about their care, is available at MoveForwardPT.com/ChoosePT.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (female physical therapist with seated male patient)
(BPT) - Growing older means inevitable changes in your body, and you often have a clear vision of how to deal with those changes. You work out to reduce heart disease risks, eat foods that meet your changing nutritional needs, and rely on corrective lenses to help mitigate age-related vision changes
But are you aware of your chances of developing cataracts - a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision - that naturally develop as you age? Or that, once cataracts develop, leaving them untreated could ultimately rob you of your eyesight? If you're not clear on how cataracts could affect your life, or what the treatment options for them are, you're not alone. In a recent survey conducted by Alcon of more than 1,000 adults aged 60 and over who have been diagnosed but not treated for cataracts, only 25 percent of respondents said they have a full understanding of the condition.
"According to Prevent Blindness, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, yet so many people who have been diagnosed do not have an understanding of cataracts and treatment options," says Dr. Edward Holland, director of cornea services at Cincinnati Eye Institute. Dr. Holland has partnered with Alcon, the global leader in eye care and a division of Novartis, as part of the Know Your Cataract EYE-Q awareness campaign, to help educate Americans on this vision impairment.
While you can test your own Cataract EYE-Q by visiting www.CataractEYEQ.com, Dr. Holland offers some information to debunk a few additional myths.
Myth 1: Cataracts are a rare condition.
Truth: Millions of people older than 60 have cataracts. Prevent Blindness also notes that by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have cataracts or have had them removed. Even with the high prevalence of cataracts, the recent Alcon survey showed only 25 percent of respondents say they have a full understanding of the condition.
Myth 2: Cataracts are preventable.
Truth: While nearly half (45 percent) of respondents in the Alcon survey did not know that this is the case, cataracts are not preventable.
Myth 3: Other vision conditions cannot be corrected during cataract surgery.
Truth: Other vision conditions can be corrected during cataract surgery. In fact, in the recent survey, three in four (75 percent) respondents did not realize the surgery can also correct other vision conditions, like astigmatism, a common, treatable imperfection in the curvature of the eye causing blurred vision. During cataract surgery, the natural lens in your eye is replaced with an artificial lens or intraocular lens (IOL). Some patients may benefit from advanced IOLs that can address other vision conditions, like astigmatism, and potentially reduced dependency on glasses.
Myth 4: If you can see just fine, you're not going to get cataracts.
Truth: Because cataracts develop slowly over time, it's possible to not realize you have them until they really begin to impair your vision. Watch for symptoms such as difficulty seeing well at night and especially when trying to drive at night, cloudy vision, halos around lights, double vision in one eye, light sensitivity and colors appearing faded.
Myth 5: Cataract surgery is dangerous and painful.
Truth: Even though 38 percent of the people surveyed by Alcon said they were more afraid of undergoing eye surgery than any other kind of surgical procedure, cataract surgery is one of the most frequently performed and safest procedures performed each year, with little recovery time or inconvenience to patients' daily activities.
"Of all the surgeries available to us as we age, cataract surgery is one of the few that truly allows patients to turn back time and reclaim their vision in ways they never thought possible," says Dr. Holland.
5 steps for senior safety and emergency-preparedness
(BPT) - June is National Safety Month - an appropriate time to assess your personal safety and plan ahead for emergencies. This is especially important for those living on their own and looking for ways to maintain their independence. A few simple tips and safety measures will help give peace of mind that you've taken necessary precautions to prepare for unexpected incidents.
Safe-proof your home
Heightening your safety starts with making sure living spaces are secure. Proper lighting in all rooms and walkways is essential. Remove any tripping hazards such as rugs, clutter and cords. Staircases, steps and bathtubs should have non-slip surfaces, and every floor needs functioning smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
For many, friends and family don't live close by, so it's a good idea to form a relationship with your neighbors so you can rely on them for quick help in times of need. Be sure to exchange phone numbers, and if you're comfortable, spare keys.
Live with a lifeline
Having a cell phone as your lifeline in case of an emergency is a good idea. Consider TracFone, which has a variety of phones and airtime service plan options that can fit your lifestyle and help you save.
Check out new devices like the TracFone LG Rebel LTE and ZTE Citrine that offer easy-to-navigate screen displays so you can easily reach loved ones and emergency services at the tap of a finger.
TracFone now offers a new 30-day smartphone-only plan with talk, text and data for just $15 a month on the largest 4G LTE networks. And, with reliable nationwide coverage, you can be assured calls won't drop in an emergency situation. Visit www.TracFoneSwitch.com to learn more about affordable, no-contract plans.
Feel good about first aid
Even a basic understanding of first aid can go a long way. Seniors living alone should consider taking a course to familiarize themselves with the essential know-hows in the event they get injured or hurt.
In addition, label and keep all prescription bottles in one location. Using color-coded rings and weekly pill organizers reduces confusion about appropriate dosages for various medications. In the case of any emergency, have the poison control number posted and saved on your speed dial.
It's a simple tip, but an important one: always wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers do, too. Pack an emergency roadside kit with a cell phone and car charger, first aid, flares, jumper cables, basic repair tools and a blanket. Stay alert while driving and avoid risky behaviors like distracted driving or speeding.
These simple safety tips will help you prepare for unanticipated emergency situations, not only during National Safety Month but all year long. Taking control of your safety and security will give you and your family peace of mind to enjoy all the fun life has to offer with less stress and worry.
(BPT) - It's the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, affects more than 5 million Americans and one out of every three seniors will die from it. Yet misconceptions surround Alzheimer's disease.
Contrary to what many people think about Alzheimer's, it's not a normal part of growing older. And while there's not yet a way to prevent, cure or even slow the progression of the disease, people with Alzheimer's can benefit from detecting it early. During June - Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month - the Alzheimer's Association is encouraging everyone to learn the truth about Alzheimer's disease.
"Misunderstanding crucial facts about the disease can have consequences that can lead to stigma, delayed medical attention and inadequate support for caregivers," says Ruth Drew, director of family and information services, Alzheimer's Association. "Greater understanding of Alzheimer's is urgently needed given the dramatic impact of the disease. It devastates too many families for it to remain a mystery. We need everyone to know the truth about Alzheimer's so we can bridge current gaps and build greater support toward advancing treatments and finding a cure."
Debunking common myths
Alzheimer's is most often associated with memory loss, but the truth is the disease can appear through a variety of signs and symptoms. A progressive and fatal disease, Alzheimer's attacks the brain, killing nerve cells and brain tissue, which affects a person's ability to remember, think and plan.
While the majority of people who have Alzheimer's are seniors, it can also affect people in their 30s, 40s and 50s - a form of the disease known as younger-onset Alzheimer's. About 5 percent of people with the disease have younger-onset Alzheimer's. Everyone is, technically, at risk of developing Alzheimer's, but certain groups have elevated risks; African-Americans are twice as likely as whites and Hispanics one and a half times as likely to develop Alzheimer's. Nearly two-thirds of all people who have Alzheimer's are women.
Every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Detecting the disease early may help the person with Alzheimer's, caregivers and loved ones in multiple ways.
People who receive an early diagnosis may have more time to explore treatments that could help relieve some symptoms, and help them stay independent longer. They may be able to participate in a clinical drug trial to help advance Alzheimer's research. Resources such as Alzheimer's Association TrialMatch can help you find current studies.
Detecting Alzheimer's early can also give people with the disease, their caregivers and loved ones more time to plan for the future. If you are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, you may be able to participate in decisions about your care, living arrangements, and financial and legal matters.
Only a doctor can accurately diagnose Alzheimer's disease, but the Alzheimer's Association has developed 10 warning signs and symptoms that may help you decide it's time to consult a physician, including:
* Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
* Challenges in planning and solving problems.
* Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
* Confusion over time or place.
* Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relationships.
* New problems with spoken or written words.
* Misplacing things and not being able to find them by retracing your movements.
* Decreased or poor judgment.
* Withdrawal from others at work or in social situations.
* Changes in mood or personality.
"If a person is having trouble doing something that they routinely did for years or they demonstrate a significant shift in personality that lasts over time - those are warning signs that need to be explored," Drew says. "Too often people dismiss these changes as stress or having too much to do, but when they persist over time, it's best to get it checked out. Ignoring the situation is the worst way of handling it."
To learn more about Alzheimer's disease and to find resources for caregivers, families and people living with the disease, visit www.alz.org, the website of the Alzheimer's Association.
The idea behind immunotherapy is relatively simple - get your body to fight cancer the way it was meant to by empowering and enhancing your immune system. Although immunotherapy has been in the making for more than a century, today's major advances are leading to miraculous stories like former President Jimmy Carter's.
(BPT) - In August 2015, former President Jimmy Carter shared some very sad news with the world when he revealed he had been diagnosed with melanoma, and that the disease had already spread to other parts of his body.
But then, something incredible happened. Just months after his announcement, Carter declared himself "cancer free." A few months later, the former president indicated he no longer needed treatment for his disease. How could this happen? One scientific explanation is that he received immunotherapy - a new type of treatment that is changing the lives of many people diagnosed with cancer.
The idea behind immunotherapy is relatively simple - get your body to fight cancer the way it was meant to by empowering and enhancing your immune system. Although immunotherapy has been in the making for more than a century, today's major advances are leading to miraculous stories like Carter's.
Immunotherapy: A family's quest to advance cancer care
In the early 1890s, Dr. William Coley, a prominent surgeon who specialized in cancer and practiced medicine in New York between 1890 and 1936, started noticing seemingly spontaneous remission in patients with cancer who contracted certain bacterial infections. Inspired by his observations, Coley began to explore a daring new idea by injecting live bacteria into a patient with an inoperable malignant tumor. The patient made a complete recovery and lived another 26 years before ultimately passing away from a heart attack. Reassured by this case, Dr. Coley then developed a safe and effective mixture of bacteria to treat patients with cancer - known as Coley's mixed bacterial toxins (or Coley's toxins). Little was known of immunology in Coley's day, but today it is understood that the immune system's response to the bacteria is likely to have been what triggered his patients' responses against cancer.
Unfortunately, Coley's findings were overshadowed by the advent of X-ray, radium treatment and chemotherapy. After his death, Coley's daughter, Helen Coley Nauts, became inspired by her father's work and was able to track down hundreds of cases of microscopically confirmed cancers that had been treated with Coley's toxins. After more than three years of research, Nauts published her findings and demonstrated the truly beneficial effects of her father's treatment, rekindling the medical community's interest in immunotherapy.
With a grant of $2,000 from Nelson Rockefeller, Nauts and her long-time friend, Oliver R. Grace, founded the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) in 1953. Today, nearly every major research institution in the world working in immunology and immunotherapy has scientists on staff who have been, or are currently being funded by CRI.
The road ahead: A cancer "moonshot"
It is easy to call immunotherapy a miracle - and it may be in some regards - but it is also important to realize that this revolutionary new way of treating cancer is actually the result of years of research and dedication. Recognizing a need for continued funding and research to advance cancer care, Vice President Joe Biden launched the National Cancer Moonshot - an initiative dedicated to accelerating research through increased collaboration between patient advocacy groups, health care providers, and many other stakeholders in the field, like CRI.
"Vice President Biden's Moonshot initiative is an exciting proposal for patients living with cancer and the immunotherapy researchers all over the world who are working day and night to discover and develop newer, safer ways to treat this disease," says Dr. Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute. "We at CRI were thrilled to be invited by the Vice President's team to participate in early discussions regarding the initiative and look forward to continuing our role as an expert resource in the field of cancer immunotherapy."
To learn more about cancer immunotherapy, visit the Cancer Research Institute website at http://www.cancerresearch.org/.
Interested in Publishing on The Health IDEA?
Send your query to the Publisher today!