Teen Drug and Alcohol Use on the Rise Again

Decades of “just say no” and other campaigns have had teen drug and alcohol use on the decline… until now. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the MetLife Foundation sponsored a survey of teens in grades nine (high school freshman) through twelve (high school senior). More than 3,200 teens returned anonymous questionnaires about drug use, alcohol use, and other risky behaviors. Both alcohol and marijuana use are up from 2008. Thirty-nine percent of teens reported drinking alcohol in 2009 — up from thirty-five percent in 2008. That works out to nearly six million teens across America. A quarter of … Continue reading

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Just about every box of tampons comes with a warning about toxic shock syndrome. Toxic shock syndrome is a complication from a bacterial infection most often seen in women who use tampons. Staph bacteria and strep bacteria have both been associated with toxic shock syndrome, but staph is more often the bacteria to blame. But toxic shock syndrome isn’t just a problem for women who are menstruating — and using tampons or contraceptive sponges. Men, children, and postmenopausal women can also develop toxic shock syndrome after a skin wound or surgery. Common symptoms include: high fever (102 degrees Fahrenheit or … Continue reading

Stocks, Weather, and Heart Attacks

Is there a link between the stock market and heart health? Researchers from Duke University think there might be. Researchers studied heart attack treatment data from Duke University’s hospital. They started with December 2007 — the beginning of the current recession — and stopped with the signs of economic recovery in July 2009. As Nasdaq stock market numbers sank, the number of heart attacks treated tended to rise. During the period studied, close to one thousand people suffered heart attacks and were treated at Duke University. Researchers found that when the stock market recovered, the number of heart attacks went … Continue reading

Should Foods Come with Choking Warnings?

Warning labels for choking hazards are required on certain toys — especially those with small parts and balls. Here in the United States, it’s a federal law! But there isn’t a similar law on the books for foods that may be choking hazards. The American Academy of Pediatrics — the largest group of pediatricians in the United States — would like to see a similar federal law for foods that may be choking hazards… or see more foodmakers willingly add choking hazard warnings to their labels. Another alternative would be redesigning foods to make them less of a choking hazard … Continue reading

Tips for Puppy-Proofing Your Home

There’s something irresistible about baby animals, isn’t there? Puppies, kittens, chicks, and more… so innocent, sweet, and cuddly! But for baby animals, some things around your house may be irresistable… and dangerous. It’s best to puppy-proof (or kitten-proof, or whatever animal you have-proof) your home BEFORE the new family member comes home. Even if you don’t get every potential hazard out of the way, you’ll still be ahead of the game! First things first: get a pet’s eye view on the world. That means crouching down — or crawling on your hands and knees — to see what the room … Continue reading

Inversion Is Not for Everyone

Inversion — hanging or otherwise positioning yourself upside down — can be beneficial for your health. Sometimes called the “perfect stretch”, inversion can reverse pressure on muscles, joints, and organs. However, inversion may not be right for everyone. Certain health conditions may make inversion a dangerous practice. If you are concerned that inversion may not be good for you, talk to your healthcare provider before attempting any kind of inversion. Bone problems — like osteoporosis, spine injury or trauma, or fractures. Inversion may worsen bone problems. Circulatory problems — like high blood pressure, heart disease, and clotting problems. While some … Continue reading

What is Inversion?

I caught a commercial the other day for one of those pieces of equipment that let you hang upside down. Thanks to the commercial, I now know that hanging upside down is known as inversion therapy! But is it really beneficial for your health? Before doing any research, I had two theories: hanging upside down could possibly be beneficial for joints and circulation. Hanging upside down could relieve pressure on particular joints, like your knees and spine — or at least, reverse the pressure! And hanging upside down does make the blood rush to your head, so maybe that’s a … Continue reading

Pet Parenting Means Constant Vigilance!

Owning a pet is — in some ways — like having a child. I don’t intend any insult to parents here; I know parenting is incredibly hard work. But there are times when living with a pet is like living with a toddler. You know how parents go through and baby-proof the house when the baby is ready to start crawling? Pet parenting is like that sometimes. You have to constantly keep an eye out for potential hazards — from a cup or plate left on a low table (easy access for scavenging pets) to a lamp in danger of … Continue reading

Surgical Countdown: One Month!

My hysterectomy is scheduled for one month from today: April 7th. I’m still feeling generally positive about the whole thing. One of my coworkers said I seemed “sparkly” about the thought. And in my mind, there are a lot of good things about the upcoming surgery. Good thing number one: there’s an end in sight to the pain, the abnormal flow and irregular periods, the feeling that I have to piddle all the time… all the problems caused by my football-sized fibroid are going to go away once the football leaves town. And I think that’s awesome news. It’s like … Continue reading

Tin Foil is Not a Food Group!

Okay, I call it “tin foil” even though it’s actually aluminum foil. And for pets, that crinkly, shiny stuff can be scary… or very attractive. Roll it into a ball, you’ve got a fun toy to bat around. Shake the sheet and it makes a noise! But leave used aluminum foil in a place where your pets can reach it and you might have a health emergency on your hands. Case in point: my dog Moose (who has no sense of self-preservation!) recently ate the better part of a sheet of aluminum foil that had been used for roasting asparagus. … Continue reading