Health Awareness Observances By Month
November is American Diabetes Month
Did you know that 1 in 11 Americans today has diabetes? Despite its prevalence, diabetes is an invisible disease. It affects men and women, people young and old, and people of all races, shapes and sizes. Often there are no outward signs from the 29 million Americans who fight this chronic illness every day. That’s why there is a critical need to foster awareness and education while breaking down stereotypes, myths and misunderstandings about this growing public health crisis that affects so many of us.
This is exactly why the American Diabetes Association marks each November as American Diabetes Month—to bring extra attention to the disease and the tens of millions of people affected by it.
This November, the organization will showcase real-life stories of friends, families and neighbors managing the day-to-day triumphs and challenges of diabetes. The 2016 campaign, sponsored by Colgate Total® (National Oral Care Strategic Partner) and Medtronic Diabetes®, invites all of us to use #ThisIsDiabetes to share personal stories and to start a dialogue about what it really means to live with diabetes.
You can also update your Facebook profile picture to help raise awareness—and don’t forget that you can always donate or sign up to become an advocate to help the American Diabetes Association continue their critical work.
To learn more and view #ThisIsDiabetes stories from around the country, check out diabetes.org/adm. Be sure to also follow the American Diabetes Association on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
OCTOBER IS FAMILY HEALTH MONTH
Good health begins at home. Here are some FUNdamentals.
That's right FUN:
• Eat Healthy
Choose Your Drinks with Care. Aim for Five a Day- The delicious crunch of fruits and veggies can be part of every meal and snack your family enjoys throughout the day and is important for your whole family's health. Everybody needs the vitamins, fiber and minerals that these colorful foods provide in order to grow and stay strong, energetic and free from illness. Stay healthy by reaching for five servings every day. Small achievements lead to big gains.
1. This week, we will each drink a glass of water with dinner.
2. This week, we will each commit to eating a piece of fruit with our lunch.
3. This (day), we will try two new vegetables with dinner.
4. This week, we will commit to eating dinner together at least times.
5. This week we will switch from using whole to 2%, almond or coconut milk on our cereal.
• Play Every Day
If you put more play into your family's day, you will soon find yourself getting the activity that will have your family feeling energized and strong. Families at Play an Hour a Day - playful movement is one of the keys to a healthy family home. It doesn't matter what you choose to do.
1. This week, we will take a 30-minute family bike ride.
2. This week, we will take a family walk together around the block. Next week walk longer or more often.
3. This week, we will attend family swim at the health club near us.
4. This week, we will walk the dog instead of letting her out into the yard.
5. This week, I will play ball with the kids for 15 minutes when I get home.
• Get Together
Children need adult time and attention like they need healthy food and playful activity. When it is missing, kids will find other ways to ask for adult time and attention often resulting in negative behavior and stress on the relationship. Make family time a priority - one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family is the time that you all spend together.
1. Try family board game night on (day).
2. Invite your child out on a special date night. Try a father/daughter night event or go fishing.
3. Learn three new things about your kids. Ask them to find out three things about you.
4. Commit to eating dinner together at least times.
5. Take a 30-minute family bike ride.
• Go Outside
Just being out in nature does your body, mind and soul some good. It helps restore your focus. It helps you relax. It makes you happy. While there are many theories as to why being in nature makes us healthier, one leading hypothesis is that being outside increases our Vitamin D intake. We just keep learning more and more about how important vitamin D is for health, including preventing cancer, hormonal problems, obesity, and inflammation, and having a strong immune system. Because sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D, it only seems logical that spending more time in outside would increase your vitamin D intake. Being in a natural setting can also help increase your quality of sleep. Natural sunlight helps set the body's internal clock that tells us when to eat and sleep, and normalizes hormonal functions that occur at specific times of the day. Enjoying the outdoors also gives us a break from technology and the on-the-run lifestyle to which we have become so accustomed to. When we're outside, we have a clearer, more focused mindset to be with friends, or spend some quiet time alone or even play with a pet. So how much green time do you need? Not much, recent research says. According to the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, as little as five minutes exercising in a park, working in a backyard garden, hiking on a nature trail, or even sitting in a plant-filled setting will benefit your mental health.
• Sleep Well
One of the best ways to raise healthy kids is to make sure they get enough sleep. A healthy body depends on it. Based on their ages, children need different amounts of sleep. Doctors recommend between 10 and 12 hours per day for kids between the ages of 5 and 12. Doctors recommend 8 to 10 hours per night for teens. When children do not get enough sleep it can cause moodiness and impact their ability to learn in school. Restful sleep also has important short- and long-term health benefits. This includes a role in maintaining a healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning, and other vital functions. Researchers are also beginning to point towards the benefits of sleep for the prevention of heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Every family can be a healthy family. Start a healthy family home and feel stronger, healthier, and more connected.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point. The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early.
· Teach your teenage daughter how to do a self-breast exam and why it is important, especially if your family has a history of breast cancer.
· If you are in your 20s or 30s and you have a family history of breast cancer, don't wait until you are older to discuss screening with your doctor.
· If you are a woman age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often to get them.
· If you are a woman age 50 to 74, be sure to get a mammogram every 2 years. You may also choose to get them more often.
Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if a close family member of yours had breast or ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get mammograms.
August is Eye Health and Safety Month
EYE HEALTH AND SAFETY
Healthy eyes and vision are a critical part of kids' development. Their eyes should be examined regularly, as many vision problems and eye diseases can be detected and treated early.
Be sure to make vision care and eye checks a part of your child's routine medical care.
Different kinds of doctors offer eye care, and the names can be confusing:
- · Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who provide comprehensive eye care with medicine and surgery.
- · Pediatric ophthalmologists are doctors who have additional special training to treat kids' eye problems.
- · Optometrists provide services that may be similar to ophthalmologists, but they don't perform surgery. Some optometrists specialize in kids' eye problems.
- · Opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses.
Routine medical exams for kids' vision include:
- · Newborns should be checked for general eye health by a pediatrician or family physician in the hospital nursery.
- · High-risk newborns (including premature infants), those with a family history of eye problems, and those with obvious eye irregularities should be examined by an eye doctor.
- · In the first year of life, all infants should be routinely screened for eye health during checkups with their pediatrician or family doctor.
- · Around age 3½, children should have eye health screenings and visual acuity tests (tests that measure sharpness of vision) with their pediatrician or family doctor.
- · Around age 5, children should have their vision and eye alignment checked by their pediatrician or family doctor. Those who fail either test should be examined by an eye doctor.
- · After age 5, routine screenings should be done, and if symptoms such as squinting or frequent headaches occur. (Many times, a teacher will notice that a child isn't seeing well in class.)
- · Children who wear prescription glasses or contacts should have annual checkups by an eye doctor to screen for vision changes.
Spotting Eye Problems
Signs that a child may have vision problems include:
- · constant eye rubbing
- · extreme light sensitivity
- · poor focusing
- · poor visual tracking (following an object)
- · abnormal alignment or movement of the eyes (after 6 months of age)
- · chronic redness of the eyes
- · chronic tearing of the eyes
- · a white pupil instead of black
In school-age children, other signs to watch for include:
- · being unable to see objects at a distance
- · having trouble reading the blackboard
- · squinting
- · difficulty reading
- · sitting too close to the TV
Watch your child for signs of poor vision or crossed eyes. If you notice any eye problems, have your child examined right away so that the problem doesn't become permanent. If caught early, eye conditions often can be corrected.
Common Eye Problems
Several eye conditions can affect kids. Most are detected by a vision screening using an acuity chart during the preschool years.
Amblyopia ("lazy eye") is poor vision in an eye that may appear to be normal. Two common causes are crossed eyes and a difference in the refractive error between the two eyes. If untreated, amblyopia can cause irreversible visual loss in the affected eye. (By then, the brain's "programming" will ignore signals from that eye.) Amblyopia is best treated as early as possible, ideally before a child is 8 years old.
Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes; they may turn in, out, up, or down. If the same eye is chronically misaligned, amblyopia may also develop in that eye. With early detection, vision can be restored by patching the properly aligned eye, which forces the misaligned one to work. Surgery or specially designed glasses also may help the eyes to align.
Refractive errors mean that the shape of the eye doesn't refract (bend) light properly, so images appear blurred. Refractive errors also can cause amblyopia. Nearsightedness is the most common refractive error in school-age children; others include farsightedness and astigmatism:
- Nearsightedness is poor distance vision (also called myopia), which is usually treated with glasses or contacts.
- Farsightedness (also called hyperopia), which is usually treated with glasses or contacts.
- Astigmatism is imperfect curvature of the front surface of the eye, which is usually treated with glasses if it causes blurred vision or discomfort.
Other eye conditions need immediate attention, such as retinopathy of prematurity (a disease that affects the eyes of premature babies) and those associated with a family history, including:
- · Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor that usually appears in the first 3 years of life. The affected eye or eyes may have visual loss and whiteness in the pupil.
- · Infantile cataracts can occur in newborns. A cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens.
- · Congenital glaucoma in infants is a rare condition that may be inherited. It is the result of high pressure in the eye from incorrect or incomplete development of the eye drainage canals before birth and can be treated with medication and surgery.
- · Genetic or metabolic diseases of the eye, such as inherited disorders that make a child more likely to develop retinoblastoma or cataracts, may require kids to have eye exams at an early age and regular screenings.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if your child is at risk for any of these conditions.
Old wives' tales abound about the eyes. From watching TV to eating carrots, here's the lowdown on some vision facts and fiction.
Myth: Sitting too close to the TV is bad for the eyes.
Fact: Although parents have been saying this ever since TVs first found their way into our homes, there's no evidence that plunking down right in front of the TV set damages someone's eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says that kids can actually focus up close without eyestrain better than adults, so they often develop the habit of sitting right in front of the television or holding reading material close to their eyes. However, sitting close to a TV may be a sign of nearsightedness.
Myth: If you cross your eyes, they'll stay that way.
Fact: Contrary to the old saying, eyes will not stay that way if you cross them. If your child is crossing one eye constantly, schedule an evaluation by an ophthalmologist.
Myth: If parents have poor eyesight, their kids will inherit that trait.
Fact: Unfortunately, this one is sometimes true. If you need glasses for good vision or have developed an eye condition (such as cataracts), your kids might inherit that same trait. Discuss your family's visual history with your doctor.
Myth: Eating carrots can improve vision.
Fact: Although it's true that carrots are rich in vitamin A, which is essential for sight, so are many other foods (asparagus, apricots, nectarines, and milk, for example). A well-balanced diet can provide the vitamin A needed for good vision, says the AAO.
Myth: Computer use can damage the eyes.
Fact: According to the AAO, computer use won't harm the eyes. However, when using a computer for long periods of time, the eyes blink less than normal (like they do when reading or performing other close work). This makes the eyes dry, which may lead to a feeling of eyestrain or fatigue. So encourage your kids to take frequent breaks from Internet surfing or video games.
Myth: Two blue-eyed parents can't produce a child with brown eyes.
Fact: Two blue-eyed parents can have a child with brown eyes, although it's very rare. Likewise, two brown-eyed parents can have a child with blue eyes, although this is also uncommon.
Myth: Only boys can be color-blind.
Fact: It's estimated that up to 8% of boys have some degree of color blindness, whereas less than 1% of girls do.
Myth: The eye is full size at birth.
Fact: The eye is NOT full size at birth but continues to grow with your child. This growth partially accounts for refractive (glasses) changes that occur during childhood.
Myth: Wearing glasses too much will make the eyes "dependent" on them.
Fact: Refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness, or astigmatism) change as kids get older. Many variables come into play, but most of this change is likely due to genetics and continues despite wearing glasses earlier or later or more or less. Wearing glasses does not make the eyes get worse.
Eye injuries are the most common preventable cause of blindness. While many minor eye irritations can be treated at home by flushing the eye with water, more serious injuries need medical attention. So when in doubt, err on the side of caution and call your doctor for help.
What to Do:
(sand, dirt, and other foreign bodies on the eye surface)
- · Wash your hands thoroughly before touching the eyelids to examine or flush the eye.
- · Do not touch, press, or rub the eye itself, and do whatever you can to keep your child from touching it (a baby can be swaddled to prevent this).
- · Do not try to remove any foreign body except by flushing. Other methods can scratch the surface of the eye, especially the cornea.
- · Tilt your child's head over a basin or sink with the affected eye down and gently pull down the lower lid. Encourage your child to open the eyes as wide as possible. For an infant or small child, it's helpful to have a second person hold the child's eyes open while you flush.
- · Gently pour a steady stream of lukewarm water (do not heat the water) from a pitcher or faucet over the eye.
- · Flush for up to 15 minutes, checking the eye every 5 minutes to see if the foreign body has been flushed out.
- · Because a particle can scratch the cornea and cause an infection, the eye should be examined by a doctor if irritation continues after flushing.
- · A foreign body that remains after flushing probably will require removal by a trained medical professional.
Embedded Foreign Body
(an object penetrates or enters the globe of the eye)
- If an object, such as a piece of glass or metal, is sticking out of the eye, take the following steps:
- · Call for emergency medical help or bring the child to the emergency room.
- · Cover the affected eye with a small cup taped in place. The point is to keep all pressure off the eye.
- · Keep your child (and yourself) as calm and comfortable as possible until help arrives.
- · Many chemicals, even those found around the house, can damage an eye. If your child gets a chemical in the eye and you know what it is, look on the product's container for an emergency number to call for instructions.
- · Flush the eye (see Routine Irritations) immediately with lukewarm water for 15 to 30 minutes. If both eyes are affected, flush them in the shower.
- · Call for emergency medical help.
Call your local poison control center for specific instructions. Be prepared to give the exact name of the chemical, if you have it. However, do not delay flushing the eye first.
Black Eyes and Blunt Injuries
A black eye is often a minor injury. But this bruising also can be the result of a significant eye injury or head trauma. A visit to the doctor or an eye specialist might be needed to rule out serious injury, particularly if you're not sure what caused the black eye.
For a black eye:
- · Apply cold compresses intermittently: 5 to 10 minutes on, 10 to 15 minutes off. If you use ice, make sure it's covered with a towel or sock to protect the delicate skin on the eyelid.
- · Use cold compresses for 24 to 48 hours, then switch to applying warm compresses intermittently. This will help the body reabsorb the leakage of blood and may help reduce discoloration.
- · If the child is in pain, give acetaminophen — not aspirin or ibuprofen, which can increase bleeding.
- · Prop the child's head with an extra pillow at night, and encourage him or her to sleep on the uninjured side of the face (pressure can increase swelling).
- · Call your doctor, who may recommend an in-depth evaluation to rule out damage to the eye.
Call immediately if you see any of these problems:
- · increased redness
- · drainage from the eye
- · lasting eye pain
- · any changes in vision
- · any visible abnormality of the eyeball
- · visible bleeding on the white part (sclera) of the eye, especially near the cornea
If the injury happened during one of your child's routine activities, such as a sport, follow up by investing in an ounce of prevention — protective goggles or unbreakable glasses are vitally important.