Skip all navigation and go to page content
NN/LM Home About SCR | Contact SCR | Feedback | Help | Bookmark and Share

Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Arkansas Sees Flu Cases Rise

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Flu Vaccination Grippe by Daniel Paquet is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

marshall islands

In the midst of flu season, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has announced the flu has become “widespread” in the state, meaning the disease has been reported in all areas of the state. As of Feb. 17, 19 people had died from flu-related illnesses, 11 more than the 2015-2016 flu season.

ADH is urging those who have not already gotten this season’s flu vaccine to get it–it is not too late. The vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older, particularly those with higher risk for complications like young children or adults over the age of 65.

To find out where the closest location to get a flu vaccine is to you, please visit healthy.arkansas.gov.

To learn more about this season’s flu, including what the current vaccine protects against and symptoms of the illness, please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

To learn more about the flu in Arkansas, please visit “Flu Cases on the Rise.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month; New Mexico Proclaims February is Children’s Oral Health Month

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Untitled by PublicDomainPictures is licensed under CC0.

red hands

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, raising awareness for parents and children about how to keep their smiles white and their teeth clean. Recognizing the importance of oral health, especially among children who need to create good habits, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez proclaimed February 2017 as Children’s Oral Health Month for the state.

New Mexico’s Office of Oral Health has been working with dental providers throughout the state to be able to ensure treatment for low-income and/or uninsured individuals.

The New Mexico Department of Health does have several recommendations to help keep your teeth clean:

  • Help kids develop good brushing and flossing habits
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Limit consumption of sugary beverages (the American Dental Association recommends only consuming these beverages with meals)
  • Limit snacks
  • Schedule regular dental visits

To read more about New Mexico’s Children’s Oral Health Month, please visit “The Importance of Good Dental Health.”

To read more about National Children’s Dental Health Month, please visit the American Dental Association’s website.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Drinking and Painkillers Can Be a Dangerous Combo, Especially Among Seniors

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Untitled by nosheep is licensed under CC0.

red hands

You may often see a warning not to drink on a painkiller’s prescription label—but what exactly can happen if you do drink alcohol while taking painkillers? Well when strong opioid painkillers are mixed with alcohol, it can cause a serious, potentially deadly respiratory response.

One common side effect, that can be fatal, of opioids is respiratory depression, which is when a person’s breathing becomes shallow and can even temporarily stop. A new study findsthat alcohol can exacerbate this effect.

The study looked at 24 volunteers, half in their 20s, and half over the age of 65 who had not taken opioids previously. They mixed oxycodone (a common prescription drug used to treat chronic pain) and alcohol, and the results showed that older adults were more likely to have repeated episodes of temporarily stopped breathing than the younger participants.

“We hope to increase awareness regarding the dangers of prescription opioids, the increased danger of the simultaneous use of opioids and alcohol, and that elderly people are at an even greater increased risk of this potentially life-threatening side effect,” said Dr. Albert Dahan, study author, in a journal news release.

For more information, please visit “Opioids and Alcohol a Dangerous Cocktail.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Don’t Fat Shame: You’re Doing More Harm Than Good

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

“Scale” by mojzagrebinfo is licensed under CC0.

measuring tape and a scale

Making fun of a person’s weight, often called “fat shaming,” is probably not going to motivate a person to lose weight. In fact, it will most likely raise their risk of heart disease and other health problems.

Rebecca Pearl, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and study leader, said that the more self-blame and devaluation a person feels when stigmatized, the more likely they are to have health issues.

Previous research has linked weight stigmatization with weight gain and emotional stress but this study found weight stigmatization can go much deeper.

The study looked at 159 obese adults and found out how much they blamed and devalued themselves for their weight. They also looked at how many of them had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that are linked with higher risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more health problems.

The study found that those who felt the most devaluation and self-blame were three times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than the those with the lowest.

Dr. Rebecca Puhl, deputy director at the University of Connecticut Center for Food Policy & Obesity who co-wrote a commentary that accompanied the study, said to try to avoid self-blame as well as try to avoid blaming friends and family for struggling with weight.

To read more about the study, please visit “The Shame of ‘Fat Shaming.’

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

New Research Shows Breast Cancer Precursor Treatment Causes Women to Live Longer

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

“Breast Cancer Awareness” by ~Pawsitive~Candie_N is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

pink ballonsDuctal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common form of non-invasive breast cancer and is non-life-threatening. However, DCIS can actually be a precursor to worse breast cancer later on. It can increase the risk of developing invasive breast cancer; patients are at a higher risk of developing a new breast cancer than a patient who has never had any breast cancer before.

The study, conducted in the Netherland on more than 10,000 women for an average of 10 years, found that those who were treated for DCIS had a 10 percent less chance of dying from any cause than the general population. That may sound confusing—if you were treated for DCIS, you are 10 percent more likely to live a longer life than someone who never had DCIS, and therefore never received treatment for DCIS.

Specifically, researchers found that women who were treated were much less likely to die from digestive, respiratory, and circulatory diseases, and other types of cancer. This study is particularly important because DCIS treatment includes radiotherapy, which can cause damage to nearby organs

More and more people are becoming aware they have DCIS because it is something that shows up in breast cancer screenings—so more women are able to get treated if they have this form of cancer.

For more information on the study, please visit “Women treated for precursor of breast cancer can expect to live as long as other women.”

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

January is Birth Defects Prevention Month

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Untitled by Tim Bish is licensed under CC0.

yawning babyJanuary is Birth Defects Prevention Month and several states in our region want to inform residents about what can be done. In the U.S., birth defects affect 1 in 33 babies and cause 1 in 5 infant deaths every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN).

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), in partnership with NBDPN, hopes to raise awareness for infections like cytomegalovirus (CMV), which can cause birth defects.

CMV is a common infection which affects more than half of U.S. adults by age 40 and which often doesn’t make those who are infected ill. However, if a pregnant women gets the infection, it can spread to the unborn child, called congenital CMV. Only about 1 in 150 babies is born with congenital CMV; however, 1 in 5 of these babies will experience long-term health problems, such as hearing loss, vision loss or cerebral palsy, among others.

Pregnant women will often contract CMV from young children, which is passed through saliva or urine. Regular hand washing, as well as not sharing utensils or cups is a good way to prevent spreading CMV.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (TSDHS) on the other hand promotes a more general approach to Birth Defects Awareness Month, sharing information related to the 2017 theme: “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.” Tips include properly preparing food, seeing a doctor regularly, protecting oneself from Zika-carrying mosquitoes and maintaining good hygiene.

To read more information about National Birth Defects Month, please visit NBDPN’s website.

To read more information from OSDH, please visit “Prevent to Protect: Prevent Infections for Baby’s Protection.”

To read more information from TDSHS, please visit “January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month.”

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

New Mexico Sees Four Cases of Whooping Cough

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Untitled by Mindy Olson P is licensed under CC0.

close up of eye

New Mexico is seeing its largest cluster of whooping cough cases in infants since 2013. So far, four infants from Eddy, Curry, Rio Arriba and San Juan have a confirmed case. The cases have all been reported in infants under six months old.

“Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious cough illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in a New Mexico Department of Health news release. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent your child from getting it.”

Whooping cough, scientifically known as pertussis, is highly contagious. It is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. After a bout of coughing, the person often has to take large, deep breaths, creating the “whooping” sound. Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is extremely dangerous and can be fatal to those less than a year old.

Whooping cough is spread by coughing or sneezing, and those who are infected can be contagious for up to two weeks after the cough starts.

Whooping cough is best prevented by getting the vaccine. Infected persons can be treated through antibiotics—early diagnosis and treatment is very important.

To read more about whooping cough in New Mexico and how to prevent it, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

To read more general information about whooping cough, please visit the CDC’s website.

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

SCR Regional Highlight: Texas Colonias See Increased Health Problems

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Colonias. If you’re from a border state, you may be quite familiar with this word, as it is generally used to describe unsanitary or unsafe housing located along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

In Texas, colonias date back to at least the 1950s; developed as unincorporated subdivisions because the land was agriculturally worthless, they were sold at very low prices to low-income individuals. According to the Texas Secretary of State, colonias are defined as a residential area along the Mexico-Texas border which lacks basic necessities, like potable water, sewer systems, electricity, paved roads and simply safe and sanitary housing.

As one may assume by this definition, the health of many of the nearly 500,000 colonia residents is poor.

According to a New York Times article, in the highest health risk colonias water- and mosquito-borne illnesses are rampant due to no sewer system or wastewater disposal. There are high rates of asthma, rashes and lice infestations because of the burning garbage, mold and large amount of cockroaches and rodents. But still, there are more health ailments.

Because they have poor diets, as many people in poverty do, they have poor dental hygiene, diabetes, and other diseases. But what’s worse is most of these residents have no means to help themselves. There is no easy solution of going to the doctor. With many without health insurance and little access to healthcare clinics, they have no way to receive treatment.

Thankfully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. More rural healthcare clinics are opening to fulfill this need that is so desperately needed for colonias. Like the University of Texas recently opened a new campus—University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, which currently has its inaugural class. This new medical school will not only bring in medical students from around the country but will also allow students to serve the population they grew up in.

To read more about Texas colonias, please visit the following resources:

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Tuberculosis Diagnoses Increase for First Time in 23 Years

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

“Photo” by WikiImages is licensed under CC0.

syringe

While you may not think tuberculosis (TB) is a concern for yourself and your family, many people in the U.S. suffer with it, and for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. saw an increase in diagnosed cases in 2015. There were 9,557 cases total and it affected 27 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

This increase calls for a more comprehensive public health approach to curbing TB, according to the CDC’s report. Suggested strategies according to the report are:

  • “Increased testing and treatment of latent (showing no symptoms) TB,
  • Greater efforts to reach populations most affected by TB, and
  • Reducing TB transmission through effective diagnostic and treatment strategies.”

TB is a bacterium that usually affects the lungs but can affect any part of the body. It is usually spread through the air when a person throat coughs, speaks or sings and another person breaths it in. But not everyone who becomes infected will become sick, which is called latent TB infection. This occurs when your body is able to fight off the bacteria.

Primary TB symptoms include a cough that last as for three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood. Others may also include weight loss, fatigue, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night.

To read more from the recent CDC report, please visit “Burden of TB in the United States.”

To read more general information about TB, please visit the CDC’s website.

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Curbing Overdose Deaths is a Priority for New Mexico

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

“Photo” by JeongGuHyeok is licensed under CC0.

Pills

Last year, the opioid epidemic was brought to the forefront of health issues facing Americans. It was announced that in 2014, more people died of drug overdoses than in any other year on record. In 2016, the Surgeon General also released a landmark report regarding addiction in America—it is the first of its kind.

In 2014, New Mexico was ranked 49th worst in the nation for drug overdose death rates. The New Mexico Department of Health recently announced that based on 2015 data released by the Centers for Disease Control, the state has improved to 42nd worst in the nation. New Mexico saw a 7 percent decrease in drug overdoses, while the country as a whole saw an increase of 11 percent.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has made curbing drug overdoses a major priority for the state. In 2016, she signed two important pieces of legislation to combat drug misuse and abuse. According to the NMDOH’s news release, they were as follows:

  • “SB 263 requires practitioners to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database when prescribing opioids. The database allows prescribers and pharmacists to check the controlled substance prescription history of their patients.
  • The Governor also signed legislation that increases the availability of naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. Medicaid claims for naloxone among outpatient pharmacies in New Mexico increased 83 percent between the first three months (January-March) and the second three months (April-June) of 2016.”

To read more about how New Mexico is combating drug overdoses, please visit “Substantial Improvement in National Ranking for Overdose Deaths.”

For more information regarding the opioid epidemic, please visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.

Follow NN/LM SCR on Twitter and like us on Facebook.