Some e-cigarettes are made to look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble pens, USB sticks, and other everyday items. Image from CDC

We have discussed the health ramifications of smoking tobacco in previous blog posts, but the rising trend in vaping with e-cigarettes leaves some with misconceptions that it is safe or at least less dangerous than smoking conventional cigarettes. Vaporizers and e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco products among youth.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid (or “juice”) which contains nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals. While no flame is used to combust and cause smoke, there is an aerosol vapor expelled when using e-cigarettes. The vapor can contain harmful chemicals, including nicotine; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious disease called “popcorn lung”; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.

While the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found vaping may benefit adult smokers as a complete substitute for traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are

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It is the time of year that children are preparing to return to school where they will be exposed to lots of new experiences and ideas but also higher risk of exposure to viruses and other illnesses. Here are tips to ensure your children have a successful and healthy time in school.

Vaccinations are the best course for preventing illness. In addition to the vaccines recommended by your doctor, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.

Sleep is essential to keep children (and adults) focused throughout the day. Adults need about eight hours of sleep, while young children often need more. It’s important to set a bedtime that ensures they get enough sleep, and to keep a consistent schedule.

It is never too early to teach good hygiene habits. To help children avoid getting sick and prevent them from bringing germs home, it’s important to show them how to wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating.

A healthy diet can help children grow and learn more effectively, as well as keep their immune systems primed to fight off illness. Avoid junk

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Today is the first day of summer in the United States. Over the next few months, it will be important to protect ourselves from the health risks posed by the sun and heat. Regardless of skin color, exposure to the sun carries many dangers to one’s skin—from freckles and wrinkles often associated with aging, to sunburns, benign tumors or cancerous skin lesions. Prolonged heat exposure can also have many negative impacts on one’s health ranging from a rash, exhaustion, fainting, or even death.

Although everyone should take precautions to protect their skin, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages those with pale skin; blond, red, or light brown hair; or who has a personal or family history of skin cancer to be especially careful while in the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage one’s skin in as little as 15 minutes, and the best tool in combating that skin damage is sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying SPF 30 (at least) liberally 15 minutes before going outside, and to reapply at least every two hours to remain protected.

An often overlooked risk to health over

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The last week of March has been LGBT Health Awareness Week since 2003. We have gone over some of the barriers to health care for some of the transgender community in previous blog posts, but it remains important to bring awareness to the unique healthcare needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and the health disparities that continue to beleaguer the lives of so many Americans.

Experts report that LGBT people often avoid seeking out medical care or refrain from “coming out” to their healthcare provider. This compromises an entire community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals who are at increased risk for several health threats when compared to heterosexual or cisgender peer groups: Gay men are at higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; lesbians are less likely to get cancer screenings; transgender individuals are among the least likely to have health insurance along with risks from hormone replacement and atypical cancers. Even as youths, LGBT people are at higher risk of violence, depression, substance abuse, homelessness, and other suicide-related behaviors.

The Affordable

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More and more communities across the country are encountering a commonly overlooked public health and safety issue: improper needle and sharps disposal.

“Sharps” is a medical term for devices with sharps points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. Examples of sharps are needles, syringes, lancets, auto injectors, epinephrine and insulin pens, infusion sets, and connection needles/sets.

The group of people who are put in the most danger by improper sharps disposal are environmental service workers – janitors, housekeepers, waste and recycling workers and sewage treatment workers. When a needle is tossed directly into the trash, it has the potential to stick whoever removes that trash. So the janitor may get stuck, the garbage-man may get stuck, and the waste-worker at the waste facility could get stuck. It is also possible for an animal to get to the needle or for it to tear through a trash bag. Any of these scenarios may ultimately expose the needle to neighbors and children. Such injuries cost thousands of dollars in medical testing and cause great stress on victims.

Sharps that are placed in the recycling can also

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