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Archive for the ‘Plain City Health’ Category

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). By Our September Student Pharmacist, Rebecca Miller.

Autism written on the wipe board

Most people have heard the term autism before, but few have a good understanding of what it actually is. Autism is a diagnosis used to identify a group of neurodevelopmental disorders which range widely in symptoms and levels of disability. Nearly 1.7% of children in the US suffer from an autism spectrum disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – that’s one kid out of every 59. Autism is not an intellectual disability; while some individuals on the spectrum may also suffer from intellectual disability, the majority do not.

The saying goes that ‘if you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum, then you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum’; that is to say that the characteristics of autism are so diverse that any two people on the spectrum are more likely to have nothing in common than to be similar. The severity of the disorder is, likewise, very individual. This is because severity is based on the resulting level of impairment in intellectual, social, educational, and occupational function. Even if two people have the same symptom, difficulty driving, for instance, if one of them lives in a city with public transportation while the other lives in a rural area, it would be much more difficult for the second person to find a job or attain a desired college degree than the first.

Generally, there are two core characteristic types which are shared by all autism-spectrum disorders: difficulty with social interaction and restrictive or repetitive behaviors. How these characteristics manifest, however, can take a multitude of forms, such as:

  • Difficulty understanding when it is their turn to speak in conversation
  • Poor eye contact or lack of friendly smile
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Snapping fingers, lining up objects, repeating a phrase or sound
  • Distress in response to small changes in routine
  • ‘Special interests’ or topics about which the person is especially knowledgeable or passionate
  • Indifference to pain or temperature
  • Inability to wear clothing with tags
  • Visual fascination with lights or motions

Examples are varying and exhaustive, can change as a person grows, and there is no set list.

autism genetics

The exact causes of autism are unknown. There are many theories and it is likely that there are multiple possible causes. Because a first degree relative with an ASD diagnosis is a risk factor for developing the disorder, there has long been the theory that autism is a genetic condition. While there is no single gene which causes autism (as is the case for sickle cell disease, hemophilia, and cystic fibrosis), researchers have recently identified 18 different genes which contribute to the development of ASDs.

Treating autism is a difficult proposition. There is no actual treatment for autism, only treatments for some of the symptoms, such as speech therapy to improve verbal communication, medication for anxiety, and counseling/coaching on appropriate skills. There has been a large push in recent years to diagnose children with ASD as early as possible because the earlier these treatments begin, the better their quality of life and the more independent and productive they will be.

Autism and Vaccines

Although there has been a large movement against vaccination of children based on the argument that children who are vaccinated are more likely to develop autism, there have been no reputable studies that back this up. There have, in fact, been numerous studies to the contrary. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins before birth and, therefore, before a child is vaccinated.

A note from the author…

I was not diagnosed with ASD until I was 27. I cannot tell you how many difficulties that I encountered in my life because I did not know about my condition and the difference that it would have made if I had received treatment as a child, teen, or even young adult. Luckily, I eventually learned the skills that I needed to succeed and am living happily with a husband and daughter, about to graduate with a doctoral degree. My story turned out well, but not all of them do. If you see signs of autism in your child, please, please, please talk to your child’s pediatrician. It cannot hurt to talk to them and it could make all the difference.

iaa poster

Concussions are Serious. By Our September Student Pharmacist, MiKayla Matheny.

Concussion

Concussion in Introduction to Sports Medicine, wikidot.com

About one million children go to the emergency room or are seen by a doctor for a concussion in the United States each year.

A concussion, which doctors consider a mild form of traumatic brain injury, usually results from a bump or jolt to the head. When an impact causes the brain to bounce or twist inside the skull, it can potentially cause damage to brain cells. This type of injury is common with falls and car accidents, but is also increasingly a concern with sports injuries. Children and teens are at higher risk of concussions and, while concussions are dangerous at any age, they can have more serious effects on young, developing brains. It is important that anyone with signs or symptoms of a concussion gets medical help as soon as possible.

Symptoms of a concussion can begin right after the injury, but sometimes may not appear or be noticed until several hours to days later. The majority of concussions do not involve being ‘knocked out’ or losing consciousness. Even a seemingly mild or harmless bump to the head can result in a concussion. In fact, many concussions occur without immediately noticeable signs or symptoms and therefore go undiagnosed. An undiagnosed concussion is particularly dangerous in young athletes because it increases the risk of a subsequent concussion occurring on the field, extends the time required for recovery, and increases the risk of lasting brain damage. Parents, teachers, and coaches should always know to watch for the visible signs of a concussion and should encourage their kids to speak up about any symptoms. Young athletes should never return to play on the same day an injury occurs, even if they initially feel able.

After an injury, medical attention is necessary if the person experiences any of the following symptoms of a concussion:

  • Headache or ‘pressure’ in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Numbness or tingling

Sometimes children cannot easily describe these symptoms or may simply say they do not feel ‘right’. This should be taken seriously even if complaints are not specific. Someone with a concussion may have difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating on or remembering things, or feel sluggish, hazy or foggy.

Parents, teachers, and coaches should seek medical help for their kids if they notice any of the following:

  • Dazed or stunned appearance
  • Confusion about events
  • Answering questions slowly
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Loss of consciousness (even briefly)
  • Inability to recall events before or after the hit, bump, or fall
Signs and symptoms of a concussion. Ivan Chow for Queensland Brain Institute.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion. Ivan Chow for Queensland Brain Institute.

Even with proper medical attention, it can be difficult to recover from a concussion. For the first several days after a concussion, rest is the best course of action. Physical and mental activity should be restricted in order to give the brain time to heal. Parents, teachers, and coaches may need to help make sure their kids are excused from school and/or practice initially. Concussion symptoms usually resolve within a month or two, but may persist longer in some cases. Kids should resume normal activities gradually to avoid aggravating concussion symptoms and their activity level should increase only if no symptoms occur.

Concussions are quite common and can be easily overlooked. Concussions can be serious and have long-term consequences. It is important that parents, teachers, coaches and their children, students, and players all be aware of what to watch for and how to react if a head injury occurs.

For more information check out the CDC “Heads Up on Concussion” Campaign: https://www.cdc.gov/HEADSUP/

Quit Smoking. By Our August Student Pharmacist, Moe Hamad.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans spend roughly 80 billion dollars a year on cigarettes. Along with the high financial cost of tobacco, prolonged exposure can lead to many deadly complications including cancer. Your health is a precious thing and every cigarette you smoke affects every organ in your body.

Many people don’t even remember the reason they began smoking. But now that they have picked up the habit, it is difficult for them to stop. It has become entrenched in their daily routine. It is difficult to get someone to break a habit. It takes several attempts for a person to stop smoking. That might sound difficult, but the payoff is worth the effort. Quitting helps your body heal from the damages caused by tobacco.

Listed below are just some of the many ways smoking can affect your body, according to Healthline newsletter:

  1. Lungs: When you smoke, every cigarette you take in contains chemicals that directly damage the lungs. Over a prolonged period of time, the lung damage can lead to long term consequences such as emphysema, COPD, chronic bronchitis, and even cancer.
  2. Cardiovascular system: Smoking also affects your cardiovascular system causing your blood vessels to constrict and  tightening and allowing less blood to flow to your body. This condition is known as peripheral vascular disease. Smoking can also raise your blood pressure and cause blood clots. Other deadly ways smoking can affect your cardiovascular health is by increasing your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
  3. Tobacco affects nearly every organ in the body: Other complications of tobacco include skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, mouth cancer, increased insulin resistance, and decreased libido.

The CDC reports that cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals and about 70 of those chemicals cause cancer. Breaking the habit of smoking is difficult, but engaging in an active discussion with your doctor is an important first step to quitting. A crucial step to quitting is admitting it needs to be done. There are a lot of options that you and your doctor can discuss that can help you stop. All you need to do is ask. You’re never too old to quit.

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Poison Ivy Dos and Don’ts. By Our August Student Pharmacist, Mackenzie Gill.

Poison Ivy Pic 1

Summer may be winding down but that doesn’t mean poison ivy has!

The rash commonly associated with poison ivy is caused by an allergic reaction to an oily resin called urushiol. This oil is in the leaves, stems, and roots of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac and is VERY easily spread. The oil causes redness and swelling followed by blisters and severe itching. This reaction typically develops 12 to 48 hours after exposure and lasts two to three weeks.

Prevention is key, and can eliminate weeks of scratching and irritation. It is recommended to wear protective clothing and apply a barrier cream when going outside into weedy areas.

Prevention may be preferred, but it is not always possible. So if the damage has been done, and now you or your children have the itchy rash, what can you do?

DOs:

  • Do wash your skin within 30 minutes of exposure. This can eliminate or reduce the size of the rash.
  • Do use over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. This will help alleviate the itchiness and redness. One important note is that hydrocortisone should not be used for more than 7 days without speaking to your doctor.
  • Do use calamine lotion. This will also help with itchiness and can dry out the blisters formed.
  • Do wash your clothes to remove any resin that may be on them.
  • Do consider taking the ORAL antihistamine Benadryl at bedtime. This is strictly to help you sleep at night, as Benadryl makes you drowsy. Antihistamines do not help the itchiness caused by poison ivy.
  • Do apply a cool compress.

DON’Ts:

  • Don’t scratch! I know this is hard, but scratching can cause infection and make things much worse.
  • Don’t pick at blisters. Again, this can cause infection.
  • Don’t apply TOPICAL antihistamines as these can worsen the rash and itch.

Poison Ivy Pic 3

One common myth about poison ivy is that the blister fluid can spread the rash. This is not true! Your skin must come in direct contact with the plant’s oil to be affected. But as stated earlier, the oil can be spread VERY easily, so even if you do not touch the plant directly, the oil from the plant can contaminate shoes, tools, clothes, and even pet fur! If these objects aren’t cleaned, the oil on them can still cause a skin reaction years later.

If your rash is severe or widespread, you develop a fever, or the blisters are oozing pus, you should see your doctor for further treatment. As always, if you have any further questions, Plain City Druggist is more than happy to help!

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Flu Shot Season. By Our August Student Pharmacist, Moe Hamad.

Flu-Season-Ahead-sign 2

Summer is almost over and fall is just around the corner. With fall well on its way so is flu season.

The flu virus is highly contagious so it is very important to protect yourself. Once someone has the flu it is easy to spread around. Sneezing or coughing without covering your mouth and not washing your hands can cause the flu to spread. Getting the flu shot every year is important to ensure adequate protection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends anyone six months and older get the flu shot as soon as possible to promote “herd immunity”. Herd immunity is just a fancy way of saying we can stop the spread of a particular disease if enough people get vaccinated.

Why get vaccinated every year?

Yearly vaccines are needed because the flu virus changes; therefore, one year the flu might be just one strain of virus and some years it might be more (this year the CDC has decided to provide a vaccine to combat four strains of the virus). Every year the CDC does studies to predict the most likely strains of the flu and design a vaccine against the top strains.

How long does it take for the flu shot to work?

After getting the flu shot, it can take up to two weeks for the body to generate antibodies that are strong enough to fight any potential infection. Because of this time period before antibodies are produced, it is important to get the flu shot as soon as possible!

It is estimated that the flu causes U.S. employees to miss approximately 17 million workdays at an estimated $7 billion a year in sick days and lost productivity.

What happens if I get the flu?

If you get the flu, you are reduced to symptom management; over-the-counter Tylenol or Motrin, as well as increasing fluid intake (drink more water!).

Early possible signs to watch out for include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • muscle aches
  • cough
  • congestion/runny nose
  • headaches
  • fatigue.

Here are some friendly tips to help prevent spreading the flu:

  1. Cover your mouth when you sneeze using the “vampire method” (cover your mouth with your arm, similar to a vampire peering over their cloaked arm).
  2. Apply hand sanitizer after eating or using the bathroom.
  3. Avoid contact with people who have the flu.

Most insurances cover the cost of a flu vaccine. If you’re over the age of seven-years-old, you can stop by a pharmacy and have the vaccine administered.

As always if you have any questions, stop by Plain City Druggist and ask our friendly staff! Stay safe Plain City and Go Buckeyes!!

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