Health Alert: Distracted Driving Causes More Than Half of All Teen Crashes

Texting-and-DrivingDistracted driving contributes to 58 percent of automobile crashes involving teen drivers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That’s four times the U.S. government estimate of 14 percent.

Researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in videos of teen drivers taken from in-vehicle recorders. Download the Distracted Teens Videos.  The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver included:

  • Interacting with one or more passengers: 15 percent of crashes
  • Cell phone use: 12 percent of crashes
  • Looking at something in the vehicle: 10 percent of crashes

Teens have the highest crash rate of any group in the U.S. About 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013 (the most recent year of available data). Those crashes resulted in 383,000 injuries and 2,865 deaths.

To keep your teen safe:

  • Talk to them. Driving is a serious responsibility. Discuss what it means to be a safe driver with your teen and set ground rules for when they’re behind the wheel. Limit the number of passengers they can have in the car. Remind them that drivers under the age of 18 in Kentucky are prohibited from using cell phones while driving (all drivers are prohibited from texting while driving).
  • Add an app. Most of the companies that sell cellphone service – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and others – also provide apps that can limit access while driving. Verizon’s Safely Go app answers calls and texts so your teen can keep their eyes on the road. AT&T DriveMode is a free app that silences incoming text message alerts so teens can stay focused while driving. Sprint’s Drive First detects when your teen is driving and lets their friends know that they are behind the wheel.
  • Be a role model. Set a positive example for your kids. Put your cell phone in the glove compartment every time you drive. More than half (51 percent) of parents admit their teens have asked them to slow down, stop talking or texting while driving.

7 Super Spring Foods

Springtime-Super-FoodsWelcome spring and all the wonderful foods it brings. Spring’s super foods offer exceptional taste and incredible nutritional benefits. Some of the best foods of spring include:

  1. Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that help your skin repair damage caused by UV rays. Plus, they’re packed with vitamin C – the vitamin associated with fewer wrinkles and less dryness. Eat them plain or make strawberry shortcake.
  2. Greens. It’s salad season! Fresh greens, such as spinach, lettuce and arugula, are filled with antioxidants, phytochemicals (that fight cancer), folic acid (important for pregnant women), iron and vitamin K.
  3. Asparagus. This wonderful spring vegetable is rich in folic acid. It also contains vitamin C and K, plus copper and iron. Pan-fry it, roast it or chop it up and steam and serve with pasta or seafood.
  4. Scallions. Scallions are rich in quercitin, an antioxidant that acts like an antihistamine – extremely important for seasonal allergy sufferers. Sprinkle raw scallions over cooked dishes or add raw scallions to salads and salsas.
  5. Radishes. Radishes are extremely nutritious, containing nearly a third of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Eat radishes with broccoli. Radishes contain an enzyme called myrosinase, which boosts your body’s absorption of the cancer-fighting compounds found in broccoli. And don’t neglect the leaves! Radish leaves contain more vitamin C, calcium and protein than radishes themselves. Toss the leaves into a pesto, stir-fry or your next smoothie.
  6. Eggs are rich in choline (a nutrient that helps keep cells and nerves working normally), cholesterol, vitamin A, vitamin E and Omega-3s.  Serve them scrambled, soft-boiled or toss the yolks in smoothies or salad dressings
  7. Fish: Fish contains omega-3 fatty acid, which lower your risk of heart disease, helps alleviate arthritis and may be able to help with Alzheimer’s and memory loss. Wild cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel have the highest levels of omega-3s. Have at least two or three servings each week.

Spring Clean Your Home Without Sneezing

Spring-Cleaning-without-SneezingSpring is the official start of the allergy season. However, many allergies that are associated with the springtime are often caused by poor air quality in your home rather than outdoor pollen from flowers and trees. Here are some quick tips to make your home allergy-free:

  • Protect against pollen. Keep your windows and doors closed, especially at night. Avoid going outdoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when pollen is usually emitted from plants. Avoid being outside when the pollen count is high. Changing your clothes and taking a shower when you come home may also help get rid of any pollen you may have picked up while outdoors.
  • Choose and use HPEA filters. Vacuum your home regularly with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter when you are cleaning (vacuuming with a regular filter blows more allergens into the air). Also use HEPA filters in your air conditioner.
  • Defeat dust. When cleaning, use a damp or treated cloth that attracts dust rather than scattering it, and consider wearing a dust mask.
  • Wash your bedding weekly. Wash pillowcases, sheets and blankets in very hot water – at least 130 degrees – and dry them in a hot dryer to kill dust mites. Place allergen-proof covers on non-washable pillows, comforters and other bedding.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals. Many allergy-suffers are sensitive to chemicals and strong fragrances. If possible, use cleaning products that are unscented or contain only natural ingredients. Or make your own all-purpose cleaning solution by combining one half cup distilled vinegar and two teaspoons of borax powder in half a gallon of water.
  • Deal with pet dander. Reduce animal dander by vacuuming frequently and washing your pet at least once a week. Keep your pet out of your bedroom and off your furniture.
  • Prevent mold and mildew. Run an exhaust fan when taking a shower or bath. Scrub away mold from tiles and bathroom surfaces and replace moldy shower curtains. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas such as basements, and empty and clean the holding tank regularly.

Spring Fitness Tips for the Whole Family

Spring Fitness Tips for FamiliesWith warmer days on the way, now is the perfect time to get the family together and head outdoors. Not only will you be spending valuable time together, you’ll also be teaching your kids that an active life is a great one.

Overweight parents are at an increased risk of having children with weight problems – and overweight children are more likely to become obese adults. In the 1970s, only about five percent of children were overweight. Today, at least 15 percent of children are overweight.

Children and adolescents should be physically active at least 60 minutes every day. Here are some tips to help you and your children get into a springtime fitness routine:

  • Put your toddler in a stroller and go for a walk. Or strap your child into a bicycle carrier with a helmet and go for a ride.
  • Run along. If your child can ride a bicycle, jog alongside or get on your own bicycle.
  • Jump rope. The whole family can join in taking turns and jump away to fitness. This is one of the fastest ways to burn calories.
  • Engage the whole family in physical activities, such as Frisbee, playing catch, hiking, swimming or rollerblading.
  • Sign up for exercise classes such as kickboxing or join a sports team. Then sign up your children for classes or team sports.
  • Give children rewards, such as a basketball, that encourage them to be more active.
  • Fly a kite. Mix exercise with nature by flying a kite. The kids will love it and adults will have fun, too.
  • Grow a garden. Kids love to plant seeds and watch their plants and flowers grow. Have a fun competition to see whose tomatoes grow the largest or something similar.
  • Limit the amount of time you watch television. By doing this, you will find it easier to limit the amount of time your child watches TV or plays video games. Experts recommend a maximum of two hours of viewing time for children each day.

Common Causes for Concussions

Causes-of-concussionsA concussion is an injury to your brain, which is caused by a sudden, violent jolt. The signs and symptoms of a concussion may be obvious or very subtle. Most patients do not know that they have sustained a concussion and may not connect their symptoms with a head injury. This is particularly true when symptoms develop hours after the initial injury.

Typical symptoms of concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating or feeling ‘foggy’
  • Slower reaction times
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty with bright lights or loud sounds
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep patterns, either insomnia or sleeping more

Concussions most often occur during falls, car accidents or while playing contact sports.

To prevent falls at home that can lead to concussions:

  • Make sure your child’s play surface is soft and free of rocks, holes and debris.
  • Use handrails when walking up and down stairs.
  • Have safety gates on stairs and safety guards on windows.
  • Use grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Place non-slip mats in the bathroom.
  • Keep walkways clear to prevent tripping.
  • Make sure rooms and hallways are well lit.

To prevent car accidents and head injuries associated with car accidents:

  • Do not drink alcohol and drive.
  • Do not take medicines that may make you sleepy, especially when driving or using heavy equipment.
  • Obey speed limits and other driving laws.
  • Use seatbelts and child safety seats.

To prevent concussions with sports and recreational activities:

  • Wear appropriate protective gear for any sport you or your child undertake. Make sure the equipment fits properly, is well maintained and worn correctly.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bike, skateboard or motorcycle or when playing contact sports.
  • Wear mouth guards, face guards, pads and other safety gear while playing contact sports.

If you suspect that you or someone else has a concussion, see a doctor. Call 911 if the symptoms are severe.

High Risk Sports: Football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75 percent chance for concussion). Soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50 percent chance for concussion).

Spring flowers bring allergies and asthma

David-Saxon-MD

David Saxon, MD, family practice medicine

Spring is only a few days away, which means warmer temperatures and blooming plants and flowers. For some, this means the beginning of allergy and asthma season, too.

About 50 percent of people with asthma also suffer from allergies. If spring means sneezing, a runny nose and asthma attacks to you, then it is important to know what triggers your symptoms.

The problem with pollen

Pollen is one of the most common allergens that can act as a trigger for people with asthma, according to the American Lung Association. You can’t avoid pollen completely, but here are some of tips to help keep it at bay:

  • Check the local pollen count and try to spend time outside when pollen count is lowest. Also, avoid being outside when the grass has just been cut.
  • Take a shower and wash your clothes after being outside to keep pollen out of your home.
  • Don’t use an outdoor clothesline.
  • Use the air conditioner in the car.
  • Avoid strong smelling citronella candles and use unscented mosquito repellent lotion instead of a spray.

Inside triggers

Dust mite excretion and pet dander also can trigger an allergic reaction. Dusting and vacuuming floors can help eliminate several asthma and allergy triggers inside the home.

Other tips include keeping indoor humidity levels below 50 percent and the use of dust-mite resistant pillow and mattress covers.

Talk to a physician

There’s no way to eliminate everything that might trigger your asthma and allergy symptoms during the spring months. It’s important to use prescribed medications as directed by your physician.

Talk to your physician if you have trouble controlling your symptoms during the warmer months, so together you can develop a plan that will work with your lifestyle.

3 Steps to Prevent Poisonings in the Home

Prevent -Home-PoisoningsEach year, more than 2 million poisonings are reported to poison control centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these happen at home, and most non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than 6.

Unfortunately, many common substances around the house can be poisonous, and it’s all too easy for curious youngsters to ingest them if they are kept within reach. Dangers include medicines, cleaning products, laundry and dishwasher pods, mouthwash, gasoline and auto fluids, and pesticides, including flea prevention, weed killers, and insect and rodent baits.

This week, National Poison Prevention Week, is a good time for parents and caregivers to inspect their homes, garages and yards. Take these 3 steps to safeguard your home:

1-Survey for safe storage.

  • Examine your home from a child’s point of view, crawling around if you have small children.
  • Store household products in their original containers out of sight in a high cabinet. Install safety latches on lower cabinets, if items cannot be moved.
  • Never store poisonous items near food or put them in containers that could be mistaken for food or drink.
  • Don’t leave products out after using them; if you are distracted while cleaning or taking medicine, be sure to properly close caps and put products out of reach.
  • Ask guests to keep purses, bags and coats that may contain medicines or poisonous products out of reach.
  • Remove poisonous plants from the home and yard.

2-Be mindful about medicine.

  • Never call medicine “candy.”
  • Buy medicines in child-resistant containers, but remember — these may only delay the time it takes your child to open the bottle, not prevent them from opening it.
  • Keep all medicines in their original bottles.
  • Dispose of unused or expired medicines.

3-Be prepared.

5 Ways to Calm Your Daily Commute

Tips-for-an-easy-commuteYour daily commute can take a serious toll on your health. Long commutes (more than 15 miles) have been linked to high stress levels, poor sleep, obesity and even a shorter life. Before you head in the wrong direction, try these five tips to make commuting less stressful:

  1. Plan your day the night before. Take some time each weeknight to prepare for the coming workday. Put papers in your briefcase, select the clothes you’ll wear, prepare your lunch, if you bring it with you, and put your keys by the door. If you go to bed with everything done and organized for the morning, you should fall asleep easier and be free of stress and anxiety in the morning.
  2. Leave earlier. Sounds obvious, but hitting the road sooner can make your commute more bearable by giving you more time and control. Leave a few minutes earlier to give yourself more leeway to deal with traffic tie-ups. Also, always keep your gas level above the one-quarter mark. There’s nothing like getting stuck on the highway with the gauge hovering near empty to rev up your stress levels.
  3. Use a traffic app. Download the Beat the Traffic app to your smartphone. It’ll keep you posted on traffic speeds, snarls and weather conditions and alert you if anything changes while you’re on the road.
  4. Vary your route. Driving the same route each day can put your brain on autopilot – so change your route often. The change will make your drive more interesting and put more data in your mental GPS, which may help to escape future traffic snares.
  5. Make the time about you. Turn your radio off, put your phone away (which should be done when driving anyway) and take some time for your own thoughts. Breathe deeply alternating with some neck stretches to really keep calm.

Quick Fact: The average American’s commute to work is 25.5 minutes each way. That’s about 51 minutes a day getting to and from work, or about 204 hours a year spent commuting.

Heart-Healthy Recipe: Sunshine Couscous Salad

Couscous saladServes: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. olive oil or vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 tsp. grated ginger (ground dried will work)
  • 2 c. couscous
  • 1 (15-oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained and reserve juice
  • 1 c. snow peas fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 tsp. orange peel or nutmeg
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preparation:

In a saucepan, bring orange juice, water, olive oil and ginger to a boil. Add couscous, stir, remove from heat and cover for 7 minutes. Transfer couscous to a bowl and add oranges, peas, onion, cranberries and orange rind or nutmeg, mixing well. In a small bowl, whisk together cayenne pepper, lemon juice and 1/3 cup reserved mandarin orange juice and toss with salad. Add nuts. Refrigerate.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 223; Fat: 3g; Protein:7g; Carbohydrates: 44g; Sodium: 8g; Fiber: 4g.