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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Dangerous Bacteria Hide Out in Nurses’, Doctors’ Uniforms

The white coats and medical scrubs worn by hospital staff may harbor hazardous bacteria, a new study finds.

Researchers in Israel swabbed nurses’ and physicians’ uniforms and found potentially dangerous bacteria on more than 60 percent of the clothing items.

The team, from the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, analyzed swab samples collected from three parts — sleeve ends, pockets and abdominal area — of the uniforms of 75 registered nurses and 60 doctors.

Potentially dangerous bacteria were found on 60 percent of the doctors’ uniforms and 65 percent of the nurses’ uniforms. Especially dangerous drug-resistant bacteria were found in 21 of the samples from nurses’ uniforms and six samples from doctors’ uniforms. Eight of the samples had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), which is becoming tough to fight using conventional antibiotics.

The bacteria on the uniforms may not pose a direct risk of disease transmission, but the findings suggest that many hospital patients are in close proximity to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, the researchers said.

“It is important to put these study results into perspective,” Russell Olmsted, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), said in an association news release. “Any clothing that is worn by humans will become contaminated with microorganisms. The cornerstone of infection prevention remains the use of hand hygiene to prevent the movement of microbes from these surfaces to patients.”

The study appears in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of APIC.

Drunk Driving Declines in United States

Despite a 30 percent decline in drunk drivingsince 2006, drunk drivers still account for almost 11,000 traffic deaths — one-third of all traffic-related fatalities — each year in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Drunk driving incidents peaked in 2006, and decreased nearly one-third through 2010, the agency said in a new report.

Still, drunk drivers got behind the wheel about 112 million times in 2010 — which amounts to about 300,000 incidents a day.

“The bottom line here is that by self-report, which is undoubtedly an underestimate, Americans got behind the wheel 112 million times last year and endangered themselves and others,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said during a Tuesday news conference.

People need to be more responsible, and communities and governments can do more to protect the public from drunk driving, Freiden added.

The drop in drunk driving might, he said, be due in part to the recession, which could mean more people are drinking at home rather than in bars and restaurants.

“Drunk driving is far too common. This is something that is unacceptable,” Frieden said. “It’s a public health problem with far reaching effects. It puts everyone in danger — even the most responsible drivers and pedestrians.”

Using data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, CDC researchers found that men make up 81 percent of drunk drivers. In addition, although men 21 to 34 years old are only 11 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 32 percent of all drunk drivers.

Most drinking and driving episodes (85 percent) were reported by people who also said they binge drink, according to the report.

Moreover, 55 percent of drunk driving episodes were among the 4.5 percent of adults who said they engaged in binge drinking at least four times a month. And these episodes were four times higher among people who reported not wearing a seat beltall the time, compared with those who always wear one, the researchers found.

Ways to prevent drunk driving, according to the CDC, include:

  • Sobriety checkpoints where drivers are stopped to see if the driver is drunk. According to the U.S. Transportation Research Board, more of these checkpoints could save 1,500 to 3,000 lives each year.
  • Keeping the minimum drinking age at 21 in all states to help prevent young drivers from drinking and driving.
  • Requiring convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks that keep the car from starting if they have been drinking. These devices reduce re-arrest rates for drunk driving by about two-thirds, the CDC said.

Frieden noted that despite their effectiveness, sobriety checkpoints are prohibited in 12 states. “There is very strong public support for checkpoints, with 75 percent of respondents in a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation endorsing weekly or monthly sobriety checkpoints,” he said.

Ignition interlocks are only used in about 20 percent of drunk driving cases, Frieden said. “We recommend at CDC making interlocks mandatory for all offenders,” he said.

Another effective strategy some states use is the graduated drivers license for young drivers, Frieden said. “We think largely as a result of those policies we are seeing substantial reduction in fatalities among 16- to 18-year-old drivers,” he said.

Other countries have done more to reduce drunk driving than the United States, Frieden said. “Their rates of motor vehicle crashes are half or two-thirds lower than the U.S. rate, and they drink just as much and they drive just as fast,” he said.

“While we have made progress, this is still a huge problem that’s a threat to everyone, particularly because there is so much more we can do,” he said.

A Guide And Tips to Good Personal Hygiene

Mom was right: Good personal hygiene is essential to promoting good health.

Personal hygiene habits such as washing your hands and brushing and flossing your teeth will help keep bacteria, viruses, and illnesses at bay. And there are mental as well as physical benefits. “Practicing good body hygiene helps you feel good about yourself, which is important for your mental health,” notes Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. People who have poor hygiene — disheveled hair and clothes, body odor, bad breath, missing teeth, and the like — often are seen as unhealthy and may face discrimination.

Personal Hygiene: Healthy Habits Include Good Grooming

If you want to minimize your risk of infection and also enhance your overall health, follow these basic personal hygiene habits:

  • Bathe regularly. Wash your body and your hair often. “I’m not saying that you need to shower or bathe every day,” remarks Dr. Novey. “But you should clean your body and shampoo your hair at regular intervals that work for you.” Your body is constantly shedding skin. Novey explains, “That skin needs to come off. Otherwise, it will cake up and can cause illnesses.”
  • Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds. Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot, Novey says.
  • Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease, Novey says. Flossing, too, helps maintain strong, healthy gums. “The bacteria that builds up and causes gum diseasecan go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems,” Novey explains. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain a healthy smile, visit the dentist at six-month intervals for checkups and cleanings.
  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available.
  • Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleepcan leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defenses, your immune system, Novey says.

Personal Hygiene: Poor Hygiene Hints at Other Issues

If someone you know hasn’t bathed or appears unkempt, it could be a sign that he or she is depressed. “When people are sad or depressed, they neglect themselves,” Novey says. Talking about the importance of proper personal hygiene for preventing illnesses and providing personal hygiene items may help some people. Be candid but sensitive and understanding in your discussions, Novey says. Despite your best efforts, your friend or loved one may need professional help. You should encourage them to see a counselor or doctor if their personal hygiene doesn’t improve.

Personal Hygiene: Good Habits Help Keep You Healthy

For most people, good hygiene is so much a part of their daily routines that they think little about it. They bathe, they brush their teeth, visit the dentist and doctor for regular checkups, and wash their hands when preparing or eating food and handling unsanitary items. To keep those you care about healthy and safe, help them learn, and be sure that they are practicing, good personal hygiene.

Multivitamins: Should You Take One?

Our bodies need many different vitamins and minerals to function properly.

Vitamins and minerals also offer us protection against a host of ailments, includingheart disease and some cancers, such as colon and cervical cancer.

The good news is that we can get most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need daily by choosing the right foods and eating a wide variety of them.

Still, many people take a multivitamin daily as an insurance policy — just to be sure they are getting all the vitamins and minerals that their bodies require.

“A multivitamin is a good idea for the trace elements,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

“You want a multivitamin for all those little things at the bottom of the ingredients list. The ones at the top of the list are familiar and the ones we can’t avoid if we’re eating enriched foods. It’s the trace elements at the bottom that are the ones often missing.”

Trace elements include chromium, folic acid, potassium, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc.

Daily Vitamin: Our Needs Change With Age

Vitamin supplements can be particularly important during certain stages of our lives, Dr. Novey says. For example, women in their childbearing years can benefit from folic acid, which decreases the risk of some birth defects. A pregnant woman needs a multivitamin, starting in the first trimester, to ensure that the baby receives proper nutrition. Active and older women can benefit from increased calcium, which can help prevent bone loss and fractures. Vegetarians also can benefit from taking extra calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12 and D.

Does it matter what time of day you take a multivitamin? Not really, says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. However, he says, some people find it helpful to take vitamins at the same time every day. If it becomes part of their routine, they are less likely to forget. Also, he says, some people feel that if they take their vitamin with food, it is less likely to cause stomach upset. “I often recommend that people take a chewable vitamin,” Dr. Bickston says, “because they seem to be well tolerated, even in people who have serious digestive conditions, which is what I deal with in my practice.”

Daily Vitamin: Tips for Shopping for the Right Multivitamin

Do you need to buy brand name vitamins? Novey says vitamins are like any other consumer product: “You get what you pay for.” He suggests shopping for vitamins in health food or natural food stores. Read the label and make sure its expiration date is at least a few months away. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advice on how much to take — or the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) — is often written as “% DV” for percentage of daily value on the label. However, be careful because the DVs on the label may not take into consideration the different requirements for age and gender as RDAs do.

Multivitamins can be beneficial, but doctors warn not to be suckered by “mega” vitamins. The amount of vitamins in a standard multi is generally what you need for health benefits. Rarely do people need more than the RDA of any vitamin. When it comes to vitamins, the too-much-of-a-good-thing rule can apply, Bickston says.

Daily Vitamin: Ensuring Good Health

Clearly, eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and poultry, and low-fat dairy products is the best way to get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients to keep your body functioning properly and to ward off illnesses. But taking a multivitamin daily is a good backup plan, and an easy way to fill in any gaps in your diet.