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Helping Kids Avoid Sports Injuries

summer sports

Many sports injuries can be prevented by the use of management tools that consider factors, such as the environment of a particular sport and protection of the individual.

Environmental factors to be considered when planning sports activities include:

  • The temperature of the environment (a cooler environment is best, when possible)
  • The playing surface (the more shock absorbent the surface, the fewer injuries that may occur)
  • The proximity of motor vehicles for activities, such as bicycling
  • Proper maintenance of equipment used in the sport
  • Firm enforcement of the rules
  • Proper medical evaluation prior to participation in organized sports

Protection of the individual includes the following:

  • Using protective devices, such as pads, helmets and gloves
  • Monitoring increases in activity to prevent the child from doing “too much, too soon”
  • Using shoes appropriate for the sport
  • Adequate rehabilitation of injuries before continuing to participate in a sport

Safety Gear & Equipment

Safety gear should be sport-specific and may include such items as:

  • Goggles
  • Mouthguards
  • Shin, elbow, and knee pads
  • Helmets

The safety gear worn by a child should fit properly. In addition, sports equipment (such as bats, baskets, and goals) should be in good working condition and any damage should be repaired or replaced. The playing area should be free from debris and water.

Physical Checkup

To make sure your child is physically fit to participate in a particular sport, your child’s doctor should conduct a sports physical. These physicals can reveal your child’s physical strengths and weaknesses and help determine which sports are appropriate.

Most sports physicals for children include a health examination that measures height, weight, and vital signs, as well as check eyes, nose, ears, chest, and abdomen. In addition, your child’s doctor may perform an orthopedic examination to check joints, bones, and muscles.

Age

Starting a child in sports too young will not benefit the child physically. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children begin participating in team sports at age 6, when they better understand the concept of teamwork. However, no two children are alike, and some may not be ready physically or psychologically to take part in a team sport even at age 6.

A parent should base the decision on whether to allow the child to take part in a particular sport based on the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Build
  • Physical development
  • Emotional development
  • Child’s interest in the sport

Note: AAP recommends that late-developing teens avoid contact sports until their bodies have developmentally “caught up” to their peers’ bodies.

The Importance of Hydration

As your child participates in sports, they will sweat. This sweat must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids. Your child should drink fluids before, during, and after each practice or game. To avoid stomach cramps from drinking large amounts of fluids at once, encourage your child to drink about one cup of water (or a type of sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes.

Drinks to avoid include those with carbonation and caffeine. Also, watch children carefully when they are exercising in hot, humid weather as they can become dehydrated faster in these conditions. You should consider decreasing or stopping the activity when it is too hot.

The following are the most common symptoms of dehydration. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Thirstiness
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Slight weight loss

If your child exhibits signs of dehydration, make sure they receive fluids immediately, as well as a snack. The symptoms of dehydration may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your child’s doctor for a diagnosis.

The Effects of Lead Poisoning & Why You Should Care

lead hazard

Lead is a natural element that has been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes. It is also toxic to humans and animals.

In the 1970s, when it became known that lead can cause severe long-term health problems, government regulatory standards were enforced to phase out lead in paint, gasoline and plumbing materials. With these changes, many believed the risk of lead exposure as a major health concern was over, but as we are learning from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, lead poisoning is a problem that hasn’t gone away.

How Lead Affects the Body

When lead is absorbed into the body, often through contaminated water or food, or when lead dust or fumes are inhaled, it damages vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver and the brain. It affects both adults and children, but is critically more damaging to children.

Children absorb lead more easily than adults. Excess amounts can interfere with development of the brain and nervous system. It can also interfere with the development of a fetus and increases a pregnant woman’s risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

Adults and children may experience similar symptoms after high levels of exposure, ranging from anemia to abdominal pain to seizures. Symptoms may include:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Excessive fatigue

If lead exposure goes undetected for years, it can cause developmental or neurological damage. Many affected children have behavioral issues, difficulty learning and emotional issues. And damage from lead is irreversible.

How to Prevent Lead Exposure

There are some steps that can help keep the body from absorbing more lead and prevent lead levels from increasing. Eating a diet rich in iron, vitamin C and calcium is essential.

A child’s body requires calcium and iron. When these minerals are deficient in the body, lead absorption is increased. Children who are deficient in these minerals retain more of the lead than they would have otherwise.

Preventing exposure to lead is the most important first step. If you suspect there is lead in your water or your household materials, contact your local health department.

If you are worried that you, or your child, have been exposed, your doctor can do a screening blood test. That can put your mind at ease or put you in contact with any resources you may need.

Are You at Risk of Developing Multiple Sclerosis?

brain activity

The Geographic Connection

In areas near the equator, MS occurs in fewer than one out of 100,000 people. In areas farther from the equator; such as northern North America, MS occurs in around 30 to 80 out of 100,000 people. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a well-known type of autoimmune disease. The number of people who have MS increases the farther away they live from the equator, in places like Wisconsin.

This unusual relationship between geographic location and MS suggests that an environmental factor is partly responsible for causing the disease.

The Hormonal Connection

There is a hormonal connection as well. Almost four times as many women during their child-bearing years are affected by MS when compared to men, but before puberty and after menopause the number of men and women affected is about the same.

The Genetic Connection

The average person in the United States has about one chance in 750 of developing MS, but a person with a parent or sibling with the disease sees their chances increase to 1 in 40. A person with an identical twin with MS has a 1 in 4 chance of developing the disease.

The Vitamin Connection

Research is increasingly pointing to a reduced level of vitamin D in the blood as a risk factor for developing MS, and multiple studies are underway to determine if vitamin D levels influence MS disease activity. It’s recommended that anyone with MS have their vitamin D levels checked.

The Future

While autoimmune disorders like MS are on the rise, physicians are getting better at diagnosing and treating these diseases earlier than ever. Researchers are working on finding the causes and coming up with new medicines and therapies.

Patients should know that the future looks very promising, there is hope, and light is now visible at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, it’s important to exercise, eat healthy, and stay positive, so you’re ahead of the game when the cure is finally here.

Detox Diets – Good or Bad?

nutrition

Detox diets, also referred to as cleanses, claim that toxins from food need to be eliminated routinely from our digestive systems. Most detox diets are meant for short-term use to flush or cleanse your system.

Detox diets may involve periods of fasting, only drinking fluids, eliminating certain foods, herbal supplements, or even the use of enemas to cleanse your colon. Some last one day, while others last for weeks.

Positives

Some people report feeling more focused and energetic during and after detox diets. This may be due to the fact that a detox diet usually eliminates highly processed foods that have solid fats and added sugar.

Often detox diets have a placebo effect where you might feel better because you think you’re doing something healthy, but avoiding high-calorie, low-nutrition foods for a few days may be part of the improved feeling.

Several detox diets claim to be a jump start to weight loss. Because of the drastic reduction in calories during detox, rapid weight loss can occur.

Concerns

But colon cleansing, which is often part of a detox plan, can cause cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Dehydration also can be a concern. And most people will rapidly regain any lost weight once the diet is over.

One of the biggest concerns of a detox diet is that it can result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies that alter the body’s natural balance, especially with electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, which can have long-term negative effects.

The Verdict?

There is no real evidence that a detox diet is any better at getting rid of toxins than your body’s own natural defense mechanisms. The best path to health and wellness is still to eat a diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean sources of protein.

Anyone considering a detox diet should contact his or her physician first.

Passing a Kidney Stone

kidney pain

Talk to anyone who has experienced the passing of a kidney stone, and they will tell you it isn’t a pleasant experience.

A kidney stone is a solid piece of crystalline mineral formed within the kidney or urinary tract. They form when substances in the urine—such as calcium, oxalate and phosphorus—become highly concentrated. They are fairly common, with one in every 20 people developing a kidney stone at some point in their life.

People with certain medical conditions, such as gout, and those who take certain medications or supplements are at risk for kidney stones. Diet and hereditary factors are also related to stone formation. The most common cause of kidney stones is not drinking enough water. Most stones develop in people 20 to 49 years of age, and are more common in men than in women. People prone to kidney stones will most likely continue to develop further stones.

Kidney stones often cause no pain while they are in the kidneys. But larger stones that travel from the kidneys to the bladder or along the urinary tract can bring on a sudden onset of symptoms, most notably strong waves of pain.

A larger stone (usually larger than 0.12 inches) may get stuck along the urinary tract and block the flow of urine. These larger stones can cause excruciating, cramping pain in the lower back, side, groin or abdomen. Changes in body position do not relieve this pain. The pain typically waxes and wanes in severity. Other associated symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • blood in the urine
  • painful urination

The best initial remedy is to drink ample fluids for maximum hydration. Over-the-counter pain medication, such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), can be taken to help with the pain and discomfort.

If you suspect you may have kidney stones, your physician can recommend the best course of treatment for you. Medications are available to speed the passage of kidney stones. For particularly large kidney stones that are not able to pass on their own, shock waves can be used to break the stone into smaller fragments with a procedure known as lithotripsy. Surgical treatments are also available for stones that do not respond to other treatment methods.

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