Flu Shot? Do Your Patriotic Duty!
Autumn . . . the daylight fades into growing darkness. The first frost kills the summer flowers and the leaves begin to fall. It’s easy to understand how our forbears throughout the Northern Hemisphere associated this season with decay and death. Today’s Halloween festivities with children going door-to-door dressed as ghouls and goblins has its cultural roots in the sense of fear and dread that our ancestors had for the coming winter. And for good reason: for most animal species winter is a trying time that separates those able to survive from the weak, infirm, and aged. The same is still true for modern humans. However, we do have a number of advantages over those who lived in these climates before us. It’s not just the warmer clothes, drier homes and larger stores of food that make the survival difference. Rather, it is our complex social networks together with an evolution of technology that these networks foster, which form our decisive advantage over winter’s threat. We have the modern miracle of roads that get plowed and salted after every storm, hospitals that stay open 24-7 to care for the sick or injured, and the reliable delivery of heating fuel right up our very driveway to keep the cold at bay.
Dr. William A. Sturrock
Lost in this week’s disturbing news stories about Ebola and terrorist attacks was an incident that can cause parents with school-aged children more sleepless nights than just about anything. At Marysville High School in Washington State, a freshman, who was seen as popular in his peer group, took out a handgun in the lunchroom and opened fire. Within minutes, five classmates were shot at close range, killing one and leaving three in critical condition with head wounds. When one brave teacher attempted to stop him from reloading, he then took his own life.
Compounding the mystery surrounding the shooter’s motive and mental state is the fact that all of his victims were well-known to him with two being his cousins. Our hearts go out to the families of all involved as we struggle to find some lesson from this tragedy. Certainly by 2014 in America we should have some understanding of how we can prevent similar occurrences in our own communities, and with our own children.
However, when I went to the blogosphere, I quickly learned that the issue of preventing gun violence is as controversial as race relations, contraception and taxes. On one side of course is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which has considerable clout as a lobbying force to our elected leadership. On the other side is the unlikely foe of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). I don’t tend to think of bow-tie wearing doctors specializing in the conditions of children as a particularly unruly group of partisans, but there it is.
Being someone who likes to understand more than one side of an issue and to look for areas of common ground in any debate, I felt I had an obligation to try to find consensus on this subject. Besides, as a native rural New Englander who had hunted and fished as a boy, and later had served his country as a battalion surgeon for six years in the Army, I felt I could be a neutral referee and at least gleam a few morsels of wisdom from the positions of both sides.
First, I reviewed the AAP’s argument that in homes where guns are locked there are 73% fewer accidental injuries due to gun shots. They go on to state that every year 20 thousand people under age 25 are injured by gun violence, and that we have an obligation to decrease this number just the same as we would try to prevent any accident.
Now let’s look at the other side on the NRA website. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the fire-arm accidental death rate has already fallen 94% from its height in 1904, to a rate of just 0.2 per 100, 000 and that this death rate is behind most other causes, such as motor vehicle accidents, poisoning, falls, drowning, fires, etc.
Well, putting on the referee hat, I can see that so far it is a draw because the AAP is talking about injuries and the NRA is discussing death rates and you really can’t judge the validity of these dueling statistics. So how about looking at the advice each group offers to parents. This time I will let the NRA go first: “Store guns so that they are not accessible to children . . . while specific security measures may vary, a parent must, in every case, assess the exposure of the fire-arm and absolutely ensure that it is inaccessible to a child” – taken directly from the Eddie Eagle GunSafe NRA site.
Well, that seems pretty level-headed advice. Now let’s look at the AAP recommendations. It’s true that they are advocating for better legislation to regulate the access to assault rifles, ammunition, and handguns in general. I realize this will never be acceptable to the NRA. However, take a look at their advice to parents: “If you choose to keep a gun at home, store it unloaded in a locked place. Lock and store the ammunition in a separate place”. Now that doesn’t seem too different from the Eddie Eagle advice. Not to say that this could be the grand compromise that will allow these protagonists to come together and share a group hug, but perhaps they can put aside their statistics and soap-box rhetoric and just agree on this basic advice. It may not have made a difference in Marysville, but if all parents everywhere strive to do their best to follow the basic advice – adults need to be responsible to make sure their children do not have unsupervised access to loaded guns – then some parent somewhere might be saved from the nightmare of rushing down to their local school after another gun incident and not having a child to hug.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was on the interview set for this week’s Fitness Friday, speaking to Wayne about the benefits of regular exercise. Josiah says working out releases endorphins into the brain that allow for a big stress relief, better sleep, and that general “good” feeling you get after a solid workout.
The Ebola Virus has been a hot topic of discussion in our country for weeks to months. I would like to start my contribution to the topic with what Ebola IS NOT.
Dave Gauvin, President of the Penobscot Valley Ski Club was in the studio Thursday talking to Joy about the Annual Ski Sale coming up on Saturday, October 18th. The sale runs from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM at the Bangor Parks & Rec building, at 647 Main St.
SHOULD I ASK MY DOCTOR FOR AN ANTIBIOTIC FOR AN UPPER RESPIRATORY ILLNESS?
By Dr. Pellegrini
The vast majority of upper respiratory illnesses are “colds” which are viral infections that are self-limiting. Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, doctors still sometimes prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory viral infections. There are several reasons for this. One: it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a viral infection and a bacterial infection. A clinician will ask several questions about how the patient feels and then may add on some lab work or x-rays in order to differentiate between a viral and a bacterial infection. If there is still uncertainty and the patient has been ill for longer than expected, a clinician may try an antibiotic to see if it helps (if it does, then it was a bacterial infection). Second: sometimes a viral infection can cause enough immune weakening that a secondary bacterial infection then occurs. In that case an antibiotic will help. Third: a patient may request an antibiotic and the clinician is too busy to argue. This last point is important. A recent JAMA (1) article was a study of healthcare professionals and their tendency to prescribe antibiotics increased as the day went on. The theory is that they had the time and energy in the morning to have a detailed discussion with the patient about why an antibiotic was not needed but then had less time/energy as the day progressed. Doctors know that patients rarely get upset if an antibiotic is prescribed but they sometimes do get upset when one is not given. The problem is that antibiotics can cause problems such as rashes, diarrhea, resistance, nausea, etc. Therefore, it is best if the patient does not go to the doctor to get antibiotics but rather go to the doctor to see if anything else needs to be done. I would offer this same advice for sinusitis, ear infections, and “flu” symptoms. The best thing a patient can do is be very detailed about the symptoms and timing and other questions that the doctor will ask.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was back in the studio Friday for this week’s Fitness Friday. This time, he was showing Joy and Wayne how to climb mountains indoors with the “mountain climbers” exercise.
National Depression Screening Day – Thursday, October 9, 2014
Dr. David Prescott – Acadia Hospital
Why Should I take the Depression Screening? Major Depression is more than just feeling upset or down for a brief period of time. Depression is a significant health problem that affects 1 in 10 people in the United States at any given moment in time. Worldwide, depression is predicted to become the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020.
Dr. Heidi Harrington from Bangor Plastic and Hand Surgery was in the studio Thursday speaking to Wayne about the upcoming Pink Runway Project event at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The event takes place Saturday, October 18th starting at 6:30 PM, and is truly a one-of-a-kind spectacle which supports breast cancer awareness.
TV5 Health advisor doctor William Sturrock was here for this week’s Healthy Living to talk about, the drug diversion problem.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was on the interview set for this week’s Fitness Friday, speaking to Wayne about how you should plan your workout. Josiah says beginning with your weight-training workout will ultimately help burn more fat when you switch over to cardio.
Mood Swing or Bipolar?
Healthy Living Watch – September 23, 2014
David Prescott, Ph.D. – Acadia Hospital
Is This a Normal Mood Swing or Bipolar? Mood swings in everyone’s life, sometimes triggered by a particular life event, and sometimes coming out of the blue. But, when is a mood swing so out of the ordinary that it suggests a problem like bipolar disorder, or manic depression?
September is National Preparedness Month: Are You Ready if an Emergency Happens?
Disasters can strike at any time, and the American Red Cross encourages Mainers to mark National Preparedness Month by creating a household disaster plan to keep you and your family safe in an emergency.
Enterovirus – D68
Amy Movius MD
By now, almost everyone has heard of the virus that is making children sick in pockets around the country. These reports are scary and it is important to pay attention – but not panic. There have been no cases of this virus in Maine. Yet. The outbreaks in other parts of the country may (or may not) foreshadow similar outbreaks in Maine, so the knowledge of what is happening elsewhere is a great opportunity to educate ourselves on the situation. This can help families and health personnel act quickly should this virus make its way to our state. In this vein, the Maine Public Health Alert Network System issued an advisory to health care workers yesterday.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was back in the studio Friday for this week’s Fitness Friday. This time, he was showing Joy and Wayne some “wood-chopping” exercises that can be done with minimal weight, but still give a strong and effective full-body workout.
TV5 health advisor Dr. Joan Pellegrini was in to explain why taking even little steps, even a few steps an hour is beneficial for your health.
We have all heard the recommendation to increase our activity. We keep hearing this because there is strong evidence linking inactivity with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer (2). The vast majority of medical experts recognize the health benefits of moderated, daily exercise.
Command Chief Master Sergeant Bob Peer and Senior Master Sergeant Gerry Martin were in the studio Tuesday speaking to Wayne about the upcoming half-marathon and 5K being hosted by MaineIACS Charities, a charitable arm of the Maine Air National Guard.
Common Problems with School Adjustment: Kindergarten to College
Health Watch – September 2, 2014
Dr. David Prescott – The Acadia Hospital
Times of change and transition, such as the start of a new school year, often bring excitement and anticipation. However, the start of a new school year can also be associated with difficult emotions or stress. Thinking through some of the common emotional challenges associated with a new school year can help your son or daughter get off on the right foot.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was back in the studio Friday for this week’s Fitness Friday. This time he spoke to Wayne about how exercise can affect your health, and how much exercise is really necessary to stay fit.
Josiah Hartley from Bangor’s LA Training was back in the studio Friday for this week’s Fitness Friday. This time, he was showing Joy and Wayne the correct way to perform planks. Planks are a relative simple, yet difficult and effective workout that you will definitely feel the effects where ever you choose to try them out, be it the gym or your own living room during a commercial break!