Preventive Care

Preventive Care

Illnesses and injuries affect everyone at some point in life. That is why it is important to think about how to prevent getting sick or injured. There is a saying: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This means that even a small amount of prevention will save a lot of time lost from getting sick or injured. Amazingly, there is a wide variety of ways that each individual can try to protect her or his own health and well-being. Starting in childhood, a person can establish a healthy diet and physical fitness program and begin other healthy habits that will greatly reduce the likelihood of future illnesses and injuries.

This chapter will examine three aspects of preventive care: illness prevention, injury prevention, and preventive medicine. The discussion on illness prevention will detail the many ways that an individual can avoid contracting diseases or developing painful or life-threatening conditions. Injury prevention will examine safety precautions, good habits, and equipment that protect people from getting hurt at home and at play. Information on preventive medicine such as vitamins, minerals, and herbal medicines that help the body fight off disease and infection will also be discussed.

ILLNESS PREVENTION


Experts agree there are many things a person can do to keep from getting ill. Illnesses are usually caused by living organismsbacteria, parasites, fungi, or virusesthat are transmitted from one person to another. A healthy person's immune system usually can attack and destroy these organisms before the person becomes ill, but when this system is weakened by factors such as poor nutrition or stress, sickness or disease may be the result.

People can take many actions that can help guard their bodies against these infections and build up their immune systems to make them strong and resistant to illness. These actions include good habits like eating well, getting plenty of exercise and sleep, managing stress, practicing good hygiene, and getting frequent physical checkups and complete immunizations.

Eating Well

A healthy dietmaking sure to get enough of certain kinds of foods, such as fruit and vegetables, and not too much of other kinds, such as hamburgers and French friescan prevent a host of health problems. These problems can include allergies, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, cataracts, diabetes, digestive problems such as bloating and diarrhea, headaches, heart disease, high blood pressure, Parkinson's disease, and premature aging. The best way to maintain a healthy diet is to eat a variety of foods, paying special attention to eating the right proportions as suggested by the U.S. government's Food Guide Pyramid, which is a guide to good nutrition. [See also Chapter 1: Nutrition.]

INCREASE FIBER INTAKE BY EATING HIGH-FIBER SNACKS LIKE NUTS, POPCORN, FRESH OR DRIED FRUITS, AND WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS.

Preventive Care: Words to Know

Adrenaline:
A chemical that blocks the histamine response in an allergic reaction.
Alzheimer's disease:
A severe condition usually found in the elderly that affects the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language.
Anemia:
The condition of low iron in the blood.
Antibodies:
A substance made in the body that protects the body against germs or viruses.
Antioxidants:
Powerful molecules found in certain foods and vitamins that help neutralize free radicals, which are damaging molecules.
Bacteria:
Single-celled micro-organisms, which can be either beneficial or harmful.
Carbon monoxide:
A highly toxic, colorless, odorless gas that is produced whenever something is burned incompletely, or in a closed environment.
Collagen:
Fibrous protein found in connective tissues such as the skin and ligaments.
Cruciform:
The term for certain vegetables with long stems and branching tops, such as broccoli and cauliflower.
Emphysema:
A lung disease usually caused by smoking that produces shortness of breath and relentless coughing.
Enzyme:
A complex protein found in the cells that acts as a catalyst for chemical reactions in the body.
Esophagus:
The muscular tube that connects the throat with the stomach.
Free radicals:
Harmful molecules in the body that damage normal cells and can cause cancer and other disorders.
Fungus:
An organism of plant origin that lacks chlorophyll; some fungi cause irritation or disease.
Hemoglobin:
A protein found in red blood cells, needed to carry oxygen to the body's many tissues.
Hemorrhoids:
Enlarged and swollen veins in the anus that may bleed.
Hepatitis:
One of several severe liver-damaging diseases specified by the letters A, B, C and D.
Histamines:
Chemicals released in an allergic reaction that cause swelling of body tissues.
Immune system:
The body's own natural defenses against germs and other infectious agents.
Immunization:
The introduction of disease-causing compounds into the body in very small amounts in order to allow the body to form antigens against the disease.
Insomnia:
Chronic sleeplessness or sleep disturbances.
Insulin:
The substance in the body that regulates blood sugar levels.
Larynx:
The voice box.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG):
A substance that enhances flavor but causes food intolerance in some people.
Mucous membranes:
The lining of the nose and sinus passages that helps shield the body from allergens and germs.
Osteoporosis:
A degenerative bone disease.
Parasite:
An organism that lives on or inside another organism at the expense of its host.
Parkinson's disease:
A progressive disease that causes slowing and stiffening of muscular activity, trembling hands, and a difficulty in speaking and walking.
Virus:
A tiny organism that causes disease.

FIBER. In general, a person should concentrate on eating a diet high in fiber. Sufficient dietary fiber intake helps prevent colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as constipation, hemorrhoids, and diarrhea. Fiber also promotes bowel regularity. It is possible that eating enough fiber may lower cholesterol and, in diabetics, slow the absorption of sugar, which may decrease the need for insulin. Foods high in fiber include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (peas, beans), but some people prefer to take fiber supplements available at grocery and drug stores.

FRUITS AND VEGGIES. Everyone has heard: "an apple a day will keep the doctor away," or "eat your vegetables, they're good for you!" Fruits and vegetables are good for everyone, but many people find it hard to eat enough of them, and some don't like them at all. They may not taste as good as ice cream or chocolate to most people, but it is important to try to eat them anyway. They benefit a person's health in many ways.

One group of vegetables, called cruciform, includes broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi and Swiss chard. Eating vegetables from this group helps prevent the development of stomach, colorectal (large intestine and rectum), and lung cancers. Dark green and deep yellow vegetables like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, and apricots are good sources of vitamin A. Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, and green and red peppers contain vitamin C. Vitamins A and C are antioxidants, which are important vitamins that help neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals in the body. Free radicals damage normal cells and can cause cancer, as well as cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

MORE ABOUT ANTIOXIDANTS. In addition to vitamins A and C, the antioxidant vitamin group includes beta-carotene, selenium, and vitamin E. Many people take supplements of these vitamins, but a person with a healthy, varied diet should take in enough to help prevent certain diseases. Increasing the body's level of antioxidants also has been shown to help prevent premature aging and skin damage, minimize stress, and prevent acne. Antioxidants can also prevent or lessen the severity of allergies like hay fever.

REDUCE THE FAT AND PROCESSED FOODS. A diet low in fatty foods, which are foods that contain unsaturated or saturated fats, is helpful in the prevention of certain diseases. Research has shown a relationship between high dietary fat intake and the occurrence of prostate, colorectal, and other cancers. Dietary fat is one of the main generators of damaging free radicals. Because of this connection, eating less fat, both saturated and unsaturated, lessens a person's risk of cancer, cataracts, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Lowering fat intake also helps prevent or reduce acne. The same benefits can be realized by avoiding foods rich in white, processed flour and sugar.

OTHER BENEFICIAL FOODS, VITAMINS, AND MINERALS

There are other foods and supplements that have been found to be beneficial and to help prevent various disorders:

  • Garlic fights heart disease and cancer and prolongs the life span of skin cells.
  • Vitamins A and E, zinc, and chromium can reduce acne, and along with selenium, can protect the mucous membranes, which shield the body from allergens and germs.
  • Magnesium helps relieve constriction in the lungs due to allergies and asthma, and can help prevent migraine headaches.
  • Vitamin C blocks histamines, which are present in allergic reactions, and reduces inflammation.
  • Bioflavonoids may help reduce asthma-related inflammation.
  • Riboflavin, magnesium and calcium taken regularly help prevent migraine headaches.

AVOID FRIED AND SMOKED OR BARBECUED FOODS. Fried foods are high in fat, and many smoked and barbecued foods contain nitrates and other chemicals that are known to cause cancer. A person should reduce the amount of these foods in the diet, which may help to prevent cancer, as well as headaches, allergies, and acne problems.

Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Adults of legal drinking age who do choose to drink alcohol should do so in moderation. High alcohol consumption increases the risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver (a condition in which liver tissue is destroyed). If alcohol is combined with smoking or chewing tobacco, a person will have greater risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx, throat, and esophagus. In addition, alcohol is high in sugar content and calories that can contribute to weight gain and the creation of harmful free radicals in the body.

No Smoking, Please

Almost everyone knows that smoking is hazardous to one's health. But why? It is now known that smoking produces free radicals, which can cause premature aging and wrinkles, cancer, and heart disease; raise blood pressure; damage the skin and connective tissues; and lead to other diseases in the body. Smoking also aggravates sun damage and reduces the body's ability to fight off infection. It can also cause emphysema (a lung disease) and chronic bronchitis, which can eventually be fatal. Smoking cigars or chewing tobacco may not be as intense in their effect as cigarettes, but lead to the same problems, and more: increased risk of oral cancer, such as in the cheek or gum, tongue, lips, esophagus, larynx, and pancreas. Chewing tobacco can also lead to gum disease.

It is important to try to avoid secondhand smokecigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke that is exhaled by smokersbecause it can lead to cancer, even in nonsmokers. Inhaling secondhand smoke causes the heart to beat faster, blood pressure to rise, and the level of carbon monoxide in the blood to increase, which can, over time, result in heart disease, high blood pressure, and reduced lung capacity.

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking an adequate amount of water every day (between 4 and 8 eight-ounce glasses) prevents dehydration and helps flush out the body, removing harmful substances, toxins, and free radicals. Most public water systems in the United States also provide supplemental fluoride that strengthens children's teeth.

BUTTER VS. MARGARINE

For many years, nutritionists and diet experts have been advising people to avoid butter, which is high in fat, in favor of margarine. It turns out that many margarines have as much fat and calories per serving as butter. The important difference is that margarine has less saturated fat than butter and more unsaturated fat, which is better for you. Saturated fat is known to increase blood cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease.

Among the different kinds of margarine, soft margarine has less saturated fat than stick margarine. This is because the process to harden margarine increases saturated fat and forms what are called trans-fatty acids, which have been linked to heart disease. Thus softer margarine is preferred. Diet or low-fat margarines tend to have less fat and fewer calories than regular margarine or butter, but a better solution is to try to use less of any of these spreads.

However, one should not drink any water of unknown safety. Tap water in most American cities and small towns is likely to be safe, as is most bottled water. But, water in streams and rivers may be contaminated with either cancer-causing chemicals or with parasites that could make a person sick. When camping or traveling, if in doubt, drink bottled water.

Avoiding Certain Foods

Just as one should pay special attention to eating the right foods, one should also consider avoiding certain others. Some foods have been shown to increase the risk of certain specific disorders. One example is chocolate, which may cause or aggravate acne and also trigger migraine headaches. Other foods to avoid for people who suffer from headaches, especially migraines, include:

  • cheddar cheese and bacon, which cause blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, triggering a pounding pain;
  • chocolate ice cream, as the chocolate and the cold temperature both can trigger headache pain;
  • coffee, which causes headaches if not drunk in moderation;
  • dark wines and alcohol, which contain the headache-triggering chemical tyramine;
  • foods containing MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrites, or aspartame (artificial sweetener); and
  • pickled herrings, chicken livers, lentils, snow peas, navy beans, peanuts, and sunflower seeds, all of which contain tyramine.

FOOD SAFETY

The following simple principles will help a person avoid getting sick from food poisoning, which can make one extremely uncomfortable at the least, and can be fatal at worst. Symptoms of food poisoning include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomachache.

  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, whether in the home or on a picnic. Use an insulated cooler when transporting food, and don't put cold groceries in a hot car trunk or let them sit out at room temperature too long before putting them in a refrigerator.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling food and in between handling raw meat or eggs and other foods.
  • Don't let food sit out for more than an hour under any circumstances. Food that sits at room temperature is at high risk for developing harmful bacteria.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs, which are likely to contain illness-causing salmonella bacteria (this includes eating uncooked batter or dough when baking).
  • Avoid raw shellfish, such as oysters and mussels, which may contain bacteria for hepatitis A.

Food Allergies and Intolerance

Food allergies and intolerance can cause, among other things, abdominal pain; diarrhea; nausea or vomiting; fainting; hives; swelling of the lips, eyes, face, tongue or throat; nasal congestion; or asthma. The difference is that in a true allergic reaction, the body produces histamine and other substances that cause this reaction. In food intolerance, the chemistry is different; the culprit is likely the absence of an enzyme needed to digest food fully.

Common foods that can cause allergic reactions include:

  • cow's milk
  • whole eggs or egg whites
  • peanuts and peanut butter
  • wheat
  • soybeans
  • berries
  • shellfish
  • corn
  • beans
  • gum Arabic (a thickener found in processed foods)
  • certain food dyes

Food allergies are usually diagnosed through an elimination diet in which the patient removes suspected foods from the diet for a week or two, then slowly adds them back, one at a time, until the reaction occurs again. This food can then be avoided in the future. In addition, people with severe, life-threatening allergies may carry an injection kit containing adrenaline, a chemical that blocks the histamine response.

Food intolerance is in some ways more difficult to spot than true allergies because people may be sensitive to various "hidden" chemicals used to process foods. These chemicals include monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer commonly used in Chinese restaurants and other cuisine; food dyes; sulfites, which are found in wines, seafoods, potatoes, and some soft drinks; and salicylates, which appear in fruits, vinegar, cider, and wine made from fruits.

Probably the most common type of food intolerance is called lactose intolerance, a hypersensitivity to a sugar called lactose found in milk. About 70 percent of the world's population is unable to fully digest lactose. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, pain, gas and diarrhea. Lactose intolerant people can prevent the symptoms by avoiding milk and eating other dairy products, such as yogurt, hard cheeses and sour cream, in which most of the lactose is already broken down. Some also choose to use special lactose-free milk or take over-the-counter pills that help the body digest lactose.

Another common food intolerance involves gluten, found primarily in wheat products. Severe intolerance to gluten can lead to celiac disease, a painful condition of the small intestine.

MINI-MEALS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

Research has shown that the traditional three meals a day may not be the best way to eat for optimum health. More and more, it appears that eating five to seven "mini-meals," snack-sized meals of about 250-500 calories each, throughout the day promotes better nutrition and health.

Spreading out these small meals throughout the day helps maintain a normal blood sugar level (rather than high spikes and low dips caused by waiting a longer time between meals). Studies show this normalized blood sugar level reduces damage to collagen and DNA, which can cause wrinkles, age spots, and cataracts (an eye disorder). Mini-meals also normalize insulin levels; high levels of insulin, which regulates blood sugar, are a known risk factor for heart disease.

Exercise and Health

Exercise has many benefits, both physical and mental. It helps to minimize the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and premature aging. It also reduces anxiety, fatigue, and tension. Regular exercise has been shown to effectively manage stress, which helps prevent acne and the occurrence of tension headaches. Exercise helps people sleep better, which, in turn, contributes to a stronger immune system and greater ability to fight illness and infection. In general, people who exercise enjoy a higher energy level than others, and are better able to concentrate at school or at work.

A physically fit person is more likely to recover quickly from illness and injury and from surgery. If exercising regularly, a person will strengthen his or her heart and muscles and improve the flexibility of the joints. Aerobic exercise, which raises the heartbeat, improves the condition of other organs as well as the heart, and increases one's overall conditioning and endurance. Women who exercise are at a decreased risk of developing osteoporosis (a degenerative bone disease).

People who participate in muscle-toning exercises can experience special benefits. Strong stomach muscles help protect the back and lessen the risk of back injury. In addition, a stronger, more physically fit person can lift heavy things more easily, again lessening the strain on the back. A toned individual takes surer steps, is less likely to fall down, and generally experiences less risk of injury from falls because the muscles are pliable and strong. [See also Chapter 2: Physical Fitness.]

EXERCISING SAFELY

A good rule of thumb is to try to exercise for about thirty minutes three times a week. Exercise should include a variety of activities, including aerobic activities that raise the heartbeat, stretching and flexibility exercises, and muscle-strengthening activities. Usually, participation in sports, either at school or with friends, provides enough physical activity for a healthy young person.

School-age young people should be warned not to overdo exercise. It is wise to check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program. Start slow, with short exercise sessions, and build up to the thirty-minute goal. Each time a person exercises, he should start by stretching and warming up to prepare the joints, muscles, and tendons for the activity, and cool down afterward with a period of slower and gentler exercise. The warm-up and cool-down periods prevent soreness and stiffness later.

Anyone who experiences faintness, chest pain or pressure, or excessive tiredness or pain during exercise should stop working out or playing the sport and check with a doctor.

Manage Stress

One of the most important aspects of a personal health regimen is to manage stress. Stress is the body's normal response to dangerous or high-pressure situations, anything from an upcoming test at school, to a big game, to facing surgery, or being lost in an unfamiliar place. No matter the source of the stress, the body's response is the same: the body produces adrenaline (a hormone) and chemicals that cause the pulse to quicken, the muscles to tense, and the blood pressure to increase. This is known as the "fight or flight" response, which might have been more useful to ancient peoples facing predators than to today's average person.

A little stress can be beneficial in certain situations. The increased adrenaline and stimulation of the body can help an athlete perform to his or her best in a big game, or allow a student to focus better on an important exam. However, too much stress, or ongoing stress that is not addressed, eventually takes a physical toll on the body. Over an extended period of time, uncontrolled stress produces the free radical molecules that can cause premature aging, cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, acne, and increased risk of infections.

There are a number of well-documented ways to manage and reduce stress. One of the best of these is exercise. A regular exercise program, whether it consists of structured aerobics classes or a few casual games of tennis or racquetball a week, reduces stress and also promotes healthy sleep, which in itself helps reduce stress.

Ensuring that one gets a healthy night's sleep every night is a second way to manage and reduce stress. A person can improve sleep patterns in the following ways:

  • Avoid sleeping on the stomach.
  • If sleeping on the back, put a pillow under the knees to flex the spine.
  • If snoring is a problem, sleep on the side.
  • Use a low pillow to support the head without flexing the neck.
  • Be sure to dress warmly for bed and/or use enough blankets.
  • Have plenty of room to move around in bed.

Eating a healthy diet is a third way to reduce stress in life. One should especially concentrate on ingesting enough antioxidants, which can be found in green leafy vegetables, yellow and deep orange veggies, and many fruits. If getting a variety of fruits and vegetables is a problem, a person can take an antioxidant supplement, which can be found in almost any drugstore or the pharmacy section of the local supermarket.

Another good way to manage stress is to find ways to relax. Again, there are a number of different methods; each individual can choose a method that works best.

  • Some people use deep breathing to relax. Breathe in, hold it for five seconds, then exhale.
  • Another relaxation technique is to lie down, close the eyes, and concentrate on slowly relaxing each part of the body. Start with the feet and relax each muscle group until a feeling of deep relaxation and peace surrounds the body.
  • Some individuals find a particular kind of music soothing.
  • Humor or laughter is a great way to relax both body and mind.
  • Another method that some people enjoy is aromatherapy, in which scented oils, candles, lotions, or bath beads are used to calm the senses. Lavender is one recommended soothing scent.
  • Milder forms of exercise, such as yoga or tai chi (a gentle martial art), are also popular.

The power of positive thinking should not be underestimated in reducing the effects of stress. This can include talking positively to oneself and refocusing negative thoughts and situations into positive ones. Concentrating on some of the activities mentioned above is one way to make an effort to stop negative thoughts.

Another very important, way to manage stress is to seek support from peers. Getting together with peers for social or sports activities, studying, games, and fun helps one focus on the positive. Socializing helps relax the body and mind and greatly reduces the effects of everyday stress.

Get Enough Sleep

Getting plenty of sleep is essential to maintaining good health. The body uses the time spent sleeping to repair and rejuvenate itself while storing energy for the next day. For many reasons, however, sleep is often elusive for busy Americans, even the very young. Yet numerous studies have shown that chronic sleeplessness leads to many serious disorders. Most authorities claim that the average person needs eight hours of sleep a night to function adequately; some individuals believe they need only six or seven, whereas others think they need nine or ten.

Sleep deprivation (not getting enough sleep) is a major cause of accidents. It raises blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and is a known cause of psychological disturbances. And lack of sleep seriously compromises the immune system's ability to fight disease. Getting enough sleep is one sure way to help fight off common colds, the flu, and mild infections.

There are several ways to prevent insomnia, or chronic sleeplessness. Set a regular sleep schedule and try to stick to it. Try not to take naps during the day, as this prevents deep, refreshing sleep at night. Get regular exercise, reduce caffeine intake, avoid smoking, and, for those of legal drinking age, drink alcohol only in moderation. Alcohol may make a person sleepy, but the type of sleep it causes is shallow and not beneficial to the body's self-healing processes.

Try to reserve the bedroom for sleep only. Take steps to make the bedroom as appealing, quiet and relaxing as possible, while avoiding such activities as watching TV or doing homework in bed.

Observe Good Hygiene Practices

Illnesses are usually spread from person to person through the spread of germs, viruses, and other organisms. One of the best ways to be protected against these illnesses is to follow basic good hygiene techniques. [See also Chapter 3: Personal Care and Hygiene.]

Good hand-washing habits are one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of illnesses such as colds, the flu, and viruses, as well as those caused by parasites. One should always wash his or her hands with warm water and plenty of soap after using the bathroom (especially public rest-rooms, which may not be cleaned as frequently as personal bathrooms) and before preparing or eating food. Washing hands is also important after coming in contact with someone who is ill or after handling trash or playing with pets.

Good dental hygienebrushing and flossing every day and seeing a dentist at least once a yearwill help prevent bad breath, tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease later in life. Gum disease puts adults at risk for strokes because it can lead to blockages of the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the head.

Keeping the hair clean will help minimize the risk of developing head lice, while bathing or showering frequently and keeping the body clean helps to prevent skin problems and rashes, jock itch, and athlete's foot.

Physical Examinations

Eating well, practicing good hygiene, managing stress, and exercising are all proven ways to prevent illness and disease. However, even a person who follows all of these techniques should still visit a medical professional regularly for a physical examination or checkup. Some authorities recommend checkup visits for children at the following ages: two to four weeks, two, four, six, nine, twelve, fifteen, and eighteen years.

Checkups are important because they allow the health care provider to review the patient's growth and development, perform tests, and give shots (vaccines), if necessary. Anyone who has a health concern or question should be sure to ask the doctor or other health professional at this visit. Often, catching a problem early can prevent it from becoming much more severe. For example, doctors will usually examine patients for scoliosis (curvature of the spine) starting at around fifth or sixth grade. Catching a mild curvature at this age allows it to be treated with a brace and can reduce the likelihood of severe problems that might require surgery later in life.

Some diagnostic tests that may be performed during an examination include:

  • Anemia: Young people should be tested for anemia (a blood disorder) early in life as a preventive measure. Anemia can be treated better if caught early.
  • Auscultation: This is a medical term for listening, the process by which a doctor or other professional determines whether the sounds coming from the lungs, heart, and abdomen are normal. Abnormal sounds can signal such problems as a heart murmur or irregularity, an aortic aneurysm, fluid in the lungs, or serious intestinal problems. One example that a doctor might listen for would be an absence of bowel sounds, which could indicate a rupture of the intestines. This condition could rapidly become fatal if not treated immediately.
  • Blood pressure check: High blood pressure in young people can lead to serious problems, such as heart disease and strokes.
  • Cholesterol level: High levels of cholesterol have been linked with heart disease and heart attacks. Testing is especially important if there is a family history of these problems.
  • Inspection: This process of "looking" at and observing the patient's external appearance is usually the first step in a checkup. A doctor might spot, for example, a mole on a patient's arm that has grown or changed in appearance, signaling the possibility of skin cancer. Skin cancer is a condition that can be very successfully treated or even prevented if caught early.
  • Palpation: This term means "feeling" and refers to the doctor's methods of touching affected body parts to determine their size, consistency, texture, location, and tenderness. Palpation might allow the provider to spot a tumor or cyst while it is still small enough to be removed successfully.

RECOMMENDED VACCINES

The federal government recommends that all Americans receive the following course of vaccinations:

  • Polio (OPV or IPV): At 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years.
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP, DTP): At 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. Tetanus-Diphtheria (Td) at 11 to 16 years.
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR): At 12 to 15 months and either 4 to 6 years or 11 to 12 years.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib): At 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months; or 2 months, 4 months and 12 to 15 months depending on the vaccine type.
  • Hepatitis B (HBV): At birth to 2 months, 1 to 4 months, and 6 to 18 months.
  • Chickenpox (VZV): At 1 to 12 years.

The schedule of immunizations does change with new research, so individuals should check with their doctors to see if there are any new vaccines available.

  • Percussion: A method of "tapping" of body parts during a physical examination with fingers, hands, or small instruments to evaluate the size, consistency, borders, and presence or absence of fluid in body organs.
  • Tuberculosis (TB): This test is generally only necessary if one has been in close contact with a person who has TB (a disease of the lungs).
  • Vision and hearing tests: The health care provider has tests to determine if there are any potential problems with vision or hearing. Problems like glaucoma (an eye disease) or hearing loss can be treated successfully or at least minimized if caught early.

Complete Immunizations

Many infectious illnesses (ones that may be passed from person to person) caused by viruses or bacteria are now preventable through immunization. Immunization means being injected with a vaccine (a tiny amount of the disease that is not infectious), which allows the body to create defense mechanisms against the disease. These defense mechanisms, which include antibodies or white blood cells, protect the body if the person is later exposed to the infectious disease.

INJURY PREVENTION


At home, at school, and at play, hazards exist that can lead to injuries. Just as a person can take steps to prevent illness and disease, one can take steps to prevent getting hurt as well. Following good household safety precautions, using the right equipment for sports and play, and remembering to warm up before and cool down after any physical activity are just three of the ways people can prevent minor injuries. The following section will explore many more.

Household Injuries

Accidents can happen anywhere, even in one's own home. Taking precautions around the house can increase the safety level and prevent falls, cuts and burns, accidental poisoning, medicine over-doses, and electrocutionsome of the potential hazards in a typical household environment.

PREVENTING FALLS. Preventing falls generally means removing obstacles around the house and yard that can cause someone to fall. This is a cooperative effort on the part of everyone who lives there. However, one of the best ways to prevent falls is by exercising regularly. Exercising improves muscle strength, flexibility, and coordination, all of which help keep a person from accidentally falling down, as well as reducing the likelihood of serious injury if one does fall. Here are some more tips for preventing falls:

SHOULD YOU GET A FLU SHOT?

Not on the list of standard childhood vaccinations, but something to consider, is an annual "flu shot." Each year, doctors receive a supply of vaccine for the type of influenza or "flu" virus that is expected to strike. Many people go to their doctors for this annual vaccine to prevent a bad case of the flu. However, some people avoid the shot for fear that the vaccine itself will give them the fluand some cases like this have been reported. Also, a small percentage of people do experience a slight fever and muscle ache from the immunization. Because of this risk, the vaccination is more likely to be recommended for adults over sixty-five or those with weak immune systems. Check with your doctor for advice on whether to be vaccinated for influenza.

  • Clean up any spills around the home immediately.
  • Keep stairways clear and well lit, and hold on to handrails while going up and down stairs.
  • Put nonslip pads under rugs to hold them down and prevent tripping.
  • Use nonskid wax on kitchen and bathroom floors.
  • Place nonskid strips on the bottoms of showers and bathtubs. Install grab bars or handrails in the bathtub and shower.
  • Keep small objects and cords off the floor or at least out of the pathways of travel throughout the home.
  • Store items that are frequently used in places where they are easily reached without climbing.
  • Improve the lighting throughout the house.
  • Wear sturdy shoes.
  • Avoid walking on icy sidewalks and pavement.

CUT AND BURN PREVENTION. Using a little common sense with sharp objects is the best way to prevent accidental injuries involving cuts. Knives, forks, scissors, and other sharp tools should be kept in a drawer with a safety latch if there are young children in the home. Also, they should not just be thrown in a drawer. This could lead to cuts when reaching in to grab something. There are different kinds of products available to help organize sharp objects in drawers and other spaces.

When using a sharp object, like a knife or scissors, one should always hold it by the handle and not walk around with it. It is also important to use caution with appliances that have sharp blades, such as blenders or food processors. One should be very careful when cleaning these appliances and should always unplug the appliances if it is necessary to have a hand near the blades. One should also never reach into a garbage disposal with his or her hand.

Other kitchen safety tips include keeping glass objects within easy reach to prevent breakage from dropping or falling. When loading and unloading the dishwasher, one should take special care handling knives, or other sharp tools. Taking out the garbage can also result in injuries if one is not careful. If someone threw away broken glass or a metal can with a sharp edge, the person handling the garbage could cut himself.

As well as the kitchen, the garage may hold some things that could cause injuries. All tools, including those used for gardening, automotive, and lawn care, should be put away in a safe manner. When mowing the lawn, one should always wear shoes.

The following precautions should be taken to avoid the possibility of an accidental burn:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Do not leave burning candles unattended, even for a short while.
  • If using a space heater be sure it is not placed near curtains or a bedspread that could start a fire, or where a small child could reach the heating elements.
  • Avoid overloading electrical sockets with too many appliances.
  • Do not leave hot appliances like hair curlers or coffeepots plugged in.
  • Avoid reaching over stove burners with long hair or loose sleeves hanging down.
  • When cooking, always use the back burners on the stove, and be sure to turn the pot handles away from the front where they could be knocked easily or grabbed by a small child.
  • Always test bath water with the tips of the fingers before stepping in to make sure it is not too hot.
  • Never go to sleep with a heating pad on. Even on low settings, a heating pad can cause serious burns.

PREVENTING ACCIDENTAL POISONING.

One of the biggest hazards in any household is the presence of numerous substances that can be poisonous if ingested or, in some cases, handled at all. The best method of prevention for accidental poisoning is to be aware of these substances, which ones are dangerous, how they should be handled, and how to avoid them.

Household cleaning products and aerosol sprays are one source of potential poisoning. They should be stored in clearly marked containers out of reach of small children, and never in old soda bottles or containers that were once used for food.

One should avoid handling roach powders or rat poison, and never leave such items where small children or pets can reach them. If using pesticides is unavoidable, read the product label before use and follow all recommended safety precautions during and after use. Some safety tips for using pesticides include wearing gloves and protective clothing, avoiding breathing the fumes or vapors, and washing hands or showering right after applying pesticides.

When using mouthwash, one should be careful not to swallow much of it as many mouthwashes contain substantial amounts of alcohol. Remember that alcohol poisoning can be severe and often fatal. Sometimes paint in older homes or on old furniture contains lead, which can cause lead poisoning in

humans. Other things that may contain lead and should be avoided are dust and debris from older building renovations, some cosmetics and ceramics, leaded gasoline fumes, and auto battery storage casings.

Other poisons can actually be found in plants. Take time to learn all the names of the plants in the house, and remove any that could be toxic. Many household plants can be poisonous if accidentally ingested by either humans or pets. Do not play with or try to break open batteries, either the regular type used in radios and headsets or automotive batteries; both contain acid that is poisonous and can cause painful burns.

MEDICINE CABINET SAFETY. Medicines are a leading cause of serious and sometimes fatal accidental poisonings, even among adults who simply mistake one medicine for another or take the wrong dose. For this reason, special precautions should be taken to store medicines properly and to take them only as directed.

All family members should take care not to leave vitamin bottles, aspirin bottles, or other medications on the kitchen table, countertops, bedside tables, or dresser tops. When guests are in the house, be sure they do not have access to the family medicine cabinet, and that the guests' medications are safely stored away.

THE DANGERS OF CARBON MONOXIDE

One type of household poisoning is caused by carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced whenever something is burned incompletely or in a closed environment. It is toxic to all animals and to humans, and it is especially dangerous because it is so difficult to detect.

The best way to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a CO detector installed in the house. Check with friends and family to see if their homes also are protected. Avoid staying in homes or buildings where old gas furnaces, water heaters, or space heaters are in use, and be sure that when a fireplace or charcoal grill is lit, it is properly ventilated.

Never use lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other small gasoline-powered equipment inside, even when performing repairs. Do not start any automobile in an enclosed garage, even just to warm it up in the wintertime. Also, if a household pet, which may show the effects of CO poisoning earlier than a human, suddenly becomes ill or dies, think of the possibility of a toxic exposure and have the house checked.

[For more information on carbon monoxide, see Chapter 5: Environmental Health.]

One should always keep medications in their original containers with the labels intact. Pills left in purses or liquids stored in unmarked bottles are too easily mistaken for something else. In addition, always check the label before taking medication and only give medication to the person for whom it was prescribed. Another precaution is to not take medicine or even vitamins in the dark, in case of an accidental switch or overdose. After taking or administering medication, be sure to reattach the safety cap and store the medication

away safely. Also, dispose of any out-of-date or expired medication safely, preferably by taking it to a pharmacy where it can be disposed of as hazardous waste.

SAFETY WITH ELECTRICITY. Another major safety hazard in any home is the electrical system and all electrical appliances. The following are steps that a person can take to avoid being burned or even electrocuted (a potentially fatal accident) by a mishap with electricity.

  • Do not touch the electrical system panel.
  • Tell a parent or other adult if lights dim or the size of the television picture shrinks often; if there are sparks or bright light flashes or unusual sounds from the system; or if parts of the system, such as outlet covers or plugs, feel warm.
  • Try to avoid the use of extension cords, and never use frayed or damaged ones.
  • Replace damaged or frayed cords, which can cause shock or fire.
  • Do not secure cords with nails or staples, which can present fire and shock hazards. If nails or staples need to be removed, disconnect the power first.
  • Do not try to plug a three-prong plug into a two-hole outlet. Use an adapter, which grounds the current and helps prevent shocks. Never stick a finger into an outlet.

FIREARM SAFETY

Guns take the lives of sixteen children in the United States each day, through homicide (one person killing another), suicide (the taking of one's own life), or accidental shootings. Many young people have easy access to these deadly weapons, which is resulting in major tragedies across the nation. The best advice is to avoid handling firearms altogether, and if at all possible, to avoid being in a house where there are guns. However, in any household where guns are kept, safety precautions can be taken to prevent a tragic accident.

  • Never play with or joke around with a gun, even if you are "sure" that the gun is not loaded. Never point a gun at yourself or anyone else.
  • All guns should be stored in a locked cabinet, unloaded, with the safety mechanism on.
  • Ammunition should be stored separately in a securely locked container.
  • If possible, all guns should be secured with childproof devices such as trigger locks or padlocks that prevent them from being fired.
  • Take a firearm safety course to learn the safe and correct way to handle any gun.
  • Use caution in bathrooms, kitchens, basements and garages where people can touch heating radiators, water pipes, electric heaters, electric stoves and water in sinks and bathtubs. If a person touches one of these and a faulty electrical appliance at the same time, he or she can receive a shock and may be electrocuted.
  • Unplug all small appliances when not in use.
  • Do not ever use a hair dryer or other electric appliance in or near a sink or bathtub. If it is plugged in, even if the power is off, it can deliver a powerful shock if it comes into contact with water.
  • Never reach into water to get an appliance that has fallen in without being sure the appliance is unplugged.
  • Use electric blankets according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Never go to sleep with a heating pad that is turned on.

Recreation and Sports

Just as there are dangers inside the home, hazards exist in the outside world as well. Even when participating in fun activities such as games and sports, people must take precautions to prevent injuries.

PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT. One of the most important ways to prevent injury during sports and recreation is to be sure to wear the right clothing and protective gear.

FOOT PROTECTION. Good footwear is essential to prevent foot injuries, such as Achilles tendon strains and bruising. Never wear worn-out shoes; try to choose footwear that is sturdy enough and appropriate for the activity being conducted.

HEAD GEAR. Proper helmets are essential gear for almost any sport, including bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, playing roller hockey, baseball or softball, and of course football. It is estimated that two-thirds of the bicycle related deaths each year are caused by head injuries, and the universal use of helmets could save one life per year. In addition to helmets, find out what other protective gear is right for the particular sport being played. Face masks, mouth guards, shin guards, and other protective items greatly reduce the likelihood and severity of injuries.

SHIELD THE EYES. Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children, and sports are the major cause of eye injuries in school-age children. Always wear some kind of face mask, face guard, or goggles, whatever is appropriate for the sport. People who already wear eyeglasses should consider investing in a special pair for sports use.

SPORTS AND SPECIAL EQUIPMENT. There are many sports that require their own special equipment. Before starting a new sport, learn what kinds of equipment are necessary and how to use them.

ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL YOUTH SPORTS SAFETY FOUNDATION, AS MANY AS ONE-THIRD OF IN-LINE SKATING EMERGENCY-ROOM-TREATED INJURIES COULD BE PREVENTED OR LESSENED IN SEVERITY BY THE USE OF PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT.

BICYCLE SAFETY

  • Make sure the bicycle is adjusted properly; the rider should be able to stand over the top tube.
  • Check to make sure all parts are secure and working well. The handlebars should be firmly in place and turn easily. The wheels must be straight and secure.
  • Always check brakes before riding.
  • Ride slowly in wet weather and apply brakes earlier; it takes more distance to stop.
  • Wear fluorescent or other bright-colored clothes.
  • Avoid biking at night.
  • Always keep a lookout for obstacles.
  • Stay alert at all times.
  • Use special care on bridges.
  • Ride on the right side in a straight predictable path.
  • Always be aware of the traffic in the area.
  • Learn the rules of the road and obey traffic laws.
  • Never wear headphones while riding as they impair your ability to hear traffic.

Baseball and softball are examples of sports that require their own special gear, both for players and for the playing field. Each player should have his own glove, bat, and cleated shoes. Make sure the equipment meets league requirements. Most leagues supply batting helmets, which are extremely important; if the league doesn't supply one with a face guard, buy one. Check out the baseball field and be sure it has breakaway bases that help prevent ankle fractures and sprains. The field should be well maintained and free of ruts and debris. In fact, in any sport, the facility should be clean and well maintained, the equipment should be frequently inspected, metal equipment should not be rusty, and floors should be safely maintained to prevent slips and falls. To learn about other sports and the equipment necessary to use when playing, one may consult coaches, sport stores, books, magazines, or the Internet.

DON'T OVERDO IT. Overuse injuries such as teenager's knee, Little League elbow, swimmer's shoulder, and gymnast's back are becoming much more common than in the past. These injuries produce symptoms of redness, swelling, stiffness, soreness, and pain in the affected areas and are simply caused by "overdoing it"failing to recognize when enough is enough.

Warming up and cooling down appropriately will help minimize overuse injuries, as will stretching before playing or engaging in a sport. Learn the proper technique for the particular activity, and do a variety of practice drills so that the technique is perfected and the skills are done properly and not dangerously.

Don't exceed restrictions, such as the limit on the number of innings Little Leaguers can pitch in one week. Consider playing more than one sport. Specializing all year in one sport can put too much stress on particular parts of the body, such as the back and wrists in gymnastics.

WARM UP AND COOL DOWN. When engaging in any sort of physical activity, make it a rule to warm up before starting and to cool down afterward. Before starting, take three to five minutes to stretch and loosen the muscles and joints that will be used in the activity. This simple precaution significantly decreases the risk of muscle sprains, pulls, and strains.

SAFE IN-LINE SKATING

All in-line skaters should wear a proper helmet, wrist guards, and knee pads. To avoid injuries, practice and prepare before striking out on the street. Always be aware of a safe place to "bail out" if that becomes necessary. Learn to "crash" in grass or other soft surfaces while skating. Avoid skates with toe stops, which should never be used on in-line skates, and use heel brakes instead. Be sure the liner is well cushioned and supports the foot, and that the laces or buckles on the skate give as close as possible to a customized fit.

Similarly, at the end of the activity, cool down by walking slowly, doing another gentle activity, and finally stretching once again. This

is essential to help prevent and reduce the severity of any strains, injuries, or soreness from the activity.

TAKE IT SLOW. It takes time to learn a new sport and be good at it. When starting a new sport, a person should first learn the rules of the game and what equipment is required. After that, learn and practice a few skills until one feels more comfortable. In the beginning, one should focus on relaxing and having fun with the sport, and as skills improve, then try more advanced techniques. Many injuries occur when people try to perform at a level that is too advanced for their skills.

There are a few precautions that can be taken by anyone playing a sport or game to reduce the risk of injury:

  • A person should not lift any weight that he or she has to strain to lift even once.
  • People's motor skills develop at different rates, so they should not try to force themselves to play a sport for which they are not suited. Individuals should try different things until they find the right one.
  • Do not return to sports after an injury if there is any limited motion in a joint compared to its uninjured opposite joint (such as in the right elbow compared to the left), joint swelling, or a limp.
  • Be especially careful when playing sports during growth spurts. During growth spurts, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments get tighter, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Prepare for weather conditions. When the temperature is higher than 85 degrees and humidity is greater than 70 percent, there is a danger of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids on such days. Always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) level of 15 or higher before going outside. In cold weather, make sure to be properly dressed in warm, insulating layers, with the head well covered, if permitted.

PREVENTIVE MEDICINE


People usually think of medicine as something to be taken to make a person well after he or she has gotten sick. Preventive medicines are things a person can take when well to help prevent becoming sick.

Vitamins, minerals, and even herbal supplements, when taken regularly in the right amounts, can help prevent many different illnesses, conditions, and even minor symptoms. However, a well-balanced diet should contain most, if not all, of the vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain health. The key to taking vitamins, minerals, or herbal supplements is knowing which ones to take. Before taking any kind of supplement, one should always consult a medical professional to know if it is safe to be taking the supplements, and the right doses, because some vitamins or herbs can be harmful in high doses. Lists of basic, well-documented helpful supplements can be found below.

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic (natural) compounds that are usually not made by the body, but must be acquired from food. They are necessary for the proper growth and development of the body and its continued well-being. Deficiencies of certain vitamins can lead to various bodily disorders.

VITAMIN A (BETA CAROTENE). One of the antioxidant group, this vitamin helps neutralize free radicals, which in turn can reduce the signs of premature aging, heart disease, strokes, cancer, and diabetes. It also can protect the mucous membranes, which shield the body from allergens and germs.

VITAMIN C. Vitamin C is known to help reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancers, such as colon and cervical. It also blocks histamines, which are present in allergic reactions, and reduces inflammation.

VITAMIN D. Vitamin D helps maintain desired blood levels of calcium and enhances calcium absorption. Proper calcium levels can help prevent migraine headaches and, later in life, can help prevent osteoporosis.

VITAMIN E. Another antioxidant, this vitamin is sometimes difficult to get in large amounts from food. It is well known to help reduce the risk of heart disease, and, like vitamin A, it can help prevent or lessen the effect of allergies.

Minerals

Unlike vitamins, which are organic compounds, minerals are inorganic. Like vitamins, however, they are also needed for the growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissues and bones. There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals, which are needed in large amounts, and trace minerals, which are only needed in small amounts.

CALCIUM. Proper levels of calcium in the body are needed to maintain healthy blood and cardiac function, as well as a healthy nervous system. In addition, maintaining a balance of calcium in the blood helps prevent migraines. And it is essential for girls and young women to absorb adequate calcium now to prevent osteoporosis later in life.

COPPER. Copper helps prevent anemia by enhancing hemoglobin (red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body) formulation and stimulating the absorption of iron.

IRON. Iron is important in the production of red blood cells. Correct iron levels are essential for preventing anemia.

MAGNESIUM. This mineral works together with calcium to help prevent migraine headaches. It also helps relieve constriction in the lungs due to allergies and asthma.

POTASSIUM. This important mineral is essential to proper heart function. In extreme cases, a severe deficiency of potassium can lead to a heart attack.

SELENIUM. Along with vitamin A, selenium helps protect the mucous membranes, which are the body's first defense against germs, pollen, and other irritants.

ZINC. Zinc, like selenium and vitamin A, can help protect the body from allergens and germs. Recent studies have shown that zinc lozenges coat the throat and can help prevent people from contracting the common cold.

Herbal Medicine

Herbs have been used since the time of the earliest civilizations for their healing properties. Today, some traditional medicines are still made from herbs, while many medical practitioners both in the United States and worldwide use herbs in their practices. Furthermore, many Americans are choosing to make their own health choices by using herbal supplements to prevent and treat various ailments. As with any treatment, a person should check with a medical professional before using herbal medications to find out exactly how they should be taken.

Indigestion Medicine

Indigestion is not a disease in and of itself but a "catch-all" term used to describe various abdominal symptoms, such as heartburn, general discomfort, nausea, a feeling of fullness, and/or a bloated sensation.

Sometimes indigestion has an obvious and specific cause, such as the ingestion of a certain food or the consumption of alcohol. In that case, the best prevention is to avoid consuming that food or beverage. If indigestion does not seem to have an identifiable cause, however, one should check with a doctor; the symptoms could be the sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as an ulcer, gastritis, or gallbladder disease.

Herbal formulas that can prevent indigestion include peppermint and ginger, both of which can be drunk in the form of an herbal tea. These teas are commonly available in grocery stores, drugstores, and health food stores.

Traditional over-the-counter medications that combat indigestion include antacids and acid-reducing medicines such as cimetidine, ranitidine, nizatidine, or famotidine, and stomach-coating medications like sucralfate or the brand name product Pepto-Bismol. Recent studies have shown that travelers who plan to be in countries where the water supply might contain parasites or organisms that cause intestinal distress can minimize and even prevent these problems by taking Pepto-Bismol regularly starting a few days before the trip.

Lactose Intolerance Medicine

Lactose is a sugar found in cow's milk that, in humans, requires an enzyme called lactase to digest. Some people do not produce enough lactase to break down milk and other dairy products and, as a result, they experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and excessive gas from eating these foods. Some studies show that as much as 70 percent of the world's population is somewhat lactose intolerant. (About 30 million Americans, mostly those of Mediterranean, African American, or Asian heritage, are believed to have some degree of lactose intolerance.)

A SAMPLING OF HERBS

There are a number of ways to ingest herbs, from pills to teas to rubbing them on the skin. Many herbs are available in health food stores and without a prescription. It is important not to self-medicate oneself with herbal supplements, however, before checking with a doctor. The herbs listed below have been shown to have useful properties when used with care and according to direction:

  • Aloe Vera: Helps prevent constipation by maintaining regular bowel function.
  • Angelica (also known as dang qui): Prevents arthritis and combats certain cancers.
  • Astragalus: Boosts the immune system.
  • Bilberry Fruit Extract: Bilberry contains compounds that help strengthen the capillaries and protect them from damaging free radicals.
  • Black Walnut: Fights athlete's foot and jock itch; helps prevent certain cancers.
  • Burdock: Helps prevent diabetes.
  • Cayenne (Red Pepper): Lowers cholesterol, which has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Celery Seed: May help prevent certain cancers; regulates blood pressure; reduces cholesterol.
  • Cilantro (Coriander): Prevents infection in minor wounds.
  • Cinnamon: Controls blood sugar in diabetics, prevents stomach ulcers, wards off urinary tract infections, fights tooth decay and gum disease, and prevents vaginal yeast infections.
  • Coffee: Combats drowsiness, which can lead to accidents; prevents asthma attacks.
  • Cranberry: Cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract and bladder infections by making the urine more acidic.
  • Dill: Fights flatulence; prevents infectious diarrhea in children by inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria.
  • Echinacea: Fights infections and stimulates the immune system.
  • Fenugreek: Controls diabetes, reduces levels of cholesterol.
  • Feverfew: Helps prevent migraine headaches.
  • Garlic: Research indicates that garlic helps reduce cholesterol levels, as well as maintain normal blood pressure levels, both essential elements for reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Garlic also helps prevent cancer and contributes to the longer life span of healthy skin cells.
  • Ginger: Prevents motion sickness. Also helps kill the influenza virus and helps the immune system wage war on infection.
  • Ginseng: Relieves stress, which is a factor in premature aging, heart disease, cancer, acne, allergies and other infections. Also regulates blood pressure and enhances immunity.
  • Goldenseal: This herb contains a compound called berberine that kills many of the bacteria that cause diarrhea. Berberine also helps the immune system neutralize the bacteria that cause colds and sinus infections.
  • Grape Seed Extract: This plant extract contains antioxidant compounds that can be beneficial in the same way as other antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
  • Green Tea: Green tea extract is a popular beverage that also happens to contain large amounts of antioxidants.
  • Guarana: This herb can prevent drowsiness and reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  • Hawthorn: Regulates blood pressure, which is helpful for preventing heart disease.
  • Licorice Root: Another plant extract with antioxidant properties.
  • Milk Thistle: Protects against liver damage from alcohol, hepatitis and chemical toxins. It is also a powerful antioxidant, which, like vitamins A and C, helps neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.
  • Oregano: Enhances digestion.
  • Peppermint: Aids digestion; soothes stomachs; freshens breath.
  • Pycnogenol: This plant extract is an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy cells, prevent collagen damage that can lead to premature aging, and neutralize the production of free radicals.
  • Rosemary: May prevent certain cancers; like peppermint, rosemary aids digestion.
  • Sage: Thought to fight diabetes by boosting the action of insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Tarragon: Helps prevent certain cancers and helps against the flu.
  • Tea: Prevents certain cancers; wards off heart disease by helping to lower blood cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Tea also helps to rid the body of excess fluids.
  • Thyme: A natural antiseptic, thyme kills bacteria and fungi.
  • Turmeric: Turmeric is thought to protect the liver, fight heart disease, prevent ulcers, and help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
  • White Willow: "The Herbal Aspirin," helps prevent heart attacks and strokes, combat certain cancers, and prevent migraine headaches.

One way to prevent the symptoms of lactose intolerance is to cut down on the amount of milk consumed, to drink it only with food, or to consume other dairy products such as cottage cheese and yogurt that are already partly broken down (cultured). Alternatively, one can buy lactose-free milk and ice cream in health food stores and some grocery stores. Finally, several over-the-counter medications exist that contain lactase and help to break down the lactose in milk. Lactaid and Dairy Ease are two brand names of lactase preparations that can be mixed into milk to prevent the painful symptoms.

FOR MORE INFORMATION


Books

Duff, John F., M.D. Youth Sports Injuries. New York: Macmillan, 1992.

Flegel, Melinda. Sports First Aid. Rev. ed. Human Kinetics, 1997.

Garvy, Helen. The Immune System: Your Magic Doctor. Los Gatos, Calif.: Shire Press, 1992.

Hyde, Margaret O., and Elizabeth H. Forsyth, M.D. The Disease Book: A Kid's Guide. New York: Walker and Company, 1997.

Micheli, Lyle J., M.D. Sportswise: An Essential Guide for Young Athletes, Parents, and Coaches. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

Web sites

Dr. C. Everett Koop. [Online] http://www.drkoop.com (Accessed October 26, 1999).

Health Central. [Online] http://www.healthcentral.com (Accessed October 26, 1999).

Kids' Health for Parents. [Online] http://www.kidshealth.org (Accessed October 26, 1999).

On Health. [Online] http://www.onhealth.com (Accessed October 26, 1999).

Prevention Magazine. [Online] http://www.healthyideas.com (Accessed October 26, 1999).

Sports Illustrated for Kids. [Online] http://www.sportsparents.com (Accessed October 26, 1999).

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