Monday, March 26, 2012

Snakebite on the rise in County

Each year in the U.S., there are over 8,000 poisonous snakebites -- mostly in the summer season.
In Cooke County, as of June 1, the Gainesville Memorial Hospital emergency department has seen 7 snakebites.

Poisonous snakebites are medical emergencies, and they can be deadly if not treated quickly. Children are at higher risk for death or serious complications because of their smaller body size. However, the right anti-venom can save a victim's life. Getting the victim to an emergency room as quickly as possible is the top priority, as many snakebites, if properly treated, will not have serious effects.

Snakebites can cause severe local tissue damage and often require follow-up care.

Poisonous snakebites include bites by any of the following:

* rattlesnake
* copperhead
* water moccasin (cottonmouth)
* coral snake

The first three species are native to Cooke County.

According to County Extension Agent Wayne Becker, copperheads are the snakes being reported most often to his office.

“Like the rest of us suffering in this heat, they are looking for cool, damp spots,” said Becker. “And they are showing up in a lot of yards.”

All snake species will bite when threatened or surprised, but most will usually avoid an encounter if possible and only bite as a last resort.

Snakes found in and near water are frequently mistaken as being poisonous. Most species of snake are harmless and many bites will not be life threatening, but unless you are absolutely sure that you know the species, experts say treat it seriously.

Snakebite: Symptoms & Signs

* bloody wound discharge
* blurred vision
* burning
* convulsions
* diarrhea
* dizziness
* excessive sweating
* fainting
* fang marks in the skin
* fever
* increased thirst
* localized tissue death
* loss of muscle coordination
* nausea and vomiting
* numbness and tingling
* rapid pulse
* severe localized pain
* skin discoloration
* swelling at the site of the bite
* weakness

Snakebite: Prevention

According to County Agent Becker, there is not a lot you can do to prevent snakes from entering your space. Snake deterrents, like powders and sprays, are only marginally effective. You just need to be aware of the situation and take proper precautions, says Becker.

* Even though most snakes are not poisonous, avoid picking up or playing with any snake unless you have been properly trained.
* Many serious snakebites occur when someone deliberately provokes a snake.
* When hiking in an area known to have snakes, wear long pants and boots if possible. If gardening, wear gloves.
* Avoid areas where snakes may be hiding -- under rocks, logs, etc.
* Tap ahead of you with a walking stick before entering an area with an obscured view of your feet. Snakes will attempt to avoid you if given adequate warning. If walking at night, carry a flashlight.
* If you are a frequent hiker, consider purchasing a snakebite kit (available from hiking supply stores). Do not use older snakebite kits, such as those containing razor blades and suction bulbs.

Snakebite: First Aid

1. Keep the person calm, reassuring them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
2. If you have a pump suction device, follow the manufacturer's directions.
3. Remove any rings or constricting items because the affected area may swell. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area.
4. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change color, the snake was probably poisonous.
5. Monitor the person's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure if possible. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the victim flat, raise the feet about a foot (unless that is where the bite is located), and cover the victim with a blanket.
6. Get medical help immediately.
7. Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done without risk of further injury. Do not waste time hunting for the snake, and do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill the snake. Be careful of the head when transporting it -- a dead snake can bite from reflex for up to an hour.

* DO NOT allow the victim to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the victim to safety.
* DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
* DO NOT apply cold compresses to a snakebite.
* DO NOT cut into a snakebite with a knife or razor.
* DO NOT try to suction the venom by mouth.
* DO NOT give the victim stimulants or pain medications unless instructed to do so by a doctor.
* DO NOT give the victim anything by mouth.
* DO NOT raise the site of the bite above the level of the victim's heart.

Call Immediately for Emergency Medical Assistance

Call for help if someone has been bitten by a snake that you think may be poisonous, especially if the person experiences symptoms. Time is of the essence. If possible, call ahead to the emergency room so that anti-venom can be ready when the victim arrives.

Can Snacking Be Part of a Healthy Eating Plan?

Can Snacking Be Part of a Healthy Eating Plan? American Dietetic Association Says Yes -- If You Choose Wisely

Snacks can help optimize your energy and mental power, control your weight, reduce the load on your heart and prevent heartburn.

Food and nutrition experts at the American Dietetic Association say your snacking habits should help balance your diet, not add unneeded calories or fat.

"To get all the essential nutrients your body needs in a day, snacking can be very beneficial to your overall health and well being," says Katherine Tallmadge, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
"As long as snacks are planned, small and balanced, they can really help fuel your body for activities throughout your day.

I often tell my clients to snack up to three times a day, but limit the snack calories to 100 to 200 calories. It helps keep them satisfied throughout the day and they are less likely to binge late at night while watching television or working on the computer," Tallmadge says.

"I like to recommend snacks that provide a little carbohydrate, protein and small amount of fat, if any. Mix and match with whatever your taste preference may be and you can be energized throughout your day.”

Here are some great suggestions:

* medium banana and one tablespoon of peanut butter: 200 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber
* medium apple with skin and one-ounce string cheese: 190 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber
* one-quarter cup of raisins and one-half cup plain yogurt: 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of fiber
* two cups of popcorn, unbuttered, sprinkled with cayenne pepper: 80 calories, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber
* one-half cup of pretzels and mustard: 93 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of fiber
* ten regular tortilla chips and one-quarter cup salsa: 188 calories, 10 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber
* one cup of dry cereal and one cup of one percent milk: 200 calories, 3 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of fiber
* six ounces of skim milk, one-half tablespoon cocoa, one-half tablespoon sugar, dash cinnamon and vanilla extract: 102 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber.
* one small corn tortilla, one-half ounce grated reduced fat cheddar cheese, 1 chopped tomato, 1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper slices: 109 calories, 2 grams of fat, 2.7 grams of fiber
* two tablespoons of skim milk ricotta cheese, one-third cup sliced fresh strawberries, one-third cup fresh blueberries, one-third cup fresh raspberries: 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 5.2 grams of fiber
* one slice of angel food cake with one-third cup of fresh berries: 100 calories, 0.2 grams of fat, 1.6 grams of fiber
* one whole-wheat pita pocket, three ounces of tuna fish packed in water with tomato slices: 185 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4.7 grams of fiber

With nearly 70,000 members, the Chicago-based American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition and well-being.

National Nutrition Month®, created in 1973, celebrates its 30th anniversary in March 2003 by promoting healthful eating and providing practical nutrition guidance.

Planning a Safe Summer Vacation

June marks the beginning of vacation season. Gainesville Memorial Hospital wishes you safe and healthy summer traveling and reminds you to plan for basic health needs and be prepared for medical emergencies.

Before you leave, GMH recommends:

* Taking a first aid class and learning CPR.
* Reviewing medication dosage schedules with your pharmacist or healthcare provider if traveling across time zones.
* If traveling out of the country, check your health insurance policy for coverage of illnesses or accidents that occur outside the United States.
* When planning a cruise, ask about the availability of medical staff and equipment should an emergency occur.

Gainesville Memorial Hospital recommends that you take the following items with you on your summer travels:

* A list of your medical conditions, recent operations and allergies.
* Copies of your eyeglass prescription and an extra pair of lenses.
* Your health insurance card.
* A list of medications you are currently taking and an ample supply of these medications. Be sure to keep prescription medications in the original containers.
* Over-the-counter medicines used for common ailments such as a pain reliever, antihistamine, anti-nausea/motion sickness medication, decongestant, antacid, laxative, and anti-diarrheal. This is particularly important if you are traveling overseas because drug names, doses and availability differ by country.
* A traveler’s first aid kit that includes assorted sizes of bandages and wraps, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointments, hydrocortisone cream, scissors, tweezers and a thermometer.
* Sunscreen, insect repellent and lip balm.

Additional recommendations:

* Carry a day’s supply of medications with you at all times.
* If you have severe allergies, wear an alert bracelet or necklace to alert others of your condition. Check with your doctor to discuss specific treatments you can use in case of an allergic reaction.
* Don’t store medicines where temperatures climb higher than 100 degrees. Heat and humidity affect the potency of many drugs.
* Keep medicines in child-resistant containers and out of the reach of children.

Playing By The Numbers (To Lower Your Cholesterol)

When someone says you are one in a million, it is often a compliment. However, if you are one in the million of people who have heart attacks each year, the news is not so good.

Having high blood cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your chance of heart disease or stroke. When high blood cholesterol is combined with other risk factors, your risk of heart problems increases even more.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in your blood. When there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. As the arteries narrow, blood flow to the heart is slowed or blocked. If there is not enough blood and oxygen supplied to the heart, the heart muscle weakens, causing chest pain, a heart attack, or even death.

High blood cholesterol does not produce symptoms. That is why it is important to have your cholesterol level checked. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that everyone age 20 and older have a fasting "lipoprotein profile" at least once every five years. This test is done after 9 to 12 hours without food or liquids.

A "lipoprotein profile" gives information about:

*        total cholesterol,
*        low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad cholesterol" - the primary source of cholesterol buildup,
*        high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good cholesterol" - which helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries, and
*        triglycerides - another form of fat in the blood.

Evaluating Your Risk of Heart Disease or Heart Attack

Generally, the higher your LDL level and the more risk factors you have for heart disease, the greater your chance of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. In addition to a high LDL level, the risk factors for heart disease include:

*        smoking,
*        high blood pressure (140/90 mmHG or higher or on blood pressure medication),
*        low HDL cholesterol (40 mg/dL or lower),
*        family history of early heart disease, and
*        age (45 or older if you are a man/55 or older if you are a woman).

Lowering Your LDL Cholesterol

*        eating fewer high fat foods (particularly those high in saturated fat),
*        reducing the amount of cholesterol in your diet,
*        losing weight, if you are overweight,
*        increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet,
*        adding certain food products that contain plant stanols or sterols, and
*        exercising regularly.

If drugs are needed to lower your cholesterol, it is still important to eat a healthy diet, control your weight, and exercise. These activities will reduce the amount of medicine you need and lower your overall risk of heart disease.

MRI: A Valuable Diagnostic Tool

Through the use of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, patients at Gainesville Memorial Hospital can be examined by a machine that some physicians say reveals as much, or more, than being able to actually see inside the body.

Unlike x-ray imaging, MRI does not rely on radiation. Instead, it uses a computer and strong magnetic field (5000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field) to look into the body.

“MRI provides excellent anatomical detail,” says Doohi Lee, M.D., diagnostic radiologist at Gainesville Memorial Hospital. “The pictures produced with magnetic resonance imaging offer more detailed views of soft-tissues than those obtained with other scanning techniques.”

MRI images are used to detect many abnormalities in all parts of the body. It is frequently used to examine the brain, the spine, the abdomen and pelvis, and the skeletal system.

In the brain, for example, MRI has proven useful in diagnosing small strokes (that could not have previously been discovered), tumors, and multiple sclerosis.

In the spine, disc herniations can be seen very accurately. 

One of the innovations Doctor Lee is offering in spinal imaging at Gainesville Memorial Hospital is looking for inflammation in the spine with MRI contrast administration.

In the skeletal system, MRI is the main diagnostic tool for evaluating rotator cuff tears in the shoulder, various ligament and joint abnormalities of the knee, ankle and the wrist.

The eye, ear, nose, throat, heart, abdomen, pelvis, and feet are other areas of the body that can be viewed using magnetic resonance imaging.

About the procedure

Prior to the MRI exam, patients are asked to complete a questionnaire. This information is gathered to ensure patients' safety and to facilitate the technician’s ability to obtain the highest quality images possible. At this time a technologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions.

Due to the use of magnetic fields, patients are asked to remove clothing with metal; jewelry, hair clips, hearing aids, credit cards, coins, or other metal objects that could interfere with the procedure. Patients may be asked to wear a hospital gown to avoid problems. Because MRI works with magnetic fields, this procedure cannot be performed on patients with pacemakers, certain surgical implants, or cerebral aneurysm clips.

Patients are assisted onto a table and guided into a machine. The scan is completely painless, but is somewhat noisy (e.g., knocking or thumping sounds will be heard). Earplugs are available. A two-way intercom allows constant communication with the technologist during the procedure.

An MRI exam takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes to complete. Results of the exam are forwarded to the patient's physician, usually within 24 - 48 hours.