First aid for choking

I read a post by a pediatrician last week that gave her opinion that while our government is throwing a lot of money at new nutritional guidelines in an attempt to “fight” childhood obesity, it’s ignoring another food-related danger: choking.

Childhood aspiration (or choking) on food is a major public health issue. Anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 kids visit emergency rooms each year in the U.S. alone, after having suffered a food-choking accident. Hundreds die each year, either in the hospital or before they make it in the door. Most of these kids are under the age of 5, and

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What is shallow water blackout?

Last week a young college student drowned.

Normally I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the media surrounding this tragic event—Dartmouth swimmer dies in pool mishap on vacation—but sadly the young man happens to be the son of friends.

He was a life-long swimmer and was on his university’s swim team; the least likely person, you would think, to drown.

But I learned something about a potential danger to young swimmers, and want to help raise awareness about  “shallow water blackout.”

Experienced and competitive swimmers are most at risk, as they may challenge themselves or others to do … Continue reading

First aid for heat exhaustion

first aid for heat exhaustionHere comes the sun!

Summer is in full swing and the days are long and hot! It seemed like a good time to republish a post from last year about how to prevent and treat heat-related illnesses. Take care! FN

Living in the Pacific Northwest,  we rarely have to worry about heat exhaustion—that lousy feeling you get when your body starts to overheat.

But over the next few days the temperatures here are expected to hover around 90°F, which is pretty hot for us. Most of our homes don’t have air condtioning. Why bother when it’s truly hot only one … Continue reading

First aid for the Fourth of July

This is a reprint from last year’s post. Happy and safe Fourth to everyone! FN

Every year around the Fourth of July, hospital emergency departments and fire departments get ready.

By July 5, most large communities have reported property damage—fires, mostly—and bodily damage—burns, missing fingers, blindness.

As a reminder to everybody to be careful around fireworks—my preference is to avoid them altogether—the San Diego Fire Department put together this great public service video demonstrating the danger of explosives fireworks.

I would also refer you to some of my relevant first aid posts:

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First aid for concussions

first aid for concussionsRest, rest and more rest

Gone are the days of the middle school football coach telling a player to “Shake it off and get back in the game.”

Proper first aid and treatment of concussions has received a lot of attention in recent years, mostly due to the alarming increase in long-term neurological problems—memory loss and behavior changes—suffered by professional athletes and soldiers.

Concerned pediatricians and public health officials are pushing schools, youth sports organizations and parents to be more aware of head injuries in young athletes.

Childrens’ brains are still developing, after all, and are especially vulnerable to Continue reading

First aid for hypothermia

first aid for hypothermiaBaby, it’s cold outside!

Most of the headlines over the last few days have focused on the “polar vortex” weather pattern that is pushing frigid air into most of the United States.

Low temperature records are being shattered. Some states are reporting wind chills of -30°F or less.

Brrr!

Outside my house, in Seattle, the weather is pretty seasonal—rainy and 40°F. Lucky us.

But anyone struggling with these super cold temperatures might need a few tips for dealing with hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia

Hypothermia, or low body temperature, occurs from exposure to a cold environment (water or air). As your … Continue reading

Self triage and save money

Know some resources and use them

Triage is a commonly used word in medicine, especially in overcrowded emergency departments as staff do their best to determine which patients are sickest (will soon die unless treated) and which can wait. This process of prioritizing patients for treatment is known as triage.

But triage has a broader definition: The principle or practice of allocating limited resources.

And for most of us, money is definitely a limited resource!

In 2014 more health insurance policies will come with huge deductibles, and I think this trend will continue. Health care costs are not going to … Continue reading

First aid for blisters

friction blistersInfections can be expensive!

When my son was about 10 years old, he developed a nasty blister on his foot after a long hike in poorly-fitting shoes. I wasn’t aware of the blister until several days later when he came to me with what was obviously a badly infected sore between two of his toes.

I had to take him to the pediatrician to have the wound lanced (opened) and drained. He was then given a prescription for antibiotics (one of the expensive new ones, of course).

Altogether, that blister cost us about $300.

Not to mention my son’s misery. … Continue reading

First aid for nosebleeds

first aid for nose bleedsNosebleeds: A common nuisance

I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t had a nosebleed at least once in his or her life. And yet, people rarely know the best way to treat them. Lean forward or backwards? Ice or no ice?

The mucosal lining of your nose is highly vascular, which is why it bleeds so easily – and so much.

This lining is also thin and easily broken. By far, most kids (and some adults) start nosebleeds by picking their noses—gross!

Low humidity caused by indoor heating or cooling can also dry out the mucosa and cause it … Continue reading

Weekly rounds July 19, 2013

Flight delayed? Learn CPR!

For the next six months, Dallas-Fort Worth airport is hosting a trial program to teach “hands-only” CPR to travelers. An automated kiosk, developed by the American Heart Association in partnership with American Airlines, guides passengers through a simplified CPR technique using video instructions and a manikin torso. If the program is successful, it will be expanded to other airports.

Hands-only CPR does not require rescue breaths and is as effective as regular CPR. It sounds like a useful way to pass some time, and I’d love to try it if I’m ever in one … Continue reading

First aid for poisoning

Poisoning deaths are on the rise

Why? Drugs. And I don’t mean heroine or cocaine. Legal prescription opioids, pain pills such as hydrocodone, are involved in more drug poisoning deaths than illegal drugs.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reports that 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs. And since 2009 more people have died as a result of all types of drug poisoning, whether accidental or intentional, than car accidents.

We usually associate poisoning with children, but the largest increase in poisonings has been in the 20-59 year old age range, again related to … Continue reading

First aid for the Fourth of July

Every year around the Fourth of July, hospital emergency departments and fire departments get ready.

By July 5, most large communities have reported property damage—fires, mostly—and bodily damage—burns, missing fingers, blindness.

As a reminder to everybody to be careful around fireworks—my preference is to avoid them altogether—the San Diego Fire Department put together this great public service video demonstrating the danger of explosives fireworks.

I would also refer you to some of my relevant first aid posts:

Have a happy and safe Fourth!

Frugal Nurse… Continue reading

First aid for heat exhaustion

Here comes the sun!

Living in the Pacific Northwest,  we rarely have to worry about heat exhaustion – that lousy feeling you get when your body starts to overheat.

But over the next few days the temperatures here are expected to hover around 90°F, which is pretty hot for us. Most of our homes don’t have air condtioning. Why bother when it’s truly hot only one or two weeks every summer?

But other parts of the country routinely experience high temperatures all summer long. And every summer, people die from the excessive heat.

Children and seniors are especially vulnerable. Take Continue reading

First aid for stroke symptoms

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood (oxygen) cannot get to the brain tissue, and the brain cells die. A stroke can be caused by a clot (called an ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (called a hemorrhagic stroke). About 9 out of 10 strokes are caused by a clot.

An ischemic stroke is similar to what happens with a heart attack, when blood to the heart is blocked by a clot and the heart tissue dies. Risk factors for heart attack – age, smoking, unhealthy lifestyle, family history – are the same for stroke.

Stroke symptoms

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First aid for knocked out teeth

knocked out teeth 01A common tale of knocked out teeth

A friend of mine was stepping out of her car onto the sidewalk when she tripped on the curb and, unable to catch herself in time, fell face first onto the concrete.

She sat up and immediately put her hand to her mouth; her hand came away covered in blood and she felt her front teeth hanging in their sockets. Although not hurt otherwise, she fainted at the sheer horror of having just knocked out her front teeth.

Concerned onlookers immediately called 911, and she was eventually taken to the emergency room for … Continue reading