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5 reasons we shouldn’t joke about kids with food allergies

5 reasons not to joke about food allergiesManaging food allergy in schools remains a challenge. There is little evidence to guide school officials in managing and balancing both the needs of the 8% of children with food allergy, as well as the children without food allergy. Recent data from the March 2014 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health demonstrated that there is no clear parental consensus on how to manage such issues. Striking a balance that allows all parties to feel their needs are validated is a tremendously difficult task, but mutually acceptable solutions are accomplishable.

In this light, recent comments made by elected a Clawson, Michigan school board member at their November Board of Education Meeting are disheartening and inappropriate. The board member suggested that students with food allergies “should be shot” as a means of accommodating their health concerns. Obviously, she was joking, but the comments were insensitive. Food allergy is not a laughing matter, and these children should not serve as a target of derision. Here are a few reasons why food allergies must be taken seriously within the education community.

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GERD and the Holidays

Helpful hints aimed at preventing acid reflux during the holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, it can be difficult to follow a healthy diet and maintain a regular exercise routine. For some individuals, with the holidays come painful symptoms of heartburn and discomfort after indulging in all those delicious meals. Because of this, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) has designated the week of Thanksgiving as gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) Awareness Week. Holiday_Heartburn_blog_words

What is GERD?

GERD is a chronic, often treatable disease, with symptoms of heartburn and regurgitation of acid. Other symptoms may include dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), chest pain, chronic cough, chronic hoarseness, dental problems, and/or experiencing a bitter taste in the mouth. Patients with GERD may respond well to medications like Nexium and Prilosec that reduce the production of acid in the stomach. Diet and lifestyle modifications are also effective in managing GERD. Continue reading

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Thanksgiving: an ideal time to talk about family health history

family health historyThe U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day since 2004. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their family.

Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors that can determine shared risk for diseases such as various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. That’s why family gatherings like Thanksgiving are the perfect time to collect your family health history, record it for the future, and encourage family members to share it with their health care providers. These easy steps can help you understand the risk for various diseases and encourage early detection and prevention. Continue reading

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Third in a series: Healthy holiday tips

3 tips to get you started on a stress-management routine

holiday stress blogStressed? Overwhelmed? Welcome to the holiday season! If you’re besieged with unending to-do lists, remember, you’re not alone. It’s normal to experience holiday stress. It’s how you deal with the stress that counts. Long-term stress, often exacerbated by the holidays, can result in conditions such as increased blood pressure and blood glucose levels as well as damaged blood vessels — all of which can lead to heart issues. These healthy holiday tips can help.

To deal with stress during the holidays — and throughout the year — it’s important to establish a stress-reducing routine now, and carry that throughout the winter, spring, summer, fall … A healthy routine may be difficult at first, but once it becomes just that — routine — you’ll be on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Continue reading

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Are energy drinks wreaking havoc on your digestive system?

178856680Monster, Red Bull and Rock Star are just some of the energy drinks on the market. These drinks are loaded with caffeine (any where from 75 to 200 milligrams — about the same as a cup of coffee), sugar/artificial sweeteners and other ingredients. Another way people get a quick hit of caffeine is from 5-Hour Energy drinks that concentrate up to 200 milligrams of caffeine into a two ounce drink.

So what impact do all those ingredients have on your digestive system? Caffeine is a stimulant that increases your motility, or the contraction of the muscles that propel contents in your gastrointestinal tract. Caffeine is also a diuretic that can cause dehydration especially for those who are prone to diarrhea. For some people, this can cause diarrhea. Caffeine can also make you jittery and anxious. Anxiety worsens symptoms of many gastrointestinal conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

There are about 30 grams of sugar in most eight-ounce servings of an energy drink. That’s the equivalent of more than seven teaspoons of sugar in one small eight-ounce can. For those with IBS and IBD, consuming excess amounts of refined sugar at one time may not be absorbed well in the intestines. The GI tract then draws water into the bowel to dilute and flush out the excess sugar, leading to diarrhea.

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Young men and the testicular cancer self-exam

testicular self-examWhile testicular cancer is rare, it is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35, according to the Testicular Cancer Society. Generally men in this age group are robust and healthy, so cancer may be something they think only happens to other people. Educating men on the importance, as well as the technique, of testicular self-exam may help to reduce the incidence of this cancer.

Unlike the recommendations for breast self-exams beginning at age 20, and colon cancer screening beginning at age 50, neither the American Cancer Society nor Continue reading