CNN TV SCHEDULE ANCHORS & REPORTERS CONTACT US HLN

April 13, 2009

Tips about TB

Posted: 04:33 PM ET

In Chicago, public health officials are offering tuberculosis testing to hundreds of people who may have been exposed by a doctor unaware she had the disease.

 

The good news, according to officials, is that preliminary testing shows the doctor has a form of TB that can be treated with antibiotics. Thus far, no one else has tested positive and the doctor is home recuperating after spending a few days in the hospital.
Ironically, the news out of Chicago came just a few weeks after the Centers for Disease Control, announced TB at its lowest rate since the government started keeping records in the early 1950s. In 2008, there were 12,898 new cases. That's down about 400 cases from 2007. So what are the facts about TB? Here are some answers.
1. How do you get TB? When someone with active TB coughs, speaks or even sings, TB bacteria can be released into the air. It can stay in the air for hours. If someone else breathes in the bacteria, it's called "TB exposure." After being exposed, people can get latent TB or active TB. Latent TB isn't contagious, while active TB is. Click here for more information.
2. What are the symptoms? If you have latent TB, you won't have any symptoms and you are not contagious. (Though you could develop active TB in the future.) If you have active TB, signs and symptoms include:
- Coughing that lasts three or more weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain, or pain with breathing or coughing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue
- Fever
- Night sweats
- Chills
- Loss of appetite
3. How is it treated? If you have active TB disease, several different antibiotics will be prescribed to you. Click here for a list. Doctors say it will take at least six months to kill all the bacteria. Sometimes TB can be drug resistant. According to the CDC, treatment of drug-resistant TB requires taking a "cocktail" of at least four drugs, for 18 months to two years or longer. Even with treatment, many people with these types of TB may not survive. If treatment is successful, you may need surgery to remove areas of persistent infection or repair lung damage.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Health • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler


Share this on:
March 31, 2009

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: What you need to know

Posted: 06:20 PM ET

The people of Fargo, North Dakota, can’t seem to catch a break. Just as the threat of flooding began to recede, a massive snowstorm started pounding the area. Meteorologists say Fargo could have as much as 16 inches of snow over the next few days. Two people have died and 50 other people have been injured thus far. Officials say most of the injuries are the result of car accidents, but there have also been other problems, including carbon monoxide poisoning.

With the situation in Fargo, it seems like a good time to remind folks of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. When the power goes out and people use alternative sources to heat their homes, it can lead to some huge problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 400 people die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. What’s so tricky about carbon monoxide poisoning is that it’s often hard to detect. That’s why it’s called “the silent killer.” So here are some things you need to keep in mind to protect your family.

1. Carbon monoxide can kill In a matter of minutes According to the Environmental Protection Agency you can’t see, smell or taste carbon monoxide. It is produced whenever gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned in an area that is not properly ventilated. The elderly and young children are especially vulnerable to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

2. What are the symptoms? According to MayoClinic.com, the most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. People who are sleeping or who have been drinking alcohol can die from CO poisoning before ever having symptoms.

3. How can I avoid CO poisoning? The CDC  suggests the following:
• Never use a gas range or oven to heat your home.
• Never leave the motor running in your car while it’s in the garage or another enclosed space.
• Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Health • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler


Share this on:
March 24, 2009

Blacks and Heart Health

Posted: 08:02 AM ET

Last week, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine caught my eye. Researchers found that black adults developed heart failure at a rate 20 times higher than their white counterparts.

That means a 35-year-old black person has the same heart failure rate as a 55-year-old white person. So what's going on? Researchers say there are a variety of reasons for the disparity, ranging from family history and genetics to the high rates of obesity in the African American community.

As doctors told my colleague Shahreen Abedin, this study should be a wakeup call to the African American community. If you are worried about your heart health, the Association of Black Cardiologists suggests you should take the following steps:

1. See the doctor If you don't already have a doctor, find one. He or she can help you come up with an exercise program and diet that's right for you. If you need help finding a heart doctor, the Association of Black Cardiologists has resources to help.

2. Check your cholesterol levels Have your total cholesterol level checked, including HDL-C and triglycerides, at least every five years, or more frequently if your results are not within normal limits.

3. Eat healthy food  Eating the right foods and the right amounts can help you live a longer, healthier life. For a heart-healthy diet, eat a variety of foods, including: vegetables, especially dark-green leafy and deep yellow vegetables, like spinach and carrots, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.  To read more about the best foods for your heart, click here.

4. Get moving! Aim for at least moderate activity – such as brisk walking, raking leaves or house cleaning – for 30 minutes most days of the week. Before you start exercising or start a new diet talk to your doctor.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Health • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler


Share this on:
March 2, 2009

How to sleep when the economy is in trouble

Posted: 03:21 PM ET

Did you wake up tired? Are you stressed out about your finances? The economy? You are not alone. A new study out today suggests one-third of Americans are losing sleep over the economy and their personal finances. According to the National Sleep Foundation's “Sleep in Americapoll, those in good health are twice as likely as those in poor health to work efficiently, exercise or eat healthy because they are not getting enough ZZZ's. The poll also found two out of every 10 Americans sleep less than six hours a night.

So what can you do if you are losing sleep over the economy or your personal finances? Here are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation.

1. Try to have a standard relaxing bedtime routine and keep regular sleep times. Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet.

2. Exercise regularly, but finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime.

3. Avoid foods and drinks high in caffeine for at least eight hours before bedtime, and avoid alcohol for a few hours before bedtime.

4. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex; if you do this, you will strengthen the association between bed and sleep.

 

Posted by:
Filed under: Health • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler


Share this on:
February 5, 2009

Is my peanut butter safe?

Posted: 12:33 PM ET

Thursday lawmakers held a hearing to talk about food safety and what needs to be done to protect you and your family.  As we’ve been telling you for weeks, a peanut plant in South Georgia has been linked to a salmonella outbreak in peanut butter.  Several people have died and hundreds have gotten sick.  Senators are demanding answers. Every day we are being asked what’s safe and what’s not.  Here are some answers.

 

 

1.  Is it safe to make my child a peanut butter sandwich?  The FDA says as of now there is no indication that brand name peanut butter sold in jars at grocery stores is linked to the outbreak.   

2. What about other food made with peanut butter?   Officials say you should throw out foods that have been recalled because they contain peanut butter or peanut paste made by the Peanut Corporation of America.  Peanut paste is found in commercially made products such as cakes, candies, crackers, cookies and ice cream.  The list keeps growing, so it’s important to keep an eye on the FDA’s website.  If you’re not sure about the ingredients in the peanut products you have, FDA officials recommend holding off consuming them.

3.  What about the peanut butter served at schools?  The peanut butter found to contain salmonella bacteria was made by the Peanut Corporation of America.  They make peanut butter for institutional use in places like prisons, schools and nursing homes.  They also produce peanuts for other products.  As a precaution, the Peanut Corporation of America has recalled all peanut butter and peanut paste made in its Blakely, Georgia, plant since January 1, 2007.   That means institutions should no longer be serving it.      

4.  How do I know if I have been infected by salmonella?  According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people infected by salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after the infection.  Most people recover without treatment.  However, in some cases salmonellosis, as the infection is called, can be deadly.  The infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and on to other body parts.  Antibiotics need to be administered immediately.  The elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems are more likely to get seriously sick.  If you think you may have salmonellosis, go to the doctor immediately.  The doctor can perform lab tests to determine if you have it.  

Posted by:
Filed under: Empowered Patient • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler


Share this on:
January 19, 2009

Is my sandwich safe?

Posted: 11:59 AM ET

My family loves peanut butter. Crunchy, smooth, with jam or honey, we can't get enough of it. Heck, even our dog loves it. So last week, when the Food and Drug Administration announced a salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter, I was concerned.


Like many people, I get confused by all the FDA jargon. All I want to know is if my family is safe. So here are a few basic questions answered.

1. Is it safe to make my child a peanut butter sandwich? The FDA says as of Sunday there is no indication that brand name peanut butter sold in grocery stores is linked to the outbreak.

2. What about the peanut butter served at schools? The peanut butter found to contain salmonella bacteria was made by the Peanut Corporation of America. They make peanut butter for institutional use in places like prisons, schools and nursing homes. As a precaution, the Peanut Corporation of America has recalled all peanut butter and peanut paste made in its Blakely, Georgia, plant. That means institutions should no longer be serving it.

3. What about other food made with peanut butter? Officials say for right now, hold off on eating foods that contain peanut butter or peanut paste. Peanut paste is found in commercially made cakes, candies, crackers, cookies and ice cream. The Kellog Co. announced a voluntary recall of 16 products, including Keebler and Famous Amos peanut butter cookies, because they contain peanut butter that could be connected to the Peanut Corporation of America.

4. How do I know if I have been infected by salmonella? According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people infected by salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after the infection. Most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases salmonellosis, as the infection is called, can be deadly. The infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream and on to other body parts. Antibiotics need to be administered immediately. The elderly, infants and people with impaired immune systems are more likely to get seriously sick. If you think you may have infected with salmonella, go to the doctor immediately. The doctor can perform lab tests to determine if you have it.

Posted by:
Filed under: Health • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler • Living


Share this on:
January 5, 2009

When a child dies, how do you cope?

Posted: 03:01 PM ET

When the news broke late Friday that John Travolta and Kelly Preston's son Jett died, I thought of my parents.

My brother Jonathan drowned when I was a baby and he was toddler. Even though I never knew Jon, he remains a part of my life. During bedtime prayers growing up, we always prayed for "big brother Jon up in heaven with Jesus." Every year on Jon's birthday, my dad still gives my mom a single yellow rose. Some 30 years later, my parents still feel the pain of losing their first born in such a tragic way.

My colleague Madison Park spent the morning talking with families and experts about the emotional toll of losing a child. You can read her story here at CNNhealth.com. We've also been touched by the hundreds of people who have shared on iReport their stories of loss. Click here for some of their stories or to share your own story. These stories of love and loss raise many questions. How do you move forward after losing a child? Does joy ever return? I turned to Dr. Michael Jellinek, chief of child psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital for some insight.

1. It can take years for life to get back to normal When you lose a parent or grandparent, Jellinek says the normal grieving process happens within a year. "Those rules go out the window with children," says Jellinek. Grief can last years, especially if there is unresolved grief from childhood or if the person has a history of depression. So how do you know if grief is out of control? Jellinek says you should become concerned if, after some time, there is still a functional impact on the survivors. For example, they never go out to movies or dinner, or if every holiday becomes a tribute to the dead child.

2. Moms and dads grieve differently According to Jellinek, moms tend to talk and think about the death alot. "They tend to keep it quite active in their day-to-day life,” says Jellinek. After a few months, fathers may make themselves busy, taking on a second job or a hobby. Also, other vulnerabilities may surface. If there's a family history of alcohol abuse, a parent who never had a problem before, may become an alcoholic. "I've seen some parents become so depressed that they don't care about living,” says Jellinek. He knows of one woman whose child was critically ill in the hospital. The mom started driving faster and faster to and from the hospital. "She didn't care if she lived or died," he says.

3. The best thing to do is just be there "I think a lot of people try to do too much too early," says Jellinek, "Being there is a lot more important." The best thing you can do, he says is keep the parent company or be helpful by running errands and making meals. Also, don't force parents to talk about their grief. "It becomes intrusive if you do it at the wrong time," he says.

4. Helping others can help with grief Jellinek says it often helps grieving parents to get involved with a charity or a support group that helps other parents in a similar situation. "It's a way of making something positive out of a tragedy," he says.

Posted by:
Filed under: Health • Jennifer Pifer-Bixler • mental health


Share this on:

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Clark Howard helps you become a wise consumer. We know you're busy, and that's why Clark's tips are quick and effective. He'll arm you with the information you need to make smart choices. During these tough economic times, Clark wants to help you save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off!