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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teens and Drug Abuse - Information to make healthier decisions

Teen Drug Abuse Help At Your Fingertips

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) statistics show a decrease in teen drug use. Despite this good news, there will be kids who will get sucked into abusing drugs. Steering clear of these dangers can be a difficult thing.

NIDA's Teen web site, teens.drugabuse.gov, is a very good resource. It delivers science-based facts about how drugs affect the brain and body to arm kids with better information to make healthy decisions.

One helpful feature is their Sara Bellum Blog. It shares the latest research and news with teens in a non-preachy manner. It gives teens a way to communicate their thoughts about drugs. Visitors can leave their own comments. A glossary on the web site is available to look up unfamiliar terms.

The theme this year for the National Drug Facts Week is "Shatter The Myths", November 8-14, 2010. Find out more details about it on the NIDA Teen web site.

Teens need to be educated about the dangers of drugs in order to make good decisions. The NIDA web site is just one more tool in the arsenal to fight drug abuse.

Information has been provided by Your U.S. Government Blog, GovGab, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Featured Condtion/Disease: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) makes it difficult for children to control their behavior and stay focused. ADHD is usually diagnosed when children first go to school, a time when they must sit for longer periods and pay attention in class. Parents are often aware years earlier that their child has a problem.
Having ADHD doesn't mean your child has a problem with intelligence or ability to reason. Children with ADHD usually have normal or above-normal intelligence, and many are gifted.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) used to be called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but that term isn't really used any more. Today the term ADHD is used with an add-on comment of "with the hyperactivity" or "without hyperactivity." The differences are related to the fidgety behavior or ”hyperactivity“ some children have. Hyperactivity is more than just being "active." It is activity much greater than children typically have. Below are the types of ADHD.
  • Inattentive type: Many children with ADHD have problems paying attention. Children with the inattentive type of ADHD often:

    • Don't pay close attention to details and make careless mistakes.
    • Cannot focus on the same task for long.
    • Don't follow through on instructions or finish schoolwork or chores.
    • Cannot organize tasks and activities well.
    • Get distracted easily.
    • Often lose things such as toys, school work and books.
  • Hyperactive-impulsive type: Being more active than other children is probably the most visible sign of ADHD. The hyperactive child is "always on the go." As he or she gets older, the activity level may go down. These children are also impulsive, meaning they often act before thinking, like running across the street without looking. Hyperactivity and impulsivity tend to go together. Children with the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD often may:

    • Fidget and squirm more than other children.
    • Have a hard time staying in their seats.
    • Run around or climb constantly or when they are told not to.
    • Have trouble playing quietly.
    • Talk too much.
    • Blurt out answers before questions have been completed.
    • Have trouble waiting their turn.
    • Interrupt others when they're talking.
    • Butt in on the games others are playing.
  • Combined type: Children with the combined type of ADHD have symptoms of both these types described above. They have problems with paying attention, with hyperactivity and with controlling their impulses. Of course, from time to time, all children are inattentive, impulsive and too active. With children who have ADHD though, these behaviors are the rule, not the exception. 

  • Inattention:

    This includes children who have trouble keeping their minds on what they are doing and often skip from one activity to the next without completing anything. They don't pay attention to details and often make mistakes. They have problems organizing and planning and often lose or misplace their schoolwork, pens, toys or other things.

  • Hyperactivity:

    Hyperactive children always seem to be in motion. Sitting still seems nearly impossible. They may dash around, wriggle in their seats, roam around the room or talk without stopping. They wiggle their feet or tap their pencils. They are often restless, bouncing around from one activity to the next or trying to do several things at once.

  • Impulsivity:

    These children often blurt out answers before questions have been completed. They have difficulty waiting for their turn. They often butt into conversations or games. They get into fights for little or no reason. 

  • More Information

    To get more information about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), click here.

    *Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    The end can never really justify the means

    By Cristina Alarcon, The Province, July 25, 2010
    Last week, Canadian Army captain Robert Semrau was convicted of disgraceful conduct in the shooting a badly wounded Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan. But a military panel acquitted him of murder.

    The court martial in Gatineau, Que., had been told by an eyewitness that Capt. Semrau "could not live with himself if he left an injured human being -- and that no one should suffer like that."

    The suggestion was, in other words, that the 36-year-old father of two children was engaged in a wartime mercy killing.

    Around the world, the trial sparked much debate, and got me thinking about what I might do in the young captain's place.

    That's not an easy task, as scenes of wartime chaos are but shadows on a TV screen glimpsed from the bulwarks of a comfy couch.

    Still, I can try. The young insurgent's legs were severed, his innards protruding, a horrific sight to behold. It was something a paramedic might encounter in the aftermath of an airline crash.

    I had the same sort of feeling that can sometimes come over me when dealing with the hopelessly chronically ill . . . though I always manage to shake it off.

    Confronted by such wartime misery, would I still hold firm to my principles that the ends (relief of suffering) can never justify the means (killing)?

    Or would the stress of wartime terror blur my usual moral clarity, my sense of the uniqueness of human worth?

    Would I, like Red Cross founder Henry Dunant, be inspired to greater self-giving?

    Dunant embarked on his great project in 1862 from the "chaotic disorder, despair unspeakable and misery of every kind" he earlier witnessed in the bloody Battle of Solferino in modern-day Italy.

    As a pharmacist, I have witnessed the devastating psychological effects of war on men many years after combat.

    Stress, much like drugs, can affect us in unpredictable ways. It can bring out the best and the worst in us. Still, our actions remain free.

    Writing on his blog about the moral justification for killing in war, U.S. soldier-ethicist Pete Kilner points out that good rules of engagement provide guidelines to assist [the] decision-making process.

    Nevertheless, given the complexity of combat, mistakes happen.

    Kilner explains that the default setting for a human being is to possess the right not to be killed, so when a person is no longer a threat he should not be killed.

    This is why it is morally wrong to kill a detainee or an incapacitated insurgent.

    Still, Kilner maintains, the profession of arms has two moral codes. There's the public one, based on black-and-white legal rules, and private code, known only by those who have to do the messy work of war.

    It's not healthy psychologically, he says, to have made difficult moral decisions that you cannot talk about publicly for fear of being punished.

    The prosecution alleged that Semrau committed a mercy killing because he felt bound by a "soldier's pact" to end the suffering of gravely wounded combatants.

    There is no defence for mercy killing in the law.

    Nor is it, in my view, something that ought to be applauded.

    Still, supporters argue it was unfair for a soldier to have to face prosecution for decisions made on the battlefield.

    If during wartime, we can succumb to less than humane actions, what excuse is there for us at home in a comfortable world of Ritalin for the young, Viagra for the old -- and, as some propose, an overdose of pills to help us along, should kick-the-bucket time draw near?

    We can be tempted to lose moral clarity, to lose the sense of the uniqueness of our species, of the fact that we are the ones for which the planet was made.

    Though most of us would like to have it otherwise, the end or purpose of our actions can never justify the means.

    If mercy killing is allowed in some instances, why not in others, and who is to decide?

    Yes, from the sanctuary of my couch it is all too easy for me to judge.

    Yet it also gives me a clearer perspective from which to respectfully ask: How could anyone in his right mind finish off a dying man as he would a dying horse?

    Vancouver pharmacist Cristina Alarcon can be reached at cristinaalarcon365@hotmail.com

    © Copyright (c) The Province

    Pharmacy Plan will Hurt Quality Control

    By Cristina Alarcon, Special to Coquitlam NOW, August 13, 2010
    Next time you walk into a drugstore, you may want to ensure your prescription has been properly filled and checked by a real apothecary -- a pharmacist, that is.

    And if you or your loved ones are on a complicated medication regime and technicians are doing the final check on your medicine, then perhaps you ought to be signing a consent form.

    This is because the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has decided to pursue the licensing of technicians by Dec. 31, triggering a debate among community pharmacists who fret over liability, the profession's integrity and public safety.

    For years now, the pharmacy profession has been easing the technical aspect of the job, first via specialized technology, then via technical support, but never before by leaving order entry, preparation and final check of prescriptions to unsupervised, largely under-qualified personnel.

    While the college claims that pharmacists will still be ensuring the appropriateness of the drugs prescribed to begin with, quality control will certainly give way to monetary gain.

    If one pharmacist must oversee the appropriateness of hundreds of scrips churned out daily by an army of techs, major mishaps will undoubtedly occur.

    This idea may well work in a hospital setting, where errors are quickly caught and contained. Not so out in the community where once the wrong drug goes out that door it's gone -- and so, perhaps, is the patient.

    But let's face it: most people have no clue just how much care goes into filling prescriptions. From searching for drug incompatibilities to making phone calls to refusals to fill when directions are inadequate or the wrong drugs are prescribed for a given condition -- you name it, good pharmacists catch it. There are myriad prescribing errors made and caught daily. This is far from mindless work.

    Yet from their ivory towers academics believe the technical and cognitive aspects of this work can be separated -- imagine a chef who cannot cook, a plumber who cannot use a pump -- while drug store chain owners greedily wait to cash in on the techs' much-lower wages.

    The regulation of pharmacy technicians will ultimately result in the creation of a new health-care professional and new registrant of the College of Pharmacists of BC.

    Regulated pharmacy technicians will essentially take over the technical functions of the pharmacists' job, and pharmacists will be sitting back sipping margaritas by their pools, waiting for a call from their lawyers over the next casualty.

    No really, the idea is to free up the pharmacist for consultation on disease management and drug care, but for a hefty, never-before-seen fee. Thus the most readily accessible health-care professional will be available no more, and your drug reviews and queries will be charged speedily to your Master Card or Visa.

    Largely taken over by bureaucrats, academics and drug store chain owners, the College of Pharmacists of BC is giving in to their vested conflicts of interest. Meanwhile, the college board is conveniently silencing those who oppose their agenda by claiming that all must speak with "one voice."

    Most recently, input was seemingly sought from the public on proposed bylaw changes that would create this new technical profession. Yet board member Bev Harris (a Coquitlam pharmacist) was reprimanded for speaking in a public forum to point out the problematic draft changes. And so it appears the consultation process was merely a sham. Fruitful discussion was never really the aim.

    Over 500 community pharmacists have petitioned the college to hold off on bylaw changes that would give technicians the authority to take over their dispensing functions after a mere eight months of training. Technician certification, rather than licensing, is what pharmacists would like to see.

    And it's not that pharmacists want to go back to all that counting and licking and sticking. Trained technicians are already helping greatly with that and much more.

    While providing appropriate and timely services, pharmacists want to be sure that no errors are made along any step of the way, and that what your label says you're getting is really what's in the bottle.

    A wrong drug or dosage may not be life threatening when you are young and healthy, but it may be lethal if dispensed to your 80-year-old mother or to your two-year-old son.

    - - -

    Cristina Alarcon is a Vancouver pharmacist.

    © Copyright (c) Coquitlam Now

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Featured Condtion/Disease: Cystic Fibrosis

    We are featuring a childhood/infant disease or condition informational post every other Friday.  Today's topic is Cystic Fibrosis.

    Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce your body's secretions (body fluids other than blood) such mucus, sweat, saliva and digestive juices (stomach acid). Normally, these secretions are thin and slippery, but in children with cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the secretions to become thick and sticky. The thick mucus can clog the lungs and cause breathing problems. Mucus also can create a block in the pancreas (organ in the body) and other parts of the body causing stomach problems and difficulty digesting food.

    Cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disease, can cause severe lung damage and malnutrition (lack of necessary minerals and vitamins from foods). It is not contagious. Each child with cystic fibrosis is affected differently. Some children with cystic fibrosis are in good or even excellent health. Others are so severely limited by the disease that they may need to be hospitalized or cannot attend school regularly. Exercise is very good for these children, helping to loosen the mucus that clogs the lungs and increasing the ability to breathe deeply. Some children may tire more easily than other children.

    In hot weather or when exercising, your child should be encouraged to eat salty snacks and drink extra fluids -- about 6-12 ounces of fluid every 20-30 minutes. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as colas because they can increase fluid loss (www.cff.org). Early identification is important in helping your child to maintain good health. The "sweat test" is the one most often used to determine if a child has cystic fibrosis. This simple and painless procedure measures the salt in a child's sweat. A high salt level indicates cystic fibrosis. 

    Common Signs

    Children with cystic fibrosis can have any of these symptoms:
    • Frequent pneumonia.
    • Diarrhea

      and/or greasy, bulky stools.
    • Poor weight gain.
    • Cough lasting more than a month.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Constant upset stomach.
    • Very salty-tasting skin, often noticed by parents when they kiss their child.
    Keep in mind that symptoms are very different from child to child. There are more than 1,000 different types of the gene that causes cystic fibrosis.

    More Information

    To get more information about Cystic Fibrosis, click here.

    *Most of the information provided here is from the Teach More/Love More site, click here to visit their site.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Low-Cost Dental Healthcare


    The Florida Dental Association has organized 213 dental practices which will provide free or low cost care. To find more information about this program, visit the Smile Florida Organization web site*.

    If you meet certain requirements and fall below a certain level of income, you may be eligible for these low cost dental services.  To locate a low cost provider that meets your needs, click here to access the 2010 Dental Care Resource Guide and dental providers by county.

    The links below will refer qualified applicants with specific needs to providers of free dental work:

    * Provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families.