Category Archives: Prevention

Traveling the Safe and Healthy Way

Warm temperatures, a break from school and extended daylight make June through August a peak travel season. Traveling locally or internationally, it can be a transformative and unforgettable experience, but if not properly prepared, you may encounter some preventable health risks.

Conducting thorough research about the health risks of your destination is a vital step in preparing for a trip. If traveling internationally, research vaccinations you may need and how to receive them. It is essential that you arrange vaccinations or medications to protect against diseases prominent in the region at least four to six weeks before traveling. Contracting diseases such as hepatitis, typhoid and malaria can be prevented by a simple vaccination. Many countries legally require tourists to undergo specific vaccinations, such as yellow fever, before they are allowed entry. Your doctor will administer a vaccine based on your age and medical history. Make sure you are up-to-date on your vaccines and healthy.

Travelers with chronic illnesses, disabilities, weakened immune systems, and senior citizens should take extra precautions such as:

  • Ensuring all necessary medications are safe and secure in a travel kit with them while they travel
  • Packing a list of emergency contact numbers for physicians and loved ones
  • Locating the nearest clinic or hospital closest to your travel destination
  • Keeping your health insurance information on hand in case you need it
  • Understanding your personal food allergies and the quality of food and water in your travels

If traveling by airplane, place your medications in your carry-on bag in case of an emergency. Your medication may not be available in the area you are visiting, so bring enough medication to last the entire trip and extra in case of delays, as well as a copy of your prescription. In the case of a food allergy, travel with a food allergy ID card that indicates your allergies both in English and the language(s) of the country in which you may travel.

Traveling does not have to be a burden if you stay prepared.  Check out our International Travel Q&A page for more information.

South Carolina Health at a Glance: Access to Healthcare

Our next installment of the 2018 Live Healthy State Health Assessment summaries covers access to healthcare.  Because the document is 346 pages, we will summarize each section.  Check out our previous posts:  overview of the report, South Carolina demographics, leading causes of death and hospitalization, and cross-cutting.  Data is analyzed from 2010-2016.

Access to health care refers to the ability of residents in a community to find a consistent medical provider for their primary and specialty care needs and ability to receive that care without encountering significant barriers.  Special populations who may face unique barriers include those who are experiencing homelessness or mental illness, lacking adequate health insurance, or non-English speakers such as some immigrants and refugees.

Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians specialize in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and pediatrics.  They provide preventative care, identify and treat common conditions, and make referrals to specialists as needed.  Typically people with familiar primary care physicians have better chronic disease management, lower overall health care costs, and a higher level of satisfaction with their care.

According to America’s Health Rankings, in 2017, South Carolina ranked 36th in the nation for the number of primary care physicians per 10,000 residents.  The counties with the highest rates of primary care physicians in 2015 were Charleston, Greenwood, and Greenville.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants are certified medical professionals who can give medical and surgical care in teams with physicians.  They can practice under the direction of a physician to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicine.  The ratio of physician assistants increased from 1.5 physician assistants per 10,000 residents in 2009 to 2.5 physician assistants per 10,000 residents in 2015.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners have clinical knowledge and skills to provide direct patient care.  They have the authority to prescribe medications and can also be utilized in rural communities, which often lack primary care providers.  South Carolina saw a 50% increase in the ratio of nurse practitioners from 2009 to 2015.

Health Insurance Coverage Among Adults

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated 550,000 South Carolinians were without health insurance in 2016.  Although the number of insured adults in South Carolina increased from 2008 to 2015, the rate was below the United States, as well as the Healthy People 2020 target.  In 2015, 85.7% of South Carolina women were insured compared to 81.6% of men.

Health Care Insurance_Health Assessment

Delayed Medical Care

Worse health outcomes and higher medical expenditures are often results of delayed medical care.  Late diagnosis and advanced disease may require more extensive services.  Being insured and having access to affordable medical care could increase utilization of preventive health care services.

Delayed medical care_Health assessment

In South Carolina in 2016, 21.2% of Hispanic/Latinos delayed healthcare due to cost, compared to 18.8% of non-Hispanic Blacks and 13.7% of non-Hispanic Whites.  More women delayed medical care due to cost than men.

For more information about avoidable hospitalizations and emergency department visits, the leading causes of hospitalizations among children, and oral health, read the full chapter about Access to Health Care.

 

DHEC In the News: School Immunization Requirements, Serious Food Safety Violations, Routine Checkups

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

DHEC reminds parents of 2019 SC school immunization requirements

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is reminding parents about school immunization requirements headed into the 2019-2020 school year for kids in grades K-12.

 

What is a serious food safety violation?  Here’s how restaurant inspections work in SC

GREENVILLE, S.C. (GreenvilleOnline.com) Want to know a little more about how restaurants are inspected in South Carolina? Here’s a little guide.

 

How Often Should My Child Get A Routine Checkup?

(Moms.com)  Nothing is more important than a child’s health, but it can be tricky to know when to take them to the doctor. Some people take their children for routine check-ups on a regular basis, while others wait until their little ones come down with something.

How Recycling Impacts South Carolina

According to the 2018 South Carolina Health Assessment, South Carolinians generate approximately 4.2 million tons of household trash and garbage annually. The South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act outlines the regulatory framework for insuring proper location, design, construction, operation and closure of solid waste facilities and requires maintenance of a state solid waste management plan.  The act also sets waste reduction and recycling goals for the state.

Why should we recycle?

Recycling is not mandatory, so why should we care?  According to www.recyclemoresc.org,

  • Recycling helps protect the environment. It conserves resources, prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect raw materials to make new products and lessens the need to build landfills.
  • Recycling helps our state’s economy. South Carolina has about 500 recycling businesses that provide more than 22,000 jobs.
  • Recycling saves energy. Manufacturing products from recycled materials use far less energy than creating the same product from raw material.

Check out the top 10 reasons why we should recycle.  Visit our website for places to recycle in your community.

Love on You Today for Chronic Disease Day

Did you know that six in ten adults in the United States have a chronic disease and four in ten adults have two or more?  Chronic diseases are defined as conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities, daily living or both.  They include but are not limited to:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Lung Disease
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many chronic diseases are caused by a short list of risk behaviors:

Chronic Disease Day was created to raise awareness and increase adoption of self-care best practices to encourage prevention and reduce risk.  Use today to kickstart a healthier lifestyle.  Here are some tips for better self-care:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Get moving. Start slow and go at your own pace.
  • Schedule your routine checkups.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Build a positive support system.

Priority 2 of the South Carolina State Health Improvement Plan is detailed with ways community partners plan to promote healthy lifestyles and environments that prevent chronic conditions. A glance at our state’s current chronic disease statistics can be found in the 2018 South Carolina Health Assessment, where the assessment analyzes obesity, prediabetes, diabetes, hypertension, nutrition, physical activity, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, cancer and smoking from 2011 to 2016.  South Carolina adults have higher rates than the national average in nearly every category of chronic disease.

Learn more self-care tips to keep avoid or improve chronic disease at https://chronicdiseaseday.org/.