Tag Archives: health

Take the Healthy Body, Healthy Brain Pledge

As important as it is to take good care of your body, it’s equally critical that you keep your brain healthy.

That is why DHEC is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina ChapterThe American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and brain health.

As part of the awareness campaign, the partners are encouraging people to Take Brain Health to Heart and pledge to keep their body, heart and brain healthy. The Healthy Body, Healthy Brain pledge can be found at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealthpledge.

The intent is quite simple: to motivate South Carolinians to protect their brain health by taking proactive steps such as being more active and eating better. Research has shown that smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to cognitive decline. It has also found that unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and brain injury may affect the health of the brain.

The campaign features a centralized DHEC Brain Health webpage. People who visit the page and take the pledge are entered into a monthly drawing for a Fitbit; the drawings end June 30. Please visit the webpage at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealth and take the pledge.

Make Halloween SAFE and HEALTHY

halloween_socialKids love Halloween – dressing up, going to parties and, of course, eating yummy treats. But parents need to keep some guidelines in mind to make sure the day is full of treats, not tricks. Use these tips to make the festivities SAFE and HEALTHY.

Swords, knives and other costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.

Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

and

Hand out some healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Exercise can be part of the fun. Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.

Avoid walking areas and stairs that aren’t well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause someone to fall.

Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible.

Test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.

Yes, a little candy is OK, but limit the sweet treats beyond the holiday.

For more ideas on safe, healthy Halloween fun, check out these pages:

 

Lowcountry dentist receives special recognition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. John Patrick Howard, the Director of Dental Services at Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center on John’s Island, South Carolina, was recognized as the recipient of the 2016 Carlos Salinas award.  Dr. Howard received the award and special recognition at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Annual Continuing Education Course on “Dental Program for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Individuals with Special Health Care Needs” held on September 30, 2016. He was presented with an award and his name will be placed on a perpetual plaque displayed at the MUSC College of Dental Medicine.

“The South Carolina Dental Association, South Carolina Oral Health Coalition and Advisory Council, and Specialized Care Company established this award in 2008 to honor a dentist for excellence in providing care to and advocacy for individuals with special health care needs,” said Dr. Ray Lala, the Director of DHEC’s Division of Oral Health. “Dr. Howard has been the Dental Director at Our Lady of Mercy Outreach Center since its inception and over the span of his career has provided compassionate care for underserved and special needs populations.”

The award, in its ninth year, is named for Carlos Salinas, DMD, in recognition of his lifetime commitment to patients with special needs. Dr. Salinas was a professor and director of the Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Division of Craniofacial Genetics, Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, and director of MUSC’s Craniofacial Anomalies and Cleft Lip and Palate Team. He was with the College of Dental Medicine for 35 years before his passing in 2015.

Newborn Screening Awareness Month: Testing at Birth is Critical

Dana Smith, R.N.
Program Coordinator
Newborn Screening Follow Up Program

No matter how healthy a newborn might look, it’s critical that they be checked for unexpected medical conditions. When such conditions are detected early, diagnosed and treated newborns stand a much better chance of avoiding disabilities — or worse — and living a full, productive life.

The blood test that checks for hidden health disorders in newborns is called “newborn screening.” September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month, a time set aside to recognize the importance of early testing.

Not just the PKU test

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) newborn screening program, which currently screens for 53 disorders, originally began with testing just for phenylketonuria (PKU). That test checks whether the baby’s body can process phenylalanine, which is found in many protein-rich foods and some sweeteners. Phenylalanine can build up in the blood and tissues of a baby with PKU, resulting in brain damage. The test panel has since evolved to include disorders such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, sickle cell trait, severe combined immunodeficiency, congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and multiple inborn errors of metabolism. For a complete list and description, please visit www.scdhec.gov/newbornmetabolicscreening.

In South Carolina, newborn screening averages around 54,000 births per year.  This blood test is administered 24-48 hours after birth by pricking an infant’s heel and collecting five blood spots on a special filter paper. The specimen is then sent to the DHEC laboratory for testing.

You may wonder how our state determines what disorders it will include on the newborn screening test panel. The Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children uses an evidence-based process to evaluate candidate conditions for addition to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP).  Most US newborn screening programs follow the RUSP in determining the conditions for which infants are screened.

The newborn screening follow-up program has staff members who work closely with the pediatric medical consultant and specialists around the state. Providers are notified of abnormal results by follow-up staff to ensure infants are getting the care required for the specific disorder for which they screen positive. These patients are followed until a diagnosis has been made, by either the primary care provider or the specialist to whom they are referred.

New data system on the way

The DHEC laboratory is implementing a new data system that will soon be in place and allow for better reporting to all newborn screening healthcare providers. This system will allow physicians to access their patients’ newborn screening records through a secure web portal and provide better data analysis for the DHEC newborn screening program. As the newborn screening panel expands, the new data system will allow an easier transition and implementation of screening for new disorders recommended on the RUSP.

If you have questions please feel free to contact us at smithdm@dhec.sc.gov or schlubjk@dhec.sc.gov.

Stay Healthy on Famously Hot Days

South Carolina is a beautiful place to spend the summer months, but it can be quite hot at times, too. Heat can cause health problems for some of us, and can even be deadly. Stay cool and prevent heat-related health issues. It’s your best defense.

Although anyone, at any time, can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:

  • Infants and young children
  • People aged 65 or older
  • People who have a mental illness
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illnesses, but it can be troubling. Be aware of the warning signs of heat exhaustion, which can include heavy sweating, cramps, dizziness and nausea. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress into heat stroke.

You should seek immediate medical help if your symptoms become severe or you have heart problems or high blood pressure.

Tips:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages (and those directed by your physician), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and large amounts of sugar. These beverages actually cause your body to LOSE more fluids! Avoid very cold drinks, too, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If you must be outside when temps are high, avoid prolonged exposure by seeking shade or air conditioning every hour or so.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but fans will not prevent heat-related illness in extremely hot weather. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place, is a much better way to cool off.
  • If your home does not have air conditioning, go to public places with A/C during the heat of the day – someplace like a library or shopping mall. This is especially important for those in high-risk groups like the elderly who easily suffer health effects from being in the heat for prolonged periods.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave children or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.

Safe Kids York County temp sign
For more information about preventing heat-related illnesses, visit www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/HeatRelatedIllness/.