National Blood Donor Month – Why You Should Donate!

January 27, 2010

January is National Blood Donor Month, and what better way to jump start the new year! Several blood centers have difficulty keeping enough blood on supply for transfusions. Right now, only 3 out of 100 Americans donate blood. By donating blood, you can help save multiple lives, including helping victims of the earthquake in Haiti. The American Red Cross created a sharing program in which surplus blood is received by those communities that need it the most, especially in the aftermath of disasters.

Donating blood is easy! First, make sure you meet the requirements to donate:

  • You must be healthy.
  • You must be at least 17 years old (or 16 years old with parental consent if allowed by state law).
  • You must weigh at least 110 pounds.

Next, find a blood drive that is nearest to you. A few precautions should be taken beforehand:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat a healthy meal before your donation (Avoid eating fatty foods).
  • Drink extra liquids (water or drinks with electrolytes) prior to your donation.
  • Keep a healthy level of iron in your diet (Eat iron rich foods like spinach, red meat, and beans).
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol 24 hours before donating blood.

After making your donation, it is normal to feel light headed. Eat snacks that you are offered to get your sugar level back to normal. Be sure to rest for an hour after the procedure, and avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours. It is important that you feel back to normal before driving.

For more information on how to donate blood, visit the following websites:

American Red Cross

Cause Cast

Frequently Asked Questions: Respiratory acidosis

January 18, 2010

What is respiratory acidosis?

Respiratory acidosis is a medical condition in which the lungs cannot remove all the carbon dioxide the body produces.

What are some typical symptoms of respiratory acidosis?

  • Confusion
  • Easy fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sleepiness

Are there tests or exams to detect this condition?

A few tests can help detect respiratory acidosis.  A chest x-ray or CT scan can check the lung’s appearance without having to biopsy it. Pulmonary function tests are a series of breathing tests that can evaluate lung capacity. Also, an arterial blood gas test involves drawing blood and measuring the amounts of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acids.

Are there any treatments available?

Treatment is aimed at the underlying lung disease, and may include:

  • Bronchodilator drugs to reverse some airways obstruction
  • Ways to stop smoking
  • Noninvasive positive-pressure ventilation (sometimes called CPAP or BiPAP) or mechanical ventilation if needed
  • Oxygen if the blood oxygen level is low

Is there a way to prevent respiratory acidosis?

Losing weight might help prevent obesity hypoventilation syndrome. If you smoke, it could lead to the development of lung diseases that cause respiratory acidosis. By not smoking, you lower your risk of the condition.

When should I contact a medical professional?

Severe respiratory acidosis is a serious condition and should be treated immediately.  You should seek immediate medical help if you have symptoms of this condition. If you have symptoms of lung disease, call your doctor.

Where can I find more information?


Climate Change and Your Health

January 12, 2010

Climate experts say climate change will result in severe heat waves, a rise in sea levels, and extreme weather. All of these changes can affect human health directly and indirectly.

Increased temperatures can lead to increased heat exposure, causing conditions from heat rashes to a deadly heat stroke, drought, and increased aggravation of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

There are ways to prevent heat related illnesses:

  • Make sure you have access to cooler temperatures. Check on the elderly and home bound neighbors to ensure their safety.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Dress in light clothing.

Extreme weather events include floods, hurricanes, drought, and wildfires. These events could also cause an aggravation in chronic diseases and mental health concerns due to a lack of care and displacement.

You and your family can be prepared in an emergency by planning ahead:

  • Contact the local county geologist or county planning department to see if your home is in a flash-flood-prone area or landslide-prone area.
  • Learn about your community’s emergency evacuation plans, and practice these plans with your family.
  • Stock emergency supplies, such as a first aid kit, food, and water.

To learn more on climate change and your health please visit The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.