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July Health News and Articles
It's summertime!
Summertime means fun in the sun, kids on bikes, beach trips, grilling out, roasting hot dogs, and the thrill of every ice cream flavor you can imagine (Jalapeño, anyone?). 

But summer can also mean bee stings, sunburn, dog bites, food allergies and other potential hazards that can put a damper on the great outdoors. There are ways to minimize the risks and maintain the tradition of summer as playtime for kids and grown-ups.
July is UV & Sun Safety Month
Vitamin D has amazing health benefits from reducing the risk of cancer to curing depression.  Maintaining the correct levels of vitamin D in you body is an important key to maintaining good health.  But did you know you can get sick from too much vitamin D?


A blood test from Health Testing Centers is the best way to make sure you have the ideal level without having too little or too much in you system.

Vitamin D Overload?

Are you at risk of vitamin D overload as a result of over- exposure to the sun? Your body produces natural vitamin D when sunlight strikes your skin. While vitamin D is essential to maintaining healthy organs and bones, it can be too much of a good thing. Excessive vitamin D, through heavy sun exposure along with excessive supplements, can result in vitamin D toxicity. It's a treatable, but serious medical condition that occurs when you get too much vitamin D.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), full exposure to the sun for thirty minutes, along with the body's natural source of vitamin D can increase your chances for vitamin D overload. Recommended daily amounts of vitamin D should not exceed 2000 IUs a day for older adults.

The flip side is Vitamin D deficiency, with research showing that lower than normal levels of vitamin D can be a factor in cardiovascular disease, depression, osteoarthritis and other other serious disease. At Health Testing Centers, we can help you determine a normal level of Vitamin D through our Vitamin D 25-hydroxy test, the best indicator of your vitamin D status.

Follow these tips to prevent other sun-related problems:
  • Avoid direct sun exposure during UV radiation hours between 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
  • Wear sunglasses with total UV protection, wide-brimmed hats and light-weight long sleeves to protect your skin.
  • Be a good role model for your children. Eighty percent of sun exposure in a person's lifetime is usually acquired before the age of eighteen. (Source: WebMD.com)
World Hepatitis Day is July 28, 2012
An inflammation and swelling of the liver, viral hepatitis affects an estimated 4.4 million Americans in its chronic form, many of whom don't know they are infected. There are three common types of viral hepatitis in the U.S.: A, B and C. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Hepatitis can be caused by autoimmune disorders, infections, excessive alcohol or poisonous substances, some medications, or by high-risk behaviors that involve exchange of bodily fluids or needles/syringes from an infected person.

For peace of mind, we offer all three hepatitis panels at Health Testing Centers, saving you time and expense. Our tests include:

This test identifies Type A Hepatitis, which lasts from a few weeks to several months. Type A typically does not lead to chronic infection and can be prevented by vaccination for all children by age one.

The test determines if Type B is present. Hepatitis B is contagious and ranges in severity from a mild illness to a life-threatening condition. It spreads through sexual contact or the sharing of needles/syringes and can be passed from mother to child. Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis B.

Though this testing, Hepatitis C is identified if present. Hepatitis C can be silent, or asymptomatic, but once established may progress to permanent liver damage. Typically spread through bodily fluids or sharing of needles/syringes. The best way to avoid this more serious type of hepatitis is by avoiding high risk behaviors.

Health Testing Centers also offers a Comprehensive Hepatitis Panel making testing both convenient and affordable.
Food Allergies
While many allergens can be avoided, food cannot, making food allergies particularly dangerous. About 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies, with symptoms that range from mild tingling in the mouth to tongue swelling and anaphylactic shock. Children are especially vulnerable to food allergies so when introducing new foods, so do slowly. 

According to medical review boards (About.com Health Disease and Condition) there are eight primary foods that cause between 50 and 90 percent of all severe food allergy reactions:
    • Milk (most frequent)
    • Peanuts (includes products made with peanut oil)
    • Shellfish (more common in adults)
    • Nuts
    • Eggs
    • Fish
    • Soy
    • Wheat
If you are concerned that you may suffer from food allergies, Health Testing Centers offer a full array of allergy testing including panels for common food allergies:

This panel tests for basic food allergies including eggs, fish, cows milk, peanuts, soybeans and wheat.

A more comprehensive panel of test that includes allergy tests for eggs, fish, cows milk, peanuts, soybeans and wheat in addition to beef, chocolate, corn and pork.

If your child is off to summer camp this year and has food allergies, call the Camp Director and ask the following questions in advance:
  • Does the camp have a food allergy management plan in place?
  • Is there a nurse or EMT on site?
  • How far is the camp from the nearest hospital or E.R?
  • Is anyone on the camp staff trained to administer epinephrine (auto-injection used to offset a severe allergic reaction)?
  • Where is the epinephrine kept (if your child is too young to carry it)?
  • What's already on the menu at camp and when you send special foods for your child, where and how is it stored (to prevent cross-contamination)?
  • What are camp policies for field trips and special events in which new or different foods might be provided?
Fortunately, food allergies are much less common than pollen allergies and many children outgrow their allergies to milk, eggs or wheat early in life.
National Hemochromatosis Screening and Awareness Month
Summer is also a time to educate the public on lesser-known health disorders that can wreck havoc year round. Hemochromatosis, also referred to as "iron overload disease," is recognized each July.

This hereditary disease, referred to as "genetic iron poisoning," is the most common inherited disease in the U.S. Affecting both sexes (though men more often than women) and all ages, there are two types of the disease: primary (genetic) that occurs at birth and secondary (acquired) which can be the result of other blood disorders, transfusions, long-term alcoholism and other health conditions. (Source: American Hemochromatosis Society, or AHS)

Symptoms range from joint pain and hair loss to abdominal pain and fatigue. Treatment is focused on the removal of excess iron from the body and addressing organ damage. Untreated, iron overload can lead to liver and other organ damage. Blood tests such as an Iron serum test or Complete Blood Count (CBC) can be the first step making a diagnosis.

A fundamental blood test that measures iron levels, hemoglobin, hematocrit, red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets.

 

The Health Testing Centers Basic Health Screening includes a CBC in addition to a CMP and an urinalysis.  

This convenient panel combines the Basic Health Screening with a Lipid Profile (a detailed cholesterol breakdown) for $89!  

Ferritin is a protein found mostly in the liver, spleen, skeletal muscles and bones that stores iron so your body can utilize it later. The majority of iron stored in the body is found in ferritin. Low levels can indicate a lack of iron that can cause anemia. Elevated levels are typically associated with iron overload disorders like hemochromatosis.

AFP is a protein normally produced by liver cells in the developing fetus. Infants typically have high levels at birth that decrease in the first year of life. A high level in pregnant woman can indicate congenital problems, while elevated levels in other adults might mean certain types of cancer. An AFP blood test will help determine overall liver health.
Don't Let Summer Get Ruined By A Pest!
Mosquito bites; tick bites; dog bites and bee stings. They can all take the zing out of summer. Here' a quick guide to the more dangerous mishaps that send an estimated 1.5 million people to the emergency room for bites and stings each year:

Spider bite: wash with soap and water then use an over-the-counter antibiotic cream. It's usually only bites from black widows (shiny with a red hourglass mark) and brown recluse (violin-shaped design near the head) that require urgent care.

Tick bite: Check for ticks after any outing in the woods or outdoors. If spotted early on, the tick generally doesn't have time to transmit disease. Grasp the tick with a pair of tweezers and pull straight. You can also take a cell phone picture for your doctor if needed.

Dog bite: If the bite is on a highly visible place, see a doctor for possible stitches. Hand bites can lead to potentially serious infections. If the dog acts strange or sick, seek medical help to be safe. (Source: Parade.com)

Small children are at highest risk for bee stings. On average, a child can only handle the toxicity of one bee sting per pound, so a 30-pound child can handle, on average, no more than 30 stings. A child allergic to bee stings is at higher risk, with often sudden reactions. Watch for signs of unusual swelling, rapid heartbeat, and swelling of the tongue or throat. Seek medical attention immediately. Then see an allergist for follow-up care.
Bet You Didn't Know That...
July is...

National Hot Dog Month
* 2.3 million hot dogs are consumed by Americans each July * Mustard is the number one hot dog topping in America 
* On July 4 alone, Americans will buy more than 155 million hot dogs - enough to stretch the length of the country over five times! 
* On average, each American eats about 60 hot dogs a year 
 
National Blueberry Month  
This native North American fruit, chock full of nutrients, is produced in 35 states. Blueberries are high in fiber, antioxidants, and low in calories. One cup of blueberries can provide up to 24 percent of your daily need for Vitamin C. 
 
National Ice Cream Month 
National Ice Cream Day is the 3rd Sunday in July, with July proclaimed National Ice Cream Month by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. 
 
Bizarre but true, July is also the month for Ugly Truck Day, Cheer Up the Lonely Day, and Stay Out of the Sun Day. But the most important July date... 
 
AMERICA's BIRTHDAY - HAPPY 4TH OF JULY! 
 
"Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." - Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790
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