IMPORTANT HEALTH TIP: Because of the coronavirus scare, people are becoming more aware of the importance of keeping your hands as clean as possible. Try not to use your fingertips when using public computer screens (like at the store or post office). Use your knuckles instead.
Testing for coronavirus
As you probably have heard, it’s not easy to get tested for coronavirus. It’s so important to know who’s got it so they can be isolated from others and get some kind of treatment (and hospitalization, if needed). Some private labs here in North Carolina have come on board, and that certainly helps (doing 90% of the tests), although it’s still not easy to qualify for the test. The NC Department of Health and Human Services says that those people with “mild symptoms” (fever and/or coughing, but without difficulty breathing) don’t need to be tested. The new, updated qualifications for getting are: having a fever + a negative flu test + a cough AND shortness of breath (or other serious symptom).
If you’re reasonably healthy but develop mild symptoms and suspect that you might be infected, call your doctor and ask what you should do. Most likely, you’ll be told to self-quarantine until your fever goes down for three days in a row. If your condition gets worse, however, you’ll need to call back and see if you can get tested. If you don’t have a regular doctor, you can call 911.
We don’t know if North Carolina will ever have enough tests for everyone who wants to be tested, so the best bet is to make it less likely for infection to occur. That means keeping your hands super clean and resisting touching your face and possibly allowing the virus to enter through your eyes, nose, or mouth. Also, wash your hands before using the bathroom and again afterwards. Viruses can enter the body (and respiratory system in this case) through any mucus membrane.
When you’re out shopping, putting gas in your car, or helping relatives in other households, make sure to clean your hands again after handling money and handling anything that you don’t have control over (doorknobs, gas station pump handles, etc).
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Community Health Coalition’s monthly tips
This month’s Health Tips newsletter from the Community Health Coalition focuses on “Nutrition, Oral Health and Colorectal Cancer Awareness.” March is National Nutrition Month. Be sure to check out the article about the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This CHC newsletter is chock full of information. Read it below:
Health Tips is created in partnership with Duke Energy, Duke Obstetrics & Gynecology, the Durham County Department of Public Health, and BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina.
Aiming for seizure-safe schools
A recent guest on TV Skywriter was Roxanne Davenport from the Epilepsy Association of North Carolina. We discussed the importance of passing Sam’s Law of North Carolina, also known as Seizure-Safe Schools, which would have school personnel and school bus drivers trained so they’ll know what to do in case students with epilepsy have seizures.
That All May Read
The National Library Service, in cooperation with libraries across the country, hosts the That All May Read program. People with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that keeps them from reading or holding a book can have braille or audio books delivered to them free of charge. You can choose physical books or free downloads. Click here to get started.
Operation Medicine Drop
Formed by a partnership of Safe Kids North Carolina, the Riverkeepers of North Carolina, NC State Bureau of Investigation, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of North Carolina, and local law enforcement agencies, Operation Medicine Drop is an initiative that helps people safely dispose of expired and unused medications. A common practice is to flush them down the toilet, but that poisons the waters and endangers wildlife. Simply tossing them in the trash is also a bad idea. Someone could come along, fish them out, and use them as recreation drugs. A large percentage of overdoses and other drug-related problems are actually due to the abuse of over-the-counter medications (some of which have been improperly disposed of).
Operation Medicine Drop provides safe dropoff points for those who want to get rid of their old medications easily and safely. Here are the Durham County locations:
Click here for more info.
Diabetes Support Group meeting
A Diabetes Support Group for people dealing with type 2 diabetes will hold its next meeting on Tuesday, December 3, 4–5pm, at the Durham County Human Services Building (414 E Main St, 2nd floor). Get tips and share your own ideas about self-management and staying healthy with good nutrition. Contact Aubrey Delaney from the Durham Diabetes Coalition at 919-560-7180 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Another meeting will be held on January 7.
Free webinars by NeedyMeds
NeedyMeds, a health information resource, will be offering several free webinars this month. Soak up some knowledge from the comfort of your desk at work or kitchen table if you work from home (be sure to click on the links and register in advance):
Free counseling services
People often say, especially after a tragedy occurs, “Too bad people don’t have access to mental-health services.” The Freedom House Recovery Center (formerly Mental Health America of the Triangle) has stepped in and has developed the Pro Bono Counseling Network for underinsured/uninsured people in need of services. Up to eight counseling sessions with licensed therapists are available—swift action can often prevent situations where things can spiral out of control. Call 919-942-8083 for an interview where the ideal therapist for the situation can be assigned. (You should always call 911 for mental-health/substance abuse emergencies—don’t wait.)
Licensed therapists who’d like to join the Pro Bono Counseling Network can call or write to email@example.com.
The Freedom House Recovery Center is located at 104 New Stateside Dr, in Chapel Hill. Click here to learn more about their programs and services.
Free rides for cancer patients
The American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program provides free rides to and from cancer-related treatments for Durham County residents. Call 800-227-2345 x1. You need to give at least four business days’ notice, with the date, time, and location of your appointment. This service operates on weekdays, 8am to 5pm, and it relies on volunteer drivers—so if you have the time and ability to offer assistance as a driver, please click here for more information. Drivers might not be able to accommodate physically disabled patients, but it’s usually okay to take a friend/family member who can help you in and out the vehicle.
Project Access connects people who don’t have health insurance with medical services that are affordable or free of charge. Their new HELP (Health Equipment Loan Program) will help uninsured medical patients gain access to medical equipment that they couldn’t otherwise afford. (Even people under Medicaid or Medicare can only qualify for certain equipment once every five years.) The Scrap Exchange (2050 Chapel Hill Rd, in the Shoppes at Lakewood) has agreed to house this much-needed program. If you any have walkers, wheelchairs, bedside commodes, canes, and tub-transfer benches, it would be greatly appreciated if you can donate them on a Tuesday or a Friday. Everything will be sanitized and repaired if necessary so they can be loaned out to people in need. Call 919-470-7281 or visit projectaccessdurham.org/HELP for more info.
Get your eating under control
Overeaters Anonymous meetings are held on Tuesdays and Fridays, 12:30–1:30pm, at First Presbyterian Church (305 E Main St). Call Robin at 919-683-3013 for more info. Meetings are also held on Saturdays, 10–11:30am, at Westminster Presbyterian Church (3639 Old Chapel Hill Rd). Sunday meetings are held at 10:30am at the Structure House (3017 Pickett Rd). Call Judith at 919-929-9891 for more info.
Children and teens are often warned about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs, but many parents don’t realize the danger of letting unused prescription medications sit around in their medicine cabinets. Half the teens surveyed believe that prescription drugs are “safe,” at least safer than illegal drugs. This often leads to experimentation, and young people can succumb to accidental poisoning, addiction, and abuse. Most unused or expired prescription drugs that end up being experimented with and sold on the street are taken from home medicine cabinets.
Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that young people who experiment with prescription drugs are twice as likely as other teens to use alcohol, more likely to use marijuana, and even more likely to seek out illegal street drugs like heroin and cocaine.
Adults are just now realizing that they shouldn’t let medications they’re no longer using sit around. Safe Kids North Carolina (Durham County branch) partners with the Durham Police Department to offer safe dropoff locations where medications can be disposed of. Tossing them in the trash doesn’t keep them from being discovered and flushing them down the toilet can poison the water supply. Special events such as Operation Medicine Drop make at least half a dozen dropoff points available for certain days of the year, but there are three dropoff points that are operational throughout the entire year:
Alzheimer’s Disease is on the rise and as the baby boomer generation ages, the medical profession is stepping up its efforts to try to find a cure. Countless studies have been undertaken, but researchers now want to see whether African-Americans have any differences in memory and age-related conditions as compared to the majority population. The Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Duke is now embarking on an African-American Study of Memory in Aging. This research study is under the direction of Dr Kathleen Welsh-Bonner, and Henry L Edmonds is the program coordinator.
Here are the criteria for participating in this study:
Here’s what will happen during that two-hour visit: