An Apple a Day


Welcome to my blog – An Apple a Day! This is where I hope you and I can have a conversation about all things health-related.

This column is meant to be an opportunity for you to learn my thoughts on everything from healthy living and fitness to immunizations and protecting yourself from infectious disease.

It’s a chance for me to share my ideas on how to optimize all we know about the latest and greatest in health science and innovation to keep you and your family happy and well. And you’ll get to read up on all the many things happening here at the County of Riverside Department of Health. Of course, there are a lot of pretty incredible things happening here—community forums, informative programs and comprehensive services, all designed to support your health and wellness goals.

Check in every week for a new blog where we will begin a journey towards your best health – together. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @rivcodoc and Facebook.

                                      Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Public Health Officer 


Today is World TB Day

March 24, 2017

Today is World TB Day, where we remember a disease that's been with us for millennia and will be with us for decades more. Everyone remembers the Black Plague of history (another old disease that unfortunately hasn't disappeared either), but if you ever wondered what the White Plague was, it was tuberculosis. In the 17th century, at its peak, active TB was the leading cause of death in Europe and remained so for almost two hundred years.

In those days, and in fact for centuries until modern antibiotics, the active form of tuberculosis was often a death sentence. Sufferers, wracked by fevers and night sweats, coughed up blood and lost so much weight the disease was often also known as "consumption." The disease spread easily in tenements and crowded dwellings where people couldn't help but share the air.

Modern antibiotics have greatly reduced the chance of death from this age-old killer. But TB has two big tricks to outwit us. Besides its unpredictable contagiousness, treatment for TB is very slow and requires multiple antibiotics at once for months on end, and TB can evolve resistance very quickly if it's treated incorrectly.

TB's other trick is to go into hiding in many people, a form we call latent tuberculosis. Like active TB, latent TB is caught from another active case, but in latent TB sufferers the infection goes into hiding instead. It's not contagious like active TB, but sometime in the future, sometimes years after the exposure, the bacteria can surface again and they develop active TB. While latent TB is very treatable, many people don't know they have it because there are no symptoms. Over a third of the world's population is estimated to have latent TB infection, and about 10% of them will go on to have active TB and be contagious.

TB is still in the United States and right here in Riverside County, around 60 or 70 cases of active TB each year in this county alone and many hundreds more with latent infection, most of which are treated by yours truly and our dedicated TB control staff. Our patients come from all walks of life, but what they have in common is they've all been attacked by this ancient enemy. Our department puts hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and many hours of work into treating active cases, finding out who's been exposed to them and treating people for latent infection to help keep us all safe.

You can help us win the war against TB. If you've had a TB test that was positive before and you've never been treated, talk to your doctor about what's best to do. And if you or someone you know have any of the classic TB symptoms such as coughing up blood, fevers, night sweats or weight loss, particularly if nothing seems to be working, think TB and ask your doctor about it. Your doctor can call us if they have questions. We're here to help.

Let's stop TB in our lifetime before it claims more victims to come.

March is National Nutrition Month

March 13, 2017

Who doesn’t love a good cheeseburger every now and then? Most of us do. The problem is that eating too much of a good thing can be really bad for your health.

More and more, health care providers are seeing the results of poor nutrition habits walk through their doors. Heart disease and diabetes are just a few of the serious illnesses that can come from not eating enough healthy foods.

The good news is, eating right isn’t that complicated. We know the best foods for our overall health – fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk products, along with lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs are among the best options.

It’s also important to keep our diets low in saturated fats, salt and sugar – many of these no-no’s are found in packaged and processed foods.

And the BEST news is, Riverside University Health System – Public Health’s Nutrition Services and Health Promotion Department has an incredible staff dedicated to helping educate and support Riverside County residents in achieving their best health and wellness.

For tips and resources on eating healthy, visit www.rivco-nutrition.org and let us help you celebrate National Nutrition Month.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.



 

Black History Month should prompt conversation about health

February 28, 2017

As we wrap up Black History Month in February, it’s also an important time to talk about the health disparities many African Americans face.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “African American adults are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension), and heart attack and stroke deaths than white adults. Individuals living below the federal poverty level are more likely to have high blood pressure compared with those living at the highest level of income.”

Additionally, while people of varying race, gender and ethnicity are at risk for heart disease and stroke, older people and African Americans are at higher risk than others. Nearly half of all African-American adults have some sort of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, and about two out of every five African-American adults have high blood pressure. Unfortunately, less than half of them have it controlled, putting them at even greater risk.

Cancer is also a major health concern for blacks in America and the second leading cause of death. While breast cancer rates have dropped for white women, black women have the highest death rates of all racial and ethnic groups, and are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer. Black men, meanwhile, are more likely to get prostate cancer earlier, and it tends to grow more quickly.

The best recommendations for all Americans are to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise, give up smoking, dial back your use of alcohol, explore your family history for heart disease and stroke and make regular appointments with your health care provider for well checks.

Let’s make February a time for getting our health and wellness right!

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.

 


 

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 15, 2017

We don’t always think of the role that dental health can play in our overall health, but the reality is, how well we take care of our teeth can have an impact on our body.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor oral health and tooth decay have been linked with other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease and is associated with risk behaviors such as tobacco use and consuming foods and beverages that are high in sugar.

Health issues that result from poor dental health can be costly too. The CDC reports that the US spends more than $6 billion of productivity lost for missed work due to dental issues annually.

So, the answer is simple – we can prevent many health issues by taking care of our teeth. This means using fluoride toothpaste, brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding sweets and sugary drinks and seeing a dentist regularly.

And when it comes to our kids – they should start visiting a dentist for a first checkup by the age of 1. Because staying healthy means starting early and factoring in all aspects of our health and wellness.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.



 

Go ahead, enjoy a healthy snack today

February 6, 2017

Since February is National Snack Month, you might expect to hear from us Public Health folks that snacking in between meals is a no-no.

The fact is,  healthy snacking is a great way to keep your metabolism moving and your energy level grooving – as long as you choose smart snacks, that is.

Healthy snacks can stave off hunger and keep you from overindulging at mealtime. They can help you to incorporate better, healthier food options, such as carrots or celery sticks. And they can help you to maintain healthy portion control.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a fun list of recipes for healthy snacks on its website, along with tips for afterschool snacks for hungry youngsters who return home after school and head for the fridge on its MyPlate site.

You’ll find help with healthy meal planning here and can get some great tips for buying the healthiest foods and snacks for your family here.

So, go ahead. Pick up a snack today and watch your overall health and wellness improve.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.



 

Know your facts about drug and alcohol use among teens

 

January 23, 2017

 

During the month of January – we will all have the chance to become informed as part of National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (Jan. 23-29). The weeklong event is a national health observance that encourages teens and their parents to learn about the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

 

And with such abuse, teens are not only at risk for their health, but their ability to achieve in school is also hampered. Add in impaired driving and there is a real potential for disaster.

 

According to DrugAbuse.gov, drug use among high school seniors, more than 5% misuse prescription drugs; more than 20% smoke marijuana, and 35% use alcohol. By the 12th grade, about half of adolescents have abused an illicit drug at least once, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

 

There are many ways to reduce drug and alcohol use among teens, but among the most vital is to get involved and stay informed.

 

Teachers and parents are urged to take part in the weeklong campaign and learn alongside teens about how to become informed and how to spread the word against drug and alcohol abuse.  And everyone can get started by brushing up on some facts about how drugs affect the brain and the body at https://teens.drugabuse.gov.

 

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.

 


 

Set your health and wellness goals for the New Year

January 11, 2017

With the New Year comes new resolutions. Why not set some goals for improved health? The following are just a few easy, very manageable ways that you can start 2017 with the goal of your best health and wellness:

Move. Strive to do so every day. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a reasonable distance from your destination so that you will be compelled to walk. Throw the football outside with your kids. Take an extra lap around the mall. Whenever possible, get up and get moving.

Drink water. Lots of it. Water hydrates the body and is even good for brain function. Not only does it help to control calorie consumption; it energizes muscles and refreshes your skin. Drink water with every snack and meal. And always keep a bottle of water nearby.

Calm down. Put down your phone and let your mind wander. Turn off the television and have dinner with your family at the dinner table. Quiet mediation can bring peace and calm to your life. It’s just as important to pursue hobbies that make you feel happy and revitalized.

Eat well. OK, so you don’t have to be perfect; just be better. Sneak in a serving or two of fruits or vegetables at least once or twice a day. Splurge on a fresh salad. Sink your teeth into a juicy apple or pear.

Make a call. It’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your health care provider earlier than later. Keep your primary care provider informed of your health concerns so your provider can make sure you’re up to date on the preventative testing you may need. If you’re behind on your checkups or shots, there’s no time like the present.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.

 


 

It’s time to make a commitment to your heart

December 29, 2016

As fans mourn the loss of Carrie Fisher, who reportedly died following a heart attack, there has been a new focus on the impact of heart disease on women’s health. And the news is not good.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, one in four women in the United States dies of heart disease, while one in 30 dies of breast cancer.  

So, what makes you at risk for heart disease? Unfortunately, age, gender, family history and a previous heart attack or stroke are risk factors that you cannot necessarily control.

But there are some that you can control. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “about half of all Americans (47%) have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.”

There is something you can do about these risk factors. The first is to practice healthy living habits, to include maintaining a healthy diet that is rich with fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Keep your weight down and your physical activity up. By keeping physically active, you will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Finally, give up smoking and limit your alcohol intake for your best chance to reduce your risks of heart disease. 

Get started today by checking out these heart-healthy recipes and exercises.

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.

 


 

 

Five quick tips to reduce holiday stress

November 22, 2016

Stress levels have a way of increasing around the holiday season. Consider these five tips for a smoother and less stressful holiday:

  • Planning ahead is always helpful when it comes to the holidays. Set a budget, look up recipes and send out invitations to avoid last-minute disasters.
  • Movies and commercials always show the perfect family gatherings. Set realistic expectations and understand your own limits. No holiday celebration is perfect and inevitable missteps are possibilities. View them as opportunities to visit and create memories with one another.
  • Resolve complicated tasks first by setting priorities, and leave the easier ones for later. Purchase groceries and prep meals a few days early and create more free time for loved ones.
  • Holiday season is all about togetherness and bonding with one another. Dividing the workload among family members can reduce your stress, and it can also be a bonding experience for everyone. Send someone on errands, and another to set the tables. Use the extra time to relax and be with others.
  • Give yourself a break. It is common to feel the pressure to be there for everyone who is attending your holiday parties. Make time for yourself and remember that you are only one person. Take an hour break every few working hours. Go for a walk, get a massage, or listen to music. Self-care is important and can lead to increase in productivity and decrease in stress level!

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org

 


 

Happy Fall: Watch for health hazards as autumn settles in


November 1, 2016

 

It’s true – Southern California residents don’t experience a dramatic shift of the seasons. Most of the time, we really have to attune our senses to the slightest change. Still, there are some aspects to the fall season that can pose health risks:

 

Autumn is considered the start of the flu season. It is recommended that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated to lessen their chances of getting the flu. Wash hands frequently. Eat well. Get your rest and drink lots of water. Check in with Riverside University Health System—Public Health as your best source for education, immunization clinics and flu shot information.

 

Shorter days mean longer nights. Be alert as you drive. Do not drink and drive and be sure to watch for pedestrians and bicyclists during your evening commute. In the same way, wear reflector badges on your clothing if you are strolling the neighborhood on your nightly walk or bike ride.

 

Exposure to cold weather can cause health problems. Dress in layers so that you can adjust your comfort level accordingly. And remember – the use of space heaters and fireplaces can increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

Finally, stay vigilant when it comes to food safety. The holidays are all about big meals and lots of leftovers. Keep your food safe from food poisoning by cooking at proper temperatures and refrigerating promptly.

 

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.

 


 

Vaccination is your best shot at health during flu season

 

October 17, 2016

 

It’s that time of year again – time to get vaccinated against the flu. This should be an annual tradition for you and your family. That’s because the body’s immune response from vaccination can decline over time.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and updated to keep up with changing flu viruses.

 

Vaccination can help to protect pregnant women during and after pregnancy and is an effective preventative tool for people with chronic health conditions.

 

Getting the flu shot can also save you in work and sick time, help reduce risk of hospitalization due to flu-associated illnesses in children and older adults and can also result in milder symptoms if you do happen to get sick with the flu.

 

Ultimately, getting vaccinated against the flu gives you your best shot at avoiding influenza. You can’t get the flu from a flu shot, and very few people have any reaction at all.

 

Visit www.rivcoimm.org/ to learn where flu shots are being offered throughout Riverside County.

 

Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at www.rivcoph.org.