Last month Oralia Bazaldua provided an excellent overview of health literacy, with a focus on health literacy in South Texas. The video and slides are available from the UTHSCSA Department of Family and Community Medicine’s grand rounds online library.
Health Literacy – Presentation by Oralia Bazaldua, PharmD
Health Lotería #10: El alacrán
Last week in the Health Lotería, we gave you a preview of this week’s topic with the saying: “¡No levantes esa piedra, / que te pica ese animal!” ["Don't lift up that rock, / because that animal will sting you!"] Well, surely you figured out the answer, we’re talking about… ¡¡¡el alacrán!!! [the scorpion!]
Although here in Texas we do have biting scorpions, there are lots more animals that threaten us with bites or stings during our long, hot summers. Some don’t bring us anything worse than bother and discomfort, while others can bring us illnesses (like malaria or Lyme disease) or, for some people, serious allergic reactions. It’s very important to know the risks for you and your family, and know how to avoid them, as well as to respond to them when they occur. These links can help:
- An article from last Friday’s DallasNews.com: “7 ways to soothe summer’s bites, rashes and sunburns“
- “Stinging insect allergy: How to avoid the ouch” from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
- From MedlinePlus: “Insect Bites and Stings” — with links to many more information sources
- From the UTMB health library: “Spider Bites” and “Bee Stings“
Don’t get stung this week… and we’ll see you again next week!
Health Lotería #12: La garza
This week on the Health Lotería, “llegaron los picos largos de la feria de San Juan…” ["here comes long-bill from the fair of St John..."] — that’s right, it’s la garza [the heron]! And the heron brings along the health topic of clean drinking water.
For an introduction, we recommend the Environmetal Protection Agency website titled “Drinking water and health: what you need to know.” Also, the page on “Drinking Water” in medlineplus.gov is very full of information and important links.
Of course, a natural disaster — like Hurricane Dolly that affected the Valley this past week — can quickly change the stability of the drinking water system. According to this news which came out yesterday around 5pm, there are various parts of the Valley where health officials are currently recommending that residents boil their water before drinking it, to prevent the spread of possible water-born illnesses as a result of flooding and other problems in the wake of the hurricane:
- North Alamo Water Supply Corporation (Includes parts of Donna, Weslaco, Elsa, Edcouch y La Blanca)
- La Villa
- Laguna Madre Water Supply (includes South Padre Island, Military Highway WSC, only those served by Las Rusias Plant)
- Sebastian Municipal Utility District
- Port Mansfield
- Santa Rosa
If you live in one of those areas or know someone who does, it’s important to verify with the authorities (the water service provider) that your water is safe to drink; if not, you should boil it for at least a minute before drinking it.
Health Lotería #1: El músico
Last week was the annual Fiesta Week here in San Antonio, which inspired me to launch a new weekly series here in this blog: Health Lotería. For those who don’t know it, lotería is a traditional Mexican game rather like Bingo, but in which the caller picks out a card from a deck which has images that correspond to the squares on the players’ cards. Through the years, the traditional fun and picaresque images of the lotería cards have become icons of Mexican popular culture. It seemed to me that these images would go very well with discussions of health topics, because they are all images of daily life — which reminds us that health is not something that affects us just when we’re sick or go to the doctor, but is something that we live out in the decisions we make every day. So without further ado… let’s get started with… ¡¡¡el músico!!!
El músico (the musician) reminds us that we’re about to start the month of May, which is Better Hearing and Speech Month. This celebration invites us to better understand the causes of hearing and speech problems, and promote understanding and treatments for those who live with those problems. There are a variety of causes related to hearing loss; some are preventable and others are not. Fortunately, there are now exams which can detect hearing loss very early, in adults as well as children and even newborn infants. Moreover, we continue to learn more about how to avoid some of the preventable causes of hearing loss. For more information:
- MedlinePlus introduction to Hearing Disorders and Deafness
- Health Topics & Resources from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
- Brochures from the Texas Department of State Health Services: “Sounds of Texas-Can Your Baby Hear Them?” and “My Ear Hurts! Ear Infections“
- Texas Connect: Educational information for families of children with hearing loss
- Listen to your Buds: an educational campaign for young people about the risks of listening to personal audio devices (like MP3 players) at high volume or for long periods of time.
Next Monday we’ll continue with la lotería de salud… see you then!
Image: detail of #32 “El músico” from the lotería card deck “Gallo de Don Clemente” — Pasatiempos Gallo SA de CV y Don Clemente Inc.
Health Lotería #2: El tambor
Today we continue with the Health Lotería — and this week we turn over a new card… el tambor (the drum)!!!
That boom, boom, boom that you’re hearing in your ears — it might be the drums of the Cinco de Mayo parade, but it may be the sound of your heart, reminding you that May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month. And what if you don’t know your blood pressure? Go get it checked! As this MedlinePlus article explains, high blood pressure tends not to have symptoms, but can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, and heart attack. This American Heart Association article indicates that one in three adults in the US has high blood pressure — but the good news is that if you’re one of them, there’s a lot that you can do yourself to bring it down. Here’s some advice for starters:
- High Blood Pressure: Things You Can Do to Help Lower Yours (familydoctor.org)
- Your Guide to Lowering High Blood Pressure (National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute – NHLBI)
- High Blood Pressure: What Can I Do? (American Heart Association)
If you’ve got a plan to manage and control your blood pressure, mark that square… and next week we’ll continue with the Health Lotería!
Image: detail of #29 “El tambor” from the lotería card deck “Gallo de Don Clemente” — Pasatiempos Gallo SA de CV y Don Clemente Inc.
Health Lotería #3: La rosa
This week in the Health Lotería, we salute Rosita, Rosana, Rosaura and all the mothers out there with… ¡¡¡la rosa!!!
And of course, we want to remind all the mothers-to-be — and those who are considering becoming mothers — that it’s very important to take care of your health, as much before as during your pregnancy and even afterwards, to promote the health of your son or daughter. These informative websites can serve as starting points to learn more:
- Information and links about all aspects of pregnancy from MedlinePlus
- The ABCs of a Healthy Pregnancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Healthy Pregnancy from womenshealth.gov (National Women’s Health Information Center)
- Pregnancy & Newborn Health Education Center from the March of Dimes
We wish all mothers and mothers-to-be lots and lots of health and happiness. Until next week…
Health Lotería #5: La campana
The Health Lotería continues with… ¡la campana! In earlier times, before radio and television, every little town had to have its alarm — a method of warning the people when there was danger. Many times a great central bell would have had such a function. Our body also gives us warning signs when something’s not right, and it’s very important that we pay attention when it “rings and rings to call us.” This month of May is National Stroke Awareness Month, which reminds us that strokes (or “cerebrovascular accidents”) have their own early warning signs, and it’s essential that we act rapidly when we recognize those signs. Every minute is important after a stroke — the quicker the patient can receive appropriate care and treatment, the better his or her chances of survival and recovery. Here are some links to information about recognizing the warning signs of stroke:
- The “Know Stroke” campaign from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and its “Know the Signs” brochure
- The “Stroke 101″ fact sheet from the National Stroke Association includes general information about strokes as well as a guide to warning signs
- “Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs” from the American Heart Association
- “Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms” from NINDS
- “Stroke” encyclopedia article and links from from MedlinePlus
Next week we’ll pick another card to keep playing Health Lotería! See you then.
Health Lotería #6: El sol
Well, this week the Health Lotería arrived a little late, but “better late than never”. And considering the week we’ve had in South Texas, it’s no surprise that this week our card is… ¡¡¡el sol!!! The month of May has just finished — Skin Cancer Awareness Month — which reminds us of the importance of protecting ourselves during the sunny Texas summer. To better understand the risks of skin cancer and the most practical ways to protect yourself, take a look at these links:
- May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Links to plenty of information about skin cancer from MedlinePlus
- A brief video about the effects of sun on the skin, from the ADAM Encyclopedia, courtesy of Texas Health Resources
- More information on skin cancer from the National Cancer Institute
- Lots of information about skin cancer from the UTMB Health Library
Next week in the Health Lotería: “súbeme paso a pasito, no quieras pegar brinquitos.” Can you guess which card it will be?
Health Lotería #7: La escalera
Last week in the Health Lotería we gave you a preview of this week’s theme: “súbeme paso a pasito, no quieras pegar brinquitos.” Did you know the answer? Of course, it’s ¡¡¡la escalera!!! And with the ladder — and that saying about going step by step and not making any sudden jumps — we recognize that June is National Safety Month. This year, National Safety Month is focusing on four different safety themes, one for each week. And so, here you have links to some information sources about the four themes of the month:
- Theme One: Emergency Preparedness. The Department of State Health Services recently introduced its new website “Ready or Not?” with important advice about preparing for emergencies or major disasters.
- Theme Two: Distracted Driving. This CNN article discusses the results of a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute into the causes and the serious risks of driving while distracted.
- Theme Three: Poisoning Prevention. This guide from the Texas Poison Control Network offers a great list of practical suggestions for preventing poisoning at home and elsewhere.
- Theme Four: Falls Prevention. This page from MedlinePlus offers lots of information about the danger of falls for older people, while this booklet from Texas Children’s Hospital offers lots of suggestions for parents to prevent falls in their children.
One, two, three and four — and if you take them step by step without making any sudden jumps, you too can have a winning card! Until next week…
Health Lotería #8: La botella
This week on the Health Lotería we pick ¡¡¡la botella!!! Good thing, because we’re really starting to get the serious heat of the Texas summer — so we have to keep drinking plenty of water to avoid the illnesses that can affect us on hot days. To learn more about how to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses, here are some links:
- This page from MedlinePlus includes information about heat-related illnesses, with some links especially oriented toward:
- OSHA Fact Sheet: “Working Outdoors in Warm Climates“
- Hazard Alert from Center to Protect Workers’ Rights: “Heat Stress in Construction“
- The most recent issue of Texas Health Matters from the Department of State Health Services includes important health advice for all of us living in the hot Texas summer.
Next week in the Health Lotería: “da acá la pata y empiézame a platicar / los trabajos que pasabas cuando no sabías hablar.” Can you guess it?