Obesity

Obesity is the accumulation of excess fat on the body, and it is considered to be a chronic and long-term disease.  It is also the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index greater than 30. The Body Mass Index is calculated by measuring a person’s weight in relation to their height.  Obesity can be caused by:

  • Eating more food than your body can use and not getting enough exercise
  • Having an underactive thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism
  • Stress, anxiety, feeling sad, or not sleeping well.
  • Drinking too much alcohol, or quitting smoking
  • Certain medications such as birth control pills, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
  • For women, obesity can also be triggered by Menopause or pregnancy.

First Aid for Obesity begins with developing realistic, safe, daily calorie counts that help shed pounds while keeping the person’s body healthy. People who lose weight slowly and steadily are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.  For assistance, work with a health care provider or dietitian to learn about:

  • Portion sizes
  • Healthy food choices and healthy snacks
  • Sweetened drinks
  • How to read nutrition labels, and
  • Healthy ways of preparing food

Extreme diets consisting of less than 1,100 calories per day are not considered safe because they often do not contain enough vitamins and minerals. It is also common for people who lose weight through extreme dieting to return to overeating and become obese again.

People suffering from obesity should remember that a lifestyle change to incorporate regular exercise and healthy eating is the best way to lose weight, and that even modest weight loss can significantly improve their health. Learn new ways to manage stress, rather than snacking. Examples may be meditation, yoga, or exercise. People who are depressed or stressed a lot should talk to a health care provider before beginning treatment.

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CPR

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) consists of mouth-to-mouth respiration and chest compression. Before starting Adult CPR, call 9-1-1.  CPR should only be performed on a person who has no pulse and is not breathing.

If the victim is a child between the ages of 1 and 10, begin CPR right away and get someone else to make the call.

For Infant CPR go here.

In order to properly perform CPR, the victim must be on their back. 

  • CPR begins with two-handed chest compressions. Place the heel of one hand in the center of the victim’s chest, and place your other hand on top of it. Quickly deliver 30 chest pumps by pushing the chest down, about 2 inches deep, at a rate of 16 compressions every 10 seconds or 100 per minute.
  • It is normal to feel “pops” or “snaps” when you first begin chest compressions. Do not be concerned with these.  It is more important that you DO NOT STOP!
  • After pumping the chest 30 times, carefully tilt the victim’s head back, and lift their chin up to open the airway.
  • NEXT: Pinch the victim’s nose closed, and take in a normal breath.  Form a seal over the victim’s mouth with yours … and blow out your breath until you see their chest rise. If the victim’s chest does not rise, try opening the airway again by doing a finger sweep to check for obstructions. Wait one full second, then deliver a second breath.
  • Repeat the process of 2 breaths followed by 30 chest compressions until the victim regains consciousness, and begins to breathe on their own.  If the victim has a pulse, but is not breathing on their own, it is safe to cease chest compressions, and continue solely with mouth-to-mouth until medical help arrives.
  • If there is someone nearby, ask them for help.  One person can perform the breathing, while the other person delivers chest compressions.

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Boils

Boils, also known as furuncles, are deep hair follicle or oil gland infections commonly caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.  Boil infections cause a painful swollen area on the skin due to the accumulation of pus underneath dead tissue. The most common places for boils to appear are on the

  • Neck and Face
  • Shoulders and armpits,
  • As well as the groin area and buttocks

When a boil forms on the eyelid, it is called a sty. Individual boils that are clustered together are considered to be a more serious type of infection known as carbuncles.  If a boil infection spreads into deeper tissues of the skin, it becomes an abscess. Although sometimes an abscess will open and drain spontaneously, it often needs to be treated by a health-care provider. Severe abscesses can even require drainage in an operating room.

First Aid for a boil infection starts with keeping the skin clean

  • Wash the area of the infection with soap and warm water frequently.
  • Place a warm compress on the boil several times a day. Heat encourages the formation of pus which helps the boil break, drain and heal. Use each cloth only once, and when finished, rinse it well using hot water.
  • Cover the boil with a clean, dry dressing to contain any drainage. Change the dressing frequently, especially if the boil is oozing. Dispose of dressings by sealing them in a bag.
  • Anytime you touch a boil or change the dressing, wash your hands thoroughly when finished.

When treating boils, it is important to remember that boils are a skin infection.   A skin boil will most often burst and drain itself.  It is not recommended for anyone to lance a boil at home because, if done incorrectly, it can cause the infection to spread.  Anyone considering lancing a boil should seek the assistance of a medical practitioner.

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Blisters

Blisters are small pockets of fluid within the upper layers of the skin.  Blisters can be caused by forceful rubbing, burns, allergic reactions, freezing, chemical exposure or viral illnesses of the skin. Most blisters are filled with a clear plasma fluid known as serum. Blisters that are filled with blood are commonly called blood blisters.  Any type of blister can become easily infected if not treated properly.

Seek immediate medical attention for blisters resulting from a burn or from chemical exposure.  Persons should also contact a health care provider if they develop blisters inside of the mouth, a blister that is oozing pus, or one that is extremely painful and red.

First Aid for a minor blister begins with properly draining the blister fluid, unless the blister looks infected or the person has a fever; multiple, grouped blisters; diabetes; or poor circulation

  • Wash your hands and the blister using lukewarm water and mild soap.
  • Disinfect the area around the blister with rubbing alcohol.
  • Disinfect a clean, sharp needle by dipping or rinsing it in rubbing alcohol.
  • Use the disinfected needle to gently puncture the outside edge of the blister and let the fluid drain.  Try to leave the overlying skin in position.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin or Bacitracin on the blister, and cover with a bandage.
  • After a few days, use disinfected tweezers or scissors to cut away the remaining dead skin, apply more ointment and cover the area with a bandage.

Protect the blister while it is healing, and prevent new blisters from forming on feet by wearing acrylic rather than cotton socks and choosing work or athletic shoes that fit properly.  Apply powder to necessary areas before performing activities that involve constant friction.  To prevent new blisters from forming on hands, wear proper work gloves to when moving heavy objects, gardening, working on a vehicle, or performing any activity that puts extreme pressure on hands.

Related Article: Double up on Socks to Prevent Blisters?

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Black Eye

A black eye is the result of an injury that causes bruising around the eye.  The bruising is typically caused by bleeding beneath the skin surrounding the eye. Sometimes, a black eye can indicate a more serious injury to the eye itself, and even a possible skull fracture.

Although most black eye injuries aren’t serious, bleeding within the eye is considered to be very serious. Bleeding in the eye area can reduce vision and damage the cornea. Call 911 immediately if the person displays symptoms of:

  • Bleeding from the eyeball
  • Blurred vision or loss of vision entirely
  • Confusion, dizziness, or loss of consciousness or
  • Two black eyes, which can indicate a serious injury to the head.

First Aid for minor black eye injuries can be performed by:

  • Applying a cold pack, ice, or a cold washcloth to the injury at least twice a day for the first 48 hours.  If using ice, use only one or two cubes at a time to avoid putting undesired pressure on the eye area.
  • Do not place a steak over the eye area.  Placing a steak over the eye is a common myth for black eye treatment.  However, a frozen bag of vegetables, such as peas, can be used as a lightweight alternative to applying a cold pack or ice.
  • If needed, use only acetaminophen or Tylenol for pain.  Do not give aspirin or ibuprofen when treating pain because these medications can potentially increase the risk of bleeding.
  • After 48 hours, switch from cold therapy to heat therapy by applying a warm compress for further treatment of the eye injury.

As with any injury, if the eye area does not improve, worsens, or begins to impair vision, seek medical attention right away.

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Human Bites

Human bite wounds, like animal bite wounds can be dangerous because the human mouth contains many different types of transmittable bacteria and viruses.

A person who has sustained a human bite wound that has broken the skin will need a tetanus shot within 48 hours if it has been over 5 years since their last booster.

The three general types of human bite injuries that can lead to complications are:

  • A closed-fist injury,
  • A chomping injury to the finger, and
  • A puncture-type wound to the head area caused by clashing with another person’s tooth.

First Aid for a human bite wound starts with stopping the bleeding:

  • Apply firm, direct pressure with sterile gauze or clean cloth until bleeding stops.  Wash the wound with mild soap and water for several minutes under running water.
  • Pat the area dry and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Protect the wound from further accidental injury by applying a clean gauze or bandage.
  • Change the dressing and continue to apply a fresh layer of antibiotic ointment at least twice a day.
  • Monitor the area for signs of infection such as swelling, painful redness, or puss.

Call 911 if blood is spurting from the wound and cannot be stopped within 10 minutes because deeper bite wounds may require stitches.  Tell the emergency health care provider if the person suffering a human bite to the hand has stiffness, numbness, or trouble moving fingers.  These symptoms indicate potential damage to tendons or nerves.

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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. Because it is a manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. Bipolar disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years, and most start before age 25.

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called “mood episodes.” An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Dramatic mood swings from a moderate to severe depression to periods of hypomania
  • Psychotic episodes that might include hallucinations or delusions and
  • Behavioral problems that might include alcohol or substance abuse, relationship problems, or poor performance at work or in school. At first, it’s not easy to recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness.

First Aid for Bipolar Disorder starts with talking to a Doctor or Mental Healthcare professional.

Bipolar disorder cannot currently be identified through a blood test or a brain scan, but there are tests available that can help rule out other contributing factors, such as a stroke or brain tumor. If the problems are not caused by other illnesses, the doctor may conduct a mental health evaluation. The doctor may also provide a referral to a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, who is experienced in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder.

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Back Pain

Back Pain affects 9 out of 10 people in their lifetime and can range from moderate to severe. A person experiencing severe back pain should consider recent activity in order to rule out a possible spinal injury as the cause. People with severe back pain who have:

  • been in an accident such as a motor-vehicle collision,
  • have recently slipped, tripped, or taken a fall,
  • frequently participate in contact sports, or
  • have recently fallen victim to a violent attack,

should contact a medical professional for further evaluation of possible spinal injury.

For most people, common back pain is generally caused by sprains and strains to the muscles around the spine. A strain is the result of a heavy load or sudden force applied to muscles not ready for activity. Sprains are caused by overstretching the ligaments that support the back area.

First Aid for common back pain starts with:

  • Hot and cold therapy.  Apply a cold pack (or a bag of ice) to the painful area for five to ten minutes at a time. For back pain lasting longer than 2 days, a heating pad, hot bath, or hot shower can help relieve muscle tension and pain.
  • Rest the back for no more than 2 days.  Too much bed rest will cause the bones to lose calcium and weakens muscles.  This not only slows recovery, but can make a back problem worse.
  • After the first couple of days, engage in light exercises that do not put strain on the back such as: walking short distances, swimming or water aerobics, or riding a stationary bike.

90% of people with common back pain will recover within the first month. Treatment depends on the condition that is causing the back pain.  If back pain does not lessen with home treatment consult with a medical professional to evaluate other potential causes of severe back pain such as spinal misalignment, sciatica, or a slipped or ruptured disc.

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Scorpion Stings

Scorpion stings require prompt care, especially if the victim is an infant or small child.  Call 911 or get to an emergency room right away if the person displays severe sting reaction symptoms such as:

Mild reactions to scorpion stings are normal, and typical symptoms include

  • pain, swelling, and sensitivity at the sting site,
  • numbness in the sting area,
  • nausea, vomiting, and excessive salivation.

First aid for a scorpion sting begins by:

  • Immediately rinsing the sting site thoroughly with cold water.
  • Apply a local antihistamine, corticosteroid, analgesic, or ice to control pain.
  • If one is available, take an oral antihistamine to slow the allergic reaction, and
  • Get to a medical professional right away

The Food and Drug administration has recently approved a Bark Scorpion sting antidote that can be administered by health care professionals.  The antidote, called Anascorp, is already widely used by many health care providers in the Southwestern United States, where Bark Scorpions are commonly found.  A person stung by a Bark Scorpion should consider asking their health care provider about the antidote.

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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a disease transmitted by infected ticks. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever usually develop within two weeks of the initial tick bite.  Symptoms of the disease include:

  • A sudden onset of fever and headache accompanied by
  • a rash that develops within two to five days of the initial tick bite.

The rash usually begins at the wrists and ankles, and spreads throughout the rest of the body.

In addition to the rash, fever, and headache, Rocky Mountain spotted fever may induce nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle pain, lack of appetite, and red eyes.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever requires professional medical attention. People observing any of these symptoms who live near, or frequently visit areas with dense tick populations, should seek prompt medical attention!

Tick Removal

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
outline of tickAvoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.Sources: