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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Severe Bleeding

Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging, describes the loss of blood from the circulatory system.

Bleeding can occur internally or externally, either through a natural opening such as the nose, ear, or mouth; or from a cut, scrape, or puncture to the skin.

Typically, a healthy person can endure a loss of 10–15% of their total blood volume before being at risk for serious medical complication.

First Aid for a person suffering from severe blood loss is crucial, if you are alone with a person who is bleeding profusely, immediately:

  • Lie the person down.
  • Put on a pair of gloves if you have them.
  • Check to see if a limb or extremity is the source of the bleeding injury, and if the limb does not appear to be fractured or broken, raise the injured area above the level of the person’s heart.
  • Get the person to apply direct pressure to the wound with their hand or hands to stem the blood flow, and immediately call 911.  If the person cannot apply pressure themselves, do it for them. You may need to pull the edges of the wound together before applying any pressure.
  • If an object is noticeably imbedded in the wound, do not remove the object as this may increase bleeding. Instead, apply pressure around the object.
  • As soon as the bleeding is controlled, call 911.
  • While waiting for 911, continue to apply pressure to the injury but do not apply a tourniquet. If it is done incorrectly, it may lead to an unnecessary serious injury to or loss of the leg or arm. If blood begins to saturate the dressing, do not remove it. Instead, add fresh padding over the top. If the injury occurred at home, cover the wound with a dressing, using sterile pads and a bandage (if possible) to hold them firmly in place until help arrives.

If the victim goes into shock before help arrives, do your best to protect them from breathing obstructions.  If possible, turn them on their side and loosen any restrictive clothing around the airway.  Check their breathing and pulse frequently, and begin CPR if necessary.

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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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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:

Asbestos Poisoning

Asbestos poisoning occurs when asbestos fibers build up in the lungs after exposure. Asbestos poisoning occurred mostly in commercial and industrial settings during the 1970’s. Today it is more commonly seen in asbestos removal projects inside the home. If care is not taken to prevent asbestos exposure, asbestos poisoning can progress into asbestosis, which can cause permanent lung tissue damage.

First Aid treatment for asbestos poisoning begins with decontamination. Directly after exposure occurs:

  • Remove all affected clothing
  • Scrub all surfaces of the body thoroughly with soap and water. This will prevent lingering fibers from being inhaled.
  • Use an ultrasonic cool-mist humidifier to help break up any bronchial secretions from the asbestos.  Doing so allows affected persons to manually cough and clear their lungs.
  • Asbestos poisoning can cause chest pain. The pain can be treated with over-the-counter products including ibuprofen. In severe cases, your doctor may also prescribe bronchial dilators to help keep your airways open.

Asbestos poisoning does substantial damage to the lungs.  If you have been exposed, take proper preventative measures to protect the lungs from further damage.

  • Stop smoking: asbestos exposure dramatically increases the risk of lung cancer.
  • Asbestos-damaged lungs are also more prone to serious cases of pneumonia, so it is important to take preventative measures to avoid getting sick during the cold and flu season.

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