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How to manage your arthritis

Arthritis is something we all want to avoid, but it’s increasingly common as we age. It’s a painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and, according to the Arthritis Foundation, it’s not very well understood. They mention that there are over 100 different types of arthritis!

Who can be affected by arthritis?

Well, just about anybody. Over 50 million US adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. It’s more common among women and the elderly.

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Source Penn Medicine

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is caused by the reduction in the amount of cartilage tissue. This can be due to normal wear and tear due to daily activities, but also by infection or injury. It has been found that you are more at risk for Osteoarthritis if you have a family history of the disease.

For an autoimmune disorder like Rheumatoid Arthritis, the cause is unknown.

What are the first symptoms of arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

If you have continued pain like this, it could be due to arthritis and it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

There are different ways to pinpoint whether or not you have arthritis, and, if you do, which kind it is.

Doctors will use:

  • Lab tests (blood, joint fluid, urine)
  • X-Rays
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

How is arthritis treated?

Although there is no cure, many medications have been developed to help reduce the severity and the pain.

These medications include:

  • Analgesics- Reduce pain, but no inflammation
  • NASIDs- Reduce pain and inflammation
  • DMARDs – Use to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Biologic response modifiers – Target protein molecules
  • Counterirritants – Creams and ointments to reduce pain in aching joints
  • Corticosteroids – Reduce inflammation, suppresses the immune system

Surgery is another option that a doctor may suggest.

Types of surgeries include:

  • Joint fusion- Used on smaller joints. Remove the end of two bones and then lock the ends together
  • Joint repair- Smooth or realign joint surfaces to reduce pain
  • Joint replacement – Removes a damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. Common for knees and hips

Additional Arthritis Resources

The Arthritis Foundation

MedlinePlus.gov | Arthritis 

 


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Let’s talk about fire safety

October 9-15 is Fire Prevention Week, a campaign from the National Fire Protection Association. This week is all about making people aware of the dangers of fire, and putting in place a plan and contigencies in case of an emergency.

This year, the Associations campaign is “Don’t Wait-Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.” This is the 3rd year in a row that they are promoting smoke alarm safety. That’s because it is such a large issue. The Association states that only a small percentage of people even know how old their alarms are or that they need to be replaced every 10 years.

Change your smoke alarm

If you’re not sure how old your smoke alarm is, take it off the ceiling and look at the date of manufacture on the back. If it’s over 10 years old or approaching that date, it’s time to replace it.

Smoke alarms are a great tool to have, but they should not be completely relied upon. If a fire starts in a room without an alarm, a closed door could prevent the alarm from sounding right away. Have an alarm in every room, as well as outside each room.

Here are some additional tips from the NFPA website.

Consider Fire Sprinklers

The NFPA also has an initiative to promote fire sprinklers in homes.

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Take a look at the infographic above. There are two big numbers you should take notice of:

  • Sprinklers can reduce average property loss per home by about 70%
  • Sprinklers cut the risk of dying in a home fire by about 80%

Those are numbers to really think about when you’re considering home fire safety measures you’d like to take.

Make a fire escape plan

In school, we run through fire drills every year. But have you ever done one at your own home? It’s important to take an hour or two to plan ahead. If an emergency ever occurs, you won’t even need to think, you will know just what you have to do to get everyone out.

One of the first steps is to walk everyone though the house so all possible exits and escape plans are known. Don’t rely on just one exit, as it could become blocked off during a fire. Do another walk through and make sure each person can reiterate the escape routes.

Determine an outside meeting place, maybe it’s a stop sign nearby or your neighbor’s mailbox. Ensure that it is far enough away from the home so as to be out of danger.

The NFPA put together a fire escape plan guide and tip sheet that you can download here.

Fire Safety & Seniors

The NFPA has a special section just for assisting those ages 65 and older with fire prevention and planning.

It’s important that older residents try to avoid living in the highest part of the building or home. If you’re in an apartment, the best place for you in case of a fire is the lowest level making your escape route much easier. Also look out for apartments that have automatic sprinkler systems that can extinguish fires.

Know where you can and can’t exit. Some buildings and homes have locked doors that can’t be exited through. Know where you have to go in case of an emergency, and have a back up route if possible in case your first choice is blocked.

 


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How to Stay Safe in the Sun

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It’s important for us all to consider sun safety, especially living in Southwest Florida. It is even more important for the young and older generations to be concerned about this. As we age, our skin becomes less and less robust, thereby becoming fragile and in need of extra care. If you are older, you have probably noticed that small bumps into the table lead to bruises. Whereas somebody younger likely doesn’t see this effect.

If you plan to head out into the sun, please take these precautions to stay safe!

Clothing
I know it’s hot out there by the beach, or out gardening, or going for a walk. But it’s important to ensure your clothing will protect your skin. Clothing is the best way to protect, as it can shield you from UV rays. Dry shirts are better than wet, darker colors are better than light. If you can, wear long sleeves and long pants, or a skirt, for maximum protection. If this is too much, wear a t-shirt or cover up.

Shade
If you plan to sit out at the beach, bring an umbrella, or seek a shady spot. The shade will not keep you completely protected, so you also need to have the proper clothes and sunscreen.

Sunscreen
Now that you have your shady spot, and some protective clothes, it’s time to lather on the sunscreen. Your sunscreen should be at least SPF 15. Even if it is cloudy, those rays can still get through to your skin. If you plan to be outside a few hours, you will need to reapply the sunscreen for maximum effect. It may also be good to find a lip balm with at least SPF 15 to protect your lips as well. Don’t forget any part of your skin, like the tops of your feet, areas around the bathing suit, neck, ears.
EPA- Sunscreen Facts

Hat
Many of us can forget to protect our heads during a day out in the sun. And not many of us want to put sunscreen on our scalps, which can get in our hair. Hats are a great way to shield your head, and neck and provide shade to your face. Try not to get a straw hat, as the holes will allow the sun’s rays to get through.

Sunglasses
You may think you can see just fine without them, but they’re important for protecting your eyes against UV rays. They also help reduce the risk of cataracts. Find sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.

Take the Sun Safety IQ quiz from the American Cancer Society to see how sun-safe you are.