Neti Pots: Tap Water is a No-No

Spring is almost over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of allergies. Those
who suffer year-round look for relief in a number of ways—from daily doses of allergy medicine to regular sessions of acupuncture. Another popular—as well as drug-free and inexpensive—method is nasal rinsing.

A common nasal irrigation device is the neti pot—a small, teapot-like container that you fill with a saline solution to clear nasal passages. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the neti pot can flush out dust, pollen, and other debris, and also help to loosen thick mucus.

The FDA states that, when used properly, the neti pot is safe and effective in reducing allergy symptoms—as long as they are used correctly. Neti pots must only be filled with distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. If you use tap water, you risk putting organisms in your nasal passages that can cause serious infections, or even result in death. You don’t get sick from drinking tap water because your stomach acid can kill low-level organisms.

According to the FDA, other tips for safe use of your neti pot include:

  • Making sure your hands are clean before use.
  • Checking that the device is clean and completely dry.
  • Carefully following the manufacturer’s directions for use.

Before using any nasal rinsing device, consult with your doctor to see if it’s the best solution for you. Be sure to check the license of your doctor by going to the Medical Board of California’s website, www.mbc.ca.gov.

 

 

A Clear Look at Contact Lenses

Contact lenses can be liberating. You don’t have to deal with the discomfort of eyeglasses resting on your face and ears, your peripheral view is generally better, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they can even improve the progression of nearsightedness in children and teenagers.

However, despite their benefits, if you don’t care for and wear them properly, they may cause eye infections that can lead to long-term damage, according to the CDC. The good news is, though, that with good habits, you can most likely avoid infections.

Here are some tips to ensure healthy use of your contact lenses:

  • Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before handling.
  • Rub then rinse them with disinfecting contact lens solution.
  • Don’t “top off” old solution in your case or re-use solution.
  • Don’t sleep, shower, or swim with your lenses on.
  • Don’t wear your contact lenses longer than your eye doctor instructed.

If you’re interested in wearing cosmetic contacts, know that, similar to vision-correcting lenses, they must be prescribed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. Find out more about cosmetic contact sales in the Board of Optometry’s Cosmetic Contacts: Change the Look of Your Eyes Safely and Legally publication.

Regularly check the health of your eyes by visiting your eye doctor. To verify the license of your optometrist, visit the Board of Optometry’s website at www.optometry.ca.gov.

 

 

 

Having Dense Breasts: What Does It Mean?

When women get their mammogram results, they may be notified that they have “dense breast tissue.” Starting in April 2013, California law requires that patients be informed if they have dense breasts, and if they do, they may want to consult with their doctor about additional screening options.

Density is apparent only in mammograms and has nothing to do with firmness. Breasts appear dense if there is a great deal of fibrous or glandular tissue, and less fatty tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, about 40 percent of women in the U.S. over age 40 have dense breasts.

Having dense breasts increases your risk of getting breast cancer—the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, with lung cancer as the number one-leading cause. A February 2017 University of California, San Francisco, study showed that women with dense breast tissue are at a greater risk for breast cancer compared to women with a family history of the disease, their own history of benign lesions, or a first full-term pregnancy over age 30. However, it’s still not understood why there is a link. But what is clear is that dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to see tumors in mammograms.

If you do receive notice that you have dense breasts, be sure to discuss with your doctor about what follow-up tests (e.g., an MRI, ultrasound, or 3D mammography) may be necessary. To check the license of a doctor, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.

 

 

The Disconnection Effect: Social Media and Young People

By design, social media connects young people to one another on a regular, even minute-by-minute basis. They see pictures and videos of others vacationing, having fancy meals, getting together for parties. What do these social media-driven images leave them feeling like? Oftentimes, disconnected and lonely.

A recent study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine focused on how U.S. young adults’ extensive social media use (more than two hours a day) can lead to feelings of isolation. The study assessed time and frequency of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine. What they found was that the more young people were checking out others’ posts, the higher was their perception of social isolation.

Replacing face-to-face relationships with social media can also affect overall well-being. Research published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked into Facebook activity and its effects on physical and mental health, life satisfaction, and body mass index. The study reported that “the negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible trade-off between offline and online relationships.”

If you’re finding yourself increasingly lonely and even depressed, take important steps to improve your mental health. Cut down on social media use and consider seeking the advice of a professional. To check the license of a professional psychologist, visit the Board of Psychology website at www.psychology.ca.gov.

 

Taking Control of Pests This Month

Paying tribute to the pest control industry, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) founded National Pest Management Month. The April event seeks to raise public awareness about pest control and the risks associated with household pests, and provide information to homeowners on avoiding infestations.

This month-long event comes on the heels of massive rainstorms—which translate into a heavy pest season. With all the rain we’ve had this year, pests such as fleas, termites, carpenter ants, and cockroaches will be out in full force. Assistance from a pest control professional will be key in helping protect yourself and your family against possible health and structural threats.

To find out more about National Pest Management Month and to get tips on protecting your home, visit the NPMA’s website at www.pestworld.org. To check the license of a pest control professional, visit the Structural Pest Control Board’s website at www.pestboard.ca.gov.

April is an Ideal Time to Focus on Health

The weather is warming up, making it an ideal time to get healthy by getting active outdoors and taking advantage of the in-season fruits and vegetables. As further inspiration, a slew of campaigns focusing on health management through exercise, diet, and regular health care are happening this month. Here are a few to get you started:

  • April is Defeat Diabetes Month, sponsored by the Defeat Diabetes Foundation. As part of the campaign, the Foundation is challenging participants to track how many activities and good habits they candevelop this month. The website www.defeatdiabetes.org has an activity calendar of daily suggestions to stay active and eat well; for example, plant your own garden, try papaya and asparagus, go hiking, visit your doctor for a check-up, and explore a wildlife refuge.
  • According to volunteer eye health and safety organization Prevent Blindness, more women than men have eye disease. In an effort to educate women about preserving their vision, Prevent Blindness has designated this month as Women’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. From using cosmetics safely and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses to making regular optometry visits and learning about your family history of possible eye disease, there are many ways to take care of your vision. Find out more about the event and women’s eye care by visiting the Prevent Blindness website at www.preventblindness.org.
  • What is occupational therapy? Find out during National Occupational Therapy Month, founded by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The event recognizes the important role occupational therapists play in helping people return to everyday activities after injuries, assisting children with disabilities participate in school and social situations, and enabling the elderly to stay as independent as possible. Learn more about occupational therapy and the month long celebration at the AOTA website, www.aota.org.

To verify the license of your healthcare providers, visit the appropriate board’s website: Medical Board of California at www.mbc.ca.gov, Board of Optometry at www.optometry.ca.gov, and the Board of Occupational Therapy at www.bot.ca.gov.

Animals in April: Monthlong Events Highlight Animal Health and Well-Being

Spring is here, meaning a bumper crop of young animals. This influx of animals makes it the ideal time to help raise awareness about how to prevent animal cruelty, as well as how to use first aid to increase the odds of your pet’s survival after an injury.

Sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the campaign “Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month” seeks to inform Americans about the prevalence of animal cruelty and to urge reporting instances of animal neglect and abuse. Cruelty issues include dog fighting, puppy mills, animal hoarding, and horse slaughtering. As part of the campaign, on April 26, ASPCA will join California lawmakers and animal advocates at California Voices for Animals Day, an annual advocacy and adoption event at the state capitol. Stop by and show your support. For more information about Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month and California Voices for Animals Day, go to the ASPCA’s website at www.aspca.org.

April is also Pet First Aid Awareness Month, started by Pet Tech Productions. The event highlights the importance of knowing first aid for your pet. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 25 percent of pets would survive if a first aid technique was used prior to emergency veterinary care. For more information, visit Pet Tech’s website at www.pettech.net. Contact your pet’s veterinarian to learn more about animal first aid. To check the license of a veterinarian, visit the California Veterinary Medical Board at www.vmb.ca.gov.

 

April: Paying Tribute to Lawns and Landscapes

Green is in again. This year’s tremendous rainstorms have brought back to life lawns, trees, flowers, and the like. With yards thriving again, what better time to celebrate lawn care and landscape architecture?

April is National Lawn Care Month, which emphasizes the importance of natural grass’ environmental and health benefits. According to the National Association of LandscapeProfessionals (NALP), healthy lawns and landscapes can help clean the air, minimize noise, protect water sources from unhealthy runoff, and act as natural coolants. However, despite America’s love of lawns—an NALP survey reported that 78 percent of U.S. adults maintain a lawn and/or landscaping—the majority of us don’t understand how to properly care for them. For example, one in three doesn’t understand how often a lawn should be watered and 64 percent mistakenly think that all grass needs to fertilized in the spring. To learn more about how to maintain a healthy lawn, visit NLAP’s website at www.landscapeprofessionals.org.

This month is also World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM), which pays tribute to the profession of landscape architecture and designed public and private spaces. Sponsored by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the month-long celebration recognizes work from landscape architects all over the world—from the High Line in New York City and gardens in Estonia to your own yard or local park—and showcases how landscape architecture affects our daily lives. Follow ASLA’s Instagram, which shows a variety of perspectives on landscape architecture. Find out more about WLAM at .

If you’re looking to get some professional work done in your own yard, be sure to check the license of a landscape architect first by going to the Landscape Architects Technical Committee website at www.latc.ca.gov.

Don’t Miss the Latest Issue of Consumer Connection!

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recalled 51.3 million autos in the United States. The recalls included everything from defective ignition switches and consumer-connection-winter-2016steering wheels to acceleration issues and airbag and seatbelt defects. If you receive a recall notice, don’t ignore it. The winter 2016 issue of Consumer Connection walks you through what to do if you receive one.

This edition of DCA’s magazine continues its regular feature highlighting Department leadership. This issue includes an interview with the Executive Officer of the Board of Registered Nursing (Board), Joseph Morris. Mr. Morris discusses his background, long-term goals for the Board, and the Board’s challenges ahead.

The issue also explores a variety of other interesting topics, including recognizing a flood-damaged car when shopping for a used vehicle, fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the recently launched California State Athletic Commission’s campaign to prevent and treat concussions.

Visit the DCA website to download or read the magazine. You can also pick up a printed copy in the DCA Headquarters lobby at 1625 North Market Boulevard in Sacramento. Or, to have it mailed to you at no charge, call (866) 320-8652 or send an e-mail request to consumerconnection@dca.ca.gov. Get connected!

 

Covered California Open Enrollment Ends January 31

covered-california-jpgOpen enrollment for Covered California, the state’s marketplace for the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, ends on Tuesday, January 31. For coverage to begin on March 1, 2017, you must enroll by this deadline.

Depending on different factors such as your family size and income, you can qualify for:

Consumers interested in learning more about their coverage options should go to CoveredCA.com or call (800) 300-1506.

And remember, if you’ve experienced a life-changing event, you may be able to sign up for a health plan during Special Enrollment even after the open enrollment period ends. Visit http://bit.ly/1BMTca1 for more information.