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Back to school tips on how to properly wear a backpack

We’re into the first few weeks of school and want to raise awareness of the heavy loads our kids are carrying on their backs. Here are some helpful tips from the American Occupational Therapy Association:

Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school backpack heavier than 15 pounds.

Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back. Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.

Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary to the day’s activities. On days the backpack is too loaded, your child can carry books or other items in his/her hands. If the backpack is still too heavy to carry, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

Use both shoulder straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort. Choose a pack with well-padded shoulder straps and tension adjustment. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.

Make sure the pack fits close to your child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles. Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one to help distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.

The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline. School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child’s back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

Throughout the school year, be sure to check the straps and make sure the pack is still fitting like it should. Kids grow quickly, so make sure the pack is growing with them.

Are you at risk of anaphylaxis?

Millions of people suffer from allergies and some have more severe reactions than others. Here are some of the top offenders for the risk of anaphylaxis — a reaction that may be fatal if not treated right away.

Peanuts are one of the most common cause of food-related allergy death. Symptoms usually start within minutes of exposure. But they can also start within seconds or take hours to develop. Call 911 at the first sign of swelling, hives, trouble breathing, a rapid pulse, or dizziness.

About one half of anaphylaxis cases are related to food. Shellfish, such as shrimp, lobster, and crab are triggers for some people. Shellfish and fish allergies can be so serious that just the cooking vapors can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction. As a reaction gets worse, tissues swell, blocking airways, and people can have deadly heart and circulation problems.

The tiny sesame seed can cause an anaphylactic reaction. Legumes such as lentils, peas, soy beans, and other beans can also cause reactions. They’re related to the peanut, which is actually a legume. Real nuts such as cashews and walnuts also tend to cause problems for some adults.

In addition to peanuts, children are often allergic to wheat, milk, and eggs. Because triggers can be hidden in other foods, read labels carefully. By law, the eight most common allergenic foods — milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, and wheat — and ingredients made from them such as lecithin (soy) and whey (milk) should be listed.

Venom from honeybees, yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets can cause anaphylaxis. If you have had a reaction to a sting or suspect an allergy, see an allergist about allergy shots. Allergy shots can be effective at preventing anaphylaxis from insect stings. Avoid wearing perfume or cologne and bright colors. They can attract stinging bugs.

Crawling, biting insects like ants and ticks can cause severe allergic reactions just like flying, stinging bugs. Fire ants can inject their venom over and over. Watch out for ant nests to avoid the painful bites of these bugs. Wearing closed-toed shoes, pants, and long sleeves outside may also help you avoid bug bites.

Penicillin and other antibiotics are common causes of drug-related anaphylaxis. Chemotherapy drugs, imaging dyes, and muscle relaxants used in anesthesia can also cause problems. To prevent medication-related anaphylaxis, your doctor may suggest allergy shots or prescribe different medications.

Latex-related anaphylaxis is rare. People who’ve had many surgeries and health care workers tend to be most at risk. Triggers can include gloves, IV tubes, syringes, and other items made with natural rubber latex. Even non-medical items like balloons, elastic, and condoms can cause reactions. Look for non-latex, synthetic choices.

Even medications you can buy over the counter can trigger anaphylaxis in some people. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are some that may cause severe allergic reactions.

Get medical help right away at the first sign of anaphylaxis. Watch for trouble breathing, low blood pressure, and change in consciousness. Other symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or tightness, and trouble swallowing;
  • Hives, swelling, a tingling feeling, itchiness, or a skin rash;
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.

Epinephrine can prevent or reverse anaphylaxis symptoms. If you’ve been prescribed epinephrine injectors, carry two doses with you and practice using them. If you think you’re having an anaphylactic reaction, immediately inject epinephrine. Then call 911, even if you feel better.

Having asthma and a food allergy can put you at risk for anaphylaxis. So can a previous severe allergic reaction. To cut the chance of a deadly reaction, control asthma. In adults, controlling heart disease and COPD can help lessen the severity of complications from anaphylaxis. Concerns? Talk with your doctor.

If you have an allergy, medical alert jewelry gives important medical information to doctors and others in case you have a severe reaction. The MedicAlert Foundation offers a 24-hour emergency response service and family notification. ID can come in the form of bracelets, dog tags, sports bands, watches, and more.

Don’t just worry about a reaction. Be prepared. See an allergist for a diagnosis, emergency treatment plan, and information on avoiding triggers. Keep your epinephrine supply current and find out if any medications you take can interfere with it. Talk to your family, coworkers, and friends about warning signs and treatment. If the time comes, you’ll all be ready.

Source: WebMD

How do you get your kids off the couch and moving?

So, they’re home from school, homework is done, and dinner’s over. Instead of turning on the TV, why not go for a walk or some other form of exercise? It should be a mix of aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening. Here are some helpful hints to getting you and your family moving for about an hour every day:

Use a Step Counter

Kids love gadgets and a pedometer can motivate them to move even more. If you get one for everyone in your family, you can create some competitions to get moving throughout the day. How many steps to the mailbox? How fast can you take 100 steps?  You could even keep a tally of steps in the kitchen for a little friendly competition, or have them try and beat their personal record.

Grab Some Fun Gear
Exercise doesn’t have to be a competition, and you don’t need fancy equipment. Keep a tennis racket, soccer ball, or jump rope handy and keep a hidden stash of new outdoor toys so on days when they’re bored, you can bring out the new stuff!

Try a New Location
It sounds simple but sometimes, you just have to have the right location. Take them to a playground, tennis court or a baseball field. Go have a picnic on the riverfront or the beach with a few of their friends. You may not have to do much to get them moving. They may be inspired by their surroundings or other kids.

Shop Around for Classes
Classes — whether karate or dance, tennis or yoga — can be a great way to get your kids to love physical activity. Oftentimes, trial classes are offered so you can try it out before signing up. That way, you know the money is well spent.

Play Video Games? Yes!
When it comes to fitness, video games don’t have to be the enemy. Use a game system with a motion sensor, like the Kinect or Wii.

Kids who get up and really move when they play active video games burn up to 200% more energy than kids who play regular video games sitting down. There are lots of games — physical fitness, yoga, sports, dance — you can rent or borrow. But it is still a good idea to limit screen time to 2 hours a day or less.

Make It Fun

Grab your child’s hand and go jump in a pile of leaves. You don’t even have to say “exercise.” Plant some flowers. Walk to the library. Make it a fun part of their everyday life, not something they “have to” do.

Offer Encouragement
It can take a while to make it part of your routine, but don’t give up! Be encouraging and help them try out activities that don’t have to be competitive, like hiking or kayaking. The key is to help them find their element. Keep trying different sports or activities. Help them see that physical activity is for everybody..

Find Your Passion
If you want your kids to exercise, it helps if you do too. If they see you moving, they know it’s a normal, important part of life that can be fun!  Find an activity that you really enjoy. Then share it with your kids. Even if exercising hasn’t been part of your regular routine, you can start together.

Sneak It In
For example, when you go shopping park far away from the entrance. If you have the choice of stairs or the elevator – take the stairs. Race to see who can put away toys first or make the biggest pile of leaves. Taking advantage of opportunities to walk, run, jump, and play will make getting physical activity a daily habit that becomes second nature to them.
Source: WebMD

Healthy habits your child learns now can last a lifetime

Americans are getting heavier and it’s starting at an earlier age than in the past. The month of September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and we want to do our part in raising awareness of this growing trend and provide helpful information.

What can I do to help my child stay at a healthy weight?
A balance of healthy eating and physical activity are the best way to prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese as an adult. This sounds quite simple right? You can help your children make healthier eating choices by limiting the junk food that you buy at the store, so you won’t have it on hand at home when your child reaches for a snack. Spending more active quality time together as a family is also important.

Remember: you are a role model.
Parents are often the most important role models for children. When you choose to eat right and be physically active, your child will be more likely to make those choices, too.

Why do I need to worry about my child’s weight?
Being overweight or obese as a child can lead to serious problems, like:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sleep problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Getting bullied

Being overweight as a child increases the risk of being overweight or obese as an adolescent and a young adult. Because children grow at different rates, it’s not always easy to tell if your child is at a healthy weight. Healthy weight is defined differently for children and teens than it is for adults. Ask your child’s doctor whether your child is at a healthy weight.

What if my child is overweight or obese?
Successful weight management programs for kids include counseling and education about eating a healthy diet and being physically active. Parents have an important role to play in these programs, too by helping your child make healthy choices.

Make sure your child gets at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. It doesn’t have to be 60 minutes all at once – it can be shorter activities that add up to an hour a day. Fun activities that children do on their own are best. Playing tag, riding bikes, and shooting hoops are great ways for kids to get moving.

Be sure your child is doing different types of activity, including:

  • Aerobic activities, like running, skipping, or dancing;
  • Muscle-strengthening activities, like climbing playground equipment or trees;
  • Bone-strengthening activities, like jumping rope or playing basketball.

We’ll cover more helpful hints on how to get your kids off the couch and staying healthy in our next post.