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September is Emergency Preparedness Month

All posts by Shelby York

September is Emergency Preparedness Month

FEMA recommends three days of supplies What emergencies are likely to occur in your area? Could you be affected by a hurricane? A tornado? A wildfire? A blizzard?

All of these emergencies could leave your family and pets stranded for a number of days. You’ll need to eat and drink. You’ll need to be warm. You’ll need an emergency supply kit and a plan.

A “supply kit” sounds like something you could carry, but it isn’t. It takes planning and space to prepare for three days on your own.
If flooding is possible, you can store your survival supplies in an upper floor or attic long before an emergency. Store water and food (plus manual can opener) on upper floors. You could also store some paper products like toilet paper, disposable plates and towels. You should also plan on a three-day supply of water and food per person (and pet), plus clothes, shoes, a sleeping bag or blanket for each one, plastic sheeting and duct tape.

If you are more likely to be trapped by a blizzard, tornado or earthquake, a part of the garage or basement would be better. Build your store of supplies there. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends including garbage bags and closures, toilet paper, hand tools, a bottle of bleach, moist towelettes, a first aid kit, disposable plates, cups and dinnerware, and a fire extinguisher. If a forest fire is heading your way, leave early and take your pets. You’ll need a little cash, IDs, your medicine and gas in your car. Get going and don’t wait.

Upload copies of those insurance policies, banking information, and identification into cloud storage protected by a secure password. Some emergency items don’t take much room.

They include: * A flashlight, battery-operated radio and cell phone with extra batteries and matches in a waterproof container. * A three-day supply of medications, plus cash, pencil and paper, and a dust mask. * Personal hygiene items and feminine supplies. * If you have a baby, don’t forget the diapers.

Make a plan for your pets. You will absolutely be responsible for their very lives. In cases of flooding, rescuers won’t be taking the family dog. Get out long before flooding is projected.

New Alzheimer’s drug adjustments

Biogen has updated its prescribing guidelines for its controversial Alzheimer’s drug. The updated guidelines for the drug Aduhelm say the drug should be prescribed to patients with milder mental impairment and not those with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. The drug was tested on patients with mild disease.

According to USA Today, Aduhelm reduces the amyloid-beta protein plaques present in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The plaques may or may not be the cause Alzheimer’s, but no one knows for sure — it’s just one theory of many.

Aduhelm is the first drug approved in 18 years for the Alzheimer’s, the cause of which is unknown. The new drug hasn’t been shown to reverse dementia. One drug trial found that a high dose taken over the course of 18 months slowed cognitive decline by about four months while a second clinical trial failed to show any effect. Meanwhile, at a cost of $56,000 a year per patient, Medicare could be strained. Followup studies could refine the amyloid-beta plaque theory as a cause of Alzheimer’s.

Got earbuds? Beware of hearing lost

Got ear buds? Beware of hearing loss They’re small, they’re discreet and just about everybody uses them these days. Ear buds are a ubiquitous accessory, but users should be cautious — prolonged use of these devices can cause permanent hearing loss. And because younger people are more likely to rely on ear buds than anyone else, they face the highest risk for early hearing loss as a result. According to CNET, nearly one in four US adults is affected by noise-induced hearing loss.

Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by loud noises for prolonged periods of time. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a good rule for ear buds is 80 percent of max volume for no more than 90 minutes at a time. But because ear buds allow more outside noise to enter the ear, users tend to crank the volume up to dangerous levels. Noise-canceling headphones or ear buds are a good alternative, but not always appropriate, such as for runners who need to hear oncoming cars.

When you do listen to music or podcasts or audiobooks, make sure to take listening breaks. According to CNET, a five-minute break every 30 minutes can give your ears a chance to recover and reduce your risk of permanent damage.

You can also change your device’s maximum volume. Many mobile devices, including the iPhone, allow users to change how loud the device can go. By eliminating the option to go too loud, you might just save your hearing.

According to KidsHealth, if you hear ringing, buzzing or roaring in your ears after a loud noise, or muffled or distorted sounds, you may have already incurred some damage to your ears. Call your doctor right away. You may be referred to an audiologist, who can determine the extent of the damage and help you make a plan to preserve your remaining hearing.

Do Statins deserve their bad reputation?

People report that statins cause muscle aches and other side effects, but a 2020 study suggests that may be true for only a small percentage of patients. Stains are cholesterol-lowering drugs, usually prescribed for those at risk for cardivascular disease.

Reported in The New England Journal of Medicine, British researchers enrolled 60 people in a study of statin side effects. Every participant previously took statins, but stopped because of side effects. They were given 12 prescription drug bottles. Four of the bottles had a month’s supply of atorvastatin. Four bottles had a placebo pill that looked like the statin pill. Four bottles were completely empty. During the next year, participants used each bottle for one month, following a random pattern. Every day participants recorded their symptoms by smart phone, ranking their symptoms from 0 (none) to 100 (worst possible symptoms.)

What researchers found was that average symptom scores during the empty bottle month was 8.0. That was twice as high as when participants took the statin pill. However, there was no significant difference in average scores when people took the fake pills. The average symptom score for the statin was 16.3 and the average score for the fake pills was 15.4. Some participants reported worse symptoms from fake pills.

Still, researchers do think statins may cause symptoms in five to 10 percent of users. Here’s how you can analyze symptoms while taking statins:

* If the ache or weakness is recent and started within a month of starting the statin.

* If the pains are symetrical. For example, leg pain would affect both legs. Body pain would be on both sides.

* If the pain is unexplained and not caused by new activity or an injury.