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Low back pain: Treatment and prevention

About three of every four men have endured a bout of low back pain, and many have had repeated episodes. The pain may begin gradually or suddenly; it may be mild or severe. In most cases, doctors cannot pinpoint the cause of the pain, and in most cases x-rays and blood tests are useless. In fact, even advanced imaging techniques such as MRIs and CTs are not recommended for typical patients.

Most people with low back pain can handle the problem themselves, sometimes with the aid of a phone call or visit to their doctor and the short-term use of simple medications. But there are exceptions; the list below details situations that call for prompt medical attention.

New immunizations for adults

For many men, vaccinations are kids' stuff. Indeed, most immunizations are designed for children, and most new vaccines are headed for pediatric offices and clinics; the newly approved rotavirus vaccine, which will prevent many cases of childhood diarrhea, is an example. But infections strike people of all ages, and immunizations are important for adults, too.

Aside from travelers and people with special needs and vulnerabilities, healthy adults have had only three vaccines to keep track of: For everyone over 50, a flu shot every fall; for everyone at age 65, a pneumococcal pneumonia shot; and for all of us, a tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years. But two new vaccines have joined the list.

Body heat: Older is colder

The normal temperature of 98.6° F is anything but, especially as we get older.

Normal, when it comes to body temperature, is 98.6° F, right?

Natural disasters and terrorist attacks

The devastation left in the wake of recent natural disaster and terror attacks provides graphic evidence of just how destructive they can be. Residents can be forced to evacuate from their homes at a moment's notice in an atmosphere of panic and chaos, and many of them will not be able to return for months. In light of these potential disasters and their aftermath, it has become clear that preparation for the unknown is of the utmost importance.

No matter where you live in the United States, you are vulnerable to some sort of natural disaster such as a blizzard, earthquake, flood, hurricane, or tornado. In addition, terrorist attacks on America are also possible. Both natural disasters and terrorist attacks can disrupt power, communication, and transportation for days or even longer.

Emergencies and First Aid - Emergency Checklist

This list describes your priorities in an emergency situation. Follow these steps:

  1. Evaluate the scene to protect yourself and others from injury or danger.
  2. Be calm and reassuring.
  3. Do not move the person unless he or she is in imminent danger or unless you cannot provide assistance without moving the person.
  4. Get help. Call out for someone to phone 911 or, if the person does not need immediate assistance, make the call yourself.
  5. If the situation is a choking emergency, perform the Heimlich maneuver (see Choking).
  6. Look, listen, and feel for breathing (see Breathing Difficulties).
  7. Feel for a pulse to determine if the heart is beating.
  8. Control bleeding with direct pressure.
  9. Treat for shock.
  10. If the person is unconscious, move him or her into the recovery position.
 
 

Emergencies and First Aid - Recovery Position

Adult Recovery Position

This position helps a semiconscious or unconscious person breathe and permits fluids to drain from the nose and throat so they are not breathed in. If the person is unconscious or semiconscious after you have done everything on the Emergency Checklist, move the person into the recovery position while waiting for help to arrive.

Do not use the recovery position if the person has a major injury, such as a back or neck injury

Emergencies and First Aid - Bleeding

Bleeding

While a minor cut will eventually stop bleeding, a severe injury may require elevation and direct pressure on the wound. The goals of first-aid treatment are to control bleeding and prevent infection. If disposable surgical gloves are readily available, use them.

 

Butterfly Bandages

 

Direct Pressure for Bleeding and Pressure Points for Bleeding

 

How to Stop a Nosebleed

 
 

Emergencies and First Aid - Removing a Stuck Ring

Removing a Stuck Ring

1 Pass an end of fine string or dental floss under the ring. With the other end, begin tightly wrapping the string around the finger. Ensure that the string is wrapped evenly and smoothly past the lower knuckle.2 With the end that was passed under the ring, begin unwrapping the string in the same direction. The ring should move over the string as the string is unwrapped. If the ring cannot be removed, unwrap the string and immediately seek urgent care.
 
 

Emergencies and First Aid -— Broken Bones

Broken Bones

Broken bones (fractures) are usually not life-threatening. A fracture may not be visible to you through the skin. Symptoms include intense pain, swelling, increased pain when trying to move the injured area, or bleeding. A broken bone always requires medical attention.

Immediate care
Call out for someone to get help, or call 911 yourself. Do not move or straighten the broken bone. Splinting is not necessary unless the person needs to be moved without assistance from ambulance personnel or unless the fracture has blocked blood supply to the limb. If the fracture site is deformed and the skin beyond the site of the fracture is cold, pale, and blue, pull gently lengthwise on the limb to straighten the fracture and then splint the limb.

Emergencies and First Aid - Choking

Choking


A person who is choking will instinctively grab at the throat. The person also may panic, gasp for breath, turn blue, or be unconscious. If the person can cough or speak, he or she is getting air. Nothing should be done.

Immediate care
If the person cannot cough or speak, begin the Heimlich maneuver immediately to dislodge the object blocking the windpipe. The Heimlich maneuver creates an artificial cough by forcing the diaphragm up toward the lungs.

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