Weekly health watch with items on Fire Prevention Week, pomegranates, changes in Medicare and more.

In honor of Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3 – 9), First Alert is urging Americans to “Get Alarmed!” in a nationwide public education campaign focused on elevating awareness about fire and carbon monoxide protection.

A recent nationwide survey conducted by First Alert revealed that 66 percent of U.S. households are not in compliance with the NFPA’s recommendation for the number of smoke alarms per home, 90 percent of homes do not meet the recommendation for carbon monoxide detectors, and 40 percent of households admit having zero carbon monoxide detectors.

“Each year, nearly 3,000 Americans die from home fires, and CO poisoning claims another 450 lives,” said Deborah Hanson, director of external affairs for First Alert.

Despite the low number of NFPA-compliant homes, 91 percent of survey respondents reported feeling “certain” that their homes are adequately equipped with smoke alarms, and 62 percent reported the same “certain” feeling for CO alarms.

The current recommendation from the NFPA is to have at least one CO alarm on each level of a house and one in or near every bedroom. For smoke alarms, have one installed at the top of each staircase and one in every bedroom.

This means the average-size home in America –– a two-story, three-bedroom house –– would need a minimum of four smoke alarms and five carbon monoxide alarms to comply with NFPA guidelines.

The Home Safety Council suggests implementing the following precautions at home:

·  Regularly test smoke and CO alarms.

·  Plan and practice a fire-safety drill.

·  Check out technical advances in alarms.

-- ARA

New Research: Breast cancer survivors report sexual issues

Seven out of 10 younger breast cancer survivors reported problems with sexual function at the first follow-up after treatment, a large Australian study showed.

Overall, 59 percent of study participants reported some issue related to sexual function, and among those younger than 70 who had a regular partner, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction was 70 percent, as reported online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The analysis showed that vasomotor symptoms and treatment with aromatase inhibitors increased the likelihood of sexual dysfunction.

"Over 80 percent of all women in our study declared that their sex life before breast cancer was good and satisfying," wrote Mary Panjari, Ph.D., of Monash University in Australia, and her co-authors in their discussion of the findings. "The group with sexual function problems was more likely to have experienced loss of desire (and) a decrease in sexual activity (and was more likely to) be concerned about this and want an increase in their level of desire."

-- MedPageToday.com

Did You Know?

Your ears hurt when you’re in a plane that is ascending or descending because the Eustachian tube, which connects the back of the nose with the middle ear, can’t equalize the pressure changes fast enough. It’s especially painful for children because their tubes are narrower.

To reduce the pain, chew on gum or mints and give babies a pacifier or a bottle. The swallowing uses the muscle that helps unblock the Eustachian tube. Yawning also helps.

-- The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Health Tip

Pomegranates are high in fiber and they provide potassium, vitamin C, loads of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Furthermore, they help keep blood platelets from clumping together and forming clots.

Best of all, they are now in season. Choose a heavy pomegranate that is deep red in color. To eat it, cut off the crown, cut into sections and place the sections in a bowl of water. Roll out the seeds with your fingers and then drain the water. Eat the seeds alone or with a salad.

-- EatRight.org and HealthCentral.com

Number to Know

30: According to new Dutch research, cigarette smokers are 30 percent more likely to take off 10 to 24 days of work because of poor health.

Children’s Health: Tips to help prevent food allergies

Take special care with feeding practices during your child’s first years, especially if someone in your family — including grandparents, cousins, aunts or uncles — is allergic to any foods. While following these feeding tips cannot guarantee a child will not develop a food allergy, it may help reduce the risk.

Exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months decreases the incidence of atopic dermatitis, cow’s milk allergy and wheezing in early life. The use of soy-based infant formula does not appear to play a role in allergy prevention. Solid foods should not be introduced before 4 to 6 months of age. Delaying the introduction of solid foods beyond that age does not appear to provide significant protection from developing food allergies. At this time there is insufficient evidence to recommend further dietary interventions such as avoiding specific foods (including fish, eggs or peanuts) during pregnancy, breastfeeding or beyond 4 to 6 months of age.


If at any time your infant reacts badly to a food, such as suddenly developing a skin condition, wheezing, vomiting or excessive diarrhea, or if you have any reason to suspect he or she may be allergic to a food, call your pediatrician immediately.

-- EatRight.org

Senior Health: How will new health care affect Medicare?

Health care legislation passed earlier this year may make Medicare annual enrollment season particularly challenging for the millions of baby boomers aging into Medicare and for seniors already enrolled who are considering different coverage for 2011. Annual enrollment runs from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, allowing people to select their Medicare coverage for 2011.

According to Adrienne Muralidharan, senior Medicare specialist for Allsup Medicare Advisor, the most important ways the new health care legislation will affect Medicare beneficiaries for 2011 include:

Prescription drug costs should be lower in the "doughnut hole." For 2011, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent discount for the cost of brand-name prescription drugs and a 7 percent discount for generic drugs. Medicare Part B will fully cover preventive care. Beginning in 2011, Medicare beneficiaries will no longer have to pay deductibles or co-pays for preventive services that fall under U.S. Preventive Service Task Force guidelines, such as an annual wellness exam. More beneficiaries may have higher costs for Medicare Part B and Part D (prescription drug) coverage. The Part B income threshold freezes at the 2010 levels through 2019. As a result, individuals with modified adjusted gross income exceeding $85,000 and married couples with income exceeding $170,000 will have to pay higher premiums. Open enrollment has now been replaced with a shorter annual un-enrollment period, which runs from Jan. 1 through Feb. 14. During this period, the only change that can be made is to un-enroll from a Medicare Advantage plan in order to enroll in traditional Medicare and join a Medicare Part D plan.

-- AARP.org

GateHouse News Service