Summer Travel Preparation – Ten Tips for Safer Summer Vacations

Summer Travel Preparation – Ten Tips for Safer Summer Vacations

10 tipsSummer is just around the corner and many of you are in the planning stages of your summer vacations.  Staying safe and healthy during your vacation makes all the difference as to whether or not it’s a vacation you’ll enjoy.  Taking a few precautions in advance to adequately pack for minor emergencies and carefully planning activities will go a long way toward making this vacation memorable for all of the right reasons.  With this in mind, whether you’re traveling by land or by air, near or far, here are 10 tips for a safer summer vacation.

Traveling by Car

1.  Prepare your vehicle

  • Check the tires, including the spare – proper inflation and good tread can save money, time and lives.
  • Inspect the engine, battery, hoses, belts and fluids for wear and proper levels.  Check the A/C.
  • Do a “once around” – test all the lights, wipers and clean the windows (inside and out)
  • If you’re not sure of what to do, consider a quick inspection by a qualified technician.  A few dollars up front can mean peace of mind and safe arrivals, as well as no costly on-the-road repairs and trip interruptions.
  • Prepare an Emergency Roadside Kit, including jumper cables, a flashlight and plenty of bottled water.

2. Buckle up drivers and passengers

  • Parents, grandparents and caregivers, need to use the correct seat for young passengers and be sure the seat is installed properly. Keep infants, toddlers and older children in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
  • Remember that long trips can be particularly tough on your kids, especially in the heat – pack plenty of snacks and cold drinks for the road (consider freezing juice boxes or water bottles overnight).
  • Use books, toys, DVDs and video games to keep children occupied and the driver focused.
  • Keep children 12 and under in the back seat – it’s the safest place.
  • Stopping along the drive gives everyone a chance to stretch and makes the trip easier.  If you have a fussy baby, do not take them out of their car seat while driving to soothe or provide a bottle.  If your child needs that level of attention, pull over in a safe place, such as a rest stop.
  • Older children need to ride in a booster seat from about age four until a seat belt fits them correctly. 

Traveling by Air

3.  Buckle up in the plane, too.

  • Always travel with your child’s car seat — you will need it to and from the airport.
  • Whenever possible, purchase a ticket for your child and keep him or her restrained properly in a certified, aircraft-approved, installed car seat.
  • Children who have outgrown car seats should sit directly in the aircraft seat with the lap belt across their thighs or hips.

4. Avoid ear pain and motion sickness.

  • Pack gum in your carry on luggage or purse.  Children are more common in experience ear pain than adults in changes of pressure. To minimize this, infants should bottle or breast feed where older children can chew gum, swallow, or yawn.
  • Consider packing an over-the-counter medication for motion sickness such as meclizine (Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine). It can be a very effective preventive measure for short trips or for mild cases of motion sickness. If you or someone travelling with you has symptoms of motion sickness, eating a few crackers and sipping on a clear carbonated drink like ginger ale or 7 up may help.  Closing their eyes may help, too.

 All Travel

 5.  Stay protected from sunburn.  

  • Pack sunscreen/sunblock with at least SPF 30.  Be sure to use it as directed and re-apply often.
  • If possible, avoid being outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., if possible.
  • Wear a hat that protects as much of your face and head as possible.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • If you are taking medication, check with your doctor to see if you need to take extra precautions

6.  Avoid heat exhaustion.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Carry bottled water with you everywhere to make sure you are drinking enough.
  •  If you’re unsure of the water safety, don’t drink the local water.  Only drink bottled water.
  • Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can dehydrate you further.
  • If you’re vacationing in temperatures above 90 degrees, stay indoors in the air conditioning, if possible.
  • Wear light weight clothing and dress in layers.

7.   Protect yourself from insect bites

  • The most active times for mosquitoes is during dawn and dusk. Use insect repellents or stay inside during those hours.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to help protect skin from bites, and check areas for insect nests and hives to avoid them.
  • If  you’ve been bitten and the bite looks unusual, seek medical attention at once. If you can take a photo with your smartphone or keep the insect specimen, it will be helpful for the healthcare provider to identify what type of bites and what treatments to give to the patient.

8.  Stay safe in the water.

  • Never leave your child alone in or near the pool, river, lake or ocean.
  • Don’t allow toddlers to swim without a life vest or swimming aids.
  • Look up emergency medical and/or rescue contact numbers in advance of your trip and store them in your cell phone contacts.  A few minutes saved in an emergency can make a huge difference.
  • Whenever possible, swim where lifeguards are on duty. 

9.  Pack an emergency first-aid kit.  One that is well stocked is always great to have around whether at home, in the car, or carry along on a plane.  Here are some important items to include:

  • Disinfecting wipes, bandages, antibiotic get
  • Sunblock spray and/or cream
  • Children’s pain relievers, antihistamines
  • Tweezers
  • Index cards with important information: insurance, pediatrician’s phone number, urgent care, etc.

 10.   Pack prescription medications and wear your medical ID.

  • When packing for a travel,  always consider the storage and safety of all medications, if prescribed, and the storage and safety of breast milk, baby formula, etc.
  • Never leave home without your medical ID.   If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or leaving town for an extended period. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off.  Just remember, every minute counts in an emergency, and knowing your condition and medication makes diagnosis and assessment more accurate and timely.

Sources: California Office of Traffic Safety, CommonHealth Virginia, Yahoo! Voices

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month


May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month

In honor of National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, people all across the country will spread awareness about the disease and encourage others to support the mission to find a cure this May.

Approximately 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and pancreas, and more than 10 million Americans are symptomless carriers of the defective CF gene.

“We have made real progress in the search for a cure, but we still lose precious lives to this disease every day,” said CF Foundation president and CEO, Robert J. Beall, Ph.D.  “That’s why it’s so important for everyone who cares to step forward and join us in the fight against CF this month – and all year round.” 

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure, and funds more CF research than any other organization. Virtually every CF drug available today was made possible because of the Foundation’s support and its ongoing work with researchers and the pharmaceutical industry to find a cure.

What is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system.  About 1,000 new cases of cystic fibrosis are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.  In people with CF, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

  • Clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections.
  • Obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down food and absorb vital nutrients. 

In the 1950s, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school. Since then, tremendous progress in understanding and treating CF has led to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life for those with CF.  Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.

People with CF can have a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Very salty-tasting skin
  • Persistent coughing, at times with phlegm
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Poor growth and slow weight gain, in spite of a good appetite
  • Frequent greasy, bulky stools or difficulty in bowel movements

Currently, there is no cure for cystic fibrosis. However, specialized medical care, aggressive drug treatments and therapies, along with proper nutrition, can significantly lengthen and improve the quality of life for those with cystic fibrosis.

How You Can Help

  • Volunteer – Contact your local Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter to find out the many ways you can volunteer.  Click here to find a chapter near you.
  • Raise Awareness – Learn about cystic fibrosis and spread awareness (social media is a great place to start).
  • Walk - Great Strides is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraising event. Each year, more than 125,000 people participate in hundreds of walks across the country to help fight CF.  Great Strides provides a fantastic opportunity for family, friends, students, co-workers and colleagues to come together in support of a worthy cause.
  • Participate in CF Cycle for Life, CF Climb, or Xtreme Hike.  Click here for more information on these events and other ways you can help.

Why Should Those with Cystic Fibrosis Wear a Medical ID?

If you have cystic fibrosisyou should wear a medical ID at all times.  Symptoms of CF can easily be misdiagnosed. Prompt diagnosis is critical to effective treatment.

People with cystic fibrosis can suffer a variety of complications, such as chronic respiratory failure, diabetes, intestinal obstructions, rectal prolapses, diabetes, gallstones, pancreatitis, malnutrition, sinusitis, pneumonia, and many more.   Also, those with cystic fibrosis likely take many medications, which emergency personnel need to be aware of.  If you need medical attention and are unable to speak for yourself in an emergency, a medical ID will alert the emergency medical personnel to your condition.

Some hospitals recommend a necklace rather than bracelet because most of the time quick trips to the emergency room for those with cystic fibrosis are lung related and xrays will need to be taken.  A medical ID necklace would be noticed as it has to be removed for xrays.


Source: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Saturday, May 17th, is Armed Forces Day

ArmedForcesPOSTERproofFINAL_3613In the United States, Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May, falling on May 17th this year.  Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May, the day after Armed Forces Day. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May.

First observed on 20 May 1950, the day was created on 31 August 1949, to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches – theU.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard – following the consolidation of the military services in the U.S. Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army-, Navy-, Air Force-, Marine Corps- and Coast Guard Days, but the separate days are still observed, especially within the respective services.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. The United States’ longest running city-sponsored Armed Forces Day Parade is held in downtown Bremerton, Washington, with this being the 66th year of the event.

Did you know veterans can obtain free medical IDs?

Anyone with food or drug allergies, diabetes, seizure disorders, metal fragments in the body, or most chronic conditions should wear a medical ID.  American Medical ID has obtained a contract with the Federal Supply Schedule to make customized medical IDs available to veterans.  Any veteran who needs a medical ID can get one free of charge through their local VA clinic. All they need to do is provide their VA doctor with this link:   We provide a variety of products in different styles and colors as shown below.


Click here for more information on the American Medical ID VA program.

Sources: U.S. Department of, Wikipedia

May is Celiac Awareness Month: What is it?

cealiacawernessCeliac Awareness Month 2014 begins on Thursday, May 1st,  and is supported by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (and other relevant organizations). This event raises awareness about celiac disease, and highlights the work of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) which provides support for those affected. The NFCA, in collaboration with scientists and other organizations, also supports research into celiac disease.

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

Long Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.


Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage.

Undiagnosed or Untreated Celiac Disease Can Lead to Other Long-term Health Conditions:

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers (malignancies)
  • Gall bladder malfunction
  • Neurological manifestations, including ataxia, epileptic seizures, dementia, migraine, neuropathy, myopathy and multifocal leucoencephalopathy
  • Other autoimmune disorders

Why is it Important for Those with Celiac Disease to Wear a Medical ID?

There’s been a long-standing debate among among adults with celiac disease of the necessity of wearing a medical ID bracelet. A number of consider it a non-life threatening situation and therefore write off the notion of wearing a medical ID, while others would never do without it.  For many, the decision will depend on the degree of the gluten intolerance.

However, adults with celiac disease should wear a medical ID at all times.  For them, eating gluten can result in some hours or days of stomach distress. Every episode catapults them one step closer to the other health conditions  noted above.

In prescription and over-the-counter medicines, fillers (also called “inactive ingredients” or “excipients”) are added to the active drug. Fillers provide shape and bulk for tablets and capsules, aid in water absorption (helping the tablet to disintegrate), and serve other purposes as well.  Fillers can be derived from any starch source, including corn, potatoes, tapioca and wheat.

Unfortunately, very few medications are labeled as gluten-free.  Inactive ingredients may be listed on the box or the package insert, but it is difficult if not impossible (even for pharmacists) to tell if these are derived from gluten.

If a celiac is an accident or else unable to converse for themselves, a medical ID bracelet can ensure a medical emergency isn’t further complicated by being subjected to, ingesting, or becoming injected intravenously using unnecessary gluten.

Children  with celiac disease should wear a medical ID bracelet at all times.  There are reasons other than medical emergencies when an ID would be helpful.  For example, your preschool aged child with celiac would not likely be able to let the teacher know that he/she cannot have wheat or gluten.  Yes, the teacher should already know, but there may be parents or other teachers substituting who might not be aware.  A celiac bracelet would make it perfectly clear.  Also, your older child may find themselves in a situation where they go to a friend’s home and are offered snacks.  Some adults may not take a child seriously when he/she says that they cannot have gluten, but showing the medical ID bracelet would avoid any second-guessing.

Sources: Celiac Disease Foundation, National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity


May is High Blood Pressure Education Month: Why do you need a medical ID if you are taking blood pressure medications?

HPBMay is National High Blood Pressure Education Month.  Sponsored by the CDC, National High Blood Pressure Education Month raises awareness about the impact high blood pressure can have on health.

One of three American adults has high blood pressure, also called hypertension. That’s 67 million people who have to work to keep their blood pressure in check each day. Unfortunately, more than half of people with high blood pressure do not have their condition under control.

May is High Blood Pressure Education Month, and it’s a good time to find out how to “make control your goal.”

Possible Complications of High Blood Pressure

Having the highest score is good in many things, but not with blood pressure—the higher your numbers, the more serious the condition.

You may not have any symptoms of high blood pressure, but it can damage your health in many ways. For instance, it can harden the arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart and brain. This reduced flow can cause—

  • A heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to your heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from a lack of oxygen.
  • A stroke, which can occur when arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain become blocked or burst.
  • Chest pain, also called angina.
  • Heart failure, which occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood and oxygen to other organs.

How to Control High Blood Pressure

Of the 67 million American adults who have high blood pressure, 16 million know that they have the condition and are getting treatment, but their blood pressure still remains higher than it should be. For these individuals, awareness and treatment are not enough—that’s why CDC is asking patients, families, and health care professionals to “make control the goal.”

If you have high blood pressure, there are steps you can take to get it under control, including—

  • Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Set a goal to lower your pressure with your doctor and then discuss how you can reach your goal. Work with your doctor to make sure you meet that goal.
  • Take your blood pressure medication as directed. If you are having trouble, ask your doctor what you can do to make it easier. For example, you may want to discuss your medication schedule with your doctor if you are taking multiple drugs at different times of the day. Or you may want to discuss side effects you are feeling, or the cost of your medicine.
  • Quit smoking—and if you don’t smoke, don’t start. You can find tips and resources at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Web site or Be Tobacco Free Web siteExternal Web Site Icon.
  • Reduce sodium. Most Americans consume too much sodium, and it raises their risk for high blood pressure.

There are other healthy habits, in addition to taking your medication that can help keep your blood pressure under control:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Participate in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Manage stress.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink (no more than one drink each day for women and two for men).

If you have a family member who has high blood pressure, you can help by taking many of the steps listed above with them.  Go for walks together or cook meals with lower sodium. Make it a family affair!

Common Medications for High Blood Pressure

Many medications known as antihypertensives are available by prescription to lower high blood pressure. There are a variety of classes of HBP medications, and they include a number of different drugs.

The classes of blood pressure medications include:

  • Diuretics - Diuretics help the body get rid of excess sodium (salt) and water and help control blood pressure. They are often used in combination with additional prescription therapies.
  • Beta Blockers - Beta-blockers reduce the heart rate, the heart’s workload and the heart’s output of blood, which lowers blood pressure.
  • ACE Inhibitors - Angiotensin is a chemical that causes the arteries to become narrow, especially in the kidneys but also throughout the body. ACE stands for Angiotensin-converting enzyme. ACE inhibitors help the body produce less angiotensin, which helps the blood vessels relax and open up, which, in turn, lowers blood pressure.
  • Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers - These drugs block the effects of angiotensin, a chemical that causes the arteries to become narrow. Angiotensin needs a receptor- like a chemical “slot” to fit into or bind with- in order to constrict the blood vessel. ARBs block the receptors so the angiotensin fails to constrict the blood vessel. This means blood vessels stay open and blood pressure is reduced.
  • Calcium Channel Blockers - This drug prevents calcium from entering the smooth muscle cells of the heart and arteries. When calcium enters these cells, it causes a stronger and harder contraction, so by decreasing the calcium, the hearts’ contraction is not as forceful. Calcium channel blockers relax and open up narrowed blood vessels, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • Alpha Blockers - These drugs reduce the arteries’ resistance, relaxing the muscle tone of the vascular walls.
  • Alpha-2 Receptor Agonist - These drugs reduce blood pressure by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic (adrenaline-producing) portion of the involuntary nervous system. Methyldopa is considered a first line antihypertensive during pregnancy because adverse effects are infrequent for the pregnant woman or the developing fetus.
  • Central Agonists - Central agonists also help decrease the blood vessels’ ability to tense up or contract. The central agonists follow a different nerve pathway than the alpha and beta-blockers, but accomplish the same goal of blood pressure reduction.
  • Peripheral Adrenergic Inhibitors - These medications reduce blood pressure by blocking neurotransmitters in the brain. This blocks the smooth muscles from getting the “message” to constrict. These drugs are rarely used unless other medications don’t help.
  • Blood Vessel Dilators, or Vasodilators - Blood vessel dilators, or vasodilators, can cause the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels (especially the arterioles) to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate (widen). This allows blood to flow through better.

You’re Taking Medication for High Blood Pressure – Should You Wear a Medical ID?

For those with high blood pressure, a medical ID helps emergency responders know that your high blood pressure is not a symptom of an acute problem but rather your normal baseline.  This means they will pay particular attention to your heart while treating you and they will not be needlessly searching for an immediate cause of your current high blood pressure reading.

Even if your blood pressure is under control with medication, it’s still important to wear a medical ID that specifies the drugs that are being taken regularly.   Many of the above-mentioned prescription medications can have serious side effects such as dizziness or heart palpitations, which could cause a first responder to  mistakenly  think you’re having a heart attack.  Additionally, some drugs and supplements can raise blood pressure and/or interfere with the effectiveness of prescription medication used against high blood pressure.

Just remember, every minute counts in an emergency, and knowing your condition and medication makes diagnosis and assessment more accurate and timely.



Sources: CDC, American Heart Association

Salute to Nurses for National Nurses Week

nurses weekWe at American Medical ID would like to take a moment to honor and thank our nation’s nurses for their tireless dedication, hard work, and the wonderful care they provide to the communities they serve, not just for National Nurses Week, but all year round.  Health care is constantly changing and evolving. Today, more than ever, nurses are stepping out of their comfort zones and becoming active contributors and innovators in the health care system.  We would also like to thank these nurses for recommending medical IDs to all of their patients who need one.

National Nurses Week – May 6 through May 12

National Nurses Week begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday.  As of 1998, May 8 was designated as National Student Nurses Day, to be celebrated annually.  And as of 2003,  National School Nurse Day is celebrated on the Wednesday within National Nurses Week (May 6-12) each year.

The theme for National Nurses Week 2014 is Nurses: Leading the Way.  Every day, nurses step forward embracing new technologies, resolving emerging issues, and accepting ever-changing roles in their profession. They lead the way for their patients, colleagues, organizations, and the health care industry as a whole.

The nursing profession has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896. Each of ANA’s state and territorial nurses associations promotes the nursing profession at the state and regional levels. Each conducts celebrations on these dates to recognize the contributions that nurses and nursing make to the community. The ANA supports and encourages National Nurses Week recognition programs through the state and district nurses associations, other specialty nursing organizations, educational facilities, and independent health care companies and institutions.

A Brief History of National Nurses Week

1953  Dorothy Sutherland of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a proposal to President Eisenhower to proclaim a “Nurse Day” in October of the following year.  The proclamation was never made.
1954  National Nurse Week was observed from October 11 – 16. The year of the observance marked the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s mission to Crimea. Representative Frances P. Bolton sponsored the bill for a nurse week. Apparently, a bill for a National Nurse Week was introduced in the 1955 Congress, but no action was taken. Congress discontinued its practice of joint resolutions for national weeks of various kinds.
1972 Again a resolution was presented by the House of Representatives for the President to proclaim “National Registered Nurse Day.” It did not occur.
1974  In January of that year, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) proclaimed that May 12 would be “International Nurse Day.” (May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale.) Since 1965, the ICN has celebrated “International Nurse Day.”
1974  In February of that year, a week was designated by the White House as National Nurse Week, and President Nixon issued a proclamation.
1978  New Jersey Governor Brendon Byrne declared May 6 as “Nurses Day.” Edward Scanlan, of Red Bank, N.J., took up the cause to perpetuate the recognition of nurses in his state. Mr. Scanlan had this date listed in Chase’s Calendar of Annual Events. He promoted the celebration on his own.
1981 ANA, along with various nursing organizations, rallied to support a resolution initiated by nurses in New Mexico, through their Congressman, Manuel Lujan, to have May 6, 1982, established as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1982  In February, the ANA Board of Directors formally acknowledged May 6, 1982 as “National Nurses Day.” The action affirmed a joint resolution of the United States Congress designating May 6 as “National Recognition Day for Nurses.”
1982  President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation on March 25, proclaiming “National Recognition Day for Nurses” to be May 6, 1982.
1990  The ANA Board of Directors expanded the recognition of nurses to a week-long celebration, declaring May 6 – 12, 1991, as National Nurses Week.
1993 The ANA Board of Directors designated May 6 – 12 as permanent dates to observe National Nurses Week in 1994 and in all subsequent years.
1996 The ANA initiated “National RN Recognition Day” on May 6, 1996, to honor the nation’s indispensable registered nurses for their tireless commitment 365 days a year. The ANA encourages its state and territorial nurses associations and other organizations to acknowledge May 6, 1996 as “National RN Recognition Day.”
1997 The ANA Board of Directors, at the request of the National Student Nurses Association, designated May 8 as National Student Nurses Day.

For more information on National Nurses Week including ways you can celebrate it, click here to visit the American Nurses Association website.

Be Better Prepared this National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month!

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month!

AAFA_NAAAM_14Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declares May to be “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” It’s a peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers, and a perfect time to educate your patients, family, friends, co-workers and others about these diseases.

Important Dates

  • May 6 – World Asthma Day
  • May 11-17 – Food Allergy Awareness Week

Awareness Month Events and Fundraisers

There are several events and fundraisers planned, both online and local events.

Some of the local events include: 

Online events: 

  • Sweepstakes – each month, AAFA hosts an online Sweepstakes to give away Certified asthma & allergy friendly™ products. Visit to see what Sweepstakes are currently open.
  • Webinar (May 1) – Join the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a free webinar, Closing the Gap: Addressing Asthma Disparities in Schools, to learn how two programs used a comprehensive, partnership-based approach to reduce the burden of asthma in their school systems.
  • Webinar (May 20) – Join Kids With Food Allergies, AAFA’s food allergy division, on May 20 for a live discussion about dairy-free alternatives.


  • May 18 (San Diego, CA) – As part of the American Thoracic Society’s 2014 International Conference, patients will have the chance to Meet-the-Experts” at a public forum featuring lung health experts.
  • May 28-30 (Nashville, TN)— Join the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and Rebuilding Together at the 2014 National Healthy Homes Conference, featuring leaders from the healthy homes industry.

How You Can Help

You can help AAFA in a variety of ways to support asthma and allergy education, advocacy, and research programs.  Every contribution is 100% tax deductible.  Since 1953, AAFA has been the provider of patient-centered information for the more than 60 million people with asthma and allergies in the United States.

Through a gift to AAFA, you can memorialize a person who is no longer with us, or you can celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other milestone to honor a friend or family member who is living with asthma or allergies. Here are a few ways that you can help right away:

Additionally, the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) has a downloadable event planning kit full of great ideas, educational material and resources.  Click here to download the EPA event planning kit.

Prepare for an Asthma or Allergy Emergency

Know Your Triggers

There are many things you can do to prepare yourself in advance for asthma and/or allergy emergencies.  One important thing is to know your allergy or asthma trigger and work to reduce exposure to these items.  While this list is by no means all-inclusive, some common triggers are:

  • Wood smoke
  • Second hand smoke
  • Pets
  • Molds
  • Cockroaches and pests
  • Dust mites
  • Chemical irritants
  • Outdoor pollution
  • Pollens
  • Certain foods or food groups

Keep Rescue Medications Accessible.

If you are asthmatic, always have an albuterol inhaler on hand.  Place these “rescue inhalers” in a variety of locations so you can get to them easily: in your gym bag, at work, and in several places at home.  If there are other rescue medications that you need during an asthma attack, such as steroid tablets, keep those with you as well.

Allergies can also cause anaphylaxis — a severe, life-threatening reaction, which requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot and a trip to the emergency room.  EpiPen is an epinephrine auto-injector prescribed for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions  caused by allergens, exercise, or unknown triggers; and for people who are at increased risk for these reactions.  People with severe allergies should always carry and EpiPen or similar epinephrine auto-injector.

Wear a Medical ID

In case the unthinkable happens, you should always wear an allergy or asthma medical ID bracelet, depending upon your needs.  It should list important information such as allergies, all medications taken on an ongoing basis, and an emergency contact.  It can be useful to include your name in a situation where you may not be able to talk. Having an allergy or asthma bracelet will let the medical staff know how to make the appropriate medical decisions that can save your life. In case you’re in an accident, medical professionals will know what your likely medications are and what not to give you.

Always ensure that you or your loved one is wearing medical ID at all times and especially before leaving the house. If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or leaving town for an extended period. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off. There are new styles to fit your personality and wearing it can mean the difference between living a healthy life and suffering serious medical consequences.

 Sources:  EPA, AAFA

True Stories of Autism: Real Stories About Real People

aut-snipeThe following inspirational and heartwarming story is from a reader story posted on The Autism Site* (the Autism Site is one of many helpful resources on the internet for those whose lives have been touched by autism).  The story is being re-posted here because of the message it sends, that having an autism spectrum disorder does not mean you cannot live a normal, productive, and happy life.  To read the original  article, as well as many more stories of hope and support, click here.

The Guy I Met In Math Class

When I was 16, I met a guy in math class. He was intelligent, caring, funny, but a little “off” somehow. We talked every day and hung out as often as we could. With him, I could talk about anything. He didn’t judge. He was very logical. I liked that about him.

We got to know each other very well and eventually I gave him my phone number, and we talked every night. Then, a couple months later, while talking on the phone one night, he just randomly declared his love for me! I literally sat there in my bedroom, no idea what to say! Haha. But, as awkward as it was at first, I kinda started to realize… maybe I love him too…. So we started dating.

I’d go over to his house after school and one day, I was chatting with his mom and she mentioned him having “Asperger’s Syndrome.” I had no idea what it was. She explained that it’s a form of Autism! You never would’ve known by the way he was acting. He didn’t have repetitive movements of any kind, he talked to everyone. But, he was very logical, didn’t like certain feelings or touches on his skin, and hated being dirty! Apparently his mom had seen signs of it when he was just a year or two old. She tried to put him in grass and he freaked out and started crying!

She took him to therapy for years to help develop his skills. Because of what she did for him, he is now 20 years old, fully functioning, a great guy… married AND a father! (Yes, married to me and it’s our baby!) He has a great job and works hard for us. His Asperger’s can still make things difficult at times and I have to be patient with him, but it’s so worth it. I’ll say this: people with Autism can be the most loving, caring, wonderful people you will ever meet. I love being with him. It’s been four years, married for almost two. I wouldn’t change him for the world.

Mickie McLaughlin

Parents of children with autism should ensure that their child is wearing a medical ID bracelet at all times.  Autism can be a tricky condition for emergency medical professionals, primarily because the autism spectrum means that no two people with autism have exactly the same needs and concerns.  Some with autism take medications, others have sensory concerns, others may be nonverbal, and others may be very high functioning.  An autism medical ID can help inform medical and response personnel of the specific needs associated to the wearer and make sure that medications administered do not interfere or react to what may already have been taken.

 The Autism Site was founded to provide therapy to help children affected by autism spectrum disorders and their families. With a simple, daily click of the blue “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button at The Autism Site, visitors help provide therapy for children in need. Visitors pay nothing. Therapy is paid for by the site’s sponsors and distributed by charity partners of The Autism Site. Visitors can help more by shopping in The Autism Site store. With each item purchased, shoppers fund research into autism and even more therapy for children living with autism and their families. The store offers a wide array of items to show your support, as well as fair-traded and handcrafted items from around the world.

World Asthma Day: You Can Control Your Asthma, You Can Prepare for Emergencies

world asthma dayWorld Asthma Day is an annual event organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. World Asthma Day  takes place each year on the first Tuesday of May, falling on May 6th, 2014 this year.

The first World Asthma Day, in 1998, was celebrated in more than 35 countries. Participation has increased with each World Asthma Day since then, making it one of the world’s most important asthma awareness and education events. The theme for 2014 is “You Can Control Your Asthma.”

You Can Control Your Asthma

Asthma does not have to control your life.  Asthma does not have to limit your life.  With treatment, you can achieve good control of your asthma.

What is Asthma Control?

When your asthma is under control, you can:

  • Have a productive, physically active life.  You can work and go to school.  You can exercise and participate in normal physical activities.
  • Avoid troublesome symptoms day and night.  Your day is not interrupted by breathing problems.  You do not wake up at night or lose sleep because of asthma symptoms.
  • Avoid most asthma attacks.  Asthma attacks are very rare when asthma is under control.  Good asthma control means you are unlikely to have to visit the emergency department or be hospitalized for asthma.
  • Use little or no fast-acting reliever or “rescue” medication.
  • Have normal or near-normal lung function.  Lung function can be monitored with spirometry or a peak expiratory flow (PEF).
  • Avoid most side effects from treatment.  Many options are available for asthma treatment.  Your doctor can help you find the one that works best for you

How to Control Your Asthma

Take your asthma medications the way your doctor says to take them. Most people with asthma need two kinds of medication:

  • A quick-acting reliever or “rescue” medication that you take when needed to stop asthma symptoms.
  • A controller medication that you take every day to prevent asthma symptoms. 

Know the causes of your asthma symptoms and how to respond to them. Each person with asthma reacts to a different set of risk factors.

  • Take steps to avoid causes of asthma symptoms such as animals with fur, dust, strong smells and sprays, pollen from trees and flowers, and cigarette and fireplace smoke.
  • Your doctor may tell you to take medication before exercising or working hard, if these activities cause asthma symptoms for you. 

Work with your doctor to control your asthma. Your doctor is your partner in achieving and maintaining asthma control.

  • Go to the doctor 2 or 3 times a year for check-ups, even if you feel fine and have no breathing problems.
  • Ask questions.
  • Make sure you understand how and when to take your medications. 

Act quickly to treat asthma attacks.

  • Know the signs your asthma is getting worse, how to react, and when to seek medical help.
  • After an asthma attack, review your medication plan with your doctor and plan how to prevent future attacks.

You Can Prepare for an Asthma Emergency

Anyone with asthma should be prepared for an emergency.  Even if you’ve kept your asthma under control for years, it could still get worse without you realizing it.  Knowing the symptoms of an asthma emergency,  how to monitor your asthma, and when to seek asthma emergency treatment could save your life.

Symptoms of an Asthma Emergency

These are symptoms of an asthma attack that requires emergency treatment:

  • Feeling out of breath, even when you’re not moving
  • Trouble walking, talking, or doing normal activities
  • Anxiety
  • Not feeling better after using your rescue inhaler
  • Peak flow readings of less than 50% of your personal best
  • Bluish lips and fingernails
  • Exhaustion or confusion
  • The skin around your ribs looking “sucked in” (especially in children)
  • Unconsciousness

Prepare for an Asthma Attack

  • Know your triggers. Whether it’s a certain situation or time of year, knowing your triggers is essential to managing your asthma. Some common triggers include cat dander, smoke, seasonal allergies, and respiratory infections.
  • Share your asthma action plan. Tell people who spend time with you, such as co-workers and family members, where you keep your action plan and what they should do in an emergency.
  • Keep rescue medications accessible. Always have an albuterol inhaler on hand.  Place these “rescue inhalers” in a variety of locations so you can get to them easily: in your gym bag, at work, and in several places at home.  If there are other rescue medications that you need during an asthma attack, such as steroid tablets, keep those with you as well.
  • Wear an asthma medical ID bracelet at all times.  Asthma can be a tricky and rather deceptive condition to have, primarily because a variety of environmental factors can trigger an asthma attack.  Symptoms of an asthma emergency present in many different ways,  and many people, doctors included, believe that you must have audible wheezing instead of considering diminished breathing sounds as well, so asthma may not be the first thing the emergency workers think of.  If you are unable to communicate your needs in an emergency, an asthma bracelet could make the difference in getting the treatment you need.  Always ensure that you or your loved one is wearing an asthma bracelet at all times and especially before leaving the house. If necessary, pack an extra bracelet during special trips, particularly if you will be travelling alone or will be leaving town for a long period of time. Always wear the bracelet where it can be spotted easily and avoid taking it off. Great new designs won’t cramp your style and it can mean the difference between living a healthy life and suffering major medical consequences.
  • Write down important phone numbers. Your asthma action plan should include the phone numbers of your doctor’s office and the closest emergency room, as well as people to notify when you have an asthma attack, such as your spouse, parents, or close friends.  Keep a card with this information written on it in your wallet or purse.
  • Know when to ask for help. If you have followed the action plan agreed upon by you and your doctor and have taken your medications as prescribed, but your symptoms are not going away, ask for additional help from your health care provider.

Visit Global Initiative For Asthma (GINA) website or facebook page for more information on World Asthma Day and to find out how you can help.

Sources:  GINA, WebMD, Everyday Health

Communicating with your Child with Nonverbal Autism

CommunicateApril has been designated national Autism Awareness Month and provides the perfect opportunity for individuals and organizations across the nation to educate their communities about autism.   Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.


The full range of ASDs includes three primary kinds:

  • Autistic Disorder (also called “classic” autism): This is what most people think of when hearing the word “autism.” People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome: People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called “atypical autism”): People who meet some—but not all—of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. They will usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorders, with symptoms possibly including social and communication challenges.

What is nonverbal autism?

About 25% of people diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder could be considered to have nonverbal autism — yet the term “nonverbal autism” is not a part of the diagnostic criteria. In part, that’s because there is no clear line between verbal and non-verbal individuals with autism. Some people have the ability to speak, but lack the ability to use language in a meaningful way. Others can’t use spoken language, but are able to communicate with written or typed language, American sign language, picture cards, or digital communication devices.

Parents of children who don’t yet have the ability to use spoken language  shouldn’t worry that they will never be able to communicate.  Spoken language is only one way for human beings to communicate, and it’s by no means the most basic — nor the most significant — when it comes to measuring intelligence or anticipating long-term outcomes, according to Dr. James Coplan, a developmental pediatrician and author.  In fact, as he explains, many children with autism may be extremely delayed in use of spoken language, for many reasons (physical problems among them).  But, if your child takes your hand to guide you, he is communicating.  If he uses gestures, he is communicating.  If he can master picture cards, signs, or other methods of connecting with another human being, he is communicating.

Other ways to communicate

Besides spoken language, some parents of children with nonverbal autism have experienced some success communicating by these other methods:

American Sign Language (ASL) Developed as a means for hearing impaired and deaf people to communicate, American Sign Language is a system of hand gestures used to communicate.  Fluent ASL is not “signed English” but a language with different syntax. In the last few years parents have been teaching infants ASL for the same reason it is a successful strategy for children on the Autism Spectrum: it permits them to communicate wants and desires efficiently while they are still mastering the difficult and many stepped process of imitating and producing spoken language. When paired with spoken language by the parents, teachers or therapists, ASL can be used to scaffold verbal language.

Picture Exchange Systems (PECS) This is a trademarked system using simple pictures, often paired with words, to help children with significant communication deficits to communicate. Severely physically disabled children, such as children with Cerebral Palsy, often find PECS a successful way to communicate throughout life. They can communicate their wishes by touching or indicating a PECS picture with a mouth held stylus or a head mounted laser pointer. PECS, when paired with speech, can be used to help children with autism communicate, and like ASL, often can be withdrawn as a support as the child creates spoken language.

Importance of Wearing a Medical ID

Parents of children with autism should ensure that their child is wearing a medical ID bracelet at all times.  Autism can be a tricky condition for emergency medical professionals, primarily because the autism spectrum means that no two people with autism have exactly the same needs and concerns.  Some with autism take medications, others have sensory concerns, others may be nonverbal, and others may be very high functioning.  An autism medical ID can help inform medical and response personnel of the specific needs associated to the wearer and make sure that medications administered do not interfere or react to what may already have been taken.

Sources:, – Autism and Communication SkillsNational Center for Learning Disabilities, Autism Speaks, American Autism Association, Coplan, James. Counseling Parents Regarding Prognosis in Autistic Spectrum Disorder.PEDIATRICS Vol. 105 No. 5 May 2000, p. e65 ELECTRONIC ARTICLE