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Vaccines Protect Us All

Vaccines Protect Us AllWe share more than food and culture within our homes and communities. We can also spread disease. Luckily, we live in a time when vaccines can protect us from many of the most serious illnesses. Staying current on your shots helps you, and your neighbors, avoid getting and spreading disease.

Vaccines have led to large reductions in illness and death, for both kids and adults, compared with the “pre-vaccine era,” says Dr. David M. Koelle, a vaccine expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. Vaccines will prevent about 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths among U.S. children born over the last 20 years, according to a recent report.

Vaccines harness your immune system’s natural ability to detect and destroy disease-causing germs and then “remember” the best way to fight these germs in the future. Vaccination, or immunization, has completely eliminated naturally occurring smallpox worldwide, to the point that we no longer need to get shots against this fast-spreading, once-deadly disease. Polio too has been eliminated in the U.S. and most other nations as well, thanks to immunizations. Poliovirus can affect the brain and spinal cord, leaving people unable to move their arms or legs, or sometimes unable to breathe.

“These childhood diseases used to be dreaded problems that would kill or paralyze children,” says Koelle. “In the 1950s, it was a common occurrence for kids to be fine in the spring, get polio over the summer, and then have to go back to school in the fall no longer able to walk.”

Experts recommend that healthy children and teens get shots against 16 diseases (see Wise Choices box). With this growing list, many disabling or life-threatening illnesses have significantly declined in the U.S., including measles, rubella, and whooping cough. But, unlike smallpox, these disease-causing germs, or pathogens, still exist around the world.

“These days, the risks of not being vaccinated in a developed country, like the United States, may seem superficially safe because of low rates of infection due to vaccination and other advances in public health,” says Koelle. “But we live in an era of international travel where we can be exposed to mobile pathogens.” So even if you don’t travel, a neighbor or classmate could go overseas and bring the disease back to your area.

“When the rates of vaccination drop, there can be a resurgence of the disease,” explains Dr. Saad Omer, a global health researcher at Emory University in Atlanta. For instance, measles was completely eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But since then, hundreds of travel-related cases have occurred, with a spike of more than 600 measles cases in 2014.

Omer and colleagues examined U.S. reports on measles outbreaks since 2000. “We found that measles cases have occurred mostly in those who are not vaccinated and in communities that have lower rates of vaccination. And that’s true for many vaccine-preventable diseases,” Omer says. Most of the unvaccinated cases were those who chose not to be vaccinated or not to have their children vaccinated for non-medical reasons.

When enough people are vaccinated, the entire community gains protection from the disease. This is called community immunity. It helps to stop the spread of disease and protects the most vulnerable: newborns, the elderly, and people fighting serious illnesses like cancer. During these times, your immune system is often too weak to fend off disease and may not be strong enough for vaccinations. Avoiding exposure becomes key to safeguarding your health.

“There’s a huge benefit to all of us getting the recommended vaccines,” explains Dr. Martha Alexander-Miller, an immune system expert at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC. “Number one, vaccines protect you. But they also limit the presence of disease-causing entities that are circulating in the community. So, you’re helping to protect individuals who may not be capable of protecting themselves, for example because they are too young to get vaccinated.”

When expectant moms are vaccinated, immune protection can pass through the placenta to the fetus. “Early on, the baby’s immune system is immature. So there’s a period of vulnerability where disease and death can occur,” Omer explains. “But the mother’s own antibodies—proteins formed by her immune system—can protect the baby.”

Doctors recommend that moms-to-be get both flu and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough) shots, so her body will make antibodies against these diseases. A mother’s antibodies can help protect the newborn until they can receive their own vaccinations.

Some vaccines must be given before pregnancy. Rubella, for instance, can cause life-altering birth defects or miscarriage if contracted during pregnancy. There’s no treatment, but the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine given pre-pregnancy offers prevention. Vaccines for many other common diseases that put newborns at risk are being studied.

“We’ve made amazing progress in the development of effective vaccines,” says Alexander-Miller. “Our ability to have such breakthroughs is the end result of very basic research that went on for years and years. But we still don’t know everything that we need to know about how to create the very best vaccine.” NIH-funded scientists are continuing to search for new ways to stimulate protection against various diseases.

Koelle studies how our bodies fight herpes viruses. There are 8 related herpes viruses, but the body responds differently to each one. So far, we only have a vaccine for one: varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles.

Koelle’s team is comparing how our immune system responds to chickenpox and the herpes simplex viruses, which cause mouth and genital sores. “We’re hoping to harness the success that has been possible with the chickenpox vaccine and see if we can create a vaccine that would work for both chickenpox and shingles and also herpes simplex,” he says.

Researchers are also working to improve existing vaccines. Some vaccines require a series of shots to trigger a strong immune response. The protection of other vaccines can fade over time, so booster shots may be needed. Some, like the flu vaccine, require a shot each year because the virus changes so that the vaccine no longer protects against new strains. So keeping up with the latest flu vaccines is important.

Ask your doctor’s office whether your vaccinations are current. You may also find records of vaccinations at your state health department or schools. If you can’t find your records, ask your doctor if it’ s OK to get a vaccine you might have received before.

Most side effects of vaccines are mild, such as a sore arm, headache, or low-grade fever.

“It can be easy to take vaccines for granted, because you’ll never know all the times you would’ve gotten really sick had you not been vaccinated,” says Alexander-Miller.

Help your community keep diseases at bay: Stay up-to-date with vaccines.

Contributed by: NIH News in Health
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Claire Donnelly, and Tianna Hicklin.

Learn More About Allergies

A change in season can brighten your days with vibrant new colors. But blooming flowers and falling leaves can usher in more than beautiful backdrops. Airborne substances that irritate your nose can blow in with the weather. When sneezing, itchy eyes, or a runny nose suddenly appears, allergies may be to blame.

Allergies arise when the body’s immune system overreacts to substances, called allergens, that are normally harmless. When a person with allergies breathes in allergens—such as pollen, mold, pet dander, or dust mites—the resulting allergic reactions in the nose are called allergic rhinitis, or hay fever.

Allergy is one of the most common long-term health conditions. “Over the past several decades, the prevalence of allergies has been increasing,” says Dr. Paivi Salo, an allergy expert at NIH. “Currently, airborne allergies affect approximately 10-30% of adults and 40% of children.”

Avoiding your allergy triggers is the best way to control your symptoms. But triggers aren’t always easy to identify. Notice when and where your symptoms occur. This can help you figure out the cause.

“Most people with allergies are sensitive to more than one allergen,” Salo explains. “Grass, weed, and tree pollens are the most common causes of outdoor allergies.” Pollen is often the source if your symptoms are seasonal. Indoor allergens usually trigger symptoms that last all year.

If your symptoms become persistent and bothersome, visit your family physician or an allergist. They can test for allergy sensitivities by using a skin or blood test. The test results, along with a medical exam and information about when and where your symptoms occur, will help your doctor determine the cause.

Even when you know your triggers, avoiding allergens can be difficult. When pollen counts are high, stay inside with the windows closed and use the air conditioning. Avoid bringing pollen indoors. “If you go outside, wash your hair and clothing,” Salo says. Pets can also bring in pollen, so clean them too.

For indoor allergens, keep humidity levels low in the home to keep dust mites and mold under control. Avoid upholstered furniture and carpets because they harbor allergens. Wash your bedding in hot water, and vacuum the floors once a week.

Allergies run in families. Your children’s chances of developing allergies are higher if you have them. While there’s no “magic bullet” to prevent allergies, experts recommend breast feeding early in life. “Breast milk is the least likely to trigger allergic reactions, it’s easy to digest, and it strengthens an infant’s immune system,” Salo says.

Sometimes, avoiding allergens isn’t possible or isn’t enough. Untreated allergies are associated with chronic conditions like sinus infections and asthma. Over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants can often ease mild symptoms. Prescription medications and allergy shots are sometimes needed for more severe allergies. Talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Allergy relief can help clear up more than just itchy, watery eyes. It can allow you to breathe easy again and brighten your outlook on seasonal changes.

Article contributed by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Claire Donnelly, and Tianna Hicklinn.

Researchers Explore the Secret to Living Longer

Want the secret to living a longer and healthier life? Scientists have found ways to prolong the healthy lifespans of worms, mice, and even monkeys. Their work has revealed exciting new clues about the biology of aging. But solid evidence still shows that the best way to boost the chance of living a long and active life is to follow the advice you likely heard from your parents: eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and stay away from bad habits.

People born in the U.S. today can expect to live to an average age of about 79. A century ago, life expectancy was closer to 54. “We’ve had a significant increase in lifespan over the last century,” says Dr. Marie Bernard, deputy director of NIH’s National Institute on Aging. “Now if you make it to age 65, the likelihood that you’ll make it to 85 is very high. And if you make it to 85, the likelihood that you’ll make it to 92 is very high. So people are living longer, and it’s happening across the globe.”

Older people tend to be healthier nowadays, too. Research has shown that healthful behaviors can help you stay active and healthy into your 60s, 70s, and beyond. In fact, a long-term study of Seventh-day Adventists—a religious group with a generally healthy lifestyle—shows that they tend to remain healthier into old age. Their life expectancy is nearly 10 years longer on average than most Americans. The Adventists’ age-enhancing behaviors include regular exercise, a vegetarian diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight.

“If I had to rank behaviors in terms of priority, I’d say that exercise is the most important thing associated with living longer and healthier,” says Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, an NIH geriatrician who oversees research on aging and health. “Exercise is especially important for lengthening active life expectancy, which is life without disease and without physical and mental/thinking disability.”

Natural changes to the body as we age can lead to a gradual loss of muscle, reduced energy, and achy joints. These changes may make it tempting to move less and sit more. But doing that can raise your risk for disease, disability, and even death. It’s important to work with a doctor to find the types of physical activity that can help you maintain your health and mobility.

Even frail older adults can benefit from regular physical activity. One NIH-funded study included over 600 adults, ages 70 to 89, who were at risk for disability. They were randomly placed in either a moderate exercise program or a comparison group without structured exercise. The exercise group gradually worked up to 150 minutes of weekly activity. This included brisk walking, strength and balance training, and flexibility exercises.

“After more than two years, the physical activity group had less disability, and if they became disabled, they were disabled for a shorter time than those in the comparison group,” Bernard explains. “The combination of different types of exercise —aerobic, strength and balance training, and flexibility — is important to healthy aging.” NIH’s Go4Life website has tips to help older adults get and stay active.

Another sure way to improve your chances for a longer, healthier life is to shed excess weight. “Being obese—with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30—is a risk factor for early death, and it shortens your active life expectancy,” Ferrucci says. BMI is an estimate of your body fat based on your weight and height. Use NIH’s BMI calculator to determine your BMI. Talk with a doctor about reaching a healthy weight.

Studies in animals have found that certain types of dietary changes, such as extremely low-calorie diets, can lead to longer, healthier lives. These studies offer clues to the biological processes that affect healthy aging. But to date, calorie-restricted diets and other dietary changes have had mixed results in extending the healthy lives of people.

“We have indirect evidence that nutritional adjustments can improve active longevity in people, but this is still an area of intense research,” Ferrucci says. “So far, we don’t really have solid evidence about caloric restriction and whether it may have a positive effect on human aging.” Researchers are now studying potential drugs or other approaches that might mimic calorie restriction’s benefits.

Not smoking is another pathway to a longer, healthier life. “There’s no question that smoking is a hard habit to break. But data suggest that from the moment you stop smoking, there are health benefits. So it’s worthwhile making that effort,” Bernard says.

You might think you need good genes to live longer. But genes are only part of the equation for most of us, says Dr. Thomas Perls, an aging expert and director of the New England Centenarian Study at the Boston University School of Medicine. “Research shows that genes account for less than one-third of your chances of surviving to age 85. The vast majority of variation in how old we live to be is due to our health behaviors,” Perls says. “Our genes could get most of us close to the remarkable age of 90 if we lead a healthy lifestyle.”

The influence of genes is stronger, though, for people who live to older ages, such as beyond 95. Perls has been studying people who live to age 100 and up (centenarians) and their families to learn more about the biological, psychological, and social factors that promote healthy aging.

“It seems there’s not a single gene that imparts a strong effect on the ability to get to these older ages,” Perls says. “Instead, it’s the combined effects of probably hundreds of genes, each with weak effects individually, but having the right combination can lead to a very strong effect, especially for living to the oldest ages we study.”

It’s a good idea to be skeptical of claims for a quick fix to aging-related problems. Perls cautions against marketed “anti-aging” measures such as “hormone replacement therapy,” which has little proven benefit for healthy aging and can have severe side effects. “People used to say, ‘the older you get the sicker you get.’ But with common sense, healthy habits such as regular exercise, a healthy weight, avoiding red meat, not smoking, and managing stress, it can be ‘the older you get, the healthier you’ve been,'” Perls says.

The key to healthy aging is to engage fully in life—mentally, physically, and socially. “Transitioning to older years isn’t about sitting in a rocking chair and letting the days slip by,” Bernard says. “”Older adults have unique experiences, intellectual capital, and emotional involvement that can be shared with younger generations. This engagement is really key to helping our society move forward.”

Article contributed by the NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Claire Donnelly, and Tianna Hicklinn.

FSCJ to Offer Free Health Education and Screenings

Florida State College at Jacksonville’s (FSCJ) North Campus invites faculty, staff, students and the community to visit the 2016 Health Literacy Fair to enjoy no-cost health and wellness related activities. There is something for everyone, including exercise sessions, health screenings and health education and training.

The event is filled with motivating exercise opportunities. It kicks off with a wellness walk at 9:30 a.m., then attendees can join in TRX Suspension Training, Silver Sneakers and Meditation classes throughout the day.

For those interested in finding out about their health, the following screenings will be offered:
* Arthritis
* Blood Pressure
* Blood Sugar
* Depression
* Hearing
* Lice
* Oral Health
* Vision

OneBlood will be on-site accepting blood donations and HIV testing will also be available.

Health education sessions will be provided on sexually transmitted diseases, sports rehabilitation and physical therapy, falls prevention and dynamic stretching and health care education for seniors. Attendees can also learn more about the Affordable Care Act from Florida Blue representatives.

Limited cosmetology and massage therapy services will also be available. Additionally, there will be a CarFit event which is an education program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. This program also provides resources to enhance driving safety for older adults.

For more information, visit fscj.edu/healthliteracyfair.

WHEN: Saturday, June 11, 2016
Wellness Walk: 9:30 a.m.
Event and Activities: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Florida State College at Jacksonville – North Campus
4501 Capper Road, Jacksonville, FL 32218

Be Careful – Migraines May Translate To Strokes

Experiencing undue pressure or mental stress is a matter of grave concern. People often complain about headaches due to long working hours or working late into the night. The cause could also be genetic or triggered by situational factors. No matter what the reason is, you should certainly give it careful thought and not just perpetuate the problem with an over-the-counter drug. What you will be doing is just smothering the symptoms and not learning the cause. I myself am a victim to this habit of relying on pain killers and since the time I have switched to natural remedies, I thank myself for it. The root cause behind extreme headaches, accompanied by stress on the eyes, maybe mistaken for one or the other. For instance, strokes and migraines have many symptoms in common. Studies have found out that if you frequently get severe migraines you may have higher chances of developing a stroke condition. However, the risk may be minimal.

Differentiating between migraine and stroke
Migraine is a neurological disorder with usually very severe recurring headaches and throbbing, accompanied by other symptoms. People plagued with the monstrous form of headache commonly known as migraine know the mental torture they go through. It can drastically impact your social and work life or may be the very reason for your splitting headache.

Stroke, however can be rightly called a medical emergency caused by restricted blood flow to the brain. If the condition worsens it may develop into complications and a mental disability.

The link between migraine and stroke
One morning I woke up with a severe headache. Until then, I was perfectly alright, but I got a sudden surge of muscle spasms in my brain; I was highly concerned. Moreover, I felt muscle weakness on one side of the body and even loss of vision in one eye. I got really worried; what was happening with me? I immediately got up and decided to see my family doctor. The following is what I learned.

The symptoms I had were related to migraine, but could possibly have been mistaken for those of a stroke. The relationship is certainly complicated. Imagine getting to know that having migraine puts you in a predisposition of developing stroke. Freaky, isn’t it? You certainly need to find ways to cope with stress to digest this fact. Research suggests that having migraine with aura doubles the risk of stroke, since you are likely to develop a blockage, the risk being higher in women than in men. Other common risk factors include:
• Being below the 45 age bracket
• Being a smoker
• Being on birth control pills.

A recent study published in July 2015 in the American Academy of Neurology suggests that older people who had migraines had an increased risk of stroke, provided that they were smokers. Among smokers, having migraine meant you were three times more likely to get victimized to stroke, whereas this risk was absent in non-smokers.

Migrainous Infarction (Migrainous stroke)
As the name suggests, the link between migraine and stroke is strongly established here. In migrainous aura before the onset of the migraine headache your visual, sensory and motor capabilities are hampered and you often experiences flashes of light and may inevitably lead to stroke.

Important changes to notice during migraine include constriction of blood vessels leading to reduced blood flow. Sounds familiar? Clots may form in the blood blocking the narrowed blood vessel. Blood volume may also decrease due to dehydration and vomiting. Many reasons can thus be attributed to increased risk of stroke. Migraine attacks damage the blood vessels with an increased incidence of fluid building up in there (oedema). This is evidence enough that you should certainly not let migraine pass like any other headache and take appropriate action.

Contributed by Zyana Morris

Celiac Diseases and Your Exercise Routine

Wheat bread! White bread! Brown bread! Gym-aholics and fitness freaks struggling to become lean may want to avoid all sorts of them, as per their fitness regime. However, what if you are placed in a situation that calls for not having any other option but to avoid it? You simply cannot consume it? This is a common dilemma faced by celiac patients as it is a matter of life and death. How should you go about handling and scheduling your nutrition and training needs if you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease?

Fast facts about celiac diseases
A celiac patient’s immune system reacts in a way that it is triggered by the consumption of gluten, deteriorating the lining of the stomach. The most common symptoms of the disease are:

    • General malaise
    • Stomach pain and diarrhea
    • Nausea, vomiting, flatulence
    • Weight gain or weight loss
    • Mouth sores
    • Arthritis
    • Increased risk of osteoporosis
    • Decrease in bone and muscle strength
    • Nutritional deficiencies leading to anemia and dental problems
    • Liver dysfunction
    • Vitamin deficiencies leading to nervous system disorders

Gluten, commonly found in rye, barley and wheat is the major sensitive factor of a lifelong autoimmune disorder known as the Celiac Disease. It is not an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity, hence cannot be outgrown. Gluten, a protein composite, cannot be processed by the body of a person affected with CD and triggers an immune response causing the lining of the small intestine to become damaged leading to difficulty in digestion and malabsorption. CD can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated.

Since CD is a lifelong disorder and has no cure, its symptoms can be managed by making dietary changes, following a gluten-free diet strictly, usually for an entire lifetime. You will also need to include a diet rich in iron and calcium to combat the effects of anemia and bone defects.

Exercise and Celiac Disease
Adjusting to a gluten free diet after being diagnosed with Celiac disease is problematic enough. Moreover, exercising can be quite difficult for people with CD, mainly due to extreme fatigue, muscle cramps and bone defects caused by iron and vitamin deficiency. So, what exercises to start off with? How to build an exercise routine? For many of us, this is again a difficult adjustment.

Most athletes are so accustomed to the mood balance and enhancement that exercise gives that they shouldn’t give up just because a transition is imminent. However, before starting off with an exercise regimen, it is better to consult your doctor and a professional trainer in a fitness center or your gym who may suggest that you start off with a low-impact workout to better suit your adjustment to living with Celiac disease.

Commitment to an exercise schedule may provide the emotional and physical energy needed to overcome feelings of self-deprivation. A person with CD needs to approach exercise with caution and encouragement to reap the benefits. If you are suffering from joint conditions like arthritis and bone conditions like osteoporosis, it is better not to try weight bearing exercises that may further damage or cause inflammation of joints and bones.

Finding a new workout regimen that works for you when first diagnosed is very important. It is better to let your body adjust to the schedule gradually and reach your way back to where you were before being diagnosed. Yoga and Pilates can be ideal exercises as they do not place too much physical strain on you while strengthening your muscles and are a great place to start. Exercise can have a positive effect on increasing bone-density, can perk up the mood and help in weight loss, improves circulation and may even accelerate healing.

Candidates Meet in a Non-Partisan Information Exchange for First Coast Kids

What are the top challenges in First Coast neighborhoods today? What programs and community strategies have been proven to be most successful? How can we improve the safety net for at-risk children and families? The answers to those questions and more will be discussed at the Candidates for Kids: First Coast Forum, a non-partisan information exchange for all candidates for state and local elected office, community leaders, media and business professionals, child advocates, and concerned citizens.

The Candidates for Kids First Coast Forum will be held on Wednesday, June 29, 2016, in the Lecture Hall of the Jessie Ball duPont Center located at 40 East Adams, in Jacksonville, Florida.

Breakfast and networking: 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.
Overview of Key Issues & Community Discussion: 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Organized by The Children’s Campaign in partnership with The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, specific issues to be discussed include child sex trafficking, and concerns regarding juvenile justice, child welfare and mental health.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.

RSVP today by calling Call Bobbi at (850)425-2600.

The Children’s Campaign is Florida’s leading child advocacy organization. What most differentiates The Children’s Campaign from other child advocacy organizations is we advocate for the “whole child” – we are not a single-issue organization. We are non-partisan, nonprofit and accept no government money. Since 1992, The Children’s Campaign has led or championed major reforms for Florida’s children.

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center provides cutting edge advocacy, research, training/technical assistance and model programming to bring about unprecedented systemic reform for girls and young women in or at risk of entering the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in Northeast Florida.

Are You Ready to Wear Shorts?

romanesco-by-judie-mackieSummer is coming, will you be ready for swimwear and shorts? Let’s face it, filling up on fresh vegetables goes a long way in cleaning up your diet and living a healthier lifestyle. But, many find it tough to get more vegetables into their daily diet. As the manager of the Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market, I asked my friends, family, vendors and customers how they increase their vegetable intake. Here are some of their ideas:

-Have more vegetables on hand. If you have fresh vegetables in your house, you are more likely to eat more fresh vegetables.
-Make menus. Making daily menus makes it easier to prepare meals in advance, including shopping for and preparing more fresh produce to serve at the family table.
-Add onions and peppers to just about anything, especially scrambled eggs or omelets for breakfast.
-Put slices of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce on your sandwiches.
-Wrap sandwiches in lettuce, kale or spinach instead of breads.
-Add as many vegetables as you can to your salads, or to your pizza.
-Mix it up. Some people get tired of eating the same foods over and over again.
-Try foods you’ve never eaten before. Kohlrabi, Romanesco, mizuna, and Asian turnips are all available from our vendors and are ones I had never tasted before managing a farmers market.
-Sneak vegetables into ordinary dishes. For example try making zucchini casserole, adding mashed roasted eggplant to your mashed potatoes, slip some peas into your guacamole, or even put pureed cooked beets into your favorite chocolate cake recipe.

With spring in hand and summer on its way, there are many vegetables coming to harvest and I’m sure you will find a new and unusual favorite such as baked sweet potato fries, kale or spinach chips, and oven roasted beets to help get you ready for summer.

The Fernandina Beach Market Place farmers market is open rain or shine, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., every Saturday of the year, except for April 30, 2016. The market will be closed for the 53rd Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival.

Located on North Seventh Street, in historic Fernandina Beach, Saturday, April 9th, the adjacent Fernandina Beach Arts Market will be open, too, with over 20 talented arts and craft vendors. Entertainment this week is by Jennifer Burns.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and our “Booth with a Cause” will be the Women’s Center of Jacksonville. They are the certified rape crisis center for Duval, Baker and Nassau counties.

For more information about the market, or to find a recipe for my Zucchini Cobbler, please visit FernandinaBeachMarketPlace.com.

Reason Why You May Have Frequent Nose Bleeds

nose-bleedsNose bleeds or bloody noses can be incredibly difficult to deal with the first time. Frequent nose bleeds, though not a common sign of a serious health condition, are caused by things that you may do everyday and not even think about.

Environment
A dry climate can be one reason that your nose bleeds so often. The heat and lack of moisture will dry out the nose. When your nose is dry, the mucus inside begins to crust over. This can become itchy or become irritated, and then you have a nose bleed. Summers in dry areas are notorious for causing nosebleeds in healthy people. Avoid scratching at or picking at your nose in this situation to avoid nose bleeds.

Illness
During a cold, blowing your nose can be the cause of a nose bleed. Well, in general, blowing your nose too much can be a cause of nosebleeds. This could be from allergies (which carpet cleaners could help avoid if the allergen is airborne), or from a cold, like stated earlier. Blowing your nose too much, or too forcefully, can result in breaking some of the blood vessels in the nose. They are extremely fragile, and bleed easily. They are in the front and back of the nose.

Injury
A less common cause of nosebleeds is an injury to the face. These could occur from a punch to the face, a car accident, or a fall. While many nose bleeds will not require medical attention, these will – no matter how long they last. This kind of nose bleed could mean a more serious injury – a broken nose, internal bleeding, or a skull fracture. If you know what kind of injury caused the nose bleed, it’ll help the doctor that’s treating you.

Medication
Another cause of common nosebleeds can be blood-thinning medicines, aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDs. This prevent blood clots from forming. The blood must form a clot for a nosebleed to stop, which can make any nosebleed from a previous cause difficult to stop. However, medicines that thin the blood can cause more frequent nose bleeds. Clopidogrel and warfarin are two examples of blood thinners that have the risk of more frequent or longer nose bleeds. Any common medication for atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat, also has the risk of creating more nose bleeds.

Other Uncommon Causes
The previously mentioned causes are among the most common reasons nosebleeds can occur often. There are plenty of uncommon or rare causes that might be concerning.

One such concerning cause is the use of too much alcohol. There is also data that proves that alcohol can cause nose bleeds if it’s consumed in high enough doses. Alcohol can cause blood to be unusually regulated. This can cause more blood to go to the nose, and one of the previous cases could cause a nose bleed easily. Unless it doesn’t stop within 20 minutes or so with direct manual pressure, it’s not life threatening or serious. The serious cause is the alcohol – which does more damage, but that is not for this article.

Furthermore, alcohol can cause the blood to act as if you are on a blood-thinning medicine. Blood pressure can be altered, and dehydration is also a risk.

Another uncommon cause is nasal surgery. Bleeding will be common for two to three days after the surgery. Nasal packing is usually given to keep the bleeding from getting out of hand. However, ignoring post surgery instructions can increase the frequency of post surgery bleeding. Blowing the nose the week immediately following the surgery is a big no-no. Strenuous exercise can also create the conditions for a bleeding nose after surgery.

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The Hidden Dangers of Traditional Paints

The Hidden Dangers of Traditional PaintsYou want to keep your home environment healthy and safe by locking doors, using smoke alarms and routinely checking your home for possible safety hazards. One aspect of home safety that you may have overlooked is the paint and related solvents that you use and store in your home. How can paint be harmful to your home environment? And what can you do to keep paint and solvents from being a hazard in your home?

What Makes Paint Toxic?
Paint, strippers, and thinners can contain VOCs or volatile organic compounds. VOCs are gases emitted from the paint that can cause health issues. Glycol, xylene, ethyl acetate, methylene chloride and formaldehyde chemicals can be emitted from both solids and liquids and cause health problems for some time after the paint has dried on your home decorating project. Paint fumes can also cause illness issues when paint or paint-related products are being stored. While all people can be affected by breathing in these toxic fumes, babies, children and pregnant women are the most likely to be harmed due to their high respiratory rate.

People who routinely work with paint should protect themselves from the harmful fumes that paint emits. Persons with respiratory problems, children and babies should also be protected from exposure to paint and paint fumes. Government regulations regarding using paint only pertain to professional painters who paint often. These laws do not concern to folks who paint occasionally. Therefore, people who only paint occasionally in their homes need to use some common sense methods to protect themselves and their families from paint-related illness.

Potential Health Problems Associated With Paint Toxins
Lead-based paint is no longer made due to some of the side effects and health problems associated with using the substance. If your home was painted or built before 1978, it is possible for you to have lead-based paint in your home.

Some of the symptoms of lead poisoning due to to lead paint are:
· Nausea
· Coordination problems
· Language and behavior problems
· Slow growth patterns
· Headaches
· Organ damage
· Seizures

Children, babies, and pregnant women are especially susceptible to health problems due to exposure to lead-based paint. Even if your paint contains no lead, the fumes from some paint chemicals may cause health problems.

Some of the health issues caused by paint fumes include:
· Trouble breathing
· Vision problems
· Dizziness
· Allergic skin reactions
· Nose irritation
· Eye irritation
· Headaches

Ways to Reduce the Amount of Toxin Exposure from Paint
One way to reduce the amount of toxin exposure you or your family may receive from paint is to use paint that has a low or no VOCs rating. Also, using water-based paint rather than oil-based paint will go a long way in reducing the VOCs the paint contains to protect your family.

Some other ways to keep you safe and your family from health-related problems due to paint toxins are:
· Read the paint’s label and follow any instructions the manufacturer recommends
· Protect your skin by using painter coveralls
· Use proper ventilation when painting and when the paint is drying
· Store paint and paint-related products in a safe place
· Do not use lead-based paint
· Be aware that your walls may contain lead-based paints if the home was built before 1978
· Clean your skin thoroughly after painting
· Keep paint and paint related products away from children
· Clean up paint splatters and paint chips to prevent children from accidentally eating paint or paint chips

Modern paint is vibrant, holds its color for a long time and is safe when used properly. Paint manufacturers continue to work on making their products safer for the public’s use. People who purchase paint can stay safe from potential paint-related illnesses by following manufacturer’s recommendations as well as following the above suggestions to keep their home a healthy place to live and looking great as well.

About the author:
Lee Flynn is a freelance writer. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, healthy > living, food storage techniques, and self reliance.

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A Look at Epilepsy

A Look at EpilepsyWhen you hear the word epilepsy, you might think of intense seizures with muscle spasms and loss of consciousness. But most epilepsy seizures are surprisingly subtle and may be hard to recognize. These little spells can be an early warning sign of epilepsy, a brain disorder that strikes an estimated 1 in 26 Americans at some point in their lives. The sooner epilepsy is recognized, the sooner it can be treated and seizures prevented.

Most people know surprisingly little about epilepsy, even though it’s the nation’s 4th most common neurological disorder, after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Epilepsy is marked by repeated, unpredictable seizures that may last for seconds or minutes. Seizures arise from abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain that trigger jerky movements, strange emotions or sensations, falls, or passing out.

“Epilepsy can strike people of all ages, from the moment of birth—even in the delivery room—up to older ages,” says Dr. Jeffrey Noebels, an epilepsy expert at Baylor College of Medicine. The condition is most likely to first arise in children and in adults over age 60. “Most types of epilepsy last a lifetime, but some are self-limited, meaning they can go away on their own,” Noebels adds.

The causes of epilepsy are varied. “Defects in genes are probably responsible for the largest fraction of epilepsy cases,” Noebels says. Scientists so far have linked more than 150 genes to epilepsy. “Other types of epilepsy can be acquired through trauma (such as head injury or stroke), infections, brain tumors, or other factors.”

Anything that disrupts the normal pattern of brain activity—from illness to brain damage to faulty brain development—can lead to seizures. But for up to half of people with epilepsy, the underlying cause is simply not known.

Types of seizures can also vary widely, which is why epilepsy is sometimes called a “spectrum disorder.” In some people, seizures may appear only occasionally. At the other end of the spectrum, a person may have hundreds of seizures a day. The seizures can be severe, with convulsions, loss of consciousness, or even sudden death in rare cases. Or seizures may be barely noticeable.

Such subtle seizures—sometimes called partial or focal seizures—can cause feelings of déjà vu (feeling that something has happened before); hallucinations (seeing, smelling, or hearing things that aren’t there); or other seemingly mild symptoms. During some seizures, a person may stop what they’re doing and stare off into space for a few seconds without being aware of it.

“These little spells or seizures can sometimes occur for years before they’re recognized as a problem and diagnosed as epilepsy,” says Dr. Jacqueline French, who specializes in epilepsy treatment at the New York University Langone Medical Center. “They can be little spells of confusion, little spells of panic, or feeling like the world doesn’t look real to you.”

The symptoms of these small seizures generally depend on which brain regions are affected. Over time, these types of seizures can give rise to more severe seizures that affect the whole brain. That’s why it’s important to get diagnosed and begin epilepsy treatment as soon as possible. “If you notice a repeating pattern of unusual behaviors or strange sensations that last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, be sure to mention it to your doctor or pediatrician,” French says.

Over the past few decades, NIH-funded scientists have been working to develop better approaches for diagnosing, treating, and understanding epilepsy. The condition can now be diagnosed through imaging tools like MRI or CT scans, by testing blood for defective genes, or by measuring the brain’s electrical activity. Seizures can often be controlled with medications, special diets, surgery, or implanted devices. But there’s still a need for improved care.

“Traditional medications for treating epilepsy are effective but problematic,” says Dr. Ivan Soltesz, who studies epilepsy at Stanford University. “About 1 in 3 patients has drug-resistant epilepsy, meaning that available drugs can’t control the seizures. In these cases, surgical removal of brain tissue may be the best option.” When the drugs do work, he explains, they can also cause numerous side effects, including fatigue, abnormal liver function, and thinking problems.

One issue with today’s medicines is they aren’t targeted to the malfunctioning brain cells. Rather, they tend to affect the whole brain. “The drugs are also not specific in terms of the timing of treatment,” Soltesz says. “The medications are always in the body, even when the seizures are not occurring.”

He and other researchers are working to create highly targeted epilepsy therapies that are delivered only to malfunctioning brain regions and only when needed to block a seizure. So far, they’ve developed an experimental approach that can stop epilepsy-like seizures as they begin to occur in a mouse. The scientists hope to eventually translate those findings for use in people who have epilepsy.

In another line of NIH-funded research, a team of scientists is studying a deadly and poorly understood condition called SUDEP (for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy). “Most people with epilepsy live long and happy lives. But SUDEP is the most common cause of the shorter lifespan that can occur with epilepsy,” says Noebels. “It’s been a real mystery. We haven’t known who’s at greatest risk for this premature death. It can happen to different people who have epilepsy, from all walks of life.”

Noebels and his colleagues have identified several mouse genes that seem related to both sudden-death seizures and heart rhythm problems. The researchers are now searching for similar human genes that may help predict who’s most at risk for SUDEP. “We believe that SUDEP doesn’t have to happen—that we can learn about it, predict it, and eventually find better ways to prevent it in every patient,” Noebels says.

You can take steps to reduce some risk factors for epilepsy. Prevent head injuries by wearing seatbelts and bicycle helmets, and make sure kids are properly secured in car seats. Get proper treatment for disorders that can affect the brain as you age, such as cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. And during pregnancy, good prenatal care can help prevent brain problems in the developing fetus that could lead to epilepsy and other problems later in life.

“We’ve made exciting advances to date in our understanding of epilepsy, its prevention, and treatment,” says French. “But there’s still much we have to learn, and much we’re actively working to improve.”

Contributed by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), Brandon Levy, and Carol Torgan

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I’d Like to Buy a Bowel, Please

I'd Like to Buy a Bowel, PleaseWhen you are diagnosed with cancer, some of the worst imaginable thoughts go through your mind. When you tell your loved ones you have cancer, what they imagine is even worse! Within two weeks I went from learning I had cancer to having about a foot of my colon and a portion of my rectum surgically removed to get this disease of epidemic proportions out of my body.

I remember waking up from the surgery in a combative state. I couldn’t swallow, I felt nauseated, and I was surrounded by people I didn’t know. Trying to sit up, I reached to clear my throat, a female nurse stopped my arm and explained I had a tube in my nose and I couldn’t take it out. I felt the head of my bed raise a little. I muttered, “I feel sick.” She waved an alcohol swab in front of me and said it would help. I took a breath and fell back to sleep.

The next time I woke up they were preparing to take me to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to recover. I was told about my procedure. They briefly told me that I was given a temporary ileostomy bag so my colon could recover. I was also informed that I had a cyst on my ovary and they called in an additional surgeon to remove the cyst, my ovary and one of my fallopian tubes. It had been a long surgery, over seven hours. They wheeled me past the waiting room where my husband and father had been waiting; they asked the inevitable question, “How are you feeling?”

“Great, how are you feeling?” I snapped back.

“We’ll get her settled in, and then you can come back and sit with her.” I heard someone say.

The tube in my nose, a nasogastric tube or NG Tube, was causing me to panic. It hurt like Hell and I was having trouble breathing. It was supposed to be removing the contents of my stomach, but I felt like I was going to puke. The last thing you want to do after having major abdominal surgery, is to retch, so the hospital staff worked hard to make me a little more comfortable.

Finally, they let my family come into the room. It hurt to talk so I mostly nodded now and then to be a part of their conversation as they filled me in on their waiting room experience.

I had tubes and wires everywhere. An IV in my hand, oxygen under my nose, a tube up my nose, a heart monitor, and a contraption on my fingertip to measure something or another. There was a bag collecting my urine, a little plastic bottle collecting fluid from my abdomen, the tube down my throat was suctioning into a bag place near my headboard, and I had the ileostomy. I think they took my temperature every hour on the hour. I looked like a million bucks, or more like I was costing insurance about a million bucks… and I was starting to feel the pain.

My colorectal cancer was found during a routine screening; I was 51, one year past the recommended age. Before the surgery, I had discussed with my husband if any of my female organs were in the way, it was fine with me to have them removed. At my age, and with three healthy adult children… I was done with those internal body parts anyway. As it turned out, it was good we had that discussion.

My husband told me the surgeon did have to form an ileostomy, a procedure we were hoping to avoid. This is when the take the lowest part of your small intestine and turn it inside out like the cuff of a sleeve, and then they stitch it to the outside of your abdomen, called a stoma. When you look at the stoma, you are actually looking at the lining of your intestine. A pouch system is then attached to your skin as a means to collect the body’s waste. There were two holes: one has mucus (distal), and the other one evacuates waste (proximal).

My son, an environmental scientist, stopped by with a beautiful pink orchid, and sat with us. My oldest daughter, who works for a colorectal surgeon in Chattanooga, was driving to Florida to be by my side. She had called while I was in surgery and said she wasn’t able to function at work and thought she should come home for a few days. From the time we told her my diagnosis she was asking for copies of my discharge papers and pathology reports. She deciphered the information into plain English. Her surgeons assured her that my surgeon was doing everything exactly the way they would. Their words confirmed what my doctor was saying, and it put the entire family a little more at ease. Our youngest daughter, who also works in the medical field, is a student at Florida State University and had made plans to come home the following afternoon from Tallahassee, just as soon as she finished taking an exam. It was no surprise to me when all three of them jumped at the opportunity to see my intestines sewn to the outside of my body. The oldest explained all the gory details to her siblings; while it truly was a heart-warming moment for me to watch them bond, all three of them enjoyed it way too much.

While the surgery was painful, and I absolutely detested the NG Tube, the most difficult part of all was waiting the expected three to four days for the pathology reports to come back from the lab. The surgeon felt the cancer was caught early enough that he was able to remove all of the diseased tissue. He also removed a margin of surrounding tissue and 12 lymph nodes, too, now we needed to wait for those results.

Humor helped me face these changes to my body. I teased my husband about it being a good thing we were already married because, “Hey, would you like to see my intestines?” is not a very good pick-up line.

At first, we had a very hard time getting the pouching system attached to my skin without any leakage. Home health care would come by and check my vitals, help us order ostomy supplies, and give us a pat on the back for doing so well, but no one really offered usable tips. Everyone warned not to get information off of the internet, but one of the best tips I learned was to put a little toilet paper into the commode before draining the pouch to reduce the splash, genius!

Since I have no control over when my stoma will evacuate, one of the home health care nurses told me to eat marshmallows. Though I’m not a big fan unless they are roasted and layered on a s’more while sitting around the campfire, I tried it a couple of times without success.

Flushing the commode twice, using Lysol, air fresheners and a little product suggested by a friend called Poo-Pourri helps reduce the bathroom odor of a household learning to live with an Ostomate. Occasionally, especially when I’ve been sleeping, the pouch will fill with a substantial amount of air (gas), so I’ll step into the master-bath to burp the pouch. Once, after a long day away from the house and our dog cooped up inside, I awoke to my husband circling our bed in the middle of the night, he was practically sleep-walking and shouting, “Someone shit on the floor, someone shit on the floor!” The dog’s name is Bentley; I immediately realized he was not blaming the dog.

judie-hospital-cancer-day6-crop

On the third day after my surgery, the doctor came in with the pathology report. He had indeed removed all of the cancer. The margins of tissue surrounding the tumor had no cancer cells and all 12 of the lymph nodes had no cancer cells. The doctor added, “You do not need any chemotherapy or radiation.”

“Hallelujah!” I know I heard a chorus of angels singing.

It has been nine weeks since my laparoscopic, low anterior resection and I have learned that I still have a lot to learn about having a stoma, and about how I want to live the rest of my life. I’m supposed to grieve; I don’t know when that phase will hit me, but right now I’m pretty damn happy that I don’t have cancer anymore. I’m happy that my ileostomy is supposed to be reversed, and today I hope to learn when testing will be scheduled to make that a reality. The sooner the better! My husband and I are still learning to be empty nesters, and with our youngest in the middle of her junior year in college, I’d like to kick-off 2016 with all remnants of cancer in my rear-view mirror and recovered enough to start anew!

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Great American Smokeout is November 19, 2015

Great American Smokeout is November 19, 2015Get ready to lose the habit, and become victorious over tobacco. The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout event is your chance to triumph over addiction. Every November, we set aside the third Thursday to encourage smokers to go the distance, and to finally give up smoking.

About 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. As of 2013, there were also 12.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and over 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

By quitting — even for one day — you will be taking an important step toward a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing your cancer risk. It’s a race for your health, and it starts on the third Thursday of every November. November 19, 2015, is the day that quitters win.

Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. The American Cancer Society can tell you about the steps you can take to quit smoking and provide quit-smoking programs, resources and support that can increase your chances of quitting successfully.

To learn about the available tools, call us at 1-800-227-2345.

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Keep Your Mouth Healthy, Oral Care for Older Adults

Keep Your Mouth Healthy, Oral Care for Older AdultsOral health is important for people of all ages. But the simple routine you learned as a kid—brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly—can become more of a challenge as you get older. That’s partly why nearly 1 in 5 older Americans has untreated tooth decay. Among adults ages 75 and older, about 1 in 4 has lost all natural teeth.

Tooth decay and gum disease don’t have to be a part of getting older. You can take steps to keep your mouth healthy throughout your lifetime. And if you’re a caregiver for an older adult, you can help ensure that he or she gets proper oral care.

“We have to worry about the same conditions throughout life, although some conditions are more prevalent at certain ages,” says Dr. Dena Fischer, a dental health expert at NIH. The 2 most common oral health problems are tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease. “Gum disease is more common when you’re older,” Fischer explains. “But cavities can happen at any age, as long as you have natural teeth.” Both are largely preventable with proper care.

Cavities develop as plaque builds up on your teeth and under chipped fillings, producing acids that can eventually eat away at the tooth’s hard outer surface.

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold your teeth in place. Gum problems arise as plaque builds up along and under your gum line. In severe cases, the bone and tissue that hold teeth in place can break down, and teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease by brushing daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing. Also visit the dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup.

Another common problem for older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when you don’t have enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet. “Saliva is very important,” Fischer says. “The protective factors in saliva prevent cavities, gum disease, and fungal infections.”

Dry mouth can be caused by medications; alcohol or tobacco; or medical conditions, such as poorly controlled diabetes. Dry mouth is usually treatable, so talk with your doctor or dentist if you’re having problems.

Older adults are also at increased risk for oral cancer. Symptoms include a sore, irritation, or lump in the mouth or throat that lasts more than two weeks; it may be painful or may cause numbness. It’s important to catch oral cancer early, because treatment works best before the disease has spread. Be on the lookout for any changes in your mouth, especially if you smoke or drink.

If you serve as a caregiver to an older adult, you can help that person overcome oral health challenges. Encourage him or her to use an electric or large-handled toothbrush, so it’s easier to grip. You might place your hand over his/hers to help guide the toothbrush. Dentures should soak in water overnight and once a week with a denture cleaner. Dentures should also be rinsed after each meal and brushed daily.

A healthy mouth can help you eat well, avoid pain, and feel good about yourself. Take steps to keep your mouth healthy, whatever your age.

-Drink fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride protects against dental decay at all ages.
-Floss and brush teeth daily. (If you’re a caregiver for someone who can’t brush or floss his/her own teeth, you’ll need to help.)
-Visit your dentist regularly, even if you have no natural teeth and have dentures.
-Avoid tobacco and alcohol. They can raise the risk for oral and throat cancers.
-If medicines lead to a dry mouth, ask your doctor if other drugs might be used instead. If dry mouth continues, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco and alcohol.

Article written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Vicki Contie
Contributors: Vicki Contie, Alan Defibaugh (illustrations), and Emma Wojtowicz

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Second Annual Teal Pumpkin Project

Second Annual Teal Pumpkin ProjectThe Teal Pumpkin Project is back for a second year.

What teal pumpkins mean to trick-or-treaters
Placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep is all about raising awareness about food allergies. A teal pumpkin lets trick-or-treaters know they’ll be receiving non-food treats, such as toys, stickers, souvenirs, and more.

McLEAN, VA – Halloween can be a tricky time for children and families managing life-threatening food allergies. That’s why Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is asking people to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™ this fall, showing their support for the nearly 6 million children in the U.S. – and millions more worldwide – with food allergies.

Place a teal pumpkin, the color of food allergy awareness, in front of your home to indicate non-food treats are available. Participating households may opt to print a free sign from FARE if they do not have a pumpkin, or make a donation and receive a “Proud Supporter” window cling (while supplies last).

In 2014, the inaugural Teal Pumpkin Project™ attracted supporters from 50 states and seven countries. This year, FARE is aiming for an even bigger impact with a goal of 100,000 households pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™. Taking the Teal Pumpkin Project™ pledge on FARE’s website is a simple gesture that shows support, empathy and respect for individuals with food allergy.

“Food allergy is a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease affecting 1 in 13 children in the U.S. Pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™ is an easy and tangible way to make a big difference for children in your community who are living with food allergies or other conditions that mean candy isn’t an option,” said Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communications at FARE. “The Teal Pumpkin Project™ is already an international movement with thousands of households participating. We are thrilled to see so many households and families joining in this positive effort to create a safer, happier Halloween for all.”

Halloween can present a number of challenges for individuals and families managing food allergies because many popular candies include the most common allergens. In addition, different sizes of the same candy can use different ingredients, and smaller sizes of some candies that are popular during this time of year do not always have clear labels stating their ingredients.

“Last year, the Teal Pumpkin Project became a new family tradition,” said Elizabeth Moreno, of Beaverton, Ore. “We love that it includes all kids and sparks conversations that help educate people who might not learn about serious food allergies otherwise. Best of all, it makes my son with multiple food allergies feel empowered.”

Tracy Amin, a Seattle-based mother of two children who do not have food allergies, heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project™ last year from a friend who posted about it on social media.

“I decided to turn this great idea into a lesson in empathy – what does it mean to have a food allergy?” Amin said. “My kids had very little knowledge about food allergies, so after some research, we learned a lot as we sat down to paint our pumpkin teal. We are happy and so excited to support the campaign again this year, and are even planning a Teal Pumpkin Party!”

The Teal Pumpkin Project™ was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. In 2014, the international campaign reached 7 million people on social media.

FARE has a number of resources to help individuals and families get involved, including:

For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project™, visit www.tealpumpkinproject.org. For more information about food allergies, visit www.foodallergy.org.

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