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Anaphylaxis

In October 2010, Ontario’s doctors teamed up with Anaphylaxis Canada to call awareness to the serious challenge facing children with severe food allergies.  Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction triggered by some serious food allergies, and many Canadian adults and children are at risk of this reaction.

This initiative is intended to increase public awareness and support those who are at risk of Anaphylaxis. This initiative targets all parents and caregivers and asks them to make themselves aware of these allergies in their children’s friends or other children that may be in their care.

The following resources are intended for parents and caregivers in order to be prepared for allergic reactions, but also how to recognize such a reaction and what to do in an emergency.

We are highlighting the issue of children with allergies, because children are often not in control of the environments in which they play and we believe that a greater public understanding and acceptance of these allergies will help them.

In order to educate parents, friends and relatives about the dangers, symptoms, and emergency responses associated with food allergies, the OMA created a brochure which explains the “Think F.A.S.T.” method of spotting the symptoms of anaphylaxis, which can start within minutes of coming into contact with an allergen. F.A.S.T can include any of the following:

  • Face: itching, redness, swelling
  • Airway: trouble breathing, swallowing, speaking
  • Stomach: pain, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Total body: hives, rash, weakness, paleness, sense of doom, loss of consciousness

If you think a child you know is at risk of anaphylaxis, talk to the child’s parents to see if the child carries medication and what you can do to minimize the child’s risk.  If you are concerned that your child may have a severe food allergy, talk to your doctor for more information.

Resources:

  1. Anaphylaxis Brochure
  2. Anaphylaxis Handout

 

 

Cell Phones and Driving

Using a cell phone while driving has been found in numerous studies to be a significant visual distraction as well as causing a reduction in the driver’s cognitive abilities. Even using hands-free devices significantly contributes to slower reaction times behind the wheel.  

The use of a cell phone while driving leads to dangerous changes in drivers’ behaviour including:

  • Change in average driving speed
  • Slower brake reaction time
  • Slower response times to traffic light changes
  • Reduced visual monitoring of mirrors and instruments, with some drivers abandoning them entirely

The link between traffic accidents and cell phone use has led to bans on the use of hand-held devices in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, and the American states of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Washington state and Washington D.C. to date.

In October 2009, Ontario enacted a law that bans the use of cell phones by individuals operating a motor vehicle.  Ontario’s doctors are proud to have influenced that legislation, and are confident that lives will be spared by this measure.

Resources:

Your Health: View our video on Texting and Driving

 

Falls Prevention

Falling is an important health risk for adults over age 65 in Ontario. In 2004, falls on the same level caused 88 deaths and 11,805 hospitalisations. These falls also lead to 3,455 permanent partial disabilities and 256 permanent total disabilities among adults over 65.

The most common type of fall is caused by slipping or tripping on the same level, followed by falling on stairs. These types of falls account for 1/3 of all emergency department visits related to falling. Of these the emergency department visits, 1/4 of patients were over 65 years old. For hospitalisations related to falling, over 3/5 of patients were over 65.

Preventing falls is very important to remaining independent, healthy, and mobile as you age. The injuries that happen from falls can have devastating effects on your quality of life. In addition to the physical damage of serious muscle or bone injury, the fear of having another fall may cause feelings of dependence, lower your amount of physical activity, and end up increasing the risk of having another fall. Taking care to stay on your feet is a very important part of staying in good health.

There are three main categories of things to do to lower your risk of falling: there are things to look for in the home, things to keep in mind regarding medication, and ideas for staying physically active. If you’re thinking about how to reduce your risk of falling, or your loved one’s risk, take a look at the tips on the pages below to see if you can do anything different in your environment to stay healthy and independent as long as possible.

Resources:

  1. Hold Steady: Tips on Preventing Falls (downloadable brochure)
  2. In the home
  3. In the medicine cabinet
  4.  Out on the Town

 

Sun Safety

Keep your child sun safe this summer. Ultraviolet (UV) exposure and sunburns are major contributors to skin cancer. Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers account for more diagnoses than lung, breast, and prostate cancer combined. There are many things that you can do protect your child’s skin, and your own, this summer.

First, have your child wear broad-brimmed hats or use sun umbrellas, and try to stay in the shade to avoid direct sun, especially in the middle of the day. Second, dress your child in light, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts or long pants to protect their skin. Third, remember to apply sunscreen liberally and often!

Exposure to UV radiation is the biggest risk factor for the development of skin cancer. We now know that UVA (the rays that cause aging) also cause cancer, not just UVB (the rays that cause sunburns). Some people worry about not getting enough vitamin D if they wear sunscreen or avoid the sun, but dermatologists say that Ontarians should gain vitamin D through food (like salmon, eggs, milk, or orange juice) or taking supplements – not from exposure to UV rays.

Ontario’s doctors want to remind people about the importance of protecting your skin. Since sunscreen information can be confusing, a downloadable fact-sheet about sunscreen protection and SPF is available by clicking the link below. Whether you’re taking your family for a hike or spending the day at the beach, sunscreen is a crucial part of every family’s sun protection plan.

Resources:

Sun Safety Fact Sheet

 

Water Safety

When it comes to water safety, a few small changes can lead to a considerable reduction in the number of drowning deaths each year. Hundreds of Canadians lose their lives in drowning events annually. Despite efforts to improve water safety and awareness, Ontario continues to have the highest number of drowning deaths in the country.

Over the past 40 years, the OMA has been working to raise awareness of water safety in order to lower the incidence of these preventable deaths. To date, the OMA has engaged in a number of water safety education initiatives which cover the range of drowning hazards from boating, to falling through ice, to backyard pool safety.

OMA has six key recommendations, which focus on keeping children safe when they’re playing in or around water.

These include:

  • Pool-owners install four-sided pool fences to keep toddlers safe from the danger of falling in
  • Children playing near the water be supervised by an adult at all times
  • Children under 5 and older children who are not strong swimmers wear an approved life jacket whenever they are near the water
  • All children wear an approved life jacket when in a boat, canoe or other water craft
  • Learning to swim and survival skills swimming lessons are an essential part of drowning prevention and should be made mandatory for all children in Ontario
  • Parents should be trained in CPR and rescue breathing, especially if they live near the water or have a pool

A multi-pronged approach to drowning prevention that includes survival skills, swimming lessons, adult supervision, the use of lifejackets, and four-sided pool barriers is recommended by the OMA and other experts in the field.

The OMA hopes that we can all work together to keep Ontario’s children safe in and around the water.

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